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Elegance

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Three days ago, I shot a pig with a rifle.

Immediately following, Brandon put a knife in its throat and cut both of its carotid arteries. His blood flowed acquiescently among the hay beneath our feet. He died with grace and dignity.

There is a matter of extreme beauty in this act. An immeasurable elegance that exists in taking the life of an animal in order to sustain lives. These emotions are invariably accompanied by a supreme weight, the grave reality of ending a life irrespective of its end. Our work is not easy, but it is necessary.

This beauty, pure and tempered with hardship, is an integral stitch with which the quilt of agricultural lifestyles are knit. Farmers who sow community will inevitably lose their resultant crops to an environmental disaster, market collapse, or policy battle at some point.

While our consciences will be tried and crops will fail, the importance of our work will never wane. The revival of traditional agricultural practices and the reinvigoration of an agri-centric culture are paramount at this point in the reclamation of a functional food system.

Though the Agrarian Renaissance is rapidly expanding around the country, there remains a significant cognitive gap among much of our population. Ew, is that blood? You kill pigs? Murderer.

Thus, communication becomes equally important as practice. If we can properly, honestly, and beautifully convey what we do, why we do it, and even how we do what we do, the Renaissance will be more efficacious.

Even with the understanding that communication is imperative, however, it is no small undertaking to produce savvy media that will actually reach people.

It was from this theory that Farmrun was born, and shall we say, on this platform that we initiate the open call to filmmakers, designers, illustrators, web developers, photographers, anyone and everyone, to engage in this good work and spread the message.

Recent technological innovations have, in truly magnificent ways, democratized the field of media production, in the form of monetarily accessible, high quality machinery, and access to instantaneous distribution to the world via the internet.

The true beauty of the resources and infrastructure available to us is reflective of the nature of the Agrarian Renaissance, which is necessarily an inclusive movement. We need every body that is willing an able to join up and start growing.

Neither agricultural media production nor farming are proprietary practices. They belong to nobody and everybody. As we move forward, the two must go hand in hand. At this point in time, it is critical that as many able minds as possible join into the productive agrarian ranks.

On Pig Butchery & The Art of Communication

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(a short piece i wrote for the good folks at Food+Tech Connect)

Three days ago, I shot a pig with a rifle.

Immediately following, Brandon put a knife in its throat and cut both of its carotid arteries.  Blood flowed acquiescently onto the hay beneath our feet. The pig died with grace and dignity.

There is an immeasurable elegance that exists in taking the life of an animal in order to sustain lives…

read the rest HERE

The State of Assery

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I’d like to make the case for making an ass of yourself. Not the kind of ass where you shriek in the face of armed palace guards in a forged British accent, nor the kind of ass where you invariably mistake sarcasm for humor. This ass, the kind for which I am going to advocate, is a different kind. It’s the kind where you invest yourself in an idealistic or ideological pursuit. A question or a phone call, or a request to hang out or looking up the spelling of turmeric when you’re sure there is only one ‘r’ and have vehemently declared the proper spelling to your friend. The kind of ass where that pursuit goes smoosh in your face. I believe that this kind of assery is crucial to a productive and critical progression as a human being.

Let’s take a step back, then, to the afternoon of august 31st, 2010. I am sitting in a rocking chair, watching the glass laketop from Suzy’s deck in Camden, Maine. There is a cellular telephone pressed to my ear and furious beats in my chest. Beads of sweat gather on my forehead. I begin reciting, replaying my opening line in my head. With each subsequent brrrrrririiiinninnninggg, I recite faster, ensuring that I won’t sound like a fool. Like a kid. A stranger with no basis for soaking up their precious seconds of their busy day at their excruciatingly cool bakery collective and farm. “Hello…”

This moment was, in retrospect, the precise beginning of what turned into a four month documentary trip, a Farmrun. DC to Maine to Seattle to San Francisco. Searching for innovative agriculturists, urban and rural. By Michigan, I was a cold-calling pro, knocking them out left and right. Picking blackberries in July. But on that August afternoon, with those clammy hands and crackly voice, I was apprehensive, to say the least.

The option to not be frightened was unavailable. The only emotion in my momentary lexicon. A mounting tsunami of terror welling in my chest, bubbling out my ears. With a wholly fruitless attempt to mask my trepidation, the wave culminated in a gush of words, “himynameisandrewimdoingaprojectcameravideoyourbreadlooksamazingiwanttocomevisityouandseeyourfarm.” After a brief pause to decode my robotic ramble, Lydia’s sweet soft nurturing voice responded with “that sounds lovely, we look forward to meeting you!”

And the sandbags dropped. Fell from my shoulders with a resounding boom that released the years of trivial tension gathered in the last three minutes. And I felt silly. And I smiled.

I don’t think I am alone in the emotions and experience I’ve just described. There are greater forces at work here, underlying the pressing question of: why was I so egregiously, nonsensically concerned about the simple act of making a phone call to a stranger?

The easy answer, I think, is to say that I was apprehensive of feeling foolish. Making an ass of myself, by which I mean the experience of feeling foolish, juvenile, sophomoric, naïve, silly, uninformed, childish, stupid, off-base or inappropriate. So then, what is this state of ‘assery,’ to which we refer, and how does one get there?

When examined more closely, I think that the reasoning is completely ludicrous, so without any critical intervention, I am going to relay the underlying, mostly subconscious thought process that led me to perceive the fictional scenario in which I felt like an ass.

“I am a person, young and without a significant body of work or experience in the avenues which I am now pursuing, a nobody, never been heard of, and now I am calling up a stranger who I discovered because they are doing something that I hold in high regard as “good,” worthy of lauding, and therefore I find intimidating to a degree because that ‘goodness’ implies a certain sense of superiority – because they are doing something ‘good’ and because they are doing this ‘good’ thing, they are engaged in, wrapped up with and busy pursuing the steps that make this ‘good’ thing continue to be ‘good’ and therefore do not have a lot of spare time in which to meddle with childish nobodies who bring very little if not nothing to the table and if I call them out of the blue without a particular agenda, then they are going to be hard nosed and brusque, brushing me off, shooting down my poorly-worded request to visit, slamming their index finger into the ‘off’ button on their cellular telephone, resulting in exactly the same termination noise in my cellular telephone as if they had gently pressed the button on their telephone but nonetheless reducing me to a pile of shambles and tears on the deck next to the infuriatingly, enduringly glassy lake.”

As I prefaced, ludicrous. But true to my feelings. And perhaps yours. And as I have exemplified in my recap above, every tension of the supposed scenario my mind proposed to itself was indeed a figment of my own perception of how the interaction would transpire. Particularly in this case, where we know that the outcome is positive – nothing like my fabricated destruction – the most significant impediment was my own mind. The most significant inhibitor is your own mind.

I stood on the edge for three days, fretting and nibbling my fingertips. When I finally took the leap, I landed on both feet, running at full speed. The point is that this fear of assery is internally combustive and self-perpetuating. If you never make the call, it is guaranteed that you will never speak to the person on the other end. If you take the leap, you are going to land somewhere.

All over the country I leapt and bounded, jumped hopped and dove. Time and time again, I was amazed, delighted, simply flabbergasted by peoples’ generally ubiquitous willingness to find time to meet with a nobody sophomoric kiddie like myself. I connected with the leader of one of the biggest farming organizations currently sweeping the country, and the manager of one of the buzziest (at the time) farms in Detroit. I met with a man on a bureaucratic crusade to plant urban orchards and an illustrator/signmaker farming duo, for all of whom I had great reverence. Before I made the leap in each case, these folks were names faces and pictures on a computer screen. They were projects and visions inaccessible to my hands and voice. Until I tried.

Furthermore, there is a matter of this issue which is specific to, and exaggerated in the agricultural renaissance. While there were many unifying threads to the projects I was visiting, one that ran through with the strength of steel cables was an emphasis on openness and community. In a sense, a revival of traditional agriCultural values.

Before the industrial crisis, farmers were part of a community. A network of individuals and craftspeople and tradesmiths who relied on each other for goods and services and companionship. When farming became mechanized and exorbitantly expensive, ties were cut and secrets held.

John Savanna was not only willing, but suggested that I take his family’s 80 year old molasses cookie recipe. He showed me how to shape his signature focaccia and sent me off with a bag of pretzels. Naomi Montacre shared the business dynamics of her Farm Store. Stephan Meyer walked me through how, precisely, he created raised beds out of chicken wire and hay. Olde Godsil snuck me in to his aquaponic warehouse afterhours so that he could show me how his systems work.

This is an open-source movement. The Point is inclusivity and sharing. The more people we can recruit to be interested and passionate, to acquire and spread our collective knowledge, the better. The point is to sow more seeds. In my experience, the folks who are moving and shaking and running this renaissance will always respond to a phone call. Or graciously decline.

Which brings us back. You may recall that I began this piece by demanding that you make an ass of yourself. Well, I’m thinking that this declaration needs some refinement, now that we’ve beaten down the idea of assery. What is important is not the act of feeling foolish, of feeling like an ass, but rather the preceding gesture.

Leaping. Putting yourself out there, taking chances in thoughtful and controlled ways. You will only leap into arenas where you are propelled by interest, passion or sincere curiosity, and therefore the result will be nutritive, regardless of the outcome. If your efforts are parried, it is a chance to constructively reconsider your intentions and the outcomes of your actions. This is, in a sense, failure.

I recently heard Milton Glaser, design mastermind, address an auditorium full of creatives: “what I urge you to do is fail more often in your professional life if you want to find out what it is that you are capable of learning.” Success and flawless connection is nice and heartening, but only failure forces us to critically evaluate ourselves and our actions.

So I, a fool kid stranger, would like to urge you to take that chance. Make the call. Leap. You will not regret it.

But You’re A Vegetarian, Right?

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“But you’re a vegetarian…right?”

Maybe it’s the hair. Or the well-used pants, or maybe the way I slam dunk hamburgers out of childrens’ hands as I pass by in the street. Regardless, the invariable response is to confirm my dogmatic eating habits.

I’ve recently arrived on Vashon Island, in the Puget Sound. I’ll be spending the season with Brandon and Lauren Sheard of Farmstead Meatsmith. Small scale,custom slaughter, butchery and charcuterie. Animal processing. They do everything with their hands and their knives. Well, and a rifle.

Naturally, when Vashon came up in conversation for the previous four months, dietary habits were the next topic. “But you are…” “aren’t you…” “do you eat…” Dime a dozen. The implication being that I, a person who is invested in the intellectual, culinary and agricultural pursuits of food consumption and production, must be a vegetarian. Because meat is bad.

First of all, I am not a vegetarian. I hesitate to answer the question as such, because I fear that the elipse in my intonation may imply that I don’t eat animal flesh…unless I’ve  had seven PBR’s and am walking by a Wendy’s. I sincerely enjoy eating plants and they make up just about all of my diet. I feel better when it’s just plants and it works for me. I don’t particularly like the way meat makes me feel. But I am no vegetarian.

A brief bit of history. High school was staunch carnivory, opposing my brother in any and every endeavor he chose in his life, including vegetarianism. Early in college, a flier at the environmental expo in town turned me vegetarian. It was a picture of the earth with a bite out of it and the text: “think you can be a meat-eating environmentalist? Think again!” Seriously, that’s what did it. The last half of college was stubborn veganism, a diet exclusively of kale and purple potatoes from the farmers market, quinoa, nutritional yeast, and chocolate chip cookies from the natural food store. I’m still not tired of any of them.

Since graduating, I’ve been on this mission, for which Farmrun has been my outlet. My expression and my evolution. Among other things, an exploration of my relationship to the food I eat. Among other things, an exploration of our relationship to the food we eat.

One of the conclusions I’ve drawn, other than that It is too large to pretend that there are succinct conclusions to be drawn, is that It is too complicated, too personal, too loaded, and too silly to use a titular denomination that describes to other people what my habits are and what I stand for.

“Oh, I can’t eat that, I’m a vegetarian.” “Oh, I don’t eat that, I’m a vegan.” These words were a reflex. Coming out without thinking about what they meant. I felt like a dick. A snob. I don’t eat that because I’m better than you. My choices are wiser, Superior education. Broader worldview. Humdrum I’ll have a tofurkey dog with soynnaise please.

The point is that the definition of one’s diet serves only to alienate and compartmentalize. The reasons, as I see them, are for marketing and advertising. Vegetarian denotes particular eating habits, but it is also indicative of a suite of lifestyle choices and political observances and clothing choices and on and on. The reason to refer to oneself  as vegetarian is to advertise that I am one of you or I am not. Yes or no. Black or white. In a technicolor world.

Beyond reducing an infinite abyss of reasoning to a yes or no, titles allow us to be complacent in our moral decision making process. Particularly in respect to consideration of those foodstuffs we have chosen to exclude from our diets. I was guilty of this. “I don’t eat cheese, so I don’t have to think about it or how it’s produced or how it affects human beings who eat it.” I had opted out entirely. Removing myself from the problems I theorized were present. Non-contributory resistance and stubborn insistence.

This is the point in my argument where I offer alternatives. Well, I have none. I suppose in my unrealistic, idealized world, that which would replace the predominant Titular mentality would be conversation. An active, consistent engagement with what food we are eating and why. Nothing is static. And what we call ourselves just doesn’t matter. As that guy once said, actions speak louder.
Vegetarianism has been dulled by the same stones that have beaten down organic, natural, and local. Trendish marketing. Aggrandizing titles that serve as little informational value as they do personal benefit.
 

Similar to the increasing prevalence towards complacency on the front of vegetarian rhetoric, our collective understanding of slaughter and butchery and eating blood and pork rinds and  using lard as cooking lubrication have suffered sincere debasement.


Cultural appropriations of unpalatability unfortunately pervade our popular conception of Brandon and Lauren’s lifestyle and trade. Slaughter is not a topic that is met with gentle smiles and excitement. It is taboo. Reminiscent of the horror films drilled into our eyeballs for the last ten years of local organic propaganda.

I don’t mean to imply that the conditions in which the overwhelming majority of animals in this country are processed are anything less than atrocious. What I do mean to imply is that Brandon and Lauren are reinvigorating an agriCultural trade and societal function that has been historically imperative to the health of the communities in which they operate. Their approach is rounded, and their intentions widespread, all within the context of processing animals for the Vashon community. And there is just so much.

There is craft and beauty. There is family and love. There is dedication and there are values and morals and communal responsibilities. There is sustenance and subsistence and necessity. There are babies. There is life and there is death and there is a little boy who eats pork rinds and headcheese but not potato chips or french fries.

There is no dearth of hardship. There is blood and there are tight budgets and tighter beaurocracy. There is fat. So much fat. There are farmer friends and planting parties and lamb roasts. There are cast iron skillets and prosciutto hanging in the window. There is contemporary invigoration of traditional practices.

There is so much to learn. There is so much to share.

I will be here with Brandon and Lauren on Vashon until October. We are scheming, planning to be producing a constant or consistent or maybe just every now and then but hopefully a wow-I-can’t-believe-there’s-more-already media series. The goal is to share the knowledge that they possess. The knowledge I will be acquiring, voraciously sipping from the depths of their wells, about animal processing.

The vision includes drawings and essays and photographs and videos and short films and maybe some larger projects. To-scale papier-mache livestock and interpretative performance art are not out of the question. The Point is twofold. First, to illuminate the breadth and depth  of knowledge required by this work. Second and certainly no less important, we want to reinforce the concept that eating animals and the road to that activity, when approached responsibly, skillfully, and conscientiously, is not a habit to berate and hold in low regard, but rather celebrate, support, and promote.

As Brandon delicately describes evisceration, here’s to a summer of blood, fat and piss. Consider yourself invited.

A Babbling Comma

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We walked along the railroad tracks. The sun rose high, sending frequent, fleeting memories of warmth through the cooling fall air. One’s gait along railroad ties is always a bit awkward. Every plank is far too frequent to please the rhythms of a casual saunter. Every other feels like bounding, but not quite. This step stretches just beyond comfort. It makes you acutely aware of your feet. Where you place them. With every step.

We arrived just in time. The river flowed beneath and the rope hung from the tree. Just as planned. Its trunk leaned out over the water. Trying to see around the riverbend, perhaps. Trying to see where the water goes. Dave went first. He held the rope just above the knot tied near the bottom. He crouched, arms extended forward, leaning back, trusting the rope with his weight. A gentle hop. No turning back. For a moment, there was no movement. Hanging in the air until the river beckoned. Gravity obliged. In a precarious parabola, Dave swung into the open air. For a moment, there was no movement. The Apex. Splash.

I stood at the top, with the rope in my hands. Holding it just above the knot tied near the bottom. Trusting the rope with my weight, testing, I lean back and close my eyes. There is no hop. Fear is pounding through my veins. Shortens my breath and informs the slight shake just above my knees. Genuine terror is not a common commodity these days.

Poised at the top, the option to not jump is seductive. It lures you in with the false sense of security. If you don’t jump, you won’t get hurt. You wont be terrified. It is the route of cowardice. This is ‘playing it safe.’ If you don’t jump, you won’t risk betraying yourself and letting go midswing. If you don’t jump, the wind won’t push back your cheeks and eyelids and you won’t experience the weightless confounding glory of flight. You will stay on the riverbank.

Terror. A sensation in which we explicitly and truly believe that we are in danger. It is intrinsic. It is extreme. Cannot be feigned. You can be frightened by many things, discomfort is a dime a pang. Terror, though, is rather inexplicable. It does not oblige to requests to subside. It exists for a reason. Deep rooted, it knows. Instinct would generally indicate that leaping into a 40 foot void would not be intelligent.

It is irrational, however. The rope will hold. Gravity will pull and inertia will push and the water will be there waiting to catch me. Rationalization and logic have no bearing in these circumstances. There is no assuaging, no compromise. The fear stays and the apprehension grows as every eternal second passes. There are really only two options. Step back and stay on the riverbank, or hop. Hop.

I’m sitting in a rocking chair and my heart is pounding. In Camden, Maine, I’m staying with Suzanne at her family’s cabin. The phone is pressed to my ear and with every empty ring, apprehension builds. What will I say when they answer? Will they be irritated, annoyed, confused when a stranger starts babbling on the other end? I’m just a person, a nobody, why will they want to host me? ‘You’ve got to be concise and verbose and present yourself well and make sure they know you’re not a creepface. Don’t listen to your heartbeat, don’t freak them out’ I told myself.
When Lydia answered, there was nothing but grace and compassion in her voice. I spenttwo days at Tinder Hearth, with beautiful results. I didn’t know it on Friday September 3rd of this year, but the call that had just transpired would repeat itself every few days for the next three months. For all intents and purposes, it was the first day of the trip thatI’ve come to call Farmrun.

Sweep to the other side. December 3rd, San Francisco, California. For all intents and purposes, the last day of the trip that I’ve come to call Farmrun.

Originally, it was my intention to make a short film compiling some of the delightful bits of media that I’ve collected over the past ninety three days. A teaser. A conclusion. A trailer for the film I’ll likely never make. It would be slow but not too slow and it would have some nice music that would probably feature a banjo. It would start slow and then build up and be real nicentwangy and Dave Snyder would say inspiring things about accessing urban land indefinitely and James Godsil would let his voluptuous words flow out overtop of delicious shots of Jon Savanna kneading his milk dough and Caitlyn Galloway weeding her kale beds, then there would be non-narrative clips of farmers laughing and hugging and smiling their big nice smiles and then a banjonic climax where everything would STOP. A moment of weightlessness. And ‘Farmrun’ would melt onto the screen.

But that didn’t happen. Because plans change. And time has a characteristic way of moving forward, sometimes even before you’ve been able to fit in all of the things on your List. I’d gander to say that Time’s stubborn selfishness was a dominant color of this trip. There are still millions of essays to write and films to make and farmers to profile and eyes to open. This time, I didn’t get to it, and that’s OK. I didn’t make a feature-length film. I didn’t write a book. I haven’t even laid out a ‘zine.

That’s the point of these prattling words, I think. I’d like to continue on with this essay right now, relaying highlights of the trip. Sharing wisdom shed by those I spoke with. I’d like to tell you whose inspiration drove deep inside me and left resounding marks. Who’s shaking up their local conventions most. Who brought the silliest livestock animal into their living room during brunch. Who is an unexpected champion poet. I’d like to tell you all of the wonderful things that people are doing and how they are finding ways to grow food and the beauty with which they are surrounding that activity. But there’s no time. For now.

I think that the point of these prattling words is to say explicitly that this will be my last update for a while. I am moving on for the winter months. I will not have regular internet access, nor my fancypants expensive electronic Things. I will be taking some time to perspectivize.
And the question remains, will there be a singular definitive cohesive substantial product? Definitely maybe. I do not know. Maybe not. The intention of the project was never to make a film. I was not making a documentary. I was not writing a book. These are still prospects. I truly believe that there is great potential for the information I have collected to be expanded upon and turned into something beautiful and timely and informative. There is great potential.

At the height of a leap, the apex, there is no motion. Energetically speaking, it is the point where all of your kinetic energy, the unfathomable velocity with which you have been traveling your path, has been completely converted to potential. You are no longer on the move. Your displacement is zero. But the force about which we speak cannot be destroyed. It has been gathered and condensed and concentrated inside. And momentarily, everything is still. Time seems to stop and the world around swirls and blurs. And for a moment, there is blissful stagnation. For an eternal instant, you hang in the air. Tethered by nothing, attached to no one. Splash.

Jamming Up Business (video)

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Shakirah Simley is making moves in the world of sticky substances that are often spread on bread and bread-like vessels. With her fledgling business, Slow Jams, she is serving up concentrated fruity mush of all kinds with an innovative, well-planned and socially inclusive business model. SJ has been documented very well recently, so I won’t waste too much more of your time.

In a communal food-business incubator kitchen called La Cocina, Shakirah jams with fruits sourced in large part from the urban environment. Yes. She, personally, hand chops, cooks (though the stove does most of the legwork here) and cans all of her jammy products and cites her mission as expanding the dialogue about responsible food sourcing and production to communities that have historically lacked access to said knowledge.

Beyond the beautiful commentary on business ownership above, one of the most compelling topics Shakirah and I discussed was that of the role of private businesses within the context of both the urban/Good food movement and socially driven entities. She argues that small, private, social enterprise businesses can and should be in a much more dominant position within the greater context of social (and I would argue can be extended to environmental and economic) development. In the currently predominant non-profit model of social provision, the organizations that serve our underserved needs are at the mercy of the stipulations of the grants they receive, not to mention allocating substantial time, energy and personnel to hounding grants and granters, and fostering a bitterly competitive environment between non-profit organizations seeking similar grants with the unfortunate and inevitable effect of declarations akin to ‘we are the most needy.’

Please excuse the tirade, and I want to slow down for a moment, because I do believe that non-profit organizations serve an important and irreplaceable function within the greater context of ‘good work’ that must be done in this world. I only mean to bring about certain concerns of external reliance that I don’t think I am alone in considering.

Shakirah’s and other similar for-profit models, ideally, have the same mission and motives as if they were registered as non-profits, only they seek to provide their own means. I’ve thrown in ‘ideally’ because I think it is important to note that, even forgetting for a moment that Shakirah is working with a food business, it’s furkin’ hard to maintain a profitable business.

Slow Jams is in it’s first year, which, according to Shakirah, it has inevitably lost money. But she has big visions. Planning for expansion. She is talking to people and people are talking about her. And even as we spoke, after two hours of chopping pears, with six more to go, I could see that she is so passionate about her business and mission that there’s nothing that anyone could ever say to her that would ever convince her to stop.

A Matter of Marketing

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This is Rachel. And those are puppies. We found out she can only hold three at a time. Rachel and her partner Evan are running a remarkable operation, Boondockers Farm, just southeast of Eugene, OR. Starting with two ducks in their small front yard in Eugene six years ago, they’ve grown to be just about the sole authority on  Ancona Ducks, an heirloom breed exploding in popularity at the moment.

Beyond their poultry operation, Rachel and Evan keep three dairy cows, breed Great Pyrenees dogs (to protect the poultry and fill the farm quota of adorable), and cultivate an impressive variety of heirloom vegetables.

Quite honestly, what Rachel and Evan are doing on their three acres should be described as nothing short of visionary (though there is a discussion to be had here – whether the practice of saving your cultivated genetic material is vision or reversion. regardless, it is practice which is not often enacted these days). Not because they do ducks. Not because they’re young, nor because they are making a profitable go at small scale farming. It’s their focus on preservation. Facilitation. Empowerment.

Every life reared on Boondockers Farm is composed of completely viable genetic material. This is not a mistake. Whether plant or animal, all of Rachel and Evans’ efforts are geared towards respecting each species they choose to cultivate by helping them pass on their encoded instruction manual to their offspring. To ultimately re-create the (relatively) closed loop farming system that we so romanticize and yearn for from generations past. All of their vegetables are heirloom, all of their animals are heritage. By saving and selling seeds, and breeding their dogs and ducks on farm, they have successfully managed to incorporate both the monetary and ideological benefits of farming with industrially unadulterated inputs.

Viability, Part Deux (video)

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Robert Litt, founder of The Urban Farm Store, in Portland, OR, comments on his customer base, and more generally implicated, the makeup of the patrons of this ‘urban agriculture’ movement going on. The Urban Farm Store is approaching it’s second birthday, and is smack in the middle of Portland’s southeastern side on Belmont St. They carry everything from remay to brewers mash to chicken feed.

An interesting perspective, indeed, because Robert is supplying the folks who are farming in the urban space of Portland. As he says, the majority of ‘urban farmers’ he serves are not so much farmers in the sense of producing goods for a profit, as they are in it, as he says, for the pleasure and educational aspects. Hobby farmers. Which brings us back to the question of viability in the realm of urban agriculture. Does a business that profitably supplies urban hobby farmers count as an urban agricultural endeavor? Wait…what is urban agriculture again?