I have had almost a week to reflect on the few hours of work my family and I did at a 10.10.10 work party in Ithaca, NY. Our efforts, along with those of 60 other folks, was focused on establishing a permaculture garden for the Chestnut Hill apartments community in Ithaca, NY. It was basically a vacant lot before everyone started. But donation of materials and “elbow grease” transformed it into a nearly ready to plant garden for 2011. There was sod to be torn out, mulch to be laid, horse manure and wood chips to be spread. By the time they were done, the residents of Chestnut Hill were well on their way to an edible landscape.

Making a difference is a very important part of why I do what I do for a profession. Sure, it is important to grow something that tastes great and makes a profit. But it would be empty without ensuring that my actions also made the world a better place environmentally, socially, and culinarily. People deserve great tasting food just as they also deserve a stable supply of sustainably grown and nourishing food. And while most people will continue to always buy the bulk of their food in a grocery store, there is no reason at all why we can’t encourage and grow a cottage “farming” industry, whereby people grow their own. Not only will this give folks an opportunity to eat some thing they grew, but it will bring them closer to the land. They’ll finally get some dirt on their hands and some mud on their boots. It will give them a greater appreciation for what farmers do every single day.

People need greater access to good, sustainably grown, nutritious food, especially in urban and urban/suburban areas. Since Red Jacket Orchard’s primary market is New York City, we (along with GreenMarket and others) recently helped launch a program called Healthy Bodegas. This is in addition to all the food we already purvey in the NYC metro region through normal marketing channels.

10.10.10 was series of events loosely coordinated by an organization called 350.org. I say “loosely” because the organization as well as the over 7000 worldwide events came together in a viral way. That is, folks around the world wanted to do good things for their community. If enough used this as a springboard and woke up each day wanting to do good things for their communities, then the world would be a better place in pretty short order. For me, I’ll keep on shoveling horse manure and growing tree fruit. For Red Jacket Orchards, look for the Healthy Bodega displays in stores around NYC shortly.


About Farmer Mike Biltonen

Mike Biltonen is lifelong farmer with a passion for great tasting, sustainably grown food. He also has an opinion and this blog is his soapbox. But mostly he just likes to farm. Enjoy!
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