By Deborah Greig
When I was first learning to farm, I met a seasoned farmer who gave me some advice:
Even if you’ve been farming for thirty years, you’ve only really done it thirty times.
This gentleman had been farming for over thirty years, and definitely had his systems down, so I was a little skeptical. However, over the years, this phrase has become a humbling reminder about the infinite learning involved in getting to know a new piece of land.
I have been farming for almost 15 years, and every new farm has its quirks: the soil drains differently, new weeds blow in on the breeze and some years a new pest decides to eat all of the beans.
Moving from New York to New Haven, and to a new farming experience at Common Ground, has brought me a lot of opportunities for growth. East New York Farms! in Brooklyn, NY, where I worked for eight years, had a one acre urban farm. We farmed with youth and the community, and benefited from the “heat island effect” and had shelter from the surrounding building. I never wrapped my figs. I grew over 25 varieties of hot peppers from the seeds that fellow gardeners would bring after they went back to the Caribbean and Bangladesh to visit family. We never lost a swarm of bees leave the farm, because they were blocked by the elevated subway tracks.
In many ways, being at Common Ground feels familiar. There are young people everywhere and the farm is a place for learning and engaging with issues around food justice in addition to growing food. The farm at Common Ground, however, also has a special history and is used and valued by the people around it in so many unique ways that I am only beginning to learn about.
Part of getting to know a farm is getting to know the people who care about it. Please come by, and come introduce yourself on one of our Open Farm Days starting in April from 10-2pm. I’d love to hear stories and experiences (and help make some new ones on the farm!)
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