Monday, February 21, 2011

Hipster Supported Agriculture and the Real Food Challenge

First-- sorry to dump challenge on top of challenge! Remember, this month- no buying. Next month- only real food. (I'll see what I can think of to torment you with in April.)

Last year I did a lot of growing things with young people-- in my own home garden and at the Peterson Garden Project. While I love the idea of growing things with kids, I, along with the other folks at Peterson, feel very strongly that non-gardening adults (and I define that from the teenage years on) need to be brought into the idea of sustainable living.

So I came up with the idea of Hipster Supported Agriculture (I need to take a page from the Dervaes' book and get that trademarked)-- gardening with young adults. I'll be doing a project with Peterson Garden again this year, working with troubled teens from a local group home in our Farm4Youth program. The exciting new aspect of the program this year is that they will be working with a nutritionist from Cooking Matters, who will be there from the start with planning the garden and will work with the kids to prepare the food they grow.

All well and good if you happen to have this kind of support system. But there's a generation of young people now who were brought up by a generation of middle-aged people for whom sustainable lifestyles weren't even on the radar, let along something they actively pursued. These newly hatched chicks, just coming out of college, are passionate about their responsibility to the planet, but they're the second or third or even fourth generation of people who think that soil is dirt, if they think about it at all. They have no skills, no home-grown knowledge, and grew up in a culture that made everything cheap by exporting its creation, from sneakers to broccoli. They lived through an era where home cooking was vilified in the name of commerce (and have you noticed that the ads proclaiming "as good as home made" have morphed into "as good as a restaurant"?)

So my daughter has agreed to join the Challenge this year, as a representative of her generation, to learn whether she can eat sustainably on a poor girl's income (yes, I'm that horrible mother that doesn't support her grown children with even the occasional 20 slipped under the table).

She claims that eating real is too expensive, and too time consuming. I maintain that if she stops eating the junk, she'll save money. We haven't worked out the details, but since she shares my car on Mondays and Thursdays, if she wants a ride home, she's going to have to cook first (she doesn't know this yet).

We'll see what other young people we can draw into our web. We make a lot of fun of the Hipsters (and I lump everyone between 16 and 30 into that group), but they are the future, and they GET IT. They just don't know how to do it.

So Hipster Supported Agriculture is joining the Real Food Challenge. It doesn't get much realer than that.


  1. My sister and brother-in-law took a course on square foot gardening and told me all about it while I was there this weekend. I'm really excited. We live in a suburb of a very big city and backyards are laughably small. I wanted a garden but honestly thought I wouldn't be able to because of space of reasons. Now I'm thrilled to think I can start planning a square foot garden in the backyard!
    Young adults aren't the only ones who want to but don't know how. I turned 40 this year and this will be my first vegetable patch.

  2. This is what we have seen at the Peterson Garden Project. It doesn't do any good to teach kids about gardening if their parents don't garden. You'll be happy to hear that new gardeners were getting 20 to 40 pounds of produce from each little 24sqft plot!

  3. I'm in the "hipster" age range and caught the green thumb real bad three years ago with our first tomato plants. I remember my mom growing a vegetable garden when I was real little, but when she went back to work quit completely. I had to learn almost everything about gardening from books and the internet. Now my parents are getting back into it, and my inlaws are too. For all of us to be from "the country", there is definitely a lot of gardening knowledge that was not passed on from our grandparents.