Our multi locational urban farm model has a few perks, but one of them is not land security. After growing food on seven different properties for the last two seasons and enjoying an abundance of space, we suddenly have the challenge of scaling back, and to a significant degree. In the last year, the ownership of three of our plots has changed, and in each case this is forcing us to pack up and move out.
The three plots we are losing are marked in red above. Thankfully, they also happen to be the furthest plots from our home in Riversdale so this change will actually encourage me to concentrate our farm on a more central land base. While this downsizing will have its challenges, I can't help but be a little excited. It will surely be great for farmer sanity and bring a better balance to our family life. The older I get, the more I want to choose quality over quantity.
Each of these red plots has a story of its own, but the one on the bottom of the map is a bit special. This growing space was a little small by our standards, kind of shady, and far from home, so practically, it's not that hard to say goodbye. We are just feeling a little sentimental about this one because it is the plot that started it all. Five years ago, a kind man offered to share his backyard space with us and we began experimenting with growing our own food. For us, this small gesture was the gateway into urban farming and greater self sufficiency.
The space certainly didn’t look like this in the beginning. That first year, it was absolutely packed with weeds (below), but it was all the land we had, so we hand dug, chopped, and mulched our way to what would become a very productive and weed free vegetable plot over the next four years.
This year, the same owner decided to move and sold the property so we packed up our gear one last time and moved out. Sadly, the new owner will likely cover up the now weed free and fertile soil with a double car garage. There are only so many things within our control. So, like the Littlest Hobo, I guess we’ll just keep moving on. At least the many lessons we learned here can still be applied as we take our vegetable operation to another location.
I am not sure what the full implications of this downsizing will be yet because we have not had much time to reflect amid the hustle of fall clean up. Immediately, it does mean reducing our production for next year somehow, and the member responses in the End of Season Survey will help point us in the best direction. In the long term, this challenge of finding land security in the urban context encourages me to invest more time in education rather than just production. For now though, some serious rejuvenation is in order, so like the 2018 growing season, it's time to put this farmer to rest.