Farming in the City: Discussions with Professor Samatar

The session with Professor Samatar was quite helpful for Concrete Beet Farmers to contextualize its project within the greater global issues of the 21st century.  Often the calamities and problems exacerbated by and facing the human race seem too overwhelming to begin tackling.  Often I have spent the day in an existential muddle, unable to think critically, constructively, or creatively.  As population rise and technological innovations continue to accelerate exponentially, it can be difficult to place one’s own actions in a moral framework.  How does one take action to counter the development of an increasingly militarized, environmentally harmed, and impoverished world?  Professor Samatar affirmed that an easy retreat into an isolated shell aggravates these global problems.  The cultural points of contact made feasible by the Internet, commerce, and air travel have been essential in developing a global consciousness and responsibility to the world population.

I believe that Concrete Beet Farmers provides an interesting lens with which to view and tackle these issues.  We are starting an urban farm in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis and are committed to providing low-cost produce to the surrounding area in a way that reduces off-farm inputs and works mutualistically with the surrounding natural environment.  While we see ourselves as part of a global movement of farmers, lobbyists, academics, and politicians battling the environmental and social injustices wrought by corporatized, conventional agriculture, we operate as locally as possible.  Our farm is in an accessible, urban neighborhood, trafficked by people of all backgrounds.  We meet closely with other urban farmers to compile bulk orders and order compost, limiting fossil fuel expenditures.  While we aim to establish an economically salient business, we also want to connect closely with the immediate community surrounding the farm, learning about the cultural traditions of the Hmong, Mexican, and Somali residents and growing food for them in return.  We hope that our actions on a local scale reverberate globally through our neighborhood cultural exchanges and connections to farmers throughout the globe, stymieing worldwide destruction in the process.

-Alex Liebman

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About Alex_Liebman

Agroecologist-in-training at the University of Minnesota interested in microbial-influenced nutrient cycling, political ecology, and alternative food networks.

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