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