backyard gardens / culture and farming / Farms / music

Linking Local Farming to the Lives of NYU Students

Jake Strauss 10/19/14 Intro to Urban Ag. Blog Post Growing up, I was always very intrigued as to how my grandfather had been able to manage a farm at home, work a job, raise a family, and enjoy life. From his small farm in rural Connecticut, he grew a variety of vegetables that he was able to use to feed his family and even sell to neighbors. While reminiscing about his farm, I wanted to know if farming at home was prevalent throughout the world, and if it was effective at turning others on to the idea of farming. In relation to the NYU Urban Farm Lab, I wanted to know if perhaps experiences of other farmers around the world who manage a farm, another job, and a family, could motivate NYU students to utilize NYU’s Urban Farm Lab for their own enrichment more often and with more certainty. After searching around, I found out that it is quite common to maintain a farm at home that is attached to the community around it as a hub of inspiration. I specifically looked at the work of a farm blogger, Jenna Woginrich, who works as a writer, educator, and farmer based out of Cold Antler Farm in Jackson, NY (http://coldantlerfarm.blogspot.com/). For example, she routinely hosts workshops for young people on “mountain music” at her farm. Wanting to know the link between “mountain music” and farming, I found out that mountain music is actually more often called “Appalachian Music”. It’s instrumentation usually consists of the banjo, the fiddle, the dulcimer and guitar, and was pioneered by emigrants from Scotland, Wales, England, and Ireland who immigrated to the Appalachian region in the 18th century to take advantage of the new agriculture opportunities that were arising in the region with the establishment of the United States of America. From this, I was already able to see the connection between arts and farming. Perhaps, NYU students who are active in the arts could use urban farms as rallying points for exhibitions of heir work. Or, workshops on connections between the arts and farming would probably be easy to organize and be a source of great entertainment to NYU students. Connecting the arts to farming seems as though it would offer endless possibilities to the future and sustainability of farming and arts movements alike. In a video on her blog, Woginrich also talks a lot overcoming the antagonistic factors of “Money, Family, and Fear” when wishing to venture into beginning a farm, or even just working at one. Interestingly, she says that many people are, indeed, interested in beginning their own farms but due to pressure from their family, monetary constraints, or simply uncertainty as to how to start, many are hesitant to even take the beginning steps towards realizing their ambitions. As a solution, she asks that many who wish to get involved in farming start small by simply volunteering at local farms, getting to know farmers, and hosting workshops and other events around farming. For NYU students, I think that hosting workshops on farming (perhaps even at the farm!) would be beneficial to their lives as students. It would open up new doors of career and intellectual possibility, and perhaps give interested students ideas as to how they can connect their future livelihoods to farming. In regards to my grandfather, I think he formed a lot of connections between farming and the rest of his life, but at a very local level. He used the farm as a form of self-inspiration, and I think that the farm’s health benefits were just as important to his family and neighbors as the mental benefits of working on a farm were. The triumphs and pitfalls of farming were a source of constant inspiration to him, and for NYU students, exposure to something as immediate and rewarding as agriculture would be beneficial to their futures.

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