Are you familiar with the Broken Windows Theory? It’s the idea that when a neighborhood begins to fall into disrepair, it jumpstarts a downward spiral for the entire community. That negativity spreads and leads to more decay and even crime. The good thing is that the opposite action of investing in your home and stomping grounds leads to further beautification in that area. That’s the driving force behind Urban Farm Collective in Portland. They transform unused land into neighborhood food gardens. This fosters community development, promotes education, and food security.
I got to follow garden manager, Chelsea Updegrove, around as she tended some of her daily tasks. It’s hard work, but it’s every bit fulfilling as it is demanding. Hours spent kneeling over rows of carefully planted seedlings, covered in dirt, call for clothing that wears mud well. Take a look at Chelsea’s work wear: Carhartt Women’s Minot Shirt, Sibley Denim Cropped Pant, Force Equator Jacket, Plaid Military Cap, and Rapid City Utility Work Apron.
I’ll leave you with a parting quote from Chelsea, “Peace, love, and carrots.”
There is a certain feeling of empowerment and resolve that come with sticking your own two hands in the soil and growing your own food. Dusting the dirt off your clothes after a hard day of work never felt so good. To watch your labor generate new life is almost as satisfying as taking a big bite out of a your fresh produce.
Spend some time with the folks at Keep Growing Detroit and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This non-profit organization makes it possible to grow fruits and veggies in the city limits for the people of Detroit. Their focus is to help residents create a healthy relationship with food, spread knowledge about growing and farming, and cultivate a sense of community.
After a few minutes of following Imani around as she worked in the gardens, I sensed her connection with the land. With experience and dexterity, she performed each familiar task as if she were having her daily conversation with the ground. The interdependent relationship between Mother Nature and those who harvest its potential is one that should be respected and never taken for granted.
Included above are some tips to starting your own garden. Take a look at some of Imani’s Carhartt gear that helps her get the job done: Carhartt Women’s Force Equator Jacket, Carhartt Force Performance Quarter-Zip Shirt, Original-Fit Canvas Crawford Dungaree, Wellington Boot, and Soft Hands Gloves.
Mira and Kate met in Detroit in graduate school as artists. Together they like to plan projects that give back to their community and involve nontraditional art works. So Mira and Kate took on an abandoned park in the city of Detroit. Refusing to let good parkland go to waste, they created Edible Hut. It’s one part art and one part sculpture with a small garden and a little architecture thrown in. Together with the surrounding neighborhood, they have been building the hut out of steel and wood, lifting bags of compost up to the roof, and planting edible herbs for all to enjoy. When completed, the community will be free to enjoy a shady and protected respite for gathering, rest, sharing meals, holding classes, watching children play in the park, and maybe even one day selling vegetables. One step at a time, Kate and Mira are doing their part to bring a struggling neighborhood in the city back together.
Kate’s Outfit: Women’s Hamilton Flannel Shirt II, Women’s Straight-Fit Slim Jean, Women’s Soft Hand Gloves, & Women’s Marlinton Jacket Mira’s Outfit: Women’s C-Grip Knuckler Glove, Women’s Quick Duck Woodward Jacket, Women’s Force Long-Sleeve Crewneck, & Original-Fit Denim Jasper Jean The little one’s outfit: Kids Acrylic Watch Hat, Infant Toddler Boy’s Washed Denim Bib Overalls, & Infant Toddler Boy’s Lap Shoulder Bodysuit