Growing Great Gardeners
Early in my farming career I noticed that many sustainably-focused organizations marketed to farmers and consumers, but they were not activists encouraging growing farmers.Throughout the beginning stages of my career, more and more people began asking me to join new farmers markets, more chefs asked me to supply them with produce, and our CSA had an extensive waiting list long before the season even began. Good, fresh food was in high demand. At that time our farm's size allowed us to enjoy a good life and we did not want or need to increase the farm’s production. We focused on quality, knowing bigger doesn’t always mean better. The demand for our goods was increasing while, at the same time, the number of farmers here in America was declining. I realized that we needed to rethink our approach to improve the food system. We needed to educate.
I became the activist I saw lacking in my early years. I reached out to local thought leaders highlighting the need for an edible education for our country’s youth. I noted the value of experiential learning: cooking classes, school gardens, farm and farmers market tours, and at home gardens. If we are to make farming and gardening a normal part of life, we must be surrounded by it. We must not view it abstractly from a grocery store. School gardens bring the classroom to life. Visiting farms inspires children to become farmers. At farmers markets children learn how the farmer fits into the community, contributing valuable nourishment. Home gardens reveal to children the joy of farming with family. By educating our youth through this type of learning, we are promoting a sustainable food system.