Sunday, March 13, 2011

Urban day dream

When I need to escape into a daydream, I follow the trail of thoughts like Alice following the rabbit to Wonderland, until I arrive... on an urban farm, of all places. How different this daydream is from the ones I must have dreamed as a twenty year old. Surely goats and ducks and chickens and fresh produce would not have been in my dreams then. Oh, but they are now. I realize I am horribly ignorant to the amount of work that goes into urban farming, though to varying degrees, and I am inserting my own romanticism, but still it makes my heart skip a little to dream about. I may as well be four feet tall with braids, wearing rain boots and doing a cross between skipping and hop scotch into some puddles on the sidewalk, that's how my heart feels.

I imagine that the phrase, the simple life, is nuanced when referring to urban farming. Perhaps the only simple thing about it is the return to getting down in the dirt and producing your own food in the amount of space you have to work with. Surely the work itself is not necessarily simple, though not as sophisticated as a large scale farm. I know I'm one of many who are itching to be part of a localized lifestyle - eating local, shopping local, producing local (better yet, as local as your own backyard). For me, while I'm sure this desire is partly shaped by my cultural surroundings and what's popular, it existed even before the culture shifted in this direction. It existed as my lifestyle shifted.

Certainly being vegetarian has brought this desire even more to the forefront. To grow my own fruits and vegetables, to raise my own ducks or chickens for eggs, these things appeal to my lifestyle and values, as well as the bit of "country" in me. When I was a kid, I remember having a huge vegetable garden at one particular house, out in the country on a few acres of land with a creek and a barn and some fruit trees. I was in heaven there, totally in my element. However, when it came time to work the garden, I was scarce to be found. I hated that kind of work. I guess I didn't appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables that much. I didn't appreciate the connection between the labor of tending the garden and the satisfaction of enjoying the fruits of your labor. So my poor mom usually got stuck with doing all the work.

For years I never thought I could enjoy gardening, but all that has changed. I mostly eat fruits and vegetables now, and I am well aware of how much the locally grown produce costs. I love to support these farms as I can, but I would find it even more satisfying to learn how to grow some of my own food. I drool over recipes filled with fresh vegetables and herbs and spices, wishing I could access some of these items from my backyard. The work that sounded dreadful years before is looking very appealing now. Funny how things change.

Then, of course, there's my love for animals - particularly farm animals. I can imagine the amount of glee I would feel in coming home to a fenced backyard with a kiddie pool of ducks, a dog, and possibly a goat or two. I can imagine raising my kids on what we grow together in our garden, teaching them the joys of digging around in the soil, creating our own compost, planting things and watching them grow. They'd grow up appreciating what they had and why it was so good for us and our neighbors and the animals, the small impact it has on our world. Maybe they'd have a chance to grow up more like I did, climbing trees and playing with the animals and running around outside, instead of sitting in front of a laptop or i-phone or Wii or X-box. Not that these thing are bad, but in moderation, as a small side dish instead of the main course. But that's all getting ahead of myself, seeing as I have neither house nor yard, husband nor kids, animals nor garden. But I can dream.

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