On the urban farm, the sun crisping my neck and shoulders, crouched over, grabbing leaves of dinosaur kale, cursing the bugs who are enjoying the lack of pesticides, I look up at my surroundings:
Roxbury, inner city Boston, apparently a hard part of town, segregated, isolated, bleak? Not to me. Here lies the urban farm of the Food Project—the oldest, largest, most successful example of youth development through agriculture.
I’m surrounded by teenagers, both “urban” and “suburban,” harvesting cranberry beans and swiss chard and helping neighbors to remediate their soil to address its high lead content.
And tomorrow we’ll head to the suburbs and in the pouring rain we’ll plant lettuce and the 16 year old next to me will give me agricultural tips while she explains that she’s been held back in school. Her mom died last year and she missed too many days of school. We talk a little bit about that. We plant more lettuce. We get very wet.
I leave my 3 day institute in love with The Food Project, in love with their mission and their ideology, yes, but even more so with how damn good they are at execution. How easy to dream up something like this and how rare and amazing to realize it and keep it going strong and vibrant for 15 years.