Every now and then I have to step out of the confines of my design studio and explore. It is the only way I stay "open" and leave room to grow. Last week, I strapped on my boots and took a field trip out to Shelby Farms to visit Roots Memphis Farming Academy.
As I walked up to the greenhouse I said to myself "I hope they don't think that I'm pretentious or superficial, because I'm so geeked and excited to see what this farm lifestyle is all about".
Ok so let me tell you the back story first. I was watching Chef Jeff's Cooking Show during the ice days and realized he was shooting live at the Roots Memphis Farming Academy. I literally watched with my mouth wide open in utter virtual amazement at how good the food looked. I connected with Claudine on Instagram, who is the director of communications and development for the farming academy, begging for a chance to visit the farm.
As I walked into this magical warm greenhouse, I was greeted by such a gorgeous and smart farmer, Mary Phillips Riddle. She was hard at work caring for and checking on kale, spinach, joi choi and other fresh vegetables grown by farmers in the Roots Memphis Farming Academy. I tried not to talk her to death because I knew she was working but I couldn't resist it.
Mary Mary, quite the contrary, I couldn't help it lol. She's the farm manager at Roots Memphis and also the perfect representation of the female farmers in Memphis. Sowing seeds literally and figuratively representing growth from the produce in their hoop house to the growth of economic development in the city. The women in the program are business minded, well educated, and determined entrepreneurs making a difference in their lives and in the lives of others through local produce.
I quickly learned it's not a trend for these women...it's a lifestyle. Farming requires manual farm labor and plot planning, but the females in the program are doing it. They're breaking the barriers of what's previously been thought of as a male's job—and kicking butt at it.
I soaked it all in..I mean all. The entire time I was Ohhhhh-ING and Ahhhh-ING learning so much about farming, flowers, and the whole concept of eating well and being well.
What really made an impact on me was the stake the Roots Memphis Farming Academy has in the local economy! The idea of Hard Work Pays Off is apparent in the mission of Roots Memphis as a startup company.
Every seed sown reaps benefits whether through CSA, a direct partnership between the farmers and the community, The Plate Project, Flower Share, or Farm Drinks. Roots Memphis has relationships with local restaurants like Tsunami and Slider Inn delivering fresh produce directly from the farm to the table. Man, isn't that cool. You literally experience produce from the farm right in your own city.
I now can say I have farm friends and that gives me sooooooo much joy. I learned so much from Mary, Liam and Claudine about the farming lifestyle, the farm business (yes it's a business), and how we all collaborate and co exist in the agriculture lifestyle.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ROOTS MEMPHIS FARMING ACADEMY AND ALL OF THE AMAZING THINGS THEY ARE DOING LOCALLY!
OHHHHHHH COME UNWIND WITH THE FARMERS OF #ROOTSMEMPHIS AT FARM DRINKS TODAY AT 6:00PM AT #SLIDERINN @ THE CORNER OF PEABODY AND COOPER. RSVP HERE.