After 5 years of urban farming at Church of the Pilgrims and at my own homestead, I realized I had hit the limits of my knowledge with urban farming, particularly with soil science, companion planting, and pesticides. Most of my knowledge on farming has come from swapping stories with other garden folks and doing some reading. But it's hard for me to retain what I read on farming unless I am putting it into practice right in that very moment.
During the summer, my Facebook newsfeed led me to this organization: Love and Carrots.
Love and Carrots was started by Meredith Shepherd and believes this:
We at Love & Carrots believe the local food movement is a critical catalyst in environmental activism. In the United States the potential for impact by way of everyday choices is immense, yet after decades of consumerism-as-champion, our culture does not easily lend itself widespread change through daily choices. We believe food is a good start. Choosing what to eat is one of the easiest ways to be a proactive environmental steward, and eating locally is the simplest solution with the most impact so far. Urban Agriculture is the local food movement at its best and tackles a multifaceted problem. It is food production right at the site of high level consumption, it is greening spaces, it is education, its zero food miles, and its the healthy alternative.
Love and Carrots offers a coaching program---a Love and Carrots farmer comes out twice a month to your garden for garden maintenance + educate you on life in the garden.
Emailed. Met. Set-up a schedule.
I now have a garden coach---Morgan.
Twice a month, Morgan comes to Pilgrims and we farm together. Plus I get to ask Morgan a bazillion questions about soil, pesticides, harvesting....whatever.....
Pilgrims garden was ready to be taken to the next level---not as in put in 5 more raised beds---but just in the intricacies of farming with what, when, and how to plant. There is so much to farming that my mind had been swirling with information, not sure how to get organized with a plan on such amazing details like what to do with tomato blight, what veggies can be planted next to each other, and what the hell to do with the stupid insects that come and terrorize the plants?
Morgan has taught me (plus Emily, Pilgrims intern) to mix-up what's planted in one raised bed. For example: planting bok choy, mustard greens, and spinach together. These veggies are from the same family and the variety of plants in the bed confuses bugs that can annihilate the greens. This type of growing is practical and creative---I have to think through the strategy of how to create growth. It also creates beauty with the various textures and colors of the veggie leaves. Mono-planting just isn't effective. Diversity in planting increases potential for robust growth and beauty. Having Morgan as a coach has pushed me to get out of my already-within-5-years systems of farming. Morgan has pushed open my ways and patterns to create a more beautiful Eden.
Pilgrims garden ready for the next level, and so I am with urban farming.
I love the feeling of hitting my threshold of knowledge and experience, pulling in whatever resources needed to take me to the next level. A garden is an ever expanding, dynamic, life-giving place. I love watching lettuce grow and be shared with hungry people. I also love that the energy of the garden works within my own interior self---that I, too, need to go to the next level in order to work with the natural processes of life that are there for the taking.