“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”*…
Deb Fallows, who (with her husband Jim) is driving the American Futures project (which readers can– and should– follow here), has just posted a fascinating piece on the way that the local food movement, often assumed to be a (privileged) feature of upscale urban life, is taking hold and changing prospects in the rural U.S.– specifically, in a remote desert town with very modest financial resources, and with a long history of the health problems that arise from poor nutrition.
Ajo, Arizona, the small desert community we have visited several times and written about for American Futures, offers something unique: a thriving local agriculture and food movement in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. For starters, conditions are about as challenging as you can imagine: desert temperatures with freezes in the winter and 110 degrees in the summer; poor soil with low organic and microbial content, high alkalinity and caliche (a natural cement); and four inches of rainfall annually, often arriving in downpours.
Undeterred, the active Ajo community pooled their energy and opportunities to build an intricate, cooperative network around food. Cooperating together in this town of only a few thousand people are the school, the clinic, local gardeners, the farmers’ market, local restaurants, the town’s grocery store, student interns, adult volunteers, the food bank, the CSA, and the anchor of the Sonoran Desert Conference Center, with its spaces for gardens, a chicken coop, celebratory events, teaching and demonstration space, and a newly-finished commercial kitchen…
Read the full story– important and heartening– at “Farming in the Desert.”
As we tend our gardens, we might send cultivating birthday greetings to Peter Henderson; he was born on this date in 1822. An immigrant from Scotland, he settled in New Jersey, where he became a market gardener, florist, seedsman, and prolific author, publishing best-selling books like Gardening for Profit and Practical Floriculture. The Henderson Seed Co., which he founded in 1847, operated until 1953… for all of which he is widely known as “the Father of America Horticulture.”