Friday, March 07, 2008
It's been an amazing couple of months figuring out what it will mean for the Open Door to partner with other local churches, farmers, Open Hand Ministries, and other organizations to start something that I think will be called Garfield Farms. There are still so many variables, and yet we are moving forward on many fronts. Today we're meeting with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. They currently own the land we want to use in Garfield, but seem very interested in either giving it to us or allowing us to use it on a long term agreement.
Last week I had an idea, Michael (director of Open Hand Ministries) has told me it was a brilliant one. We will have a booth with some other local growers at the East Liberty Farmer's Markets. Not knowing if we'll have crops this first year to sell, we do have all the seeds we could possibly need. We got them for free through our partnership with Urban Farming Initiative and our new friend Lance. So, I decided we should sell seedlings at the markets in the spring. This gets our neighbors not only buying locally, but growing in their own yards. So we started as many seeds as we could. With leftover seeds I had another idea (the one Michael really liked), have the Open Door (about 100 people) do the growing. Last Sunday we began distributing seed packs to Open Door folks for them to start seeds, keep a few of the plants for themselves, and then return the rest to us to sell at the market. This gets a whole bunch more people involved in actually growing their own food, it gets them involved in a major fund raiser for Garfield Farms, and in a way it spreads out the identity of Garfield Farms to people living in the community, not just one plot of land. The best part of the farmers market idea, at least in my brain, is that the funds will be used to support our efforts to grow more food for those who cannot afford to shop at farmers markets, whole foods, etc.
Now for the exciting part, the first seeks started poking through the dirt today (maybe a little earlier than I should have planted). The lavender here! It's been amazing how much excitement there is in this urban setting to grow food and work with the earth! Pray for peace in the Garfield neighborhood and pray that they would be receptive to our ideas. Pray that we would learn to listen and give leadership and ownership of our ideas over to God and the people living right around the vacant land we are hoping to use.