Published first on the Progress News, March 15, 2021

This time last year, I was thanking folks for offering to donate items to our School Farm project and looking forward to getting our hands dirty by late March.  Welp…2020 sure threw a wrench in the works.  But, here we are, exactly one year later, finally able to get things started back up. 

Over the next several weeks we will be setting up the first raised beds, installing a rain garden, laying out the first paths and a short woodland trail, and prepping for the orchard.  There are three things we could really use: soil for the beds, sawdust/chips for the paths, and more hands for the work.  If you or your organization can offer any of those, please let me know! 

For those of you who missed it last year, or who have forgotten – it has been a pretty intense year, after all – here’s a quick reminder of what the School Farm project is all about.  In a nutshell, the Farm is a partnership between the AC Valley Blueprint Initiative and the AC Valley School District that is designed to get folks outside, hands in the dirt, connecting with each other and the land around us.  Together, students and community members will grow food for the school cafeterias, for local kitchens, and for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, and we’ll grow our ability to be creative, analytical, and responsible.  Over the next three years (assuming we have no other major upheavals anytime soon!) we hope to develop a combination of row crops, orchard, livestock, and food forest, with some arts, culture, and green infrastructure built in.  The school will be able to utilize the space for outdoor classrooms, and the community will have access to a market and event space. 

Over time, we envision this project linking in with other local farms, backyard plots, and community garden spaces around the Valley and in neighboring towns to create a local food web.  We plan to develop a community kitchen to allow even more people to create and package delicious, healthy food to share and sell, as well as additional market venues, boosting our community’s economic resilience, bringing us all closer together, and improving our overall health and well-being. 

It’s a grand vision more than a year in the making – many, many years for some of us – and we’re so excited to finally dig in and get started.  Anyone interested in physically helping out with the Farm initiative is welcome to join the planning crew at Divani Chocolatier in Foxburg every Friday from 1-3, too.  I’m in Foxburg every Friday to talk about any redevelopment thoughts that might be on your mind, but with the robins starting to sing and the bulbs starting to sprout, discussions are definitely focused on all things green and growing right now.  Hope to see you soon!