I've been out of town the past two weeks, went up to North Carolina to keynote at a youth retreat and took the opportunity to make a road trip out of the deal. My partner, Mary Elizabeth (with whom I posed my Tallahasseean Gothic images) and I took the opportunity to visit friends, mentors, and sites along the way. We stopped in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Asheville on the way north to Banner Elk, the site of the retreat. On the way back down, we passed through Warren Wilson and camped just south of Savannah, GA.
Vacation though it was, I hardly left food gardening in Tallahassee.
In Charlotte, I stopped in at Providence Presbyterian Church, to touch base with some folks I've been advising that are expanding their church's food-bank garden into a full-on community garden with participating (non-member) gardeners from the neighborhood.
During free time in Banner Elk at the retreat, Beth, a new acquaintance invited me to join her on a quick visit to her friends' farm just down the road. The farm, Trosly Farm was started by Beth's friends last year when they purchased a couple acres in a "hollar." They raise chickens, ducks and plan to grow vegetables for a CSA. If things go to plan, the young couple will quit their part-time jobs and turn full-time farmers by this time next year.
While visiting Asheville and Warren Wilson, I was able to catch up with an old friend, Mary Edson. Mary now works for Farm Girl Designs which does edible, medicinal and herbal landscaping in addition to urban farming in Asheville. It was great to talk with her about employer/employee relationships, how an employer might empower their employees with support and "space" to be creative and productive. Also, since Mary's specialty is flowers, it was great to learn from her because, in all honesty, I'm a flower ignoramous.
And the stories are always in plenty supply. Lauren, a friend working at Warren Wilson told me about a service trip she led to Birmingham; one day they worked at a place called Jones Valley Urban Farm, which "grows organic produce and flowers, educates the community about healthy food, and helps make Birmingham a vibrant community." I heard stories from my buddy Eric who works in the Warren Wilson Garden and worked last summer at the local elementary school garden, where, he told me, he harvested hundreds of pound of heirloom tomatoes, and-- with no kids around in June/July-- shared a great plenty, sold some at market, and canned 33 quarts worth that were spotted or somehow tainted.
There is great work being done. In good time, I'm back to continue mine.