Jul 142010

“Kids making a future growing fresh food”

By Beth Connors-Manke

There was a guy who kept coming back. It was three times, I think. The first time he was considering if he’d buy anything. He had 35 guys to cook for, so only the big pile of collard greens would be in his ballpark. But it didn’t seem like he’d cooked greens before so they didn’t tempt him. As for the okra, green beans, mint, and potatoes, there weren’t enough on the table for that size dinner. (The entire lot of tomatoes had sold out to a neighbor up the street.) He walked away.

A few minutes later he was back. This time he just wanted to give a donation to the kids and ask more questions. What were they doing? How did it work?

This was a Saturday morning, there was a table full of just-harvested vegetables, but this wasn’t the Farmer’s Market downtown. This was 7th and Elm Tree, right next to the East 7th Street Center, the home of Kids Cafe. The growers and sellers were a group of young northside do-it-yourselfers, part of the S.E.E.D.S. program. Continue reading »

Jan 292010

An unemployed idea: more (labor intensive) farming

By Danny Mayer

Seed catalogs do not just sell seeds. Often, they function as repositories of all things agricultural. Most include some sort of instructions for growing each variety of seed, and nearly all include brief descriptions for each fruit, flower or vegetable that they offer.

As my interests in seeds have drifted toward primarily heirloom varieties of produce, meaning that the seeds were developed through open pollination rather than manipulated for large scale industrial production, the catalogs selling them have gotten even more interesting. In addition to instructions, most sellers of heirloom seeds include at least some stories about the seeds themselves. I enjoy learning about the depression-era history of, say, mortgage lifter tomatoes in general, or of Halladay’s Mortgage Lifter in particular. I feel the stories attached to the seeds—sometimes agriculturally focused, at other times culturally or socially so—better connect me to the long continuum of agricultural acts that comprise the bedrock of our culture. Continue reading »