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Over the course of three weeks, I have had a chance to experience Seattle and its inhabitants. The city itself seems to be one of contradictions. It is filled with young professionals and with those experiencing homelessness. It is filled with flawless high-rises and tent cities. Its foundations rest on inequality, but it is filled with progressive thought. As we saw in a news special, Seattle is Dying, some residents blame nonprofits for the issue of those experiencing homelessness. I am working with a nonprofit called Solid Ground. Last Friday, I had the opportunity to visit Marra farm, a community garden run by several nonprofits and community members. I traveled with two coworkers to the farm, which is south of Lake Union and not far from SeaTac. Some parts of the farm are meant to serve as a source of cultural foods that may be difficult to buy elsewhere and other parts have a focus on educational opportunities.

As we drove to south Seattle, we could see the high-rises of the city behind us and warehouses in front of us. We walked past the treeline and into the farm. From there, you could see several modest plots of land that were flush against one another. There was an obvious delineation of the border between the plots managed by different community partners. As I grew up on a 10-acre farm in the mountains of north Georgia, the farm was much smaller than those I had previously experienced. When I came home from school, I was tasked with different chores, whether that be feeding cattle or picking tomatoes. At Marra, groups of loosely related volunteers work to do similar tasks.

While my coworkers were chatting, I was encouraged to explore the rest of the farm. I quickly became aware that the farm was not the same as those I knew. It wasn’t because of the size or crops that were grown, it was that the farm seemed to contradict its location. While I could smell freshly tilled dirt, I could also see a collection of houses. While I could hear chickens clucking in the background, I could also hear and see airplanes flying overhead.

The combination of familiar sights and the strange environment made me realize that I wasn’t at home. I have done a lot of traveling and have worked in different places in the past. Despite those experiences, I never had a clear moment of realization that I was in a different place. Perhaps, the farm was so different that it incited unease. Farms from my hometown were large and separated by dense tree lines, lax in their existence. However, Marra Farm seemed to be actively defying the urban spaces that sought to overtake it. Marra’s existence relies on the support of nonprofits and community members. I always took farms for granted, a sign of my privilege. Marra Farm represents more than an afternoon chore. It is a space where community members can engage with others. It creates a space for food education and nutrition to reach a community where healthy options are limited. Marra represents a legacy of what the urban space around it was once used for.