Posts Tagged ‘farm city’

Blending Contrasts

I’m stuck on this concept of blending contrasts.  Maybe it has to do with being the only brown girl I know interested in farming (although this really shouldn’t be a contrast at all); or maybe it has to do with going from political activist to farmergirl overnight — and wanting to blend the two.  It could also be the happy feeling I get when pulling weeds in a quaint, quiet garden while listening to the intense sounds of Immortal Technique.

Or this could all just be too deep, and these thoughts were only sparked from the meal I just had while sitting in a barn in West Virginia: Mexican food and French wine… out of a mason jar.

Either way, blending things that aren’t expected to go together is my thing; always has been.  Makes sense right?  After all, I’m a girl born of blended love: young white girl from Texas meets aspiring Black Panther from the dirty South.  Their eyes meet in a club in L.A.  The rest is history, out pops me.

I was always blending contrasts throughout my childhood, without knowing it; I was just being myself: a tomboy that hated skirts and wanted to catch lizards and climb trees yet constantly dreamt about the boy she would fall madly in love with one day; then a cute high school girl that you’d expect to be breaking hearts in a miniskirt, but would walk around campus in an over sized Elmo t-shirt and baggy jeans instead.

I was the smart girl that never studied; the shy girl that loved performing theatre; the only girl of color for miles that listened to country music–and loved it.

And nothing’s changed.  Now I’m the advertising grad that despises consumerism; the advocate that hates public speaking; and the  girl that wants to farm…in the middle of the city.

I want to grow vegetables pesticide/toxin free right in the smog of L.A.  I want to stand barefoot spreading hay under the skyline of Chicago.  I want to feed pigs with the leftovers from Chinatown dumpsters in Manhattan.

I want to watch a 19 -year-old gang member help his 70-year-old neighbor harvest tomatoes from a garden growing in the cracks of Oakland streets.

I’m on a mission to continue blending contrasts in the hopes of making something beautiful.  So my farm hopping may take me from the country to the city, from culture to culture and from sea to shining sea, but I will stay focused… and just keep doin’ me.

Add farm.  Add yours truly.  Press blend.

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I just finished a pretty quirky book about a girl from Washington (state not district) that moves to Oakland and rents an apartment on the “2-8”, a street that was known for gunfights, crack dealers and homeless camps, and starts growing food on an abandoned lot.

The book, Farm City by Novella Carpenter is a true story of Novella’s adventures in urban farming. She starts with growing veggies on the abandoned lot, then gets chickens, then bees, then turkeys, ducks and rabbits, and finally two huge pigs.

The book was kinda funny and I learned a bit about raising farm animals to produce meat. But something didn’t sit right with me as far as her intentions for doing it. She was aware of the problems in her neighborhood and that her urban farm project could benefit others, and she did give some lettuce to local Black Panthers and shared food with neighbors. But I kept wondering why she didn’t do more.  I know not everyone has a humanitarian streak and everyone deserves the right to just do for themselves; to learn and experiment.  But I couldn’t help but think that she was missing a big point of the work that she was doing.

She had the opportunity to teach, share more, partner up with organizations in her neighborhood that are fighting for food justice and health. And yet her intentions seemed so centered around herself.

I hate to be so hard on her. And maybe I am missing the point. After all, she did publish this book about her experience, and although her intentions for publishing the book may not have been much more than getting all those quirky stories down, she is adding to the urban food voice and educating people like me on raising turkeys, bees and pigs, so I can’t hold it against her too much.

Thanks to Ouida for giving me this book as a gift before I left DC!!

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