000 – Welcome to Farm-A-Yard

000 – Welcome to Farm-A-Yard

with co-founders Linda Borghi and Criss Ittermann

Farm-A-Yard Podcast logo: orange sun with sunbeams rising over a mound of black dirt with 2 sprouts and a microphone in green coming up out of the soil.
Farm-A-Yard Podcast — It’s a movement… have ya heard?

We are serious about turning the 48.5 million acres of lawn in America into food production!  Farm-A-Yard: It’s a movement… have ya heard?  Linda Borghi and Criss Ittermann, two of the co-founders of Farm-a-Yard, share about the birth of the Farm-A-yard movement as a response to the challenges of soil degradation and food insecurity issues facing our country and the world.

You’ll notice in this episode that Farm-A-Yard is all about solutions, sprinkled with plenty of laughter and gratitude to pave the way for sustainable, lasting change.

This podcast is made possible by funding by our Patreon supporters.  

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Music credit: “Insomnia” by John Sheehan.  Used with permission.

What is Real Food Security?

Arriving in South Carolina the beginning of May did not give me enough time to create a yard farm before the “Heat of the Year” arrived. At one point during the summer the degrees on my car dashboard read 117…..whoa baby…hotter than anything other than watermelons wanted it to be! I had to experience all summer long that creepy feeling due to my lack of food security.

Being new to South Carolina everything is very interesting. I am aware of the sounds, the light… the sensations that are all around me, because it’s all new to me.

I am at a stage in my life that I have developed very keen observation skills and my most current observation has been my state of uneasiness because I did not have any food security. This is the first time in 16 years that I did not have any food growing outside my kitchen door. What a creepy feeling it is….unsettling at the very least.

Arriving in South Carolina the beginning of May did not give me enough time to create a yard farm before the “Heat of the Year” arrived. At one point during the summer the degrees on my car dashboard read 117…..whoa baby…hotter than anything other than watermelons wanted it to be!

I had to experience all summer long that creepy feeling due to my lack of food security. From May until the end of September…nearly 5 months, long enough to know how that feels.

Now that feeling is dissipating,. Why, because my beds are made, my plan is drawn and some seed is in the ground. When I see some germination the feeling will dissipate more and when I harvest I’m sure it will vanish the feeling completely!

That got me thinking about those who have never had food security. They do not experience those feelings but I am sure that if they were given 16 years of food security right outside their kitchen door and then not have that for five months…they would have a creepy feeling as well.

The moral of the story is this: Farm-a-Yard….it’s a Movement ….have ya heard?

 

Why Farm-A-Yard? Background Story

So, being that I am the kind of person who can’t just sit around complaining and lament the problem, I literally “dug” in to be a part of the solution.

I couldn’t help myself…..I never considered myself an activist, but when the pieces started coming together about why we are in such a health crisis in this country, my hair was on fire!  What we now know is only the tip of the iceberg and Titanic is going down, while some are still playing the music and saying that everything is ok.

Sometimes I feel a little bit like Noah, who day by day spent his time building an Ark even though it had never rained before.  Though he looked silly to others, he kept on building.  We need to build local food systems for real food security and to do that we need to build local food chains of small farmers, yard farmers other food entrepreneurs.

Commercial food is seriously altered, highly processed, lacking in nutrients and even produce is laden with chemicals. We have also been in a huge GMO experiment without our consent, which starting in the 90’s.

So, being that I am the kind of person who can’t just sit around complaining and lament the problem, I literally “dug” in to be a part of the solution.

I was compelled to establish a Sustainable Neighbors meetup group in 2012, right after I moved from California and discovered how difficult it was to access locally grown, chemical free food in Fayetteville, NC.

In my search for healthy, locally produced food, there came another discovery… I found very few local small farmers actually growing their own produce to sell directly to the consumer.  To add to this concern, I could not find a farmer who was not treating their land and crops with commercial fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides.

I recognized that all the processed foods being consumed and the lack of access to healthy produce was the main factor in the widespread health disparities in food deserts around the country.

I told myself that it didn’t have to be this way!  My driving force now is to see people eat well and get well.

I have been observing the evolution of the food system for a long time and I am old enough to know what real food is and tastes like.  I began to feel the urgency, for the sake of my grandchildren AND everyone’s grandchildren, to share the knowledge and skills of how to grow, preserve, cook from scratch and share other sustainable living skills and resources.  Because of this, Sustainable Neighbors Meetup was born. www.meetup.com/sustainableneighbors   www.sustainableneighborsnc.com

I was excited and inspired by the growth of the urban agriculture movement in cities around the country. We can do this and there is an opportunity to earn money too.  This is how to be sustainable and it offers entrepreneurship opportunities to create jobs.

With other concerned neighbors and a vision to build resilient neighborhoods and communities, we began working to find farmers and educate and connect consumers to where their food comes from.  When I met Linda Borghi, Biodynamic/Farmer  in 2015 and we joined forces to launch the Farm-A-Yard movement with Evan Folds of www.MicrobeMakers.com  and Melissa Jones of www.FromScratchMag.com  to teach others how to  turn lawns into food across the country.

We are collaborating with many who, like us, are also passionate to be the change they want to see in the world starting with their yard.

In the Farm-A-Yard course, our students learn critical keys to success from experts in the field.  BioEnergetics is vital for soil regeneration and recovering the nutritional value of the plants we grow. Students can get an in depth soil test so that they know exactly what to do to for their soil.  Students also are given cutting edge marketing and recordkeeping tools that save time and money. Everything you need in one awesome package with step by step instructions.

We all have the ability to make our communities food secure,   By voting with our dollars (https://slowmoneync.org/), supporting local small farmers and/or learning to grow and preserve food for ourselves, you can be part of the movement.

IT’S A MOVEMENT, HAVE YOU HEARD?

Training Yard Farmers, Recruiting Yards

headshot-marsha-copyAbout Marsha Howe

Sustainable Neighbors and the Farm-A-Yard grassroots projects were born out of the concern around the eroding of our health through toxic processed foods, the lack of access to fresh, local, seasonal produce as well as the need to build local food systems for real food security. As Director of Food Education with Guiding Wellness Institute, Marsha facilitates urban farming/local food education and training to secure and sustain local food access and economic opportunity for healthier, resilient communities.

Linda Borghi- “Women Who Farm” Interview 2016

Through online webinars, I teach, encourage and empower others to convert lawns into food production areas

Linda Borghi- “Women Who Farm” Interview 2016

What was your earliest memory of taking part in the local food system?

My earliest memory of taking part in the local food system was in 1978 in Bogota New Jersey which is located 5 miles from Midtown Manhattan.

I was a newlywed and we purchased a home that had 67 stairs to the front door, no driveway or garage but the front of that house look like a farm to me. I even grew some corn. At that point Burpee must have thought I had a palatial mansion because every square inch of that property that was capable of growing, was.

Please explain your project and work.

Years later I established Abundant Life Farm, located in the state of New York and I grew bio-dynamically in two locations for 12 years. I practiced an urban farming model called SPIN farming (small plot intensive) which I discovered while combing the internet. It was the only business model that I could find for someone who was growing on small plots of land like myself. I have a business background so I was looking for how to make small scale farming profitable.

Over the years I have taught this model in Africa and Australia and throughout the US. Last season I realized that I could not continue to farm well and teach well at the same time so this grandmother decided to take it on the road. My project is a movement and it’s called Farm-A-Yard. With 40 and a half million acres of lawn in our country that’s consuming 40% of the drinking water on the East Coast, we need to change our ways and that’s what I’m determined to help accomplish.

Through online webinars, I teach, encourage and empower others to convert lawns into food production areas

How has your life changed since you started growing food?

I’ve been growing food for 34 years I can’t even imagine how it was before I grew food. Now that I am not farming I’ve relocated to Beaufort South Carolina in a residential area. The first thing I did was cut out 500 square feet of the lawn to get some food in. I felt very jittery without having food outside my kitchen door.

What has your largest challenge been?  Have you found a way to overcome it? If so, how? 

My largest challenge has been getting others to pay attention. Because I’ve seen so many changes in the past 35 years, right before my very eyes, I feel a responsibility as a 61 year old grandmother to share with others the knowledge that I have. The way I have found to overcome it is to teach, in person, universities, online. That’s my plan.

How can men be allies to women farmers? 

Men can be allies to women farmers through participation, collaboration and taking action.

What made you want to take up this way of life? And how did you get started? 

This way of life was gifted to me from my grandmothers, both my father’s mother and my mother’s mother. They made such an impression on me from such a young age.

I can remember when I was at the tender age of seven saying to myself (about my father’s mother) when I grow up I’m going to be just like you Nonna. Getting started just came naturally.

What has farming/growing food taught you? And how has it changed you? 

Farming and growing food has taught me the art of observation. The most important of all of the skills farming has given me is the skill of observation. Because it’s one of the skills that I’ve honed in on I’m able to apply it in all of the aspects of my life. It’s been quite a blessing!

What is your ten-year vision for yourself? 

My 10 year vision would be at the ripe age of 71 I would be able to drive down suburban neighborhoods and see zucchini growing and lettuce growing and food growing that is my ultimate vision.

What skills have you learned? Can you explain and teach some of those skills to our readers?

I have learned how to make “value added products from growing garlic.  Also how to ferment and  how to grow amazing tomatoes. From growing food and earning money right down to talking about the microbes, I stay on top of the cutting edge information for my students.

What does permaculture mean to you and how does it work in your farm/garden? 

I find permaculture extremely interesting. I’ve taken some course work online in reference to permaculture and what I realized is that it was exactly the way I have been in relationship with the land.

Are you a mother that farms? Can you share your story and experience? 

I’m a grandmother who farms and it’s my intention to reach all of the mothers out there so that they can have true food security.

Are you a first generation farmer, or has farming been in your blood for generations? Please explain the difficulties and victories of whichever perspective applies to you.

I am the oldest of eight in a family of fine art dealers. I had no background in farming within my family.  It’s disturbing that my family would rather I introduced myself as a gardener then as a farmer.

Linda Borghi
Linda@farm-a-yard.com   www.Farm-A-Yard.com   It’s a Movement, Have You Heard?