Friday, July 30, 2010

Hipster Supported Agriculture

The problem with Hipster Supported Agriculture, is that the Hipsters, at least the ones I know, were hard to convince about the value of food-for-labor. I've kept one victim, um ah HELPER, in a continuous supply of swiss chard (which she planted) and walnut butter from my uncle-in-law's farm. My son, hipster-extraordinaire, has gotten plenty of food, sans the labor, but since he put in all the hardscaping over the years, I can't really complain.

Today I got to work at a different site with an entirely unknown bunch of kids, the Service Learning Program from Chicago's Mather High, at the Peterson Garden Project, where I'm one of the core volunteers.

Project volunteer Ann Van Z arranged for the group of 30 kids and their 4 supervisors to come and weed whack. They were disappointed that they didn't get to pick any vegetables, but did a fantastic job cleaning up the perimeter of the huge lot, and clearing the weeds in the paths. Several of them also got a lesson in watering, so all the plots that needed it got watered as well. (I did my best to try to find 30 radishes in the Farm2Give plots, but there weren't really 30 ready to be picked. Upside is I have a nice big bunch of huge radishes ready to take to the Lincoln Foundation Food Pantry.)

I also talked about why it's so important to control your food source, demonstrating a planting of the last open bed at the garden with lettuce, chard, a mesclun mix, and, what the heck, some zucchini. If no one claims the plot, we can make it another food pantry plot.

One of the things that astounded me is what these kids didn't know. They didn't know where seeds come from. They didn't know what lettuce looks like growing in the ground. They didn't know what dirt is made of, and a couple of them professed to be appalled that we were growing plants in horse manure. (Several also didn't know what manure is. It was quite amusing listening to the two contingents- kids and adults- dancing around the word "shit.") So I explained about dirt, and how it contributes to nutrition and flavor, and how chemical additives and fertilizer, far from enriching the soil, actually deplete it of the natural ecology; if there's no nutrients in the dirt, there's no nutrition in the food.

I hope we made some converts. Pictures from the two hours that the kids were there is on the Peterson Garden Facebook page; I encouraged them to tag themselves, and to join the site.

It's not a garden, it's a revolution.

And maybe these are the future leaders of it.


  1. Great, great post! Yes it always just astounds me that some kids just don't know where food comes from! Thanks for doing you part to change that...seriously it is folks like you that make all the difference! Kim

  2. Fabulous! I so love the education going on. I also love that you planted the last bed just for goodwill!

  3. this is cool! what a wonderful project!

  4. It's great that you got the kids involved.

  5. It is amazing kids just don't know where we get our food and no idea how to grow it. I knew a very smart boy, who's mom had a hort. degree, that was blown away when I told him there was no pickle plant to be had. They were pickled cucumbers. He really thought they grew that way and you had to buy a pickle plant, not cucumbers! And he was in high school!

  6. He must be thinking of the Big Rock Candy Mountain: