New Leaf New York: From Pharma to Farm


Swoon! My heroes

I’m going to see Michael Pollan speak at P.S. 1 (in their new P.F. 1 courtyard, an “urban farm” that’s been built by architecture design contest winners just for this summer) tomorrow night at a lecture called Taking the Plant’s Point of View.  I have a feeling the content will draw much from his book The Botany of Desire, which is one that I have not yet read, luckily for me.

Some of you know that it was Pollan’s extremely popular book The Omnivore’s Dilemma that was a fiery catalyst for me — I went from a food enthusiast with intrigued by its effects on public health to a full-on sustainable agriculture geek who just had to do it for a living.  I’ve seen him speak once before, at The 92nd Street Y, with fellow high-profile locavore Dan Barber, chef of Blue Hill and creative director at Stone Barns.  He’s extremely engaging and does a great job of encouraging enthusiasm in others.

More heroes?  Of course!  A friend reminded me of The Greenhorns, “a documentary film that explores the lives of America’s young farming community—its spirit, practices, and needs.”  From their site:

As the nation experiences a groundswell of interest in sustainable lifestyles, we see the promising beginnings of an agricultural revival. Young farmers’ efforts feed us safe food, conserve valuable land, and reconstitute communities split apart by strip malls. It is the filmmakers’s hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can inspire another generation of optimistic agrarians.

Our aim is to valorize the role of younger growers who continue to refine farming practices, to innovate in new markets, and to reclaim land under sustainable management. With this film, we hope to build the case for those considering a career in agriculture—to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming.

Such a great idea.  They’re there to show others that it can be done, and even that it’s a great idea.  To be sure, it’s not an easy one, and there’s a lot of learning involved.  One also must be willing to live a pretty minimal lifestyle, as farming isn’t immediately (or consistently) profitable.

The people behind the Greenhorns project are young, bright, dedicated, ambitious, and you can just feel the excitement radiating from them!  I know, because I met some of them at the last New Amsterdam Market event in late June; they seem like some of the most concerned, and some of the happiest, people in the whole country.  Definitely check out their site — it’s chock full of essays and other resources.  You can watch a trailer, too.

Photo via truthdig.com

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