Thursday, June 14, 2012

Growing on the Farm

Yes, I live on a half-acre. Yes, I live in the middle of Atlanta. And yes, I've decided to call my little plot of land a farm. I mean, shoot, I have chickens in the back yard and a garden in the front yard. I think that makes it a farm. And seeing as how I grew up on a farm, I think I have the authority to declare it so.

I already knew from some of my experiences with Crop Mob that the farming community is amazing. But until I started raising chickens and growing a garden, I don't think I knew the breadth and depth of the care and the helpfulness of the farming community. When I've had questions, like "why is nothing in my garden growing?" I had several farmer friends (and my parents) pipe up that perhaps I am watering the garden too much. Apparently, watering your garden every single day, and at night, is wrong. When I needed help trying to set up my front yard garden, I had a farmer friend go with me to the nursery to get plants and then come back to the house with me and help me plant them. When I've had questions about why my chickens feathers are falling out or why their combs are looking all dry, a farmer friend gave me great tips about how to help the hens. When my tomato plants starting looking droopy and like they were dying, not only did my farmer friend tell me how to fix them, but she gave me the necessary tool to fix them (kelp meal, if you're wondering).

The really cool thing is how much more I have to talk to my parents about now that I am farming. They've been doing this for years and years, and I think they are surprised at my enthusiasm. I think they are exasperated by my constant nagging that they should be growing their garden organically, but they just put up with my hippie ways. I mean, they raised me, so technically it's their fault. But there really is nothing quite like calling Daddy in the morning on my way in to work and talking about my garden. I think he's rather proud that I've decided to do something that he loves. I go home and help my parents in their garden every chance I get. Their garden encompasses several acres and they do most all of the work by hand, so they need all the help they can get. Although, I frequently wonder if it's really necessary to plant an entire acres of just potatoes. But, in the words of Daddy, "farmers feed America." And my parents may not be feeding all of America, but they are feeding my grandmother and other widow women in the community. As my Daddy always says, "if you plant enough to share, you'll always have enough." And goodness me do they have enough. My mother has four deep freezers full to the brim of food that she has put away from the garden.

Oh and one of the really exciting parts about growing a garden in your front yard...people will stop and ask you what you're growing. And then you get to tell them about your garden. One day last week my neighbors' five-year-old daughter walked over to see what I was growing. I got to show her what each plant looked like and was able to talk to her about what would grow from each of them. Then she got to pet a chicken, which was pretty much the highlight of her day. It was pretty awesome to experience a child's first time to pet a chicken. Which sounds pretty lame, and it probably is. But this is the life I've been wanting to live. And I'm loving it.

Front yard garden, freshly planted
Side yard garden, after I stopped watering it to death

My parents' garden