In an effort to become more involved in the local farm-to-table ventures and adventures, I’ve toured a couple of local urban farms in the last month, something I should have done long before. Not that there’s any moss growing on my butt or anything, but these were obvious places for me to visit, so I’m glad I’ve finally stepped away from the weeds in my own garden to see how the pros grow it.
Yesterday I visited Urban Roots, an urban farm which is largely dedicated to teaching kids where their food comes from. They have many programs or partnerships with local schools, conduct spring and summer camps for kids (hope to get my daughter in one), and hold classes on permaculture and other topics for adults. I’ve met the Executive Director, Jeff Bryant at other functions, and he has ties with people I work with too, since he has conducted field study trips in Costa Rica for Urban Roots, and we have programs in 3 cities there. I even spoke to one of the young staff members who had studied there through one of our programs before coming to work for Urban Roots. Small town. I recently learned that Urban Roots is helping the middle school my son is moving to next year develop their own school garden. Might just have to lend a hand there, I suppose.
Cheryl explaining their use of permaculture in the design of the farm.
Chicken eggs and chicken poop – need’em both!
Several weeks ago I toured The River School Farm, which is not even a mile from Urban Roots. I love small towns, because here too I’ve known the director, Tom Stille, for a number of years, being friendly acquaintances through Bruka Theater, where I’ve been involved, here and there, ever since we moved to Reno; but this is the first time (silly me) that I’ve ever been down to his farm. It is right on the banks of the Truckee River, right before it flows through downtown Reno, and they hold commuity events (my wife and kids camped there overnight for some event last year), classes & workshops, weddings, and all sorts of things on their lovely grounds.
Tom offering us dressing choices for the salad that they served us from greens picked on the tour.
Both farms seem to be dedicated to reintroducing the concept of growing your own to the people, while making what they grow, and how they grow it, available to the public – thus providing us the fish and teaching us how to catch our own.
I also recently joined the Great Basin Community Food Co-op, (GBCFC) a local store selling mostly organic foods and other wares. I signed up to be a “HOO” or “Hands-On-Owner.” By volunteering 8 hours a month you get certain discounts and such, but I’m mostly interested in just getting more involved. I haven’t had my orientation yet, won’t for a couple of weeks still, so I don’t know what I’ll be helping with, but I’m excited to get going. They too hold community events, such as a few gardening workshops, regular yoga classes, and other events. A couple of months ago I attended a screening of the independent, documentary film, “GMO-OMG in GBCFC’s community space, and it played to a packed house of like-minded people. The film was good, though it didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know. But for those new to the subject, the story of a father of 3 young children on his journey to find out what is in the food he feeds his family was done pretty well.
There are other urban and local farms in the area that I’d like to tour, and if/when I do I’ll share them here too. It is nice to know that as much of a Stranger In A Strange City that I still feel after 15 years here (I miss my home in the Northwest often), the Reno area sure seems to be groking and rocking the farm-to-table movement lately, and I’m ready to dig in myself.
-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell