Working all day is exhausting. Kudos to the people (most adults, I know) that do it every day. Farming takes this full-workday deal to the next level. Last Friday, I woke up with a sore back and arms from the hours of weeding and “hula hoe-ing” I did at the farm. Today, I woke up with sore hamstrings and an achey neck from squatting in a bed of peppers overgrown with a stubborn, overabundant invasive plant called Morning Glory. When I get back from my 5.5 hours of farm, I collapse on the couch with a giant glass of water by my side and refuse to do anything for the rest of the day besides consume food. Have I earned my chops as a farmer yet?
Despite the exhaustion and muscle pains, I love it. I find myself grounded by the tangible work I’m doing, and the hours I spend outside among plants and sunshine. It’s satisfying to see two clear rows of beets in a bed that was previously overgrown with weeds. It’s exciting to arrive at the farm on a Monday morning and come across small green sprouts in a bed that I planted the week before. There is nothing like the sensation of yanking a carrot out of the soil and smelling the fresh zing of eau de newly-harvested-carrot (those bagged baby carrots just don’t do it for me anymore). Trellising and pruning tomato plants has become a kind of zen, cathartic meditation for me. Beds of weeds and spindly spiders have proved to be the ideal backdrops for great conversations with my farm coordinators. I feel more connected than ever before to the food I put in my body, and feel much more gratitude for the farmers that grow that food.
Both Marra Farm and Seattle Community Farm are fairly small, but all the produce grown is donated to local food banks. The two farms are a part of Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program, which works on access and education regarding the nutritious veggies for people experiencing poverty. In addition to donating food from the two farms, we run volunteer work parties, hold garden/cooking education classes, and work with food banks to distribute seeds so that people can also grow their own food. There are 25 food banks in Seattle and the 300 lbs of produce harvested weekly at Marra Farm will last only half a day at one food bank that serves about 600 people in a day. Despite all of our programs and hard work, Solid Ground is just a drop in the bucket of Seattle’s inequitable food system. There’s a lot of work to be done. And the emergency food need in this city is only increasing. I strongly believe that everyone deserves access to fresh, nutritious produce, no matter their income and am proud that I’ve been able to contribute to Solid Ground’s work this summer.
To read more about my Seattle experience, check out my blog at: https://mika-in-seattle.tumblr.com