J500 Media and the Environment

No Hippie Daydream by jenh
February 21, 2008, 11:40 am
Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: , , , ,

I grew up eating real, juice-down-your-chin produce from my parents’ garden. On warm spring afternoons my mom could find me in a jungle of green vines devouring sugar-snap peas or sun-ripened cherry tomatoes.

My partner, Jessica, has similar stories about childhood on her grandfather’s Douglas County farm. It’s something that unites us in taste bud horror every time we bite into a restaurant sandwich and discover it includes a mushy, plasticine pale tomato shipped from hundreds of miles away.

Jess wants to bring the flavors of our childhoods to people who don’t have land or the time to grow their own food. That’s partly what prompted her to apply to the local farming program Growing Growers. Growing Growers strives to meet the increasing nationwide and local interest in locally raised and produced foods. The creators of the program hope it helps meet the needs of nearby restaurants, consumer groups and markets such as the Lawrence Farmers’ Market.

Growing growers helps aspiring newbies like Jess connect with small farms and growers already in business in the I-70 corridor. This leads to apprenticeships, some of them paid and some of them volunteer (read: unpaid). The program also includes monthly workshops and the chance to visit urban and rural farm operations.

Last year Jess spent her first day as an apprentice shoveling fermented soy goop onto the chilly March soil. Spreading that steaming okara compost at Moon on the Meadow farm in eastern Lawrence zapped any lingering romanticism for farm life and showed her what the real work of farming would be.

Lessons like that reinforce that if we want to start our own sustainable farm on her grandfather’s land, we can’t be all back-to-the-land 1960s wistful about it. We’ll have to be realistic about what it will take to feed other people, and ourselves. I’ll be honest and say that I find that intimidating.

So in the meantime, especially after I’ve trudged home in the snow or slush from my office, I’m staving off my farming insecurities with daydreams. I think about the crunch of fresh spinach, the sugary rush of a honeydew melon and the way a heavy, ripened tomato feels in my hand, and when I do, I know that the work ahead will be worth the result. — Jen Humphrey

Only a few months between the snows of February and the joys of the farmer’s market. (Credit: DLFM)


3 Comments so far
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Jen – thanks so much for pointing me in the direction of this blog. How great it is to keep up from far away! Now, of course, I expect to visit your own personal blog when it comes to fruition. And I expect to see pix of Jess on the farm, a bunch of baby goats, and Free State shenanigans soon 🙂


Comment by TAG


I found your comment about using OKARA to be one of too few in my internet search for composting the material, of which I have just had a truckload delivered to use as an ammendment for our dense clay garden soil here on Vashon Island, WA. We have a local tofu factory, which seems to have difficulty getting rid of the stuff & will deliver it for free. Now, after that fact, I’m searching for information about it. Any tips?

As curious context, I am a long time deserter from the farm in western Kansas on which I grew up, so it is interesting to find your blog posting unique in those several ways… Could the information I seek come from so deep inside my old prejudices?!?

It is difficult to believe there is so little information about what seems, in some places at least, an abundant resource for cronstructive recyling… what am I missing?

Thanks from GRB

Comment by Gordon R. Barnett

Gordon, thanks for your comment – and from a Kansas ex-pat to boot. When I wrote about the okara, I had a hard time finding any information, either! Maybe it’s a well-kept secret in the world of compost. The best advice I can offer is contact the staff of your local tofu producer and ask them if they have any tips on composting it. Good luck!
-Jen Humphrey

Comment by jenh

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