There are so many urban farming projects going on in Baltimore right now. Some, like the Fox Street community garden in Remington, are public. Some, like a fellow I know whom aside from growing a full complement of vegetables in his tiny rowhouse back yard, also raises chickens and rabbits for meat, are kept very quiet. I love this movement. America's current agriculture policies, which rely on monoculture, chemical fertilizers and pesticides is unsustainable. I believe that Monsanto, the corporation that provides American farmers with their seeds, farming equipment, and a whole arsenal of iffy chemical weapons, and ConAgra and ADM, the two leading corporations that control our food supply, are fundamentally destructive, bad for the farmers, bad for the farms, and bad for the consumer. I also think it's ridiculous to fly broccoli in from Guatemala when broccoli grows just fine here. I don't want to overly romanticize the past; it's true that factory farming has all but eliminated hunger in this country. But something important was lost when the connection to where our food came from vanished.
Over cocktails, Annie filled me in on what her husband Arthur Morgan has been up to lately. She'd sent me a link to the video about his project, the Hamilton Crop Circle a week or so before, but I hadn't had a chance to talk to her about it. The volunteers of the Hamilton Crop Circle work with the community to bring fresh, sustainable produce to the neighborhood. They've been involved in all kinds of great projects—planting orchards, working with students and faculty to plant micro-farms on school property, planting rooftop gardens. They provide fresh, local produce to local restaurants, and haul away scraps for free to turn into compost, which they use to grow their vegetables and sell to the public. Their compost, and worm compost kits, is available for sale at the Mill Valley Garden Center. The blog is inspiring.
"So," Annie said, "he's trying to raise money on Kickstarter now, for his latest project. He wants to build community greenhouses."
"What's Kickstarter?" I asked.
"Oh, it's a great website," she said. Kickstarter is a platform for raising funds for "creative ideas and ambitious endeavors." If you have an idea, for instance, to build greenhouses for your kickass community garden project, you can present it on Kickstarter. People can donate to your cause—and the Hamilton Crop Circle has pretty awesome incentive packages for donations, like Zeke's coffee samplers, and gorgeous paper cutouts by local artist Damaris Howe—but the catch is that it's all or nothing funding. If you don't make your goal, no money changes hands. It's an ingenious twist, weeding out weaker ideas and reducing risk for the donor. For more information, click here.