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On April 10, 2015 my 3,500 mile journey from Florida to Oregon had ended and I was at Dancing Roots Farm as an organic farming apprentice, seeking to improve my relationship with food, the land, and work.
Like many people, my relationship with food started in the grocery store or restaurant and concluded at the end of my fork. This was my reality until my final semester as a public health graduate student (2013), when I led the development of a community garden and produce stand in a food desert in Gainesville, FL. This is when I began to recognize the power of sustainable agriculture to unite, educate, and nourish communities. The realization led me to leave my job in academia, in search of more meaningful work, a journey which ended in Corbett, Oregon, living with my dog, Ty, in a 12 foot (in diameter) yurt on a 10 acre organic vegetable farm.
For seven months, I would rise with the sun, spend my days caring for the land, and my evenings enjoying the literal fruits of our labor. When I was not on the farm, I was enjoying the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, and its endless number of hiking trails, including the famous Pacific Crest Trail. I was in natural paradise.
After 12 years, I have returned to Howard County and I find myself looking at everything through green colored lenses. When I see wide open spaces, I automatically begin calculating the potential yields of tomatoes, peppers, kale, collards, and lettuce heads. When I come across an overgrown lawn, I can’t help to think of how many goats it would take to mow it down in a day, and how great that goat poop would be for the fertility of the soil. My parents are thrilled to have me around, in my new role as compost enforcer of the house. But most importantly, I have a much greater appreciation for locally grown/raised food and am always looking for opportunities to support local farms that produce food using environmentally sustainable and humane practices.
Now that I am back in Howard County, I am excited to see initiatives like “Live Green Howard” and The Howard County Conservancy. I look forward to using my experiences and my green lenses to help strengthen this community.
Take-a-way: It does all of us good to get out and learn more about where our food comes from so that we can all work to save our farms and support locally grown foods. Thanks Darryl for your interest and your commitment to helping make things better right here in Howard County. Editor
I grew up on 110 acres in Harford County, Maryland. In the 1960s, forty acres of our farm was taken by eminent domain for the construction of Interstate I-95. We were devastated by that event. (More on that part of the story can be found in the prologue of the book Saving the Places We Love).
To block out the sight and the sound of the highway, we planted 30,000 evergreen trees – a very slow-growing sound barrier. Six years later, (more…)