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Why Kids Should Know About Urban Farming

Michael and Brian with a crop of carrotsDo you see the younger kid with the weird look on his face? Have you seen a few dozen photos of Busby wondering why his photo is being taken? Yes, the kid on the right is me. My dog might take after me, or vice versa, I’m not sure. In the photo, I’m measuring a carrot, which looks to be about 11 inches long.

I just watched a documentary called Urban Fruit, which is about a few different urban farmers in Los Angeles. The photo here was taken in Federal Way, WA. While a small town in wet western Washington is nothing like a large city that’s always drought ridden, one similarity is the fact that kids most kids who don’t grow up on a farm don’t grow their own fruit and vegetables. Thankfully, my brother and I had the experience of a large garden when growing up so we got to help grow our own vegetables. 

Granted, I never saw a lemon tree until much later in life… in California. But now I want one!

As you might guess from the photo, my brother and I had help growing all of those carrots (thanks Mom & Dad). However, I remember measuring out the distance between rows when planting seeds, and the distance between the holes for the seeds in each row. I especially liked picking just a few seeds and dropping them in a hole (finger-length deep), and then covering the hole with dirt. It’s fun to watch a plant grow from a seed you put in the ground.

There were a few weird things though: I recall massive potatoes that were hollow in the middle (probably rotten), carrots that had spit ends, and maybe the thing that shocked me the most was seeing my dad rub the dirt from a potato and bite into it. I learned to do the same with a carrot, but a potato? I still think he’s a bit weird for eating a potato straight from the ground.

Anyway, if you live in a city, and/or if you have kids, please grow something that you’ll eat. They’ll like it. You’ll like it. Children make for cheap labor. Fresh corn and carrots were my favorite, but I now add beets, broccoli, and spinach to the list. In Seattle, Lorie and I loved the spinach we’d grow on our deck; and we’re now planning on our San Francisco garden.

Extra tip: A compost bin is more fun when you can use it in your garden versus having the city haul it away in a bin each week. 

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