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.
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!