“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: Love. They must do it for love." ― Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food
Though Growing Lots is not a certified organic farm, our growing practices use organic standards as a base. In many ways, we strive to go beyond organic in our commitment to growing healthy, nutrient dense food in a way that benefits the earth, the community of life, our customers and of course, us, the farmers. This philosophy is based upon the way we choose to live our personal lives, what we have learned from many other farmers and teachers, and a desire to live in harmony with nature.
Farming with nature, using her systems, requires better understanding on all levels of the complex processes that coax seeds into healthy productive plants year after year. The base of this model of farming is encouraging a healthy, diverse, microbe-rich soil, as are found in natural systems such as forests and prairies. We feed soil organisms through our use of compost primarily, and keep them happy by gardening in permanent raised beds with little to no tilling. We check in with the soil, with the compost, and with the plants to make sure the system is working smoothly and when something is out of balance, work to amend it through aiding the biology of the soil, rather than trying to bandage with fertilizers.
Even in our urban setting, we aim to internalize our resource cycles as much as possible. This goal is achieved through minimizing fossil fuel inputs, cycling all our excess organic material through internal composting processes (which then feeds back into the soil), minimizing water needs through wise water management and permanent no-till beds, and initiating seed saving procedures where possible.
Though we grow on two parking lots and one previously vacant city lot, it is for this reason precisely that we find it imperative to practice the above methods of farming. We have little soil to work with, and what we have worked hard to create, we do not want to see wash away or become unproductive dirt. Working with nature brings immense rewards and transformation. To see what is possible, visit the farm sites at 2115 Snelling and 2322 Minnehaha and marvel at the fact that the green space sits atop a plastic barrier on top of asphalt. Watch the transformation of the new site at 4012 Minnehaha from vacant lot to living, productive farm. We are humbled to be stewards of the land in our city, and amazed when we see what nature accomplishes when we let her work.
Want more information? Check out the farms/resources from a few of our many mentors and teachers:
One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier
Soil Food Web, Inc. (Dr. Elaine Ingham- genius of soil biology!)
Garden Farme in Ramsey, MN (farmer Bruce Bacon)
Sawyer Farm in Worthington, MA (farmers Hilary and Lincoln)