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Waiting for spring on our farms in Lynn

       

 
Here in Lynn, we are buried under record-breaking piles of snow. It’s icy, dirty snow, the kind that’s been around for too long but has nowhere to go. It’s March snow.      

At the Munroe Street and Ingalls School farm plots, a sea of snow has replaced the rows of vegetables that welcomed me to The Food Project last fall. The gardens, just like us, wait for spring. 



For me, the spring thaw has always been firmly rooted in rural settings, on higher acreage, more mechanized farms. The past fall spent as the North Shore Urban Grower’s Assistant marks my first stint on an urban farm, and I am repeatedly struck by the differences that scale and setting can make on a farm operation. As we begin operations at Munroe and Ingalls this spring, we will not have to worry about plowing out access to our roadways, because we are located in the downtown area and at a school. We will not have to worry about getting equipment stuck in the mud, because we won’t be using any heavy equipment. We are too small for mechanization to make sense in our operation.
     

When we talk about urban farming, we talk about the smaller size of most urban farms, and the difficult process of acquiring arable urban land, as a disadvantage. In more rural areas, farmers are rich in land. Here, we are rich in people. Urban farms take root in whatever nook or cranny they can hold on to for long enough, and they often do this with the work of volunteers and community members. In Lynn, the land that we have access to for our farming work and community gardens is spread across a few different neighborhoods. Our growing space is confined by the infrastructure and development of urban life, by sidewalks and fire hydrants and electrical lines. There are no sprawling hayfields or solitary farmhouses in downtown Lynn. Yet city growing means community, and resources that can be harder to come by in rural areas.          


This spring, volunteers and youth will come to Ingalls and Munroe ready to dig in for another 
season. Programming starts in early April, when we will head out through the parking lot and past the fence into the muddy field, and find the carrots that we overwintered. I’m sure they will be sweet. Join us every Saturday all spring for our Serve and Grow program, where you can learn more about what we do and help us on the farm!

 

Hazel Kiefer is the North Shore Urban Grower's Assistant. She is pictured here watering the newly planted seeds.

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