Why would anyone choose urban farming?
by Farmer Greg Peterson
Would you like to know my secret to a long and healthy life? My journey of this discovery started when I was 14 years old. It was 1975 and I had a bright idea to write a paper for my 8th grade biology class (in pencil) on how we were overfishing the oceans. To this day I have no clue why I knew that was an issue, but in retrospect I can see how I had an awareness back then that there was something really wrong with how we were/are living and eating on the planet. Since then life has had a way to shove me further in this direction.
Fast forward to 1991 – a pivotal year for me.
- I found a book called Ishmael by Daniel Quinn which has informed my philosophy over the past 27 years.
- I did a course at Landmark Education where I had to define my purpose…‘that I am the person on the planet responsible for transforming our global food system.’ I don’t see this as a burden, over the decades it has inspired me to stretch and gets me out of bed every morning.
- I discovered permaculture, which I like to call the art and science of working with nature.
- And the crème de la crème – a friend went to the South Pacific on a sailboat adventure and when he came back he told me the following story. “We anchored on an island looking for grocery store, the people living there looked at us funny and said ‘go pick your own.’” Hmm curious!
1991 deeply informed my future by laying a powerful groundwork of inspiration and knowledge that will guide me till my last breath. Then at the ripe young age of 39 I decided to go back to ASU and get my Bachelor’s degree. In 2001 in one of my required degree classes I was to write a mission and vision for my life and out pops the plan for The Urban Farm. Not necessarily a plan for a farm, but for an educational space to inspire others to take on growing their own food. Transforming flower beds into edible gardens and replacing nonedible trees with amazing fruit producing machines.
Over my 29 years of growing and teaching here at The Urban Farm, I have come to understand a balance of nature that manages itself and produces an incredible amount of edible delights for my palate with an abundance to share. In all of my learnings over 4 decades there is one thing that I have discovered that lives as my key to a long and healthy life. I need to put healthy food in my body in order to stay in top shape.
For this reason not surprisingly I grow my own food, oh yes and inspire others to do the same and the key to healthy food is to grow healthy soil. The bottom line on healthy soil, make sure that you give your plants a soil structure then add lots of organic compost, supplementing with amendments such as AZOMITE and worm castings then sprinkle in some life in the form of mycorrhiza. Most of all DON’T add any chemical fertilizers or pesticides to the mix. They only serve to kill soil life and pollute your food.
My self-discovery has been the driver of this conversation and the rewards…great tasting, nutrient dense food. It is really easier than you think if you are willing to put in some time and experiment.
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