Down On the Farm…
The official start of Spring is still a couple of weeks away, but Spring planting is well under way. The onions (both Texas 1015 and bunching varieties), potatoes, some herbs, and radishes went in the ground before this morning’s rain came. Tomato and pepper beds are prepped and waiting. They’ll go in a couple from now. One of our fantastic volunteers worked over the weekend on getting our compost piles in order and wood chip borders and walkways are almost finished (Thank you Jay! It looks great on is working quite well).
We were also privileged to have the “Circle of Winners” from the Northside Inter-Community Agency. The “circle of Winners” are high schooler kids who will be first generation college students. They came a week ago as part of the community service they give all around Fort Worth. They did a great job!
It’s far too easy to get focused on the immediate work at hand (the field work) when Spring is rapidly approaching. Nature provides a seemingly brief window for preparation and planting. We’re blessed to have temperate climate and longer growing seasons. Our pool of volunteers, our “farmer’s”, is growing. New expansion into our second acre is beginning. Opal’s Farm is on the move, and in more ways than simply addressing food insecurity and lack of access.
On February 26th, I had the honor and the privilege of meeting Malik Yakini from the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. He toured Opal’s Farm and spent some time with the growers from Grow SE before speaking at TCU on Wednesday evening. I can only speak for myself, but I was left with desire to see the bigger picture of what we’re doing.
Malik told of meeting a village elder, or chief, in Mali, West Africa. When it came time to leave, his party was told to go across the road and greet the farmers. The elder told him, “Those who work in the sun make it possible for those who work in the shade”. Farmers provide the real fuel for all of us.
When I meet people, they often ask what I do. When I tell them I’m the Farm Manger for Opal’s Farm they either don’t stare at me with a deer in the headlights look or they look at me condescendingly as “just a farmer”. That response is typical of most urban populations lacking access to fresh produce or knowledge of where their food comes from or how it’s processed. When I tell them it’s an urban farm near downtown, I can see their doubt and disbelief.
Moreover, they’ve lost their connection to the world around them. That lack of connection, of harmony, causes a myriad of physical, mental, and most importantly, spiritual problems. That’s one reason I always refer to Opal’s Farm as a great place for “dirt therapy” – something happens to us when our hands get dirty and a plant grows as a result. We have a little less anxiety and a little more peace. The problems that seemed so pressing before shrink in size. We begin connecting to the world around us.
Farming isn’t always easy. We’re in one of the busiest times of the year. It’s a lot of hard work getting the Spring crops in, but there’s quite as rewarding. If you’d like to volunteer or donate to Opal’ Farm, please go to our website, www.unityunlimited.org and click on the Opal’s Farm page. You can choose either and we’d love to see you at the farm.
Shane Claiborne, in The Irresistible Revolution, tells of asking Mother Teresa about her work in the poorest parts of Calcutta. Her response was two words – “Come see”. I would urge each of you, whether volunteering or simply donating to Opal’s Farm to come see our work; to join us in our mission of ending food insecurity and building real community. Maybe you will want to be a farmer alongside us…