What's Growin' On at the Farm

Posted 11/3/2011 2:54pm by Glen.

Daniel Chen and Aspasia Sieber and their 3 children began farming with Big River Farms this past season on a ¼ acre and grew some beautiful crops.

Daniel finds the happiness in farming through a feeling of independent fulfillment in being “able to grow one’s own food and provide for others. Farming is meditation, you can focus on what you’re doing but also think broadly. Farming fits into my personal constitution. It’s a point of pride in one’s self to be able to be independent from the industrial food system. I grow my farm to have a connection to the planet, to be separate from GMOs for example. I enjoy the social and political ramifications of people growing their own food and growing extra food for others in our community. I like farming because we can see concretely what you have done with your time, you see the produce. It is a good community to belong to. It fits with how we want to develop our kids, their minds and sensibilities. I like them to see that farming and growing food is within their grasp”.

In talking to Daniel, my feeling is that this is not farming to carry on a tradition of farming, but to carry on a tradition of independent thought and finding concrete life actions that let one live out one’s life ideology. Daniel calls it his personal constitution. Farming says that he is not totally dependent on some other forces in some obtuse system for his food; that one can live in the city and still keep one’s feet on the ground and hands in the soil. Farming is production of a product which he likes from his other working life – construction.

 

Glen Hill

Executive Director

Minnesota Food Association

Email: glenhill@mnfoodassociation.org

Posted 10/27/2011 4:19pm by Glen.

Recently I talked with See Nay and Ti Moo. See Nay and Ti Moo are of the ethnic Karen community of Burma. In Burma, they were farmers until civil war displaced them. They have been in MN now about 3 – 4 years. This past season, together with Rol Tha and Aung Tin, they worked on Big River Farms three full days per week from early May into November in a work/apprenticeship program. They attend all the training classes and in-field sessions. Next season they will work part-time on the farm and part-time growing on their own farm plots.

Ti Moo tells me, “Open space gives me good oxygen which makes me feel good. In the morning, when you receive the sun’s first heat, it is the best feeling. And it’s vitamin D. Moving makes me happy and when you farm you have to move. The season makes me happy, watching the plants grow makes me happy.”

See Nay confers, “When I plant the plants, and see the green coming up, and look at them everyday and see plants growing, that makes me happy. Even seeing the cover crops grow. I have been this way since I was little, I feel this way. Then when the crops mature and it is time to harvest, it makes me happy. Working with plants and nature is very different than working in a store or building. In the building, you don’t feel anything. Outside, you feel. Everyday I walk around and see the plants growing, and when I can harvest and give to people, it makes me happy.”

We can see the common theme of being outdoors (it is hard to live in an apartment when you have grown up out doors in the rural areas and jungle), of watching the whole progression through the season, and the nurturing aspect of seeing plants grow and produce. Wholesome values that we can all relate to.

Glen Hill

Executive Director

Minnesota Food Association

Email: glenhill@mnfoodassociation.org

PS – Farming is full of risks as a career venture, yet so very attractive to so many of us and absolutely imperative to a specific group of people. They just know that this is what they want to do with their time and life. So there must be some happiness, joy or contentment in farming for some people to take to it with such convicted passion. So over the past month or so, I asked some of the farmers in our Big River Farms Training Program: What makes you happy when you are farming? Why do you do this?

 

Posted 10/17/2011 3:46pm by Glen.

Farming is full of risks as a career venture, yet so very attractive to so many of us and absolutely imperative to a specific group of people. They just know that this is what they want to do with their time and life. So there must be some happiness, joy or contentment in farming for some people to take to it with such convicted passion. I asked some of the farmers in our Big River Farms Training Program: What makes you happy when you are farming? Why do you do this?

May Lee of Mhonpaj’s Garden (www.mhonpajgarden.biz ) told me simply, “when I am doing it I am happy and when I am not, I am not. I am happy to be farming organic. I like to give good food to people. I know the food is good for them, so I am feeding someone the right food. Watching the plants grow is my therapy.”

 There is a lot of thought in those few words.

 Glen Hill

Executive Director

Minnesota Food Association

Email: glenhill@mnfoodassociation.org

Posted 10/12/2011 7:01am by Glen.

October 12, 2011

What I was thinking about was Connection. To be part of or with. It is what makes us human. Rodrigo Cala farms because of the connection to the land and the good feeling of knowing good food from his farm is going here, into our community. See Nay says that the happiness comes from seeing the plants grow, from the seed to producing this beautiful fruitful food. I do this because I love being connected to and working with people who are exploring and learning in a completely different setting than from their countries of origin, and they’re farming!

We in Minnesota value our farmers and we value the future of  our farming tradition. We value good food and knowing where our food comes from. Minnesota Food Association works to carry on our tradition of pioneering farmers who provide the good food of our region.  We value the history and traditions of our region and our farmers, as well as the innovation and entrepreneurship of the new farmers. MFA aims to carry on the traditions of family farming with new, innovative farmers coming from Laos, Burma, Bhutan, East Africa and Central America who are settling in our region.

They bring a wealth of experience and tradition. They are not only a significant driving direction of the future food system in our country. The past 200 years have shaped the USA of today, and today’s immigrants continue to shape it further.  

In this large and growing food and farming movement, this is our role. We train and support new immigrant farmers. We learn and grow each day and you can grow with us! After 25 years, MFA is garnering its roots and launching our new Membership Program. (Up and running by Oct 14, 2011 at www.mnfoodassociation.org )

As an MFA member, you will receive regular communications about what is happening in the sustainable, organic immigrant and minority farmer community. You will receive special invitations to events  and meetings on the issues you care about. You will be given opportunities to participate fully in our sustainable and diverse community.

Some of you remember our roots in the early 80s through the mid-90s, under the direction of Ken Taylor, where MFA relied significantly on its members’ efforts and financial support. Nurturing that spirit of our beginnings and building on the innovations and advancements of today’s organic farming, your investment in MFA and new organic farmers moves us forward in building a more sustainable food system for the next 25 years.

If you have been a member of Big River Farms CSA, a program of Minnesota Food Association, we want you to take advantage of fully supporting the organization that brings you great organic vegetables by also becoming a member of MFA.

Please join us and sign up to be a member of MFA today! ( www.mnfoodassociation.org )You will be contributing to growing farmers and growing food. You will be helping the future of small family farm enterprises who produce good, fresh, organic food for our region. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Glen Hill

Executive Director