Real Food For Thought

Town & Country

By Alexander Harrell, Perlman Place Production Assistant

I used to be a regular old farmer. What I mean by that statement is that I used to work on an organic farm in the middle of farm country: sometimes surrounded by trees, other times surrounded by water…but always surrounded by more open land. This vast expanse of open land seemed to go on ad infinitum at times, and somewhere along that spectrum of endlessness was a collection of fields where I grew crops for a CSA. If someone were to say the word farmer, and your mind conjures an image of a scraggly, dirty, sun-baked boy excited that he gets to work with a new kind of irrigation emitter, you would be correct.

Even though I always grew produce in a rural environment, I frequently ventured to an urban one to deliver the produce and take it to market. This was a fun sort of duplicity that came with being a farmer. Every weekend, I had the chance to venture into the city, see the buildings, exchange recipes with familiar faces. Then for the rest of the week, I was back in the field by myself with only the plants to keep me company.

These days, I work in the city. I am a different kind of farmer: an urban farmer. Where others see an empty lot, I see plantings of tomato and basil, or a berry orchard. Where some people see vacant homes and a dilapidated block, I see an opportunity to teach people about whole foods. (Real foods, even!) What excites me  most is having the chance to work alongside these people as they grow on community plots, or engage them in conversation as they walk by every day and ask how the plants are doing. I hope that one day every one knows how to grow their own food, and I aim to make that manifest.


About Real Food Farm

Real Food Farm works toward a just and sustainable food system by improving neighborhood access to healthy food, providing experience-based education, and developing an economically viable, environmentally responsible local agriculture sector.

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