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Becoming a Farmer

garden_produce_from_community_plot

With all the formal introductions out of the way (see the first four posts), This Beautiful Life can finally move on to the dirty work of actually learning how to be a farmer. Admittedly, I’ve been busy with this task since early Spring but haven’t wanted to share until after first outlining the philosophy and vision for This Beautiful Life. Here’s a recap of the past few months’ farm-related endeavors:

  • Volunteered with the Green Earth Institute in Naperville with planting early-season seedlings.
  • Networked with a team of two Joliet gardeners who developed a gardening curriculum for youth and families. I completed the graphic design for the curriculum—a fun way to bridge two passions of mine.
  • Attended the Family Farmed Expo at University Illinois Chicago, Mid-March 2011 where at I participated in the lecture “So You Want to be a Farmer?” I left still wanting to be a farmer, which I take as a good sign.
  • Signed up to garden Plot #41 at the Wheaton Park District Garden Plots, Atten Park.
  • Plot #41 is the heart of my learning this summer, as it is the locale for my first efforts at growing food. In mid-April I dug up beds and sowed wheat, lettuce, onions, and broccoli.
  • Just as the first seeds were planted, other things in life distracted me. I learned that one rule of farming is it is near impossible to start dating someone during planting time and still get everything planted on schedule. Either the boy or the garden will suffer—or both. In my case, the garden experienced a bit of neglect.
  • Beginning of June saw my schedule lighten a bit and Plot #41 is back to being top-of-mind (thankfully, Plot #41 does not hold grudges). The wheat has taken off and is almost two feet high, already showing its kernels! The lettuce seeds sprouted into lettuce and broccoli plants are flourishing. The onion seeds ended up being a no-go (only one has sprouted into an onion plant) and so I’ve re-planted the space with carrots.
  • In addition to carrot seeds now in the ground, I have bean bushes planted and sprouting. Also sowed cucumber seeds between a handful of growing tomato plants provided by a friend.
  • And just TONIGHT, I harvested the first fruits of my labor—lettuce (pictured above)! I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am a bit proud.