Winter has come quick. We are now harvesting solely from high tunnels and working (slowly, combating lethargy) on indoor office and construction projects.
Below is a post from Fionn, a current HECUA intern with our farm. It was written solely a few weeks ago but has the flavor of a season long gone by. Fionn has been a great help, inserting enthusiasm into the farm as our own energy levels wane. He has been working on designing a compost-heating prototype for the greenhouse.
Today really felt like Autumn. The endless gray sky, the wind whipping the leaves about, the constant sniffling from unacclimated sinuses. A far reach from the bizarrely beautiful days that have been the norm this season. I don’t think anyone’s really complaining about the warm weather, but this sudden brisk day is rejuvenating. It puts me back on track for the mental preparation that must precede a long Minnesota winter. Now that the weather has finally pushed me indoors, I have a chance to reflect on my past couple of months with Stone’s Throw. I ventured into this educational direction on a whim, really, lacking any and all skill sets that would make me suitable for farm work save for the use of my limbs. Not knowing most of what was going on around me, regarding the crops, I was able to hone in on certain aspects of the farm that I discovered were of particular intrigue to me. All these aspects fell neatly into a pile that I will call community, for lack of a more specific term. This multi-layered community exists in several realms. It is within the farm, but it is also a greater fabric into which the farm is carefully woven. This fabric allows the farm to exist in an environment where it would normally be considered impractical. When I explain the way the farm functions to people I am met, more often than not, with incredulity and instant skepticism.
Urban farming just doesn’t seem like a fully sane concept to those who have not been able to witness its practicality and success firsthand. On the other hand, the sight of the farm itself, with its bountiful boxes bursting with vibrant herbs and community-art adorned greenhouse is not at all foreign to the dozens of neighbors who wave to me everyday from their porches as I take a small break from hoeing weeds. These people accept the presence of the farm and, in turn, the farm performs its own neighborly duties when they are required, such as offering a fresh head of lettuce to an inquiring mother who has halfway through cooking her family dinner. I fear that the concept of community support and acceptance is also undervalued and misunderstood by those who have not had the good fortune to experience the unparallelled potential of many-supporting-one and one-supporting-many.
As a young adult who has spent most of my life living in intentional communities, I seek out these instances as a source of personal validation and mental reaffirmation. I do what I can to surround myself with people and systems that remind me of the importance of interdependence. It is of special importance when rallying resources for ecologically-conscious problem solving, such as growing food sustainably and productively in an urban environment. I think of Stone’s Throw as a wonderful example showing that similar initiatives are only and always made stronger, more durable, and more valuable by their close-knit ties to the community in which they exist.
Thanks for listening,
Fionn the Intern
Thanks for all of the letters of support and phone calls to CM Dai Thao’s office. We are making progress in securing a more permanent site(s) in Saint Paul and will be sure to share details soon.
It is blustery outside but our winter market booth this weekend at the Mill City Farmer’s Market will be stocked: spinach, carrots, cooking herbs, lettuces, salad turnips, and watermelon radishes will brighten the table.
I promise that in future weeks we will stop outsourcing blog duties to our volunteer interns (who have excellent things to say by the way, often more eloquent than us…) We have been doing lots of number crunching, both about the business and for a potential vision of urban agriculture in the Cities (i.e. how much land do we need to thrive? how much land does the City of Saint Paul need to produce all of its vegetables within its city limits? what percentage of total land mass is this?). We are thinking a lot about how urban agriculture can (and must) mesh with housing, public transportation, education, and the large array of civic initiatives and spaces that make the Twin Cities an excellent place to live. More to come!