Every night I close my eyes and dream. I dream of events from the day carelessly mixed with memories and elaborate confusions. Every night time is spent lost in my mind where all of my worries, excitements, insecurities, anxieties, and fantasies go to tea together. The only thing consistent about them, or the passing of them, is that when I wake in the morning, Sun Dog Farm is one day closer to Spring.
Being one day closer to Spring, everyday, is a little intimidating and mostly exciting all at the same time. Our greenhouse has finally been dressed and newly sown seeds are pulsing with life in seedling trays, gently moving upward towards the nourishing rays of the sun. The smell of soil, humidity, and a sharpie always cause us to reminisce of every Spring we've spent organizing energy and nurturing these tiny, miraculous life forms. Some seeds are so similar and yet as they grow the diversity of their genetics turns the greenhouse into a miniature rain forest of so many different leaves and stems. The tags denoting their varieties emerge from the greenery like poems, "Vulcan, Early Jersey Wakefield, Champion, Giant of Italy, Henderson's Charleston, Vates, Dinosaur, Skyphos, Black Seeded Simpson, De Cicco," and on and on and oh, it is just the beginning.
As I sip my tea, scratch my head, and type, I can hear rain falling with some urgency outside. Rain has been a common companion here at the farm as of late and we can't say that we're too distraught about it. The risen water table will hopefully contribute to a nice, lush Spring and help give our vegetables the life giving water they need to carry on into the hot, unforgivable days of Summer. It has been; however, too wet to wander out into our growing space and begin sculpting the landscape into segments and rows in preparation for transplants and seeds. Organization has been key in this newest operation of ours and Elliot and I have spent our fair share sitting in front of Microsoft Excell trying to figure out how we had deleted an entire column of crops or why half of the spreadsheet had become bold. It is all a part of the process, every bit, and there is nothing more empowering than making something from scratch.
To be empowered. My daily commutes to and from the City of Atlanta for my off season job have given me a unique perspective on modern human development. I drive from way out of town, in the boonies where Sun Dog Farm makes its home. I drive over landscape that quickly transforms from rolling hills and clusters of forest still hanging on into the strip malls and fast food chains that spill over the edge of Atlanta as its population over boils. I get closer still to the perimeter and more lanes are added to the road, more elaborate concrete has been poured for on and off ramps, overpasses, and a sturdy median. As I breach the perimeter I am finally at the belly, Downtown where the money is, or in a lot of cases was, and the flannel shirts and baseball caps quickly mutate into flashy suits, designer glasses, and a sales pitch. It would all be too much for me (I would be thrilled to never look at a billboard again,) except that I get to do it all in reverse on my trip home.
And what of this city life? I have never done well in a city setting; the weight of human reality always in my eyes and ears sends me into some serious fits of zombie. Everywhere you look, there is something to be sold or bought, a mostly naked woman here, a familiar celebrity posing with their favorite milk shake there, the most crude and hollow examples of our civilization on display guiding us and our youth further down the road. It is complicated and complex, constantly changing, yet so much remaining dangerously the same. Atlanta is just a city like others, facing the same problems, overcoming similar obstacles, but there is this one thing that keeps bringing me back. It would be easy for me to write off the entire city of Atlanta, except for one thing: Food.
Food has always been the great peace maker in my life. Now the uniting forces of food are swiftly taking over small sections of the city where empowered and beautiful minds gather to go outside of the boundaries of modern culture and economy and stretch the limits of a "normal" city life. Rashid Nuri at Truly Living Well Urban Natural Farm, Joe Reynolds at Love is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens, Oakhurst Community Garden Project, Dunwoody Community Garden, and the increasing numbers of Farmers Markets and other growing spaces around the city are contributing greatly to awareness and the access of those in the city to healthy, sustainable food. I urge you to run to these places immediately and get involved! Restaurants have also become savvy to the desire of their customers for thoughtful food and the importance of supporting those who grow it. Some of our favorite and, in our opinion, most influential Chefs in the food movement include; Steven Satterfield of Miller Union, Joshua Hopkins of Abbitoir, Todd Mussman of Muss and Turner's, Kevin Ouzts of Spotted Trotter, Thomas McKeown of the Grand Hyatt, and arguably the most revolutionary of the bunch, Chef Linton and Gina Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Holeman and Finch, H&F Bread Co, and H&F Bottle Shop. These individuals have spent their lives sculpting not only incredible foods, but incredible food pathways. As a food conscious human of Atlanta, I urge you to put down the taco bell, save up your pennies, and support these businesses because they have made it their business to support people like us.
"The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them." - Ralph Waldo Emerson