Friday, July 26, 2013

Rant Time

Alright guys. I don't rant much, but you'll have to bare with me for just a short little post because I really need this out of my system.
So I'm a Horticulture major, Food Systems focus, with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture. Kind of a mouthful, I know, but I'm excited to wrap my last two years of school up with that mouthful. I tell this to a good number of people on a regular basis because, when you tell people you're in college, that's the first thing they'll ask you.
The second question is always "What do you want to do when you're done with school?", to which I answer with something along the lines of "Well, I really want to work with urban agriculture, community supported agriculture groups, co-op groups, things like that." And the most obvious statement in my answer is usually the word "urban".
Now here begins my rant. Once the conversation gets started with those first two questions, it'll run along quite fine and then I'll get a statement that goes something like this: "Oh, well you should get yourself a big piece of land and get yourself a farm going on that." And I'm sitting there wondering if that person really heard anything I just said in my first two statements. I'm not saying anything against larger, more traditional farms in this. I really admire that lifestyle, honestly. I just recognize the fact that it's not for me.
But this statement that I hear from people when I describe my goals to them is, in fact, the reason I want to pursue this career so much. I want to prove to them that I don't need a big plot of land way out in the country to be able to feed myself, feed whatever family I might have in the future, and teach others to do the same. I want to change the way people think about food production and agriculture so that, when they hear those terms, their brains don't automatically jump to rolling fields of corn, wheat, or some other bulk crop. (Again, not that those aren't a very important part of agriculture, because they most definitely are!) But I want to get people start thinking outside the box more and realizing that they don't have to depend solely on their local grocery store or corner store for every single thing they put on their tables.
So when people say I would love having a big piece of land with a farm like it's the easiest assumption in the world, I like to look at them and say "No, that's exactly the opposite of what I want to do." Because studying horticulture and sustainable agriculture isn't just about taking care of me when I'm finished with school. It's about taking that 82% of the US population that lives in cities or suburbs and showing them what they can do with some dirt and seeds, and showing them what they can put on their tables from their own backyards. And it's showing people that they can take care of themselves and their families if they just step outside their box for a while.
End rant.

In other news, the UP of Michigan has been REALLY COLD (for summer anyway) for the days I've been at home. We had a couple sunny days where the temperature was bareable, but today it's been low 50s and raining. Pretty gloomy. But, on one of the nicer days earlier this week, we did a bit of blueberry picking and, despite the cooler temperatures, it seems to be a great season for it!

I also got an update from my gardening partner back in the Twin Cities that we've had the first (tiny!) harvest from our garden. Two jalapenos that we're probably going to make our guy friends eat for a challenge. Mostly to find out if they're good and how spicy they are!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Garden Update

Hello everyone!
My apologies for not posting too much this summer. I wanted to wait to give you a garden update until some tangible progress had been made. I went over to help put up a fence the other day and it seemed as if most of the growth had happened in the week since I'd been there last. We've got tons of flowers on the tomato plants and even a few small fruits. The pepper plants have shot up like rockets and the pumpkin has really taken off.

Quite a bit of growth since the last time I took a picture! 

Baby Roma tomatoes are just starting to show up.

About a third of the height of these peppers was probably achieved in the last week or so,

The pumpkin looks a bit upside down, but we were in the process of re-positioning it so we could get the fence up.

The nasturtiums are looking healthy too.

The snow peas are just starting to climb their trellis.

Our row of beans and the beets in front of them are growing a bit more slowly, but they're getting there.
After these pictures were taken, up went a fence to protect things from the rabbits. We had a young sunflower get it's head chopped off the night before, so we decided we'd better protect the rest of our crop.

In other news, my seasonal greenhouse job ended a few weeks ago. I'm a bit bummed to not be around plants all day anymore, but I gained a lot of really good experience and I learned quite a bit about caring for flowering annuals as well as how a successful greenhouse business is run. Getting internship credit for my major was a real plus too.
I go back to Michigan for a visit later on next week into the following week, so hopefully I can help my mom out in the garden back home, or just have time to take some wildflower photos to put up in a post.