Wednesday, July 7, 2010

City Dwellers Getting Their Farm Fix

I will never forget the years I spent working in a school in downtown Brooklyn where a bunch of first graders raised in a concrete wonderland tried to tell me that the florescent blue "juice" drink labeled blue raspberry flavored was actually the color of real raspberries. These same kids when asked where the meat in their hamburger was from had no idea it came from a cow or even an animal. Now, granted, they were only about six or seven, but still it was kind of shocking to hear them say those things. While I grew up in New Haven, CT, which was a fairly rough city when I was a kid, thanks to a committed single mom and a great scholarship fund, I was fortunate to go to an amazing summer camp in Vermont called Farm and Wilderness. This place changed my life. I spent days working on an organic farm, learning how to build a house, hike through the woods, get lost, get found, build a fire and cook meals on it, and sit in silence in Quaker meeting in a circle in the woods. I made some of the best friends of my life there, and the feeling and experience of being in that place, that harmonious connection with nature that I never would have gotten growing up in a city, changed me forever. I'm still a seriously urban girl, but I love me some good dirt, so am thankful for all the cool farms and farm schools that are sprouting up around the cities in this country!

Giving kids a chance to interact with the natural world is a important and exciting learning experience. Just thought I'd post some pix of some cool farm adventures we have squeezed in this spring and summer. I hope this inspires you to get out and visit a farm, a farm school, or even help start a garden at a local school. A few moments of nature in the middle of our busy city life is a good thing, and everyone deserves to experience it!

There are so many interesting, delicious and beautiful farms out there, here are just a few:

Common Ground School New Haven, CT
Common Ground School is an urban charter high school with a functioning organic farm. Students learn to grow food that they then eat for lunch. They also sell food at the CitySeed farmer's markets, and at a Wednesday market at the school during the summer. They run lots of great community events and host a summer camp for elementary aged kids. These pictures are from their annual seedling sale and farm day. Throughout the summer they have an open farm day on Saturday's where you can stop by and visit the animals or check out the gardens. It is located on Springside Ave, on the back side of West Rock, one turn off of Blake St.
everyone watching the sheep sheering. very exciting moment.

Town Farm, Norhtampton, MA
Town Farm is a short walk from down town Northampton, MA. They are a CSA farm (Community Supported Agriculture) so they grow food for people who have bought seasonal shares in the farm. Share holders come once a week to pick up their portions of veggies from the farm. The couple who started this farm also helped start a Tuesday Market in town, it is a fun event with farm stands, food, hand made shaved ice with homemade syrups and live music. check out this cool video of the market on YouTube.
"broiler" meat birds in their mobile chicken coop, farmer Ben moving the birds into another mobile coop in the fields so they can eat bugs and greens and fertilize the soil with their poop.

You'd be surprised by how many Farms are located in or near cities once you start looking. Added Value is a cool urban community farm in Brooklyn, not to mention the rooftop growers that are sprouting up everywhere, you can check out The Food Project in the Boston area, or for larger fully operational farms try googling "farms", and the name of your town or city.

Other ways to find farms in your area:
Check out a Farmers' Market and talk to the farmers' (when they aren't too busy)
Visit a CSA or Pick-Your-Own farm in your area, check out
In the north east, you can look up farms through NOFA, the Northeast Organic Farming Association
And, as always you can contact your state department of agriculture's cooperative extension program.
please comment below with any great recommendations of farms to visit in your area.

Also, I just have to mention this fabulous book I have been reading called "Farm City" by Novella Carpenter. She has an urban farm in Oakland, CA called "Ghost Town Farm". The book chronicles her adventures farming in a rough neighborhood on a vacant lot, complete with bees, fowl, pigs, watermelons, neighborhood characters, junkies, junk piles and all.  She also has a blog  She is an exceptional writer: edgy, sharp, smart, funny and engaging. I am most of the way through the book, and lingering over the last chapters because I don't want it to end.

No comments:

Post a Comment