Happy Friday, and welcome to a new (hopefully) semi-regular blog column called “Ramblings on Farming”. Every few weeks, we’ll try to post something a little more geared toward the big picture, political side of agriculture in this country. This week’s columnist is Alex, our tallest farmer and fencing extraordinaire.
“As fuel prices continue to rise, the worldwide ecological effects of global warming and urbanization are beginning to manifest themselves, and the American population struggles with health problems related to poor diet and inactivity. I see small-scale agriculture as a way to improve these scenarios.
In the Midwest, the vast majority of food production is dominated by corn and soybeans, much of which finds its way to intensified beef and pig production. While policy decisions are an integral part of changing the face of American food production, it is also extremely important to engage people on a personal level. The interface of small urban farms creates an ideal situation for this exchange of food, education, and culture.
Our farm is located in a busy city block, far from the large agricultural fields stretching for miles beyond the sprawl of the Twin Cities. Meat and pig productions are often isolated by barbed wire fencing and windowless aluminum buildings. Grain fields may stretch for miles without a human in sight, traversed only by a few tractors and combines passes during the season. Concrete Beet Farmers, in contrast, are abutted by a busy city street, a well traveled alleyway, and surrounded by houses. During our first work day, people of all ages and backgrounds stopped by to observe the plot, offering us advice, requesting plants for us to grow, and haggling us over our futile efforts to farm in the city. These initial reactions are the basis for re-personalizing and recreating the American food system.
As the negative ecosystem effects of mechanization, mono-cultures, and intensive chemical use become more obvious and the economic costs in these systems outweigh the benefits, large mega-farms will need to be split into smaller, more manageable parcels farmed by more people. Small-scale management fewer tractors and off-farm inputs and more soil saving measures (cover cropping, animal grazing, crop rotations) will create more sources of employment in a sustainable manner. To initiate these changes, many new farmers will need to come from the densely populated areas of the world, the cities.
At Concrete Beet Farmers, we aim to create a center for farming discussions and community in the Twin Cities. We hope that our business will inspire and teach hordes of farmers to take back the American agricultural landscape from corporations currently farming unwisely, inefficiently, and destructively. We see farming as the basis for a more sane and sustainable national economy and enriched communities in Minneapolis and throughout the globe.”
Check back soon for more ramblings,