Political Gardening

I’ve been back at Haverford for about the past 3 weeks now, and the garden is so alive! It’s in that wonderful summer stage, when the heat forces inches of daily growth. To understand my love of gardening, I should first explain my past with it.

My first experience on a farm came fall semester of my sophomore year. I took dean’s leave and went WWOOFing on a small organic farm in northern Ecuador. Then, after returning to the Ford for one semester, I applied for CPGC funding to intern with the farm educator at Weaver’s Way Farm in Northwestern Philadelphia. Along with the production farming, farmers markets, and lessons with school-groups, one of my fellow farmers started a “farmer book club.” These potluck style meetings, held once every other week, were used as a means for all of the Weaver’s Way farmers to get together and discuss some societal or political issue relevant to farming (such as seed saving and intellectual property rights, the politics of definition (organic versus conventional), urban hunger and food deserts, squatting rights and urban institutionalization of community gardens). This furthered my interest in the academic side of food production.

Now I’m knee deep in agrifood texts, trying to hone into a specific research question. I’m currently reading about our dominant system of agriculture, and its effects on poor neighborhoods in the US. (and learning the different roles for civil society and government). My research thus far has been a little circular and somewhat frustrating, as much of this literature is currently emerging.