About a week and a half ago, I helped an urban farmer move about twenty loads of specially prepared organic soil from a big dropoff pile into specially built raised beds, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow. The farm is located in a little nook of land between the bluff that part of downtown Montgomery sits on and the Alabama River, right next to a railroad. Furthermore it shares this sliver of land with the Montgomery Advertiser, our local newspaper. As we shoveled earth, we quietly conversed about the joys of growing green things. A train rumbled by, and I was struck by the importance of helping this organization make human connections.
We seem to be more connected than ever through our mobile devices (no longer just phones), our social networking sites. Nonetheless, it is essential that we actually shake hands, converse in person, and get our hands dirty together in order to build stronger communities. We're willing to sweat at the gym for health and vanity, but we can also sweat (and get a light workout) at the farm, the soup kitchen, and the house-building. I don't know if there's anything more rewarding than building up our community in person, heart to heart and hand in hand.
Hopefully every child in the city will have the opportunity to visit the downtown farm and learn how to grow at least a little of their own food at home. They'll be healthier and smarter for it. They will learn that dirt is alive with possibilities, not just a dumb mess to wash off your clothes. They'll have at least some inkling about the interconnected web of life that we're all part of. They'll receive the delight of learning something new and seeing life grow from seeds into plants. There's nothing like fresh produce that you raised yourself.
I can't wait to get back to the farm! Drop by the next time you're in Montgomery.