Follow me, over stepping stones, in between rows of the most intricate greens I’ve ever seen, where a dog is the happiest she has ever been, and a man digs in the dirt with his hands. Follow me there.
From too far away, you might miss the labors, the doubts, the intense race against time and elements. From the outside, you might think, “oh how quaint,” or call it a “garden,” but it’s a farm, and he, the farmer, has mentally, emotionally and physically given that plot of land his all. Through heat, humidity, hungry critters, ticks, aching bones and lyme disease, he has given his all, but the results are worthy of a pride like no other.
“Farming is a hard life. That’s what these rural sociologists were talking about in the start. It’s a hard life, therefore nobody ought to live it. What a remarkable conclusion. There are several steps that are left out. What causes the difficulty? Does freedom come out of it? Does family pride come with it, family coherence? Does some kind of idea of community come with it? Does some kind of idea of stewardship, of essential, irreplaceable, indispensable, stewardship, does that come with it? Do ideas of affection or love or fidelity come with it? The basic question is, how hard would you be willing to work in order to be free?” -Wendell Berry
The Urban Farmer loves this work, the labor-intensive path to freedom, and on that path, the tomatoes have begun to take their first climb. The hoop house is carpeted with the richest greens. The leaves boast more accent colors than a box of Crayolas.
We’ve gathered and dined on the farm, enjoying the fruits of collective labors long into the night, while crunching on the mix of bitter, tart and flavorful salad leaves.
They’re worthy of sketchbooks and canvases, with their array of colors and tightly wrapped textures. I behold vegetables differently here, where very soon, each row will offer a snack for the plucking. He has already been plucking, like a chef fine tuning a dish long before it ever hits the table.
It’s worth seeing all these beauties up close, to see the efforts behind them. It’s worth the close look at a farm, for later we must take a close look at our recipes, at our plates, at the table we share. Only then can we truly trust and appreciate our food.
With Tan Lines & Dirty Hands,
Hazelwood Urban Farms is the labor of love of my love, the Urban Farmer. His goal is to bring fresh food to vacant lots in a food desert. My goal is to share his story and find the perfect recipes for his crops. You can now follow more of the farm adventures on Facebook & Instagram too.