We took our annual youth farmer field trip on Friday-- the first time I've been around to join in. Jen finds a different farm to visit most years, as it's a difficult time for farmers to give up an entire morning for a tour. A couple years ago the crew went to Open Oak Farm in Sweet Home, where Adaptive Seeds operates its breeding programs. This year, we drove to Cottage Grove to tour Branch Road Farm with owner Andy, as well as FOOD for Lane County's Grassroots Garden in Eugene.Read More
Part One: Farm to School
…There's constant feedback to give and questions to answer, and it's fun to approach a project like that with different eyes. They comment on the itchy weeds among the chard, notice bugs I'd overlook, and show off almost every leaf they find to harvest. Forget the cartload of chard we delivered at the end of the day. The whole process is a stream of victories.Read More
I'm standing at the front of the farm with intern Hannah and almost twenty university students that have come as part of their environmental studies course. They haven't reached their unit on farm workers and food justice, but they will in a few weeks, and they're here to get some hands-on experience with farming. It will be almost laughably more pleasant than the everyday experience of most farm workers in this country. It's sunny but cool, it's already mid morning when they arrive, they'll be weeding garlic for just a couple hours, and I'm not putting any expectations on them about productivity. Unlike these students, many farm workers are in the fields from sunrise to sunset, are paid abysmally, lack access to good medical care and housing, and have no power to negotiate better working conditions. Doing some manual labor and learning about our programs may help them better understand the plight of the agricultural labor force in this country, but for the most part, I just hope they walk away with one more modicum of understanding of how food appears on their plates.
For those of you who are still unfamiliar with the scope of the farm's programs, the following is the same basic overview that I usually share with groups-- probably less meandering and redundant than I can usually manage on the fly!Read More