Color_of_Food_Presentation_(18)I have always had an interest in growing ramps, mushrooms, garlic, kale and other staple foods. Now that I am a homeowner, I finally have the space to cultivate my own garden. My experience with growing plants started for me almost a year ago when I received a lucky bamboo as a gift. I was a little anxious at first. One of the stems died due to damage from the wires holding it in place, but the shoots really blossomed when they were released from their restraints. Watering and monitoring their progress has been a joy for me. All the different parts of my life point to this very activity. Trying to live healthier means a more active role in the food that I eat. On the brink of owning a home, I did the one thing I know how to do. I attended an educational event about community and farming.

Fox Haven is an organic farm and education center located in Jefferson, MD. Projects and events focus on ecology, permaculture, organics and community building. I thought this would be a great place to start if I wanted to make my gardening dreams a reality. On a warm afternoon in January, I drove to beautiful Fox Haven where I found large barns decorating the landscape. I was met by gracious attendants who led me to a parking spot. The space inside was large, comfortable and decorated with educational pieces about farming.

I listened to Natasha Bowens, the writer of The Color of Food. She discussed the stories she collected while traveling the United States, listening to the experiences of farming from indigenous people and people of color. During this event she shared a synopsis of her experiences and talked about what she discovered about resilient populations and the intersections of community, farming, and race.

Color_of_Food_Panel_Discussion_(5)The discussion included two regional farmers. Zachari Curtis is the owner and operator of Good Sense Farm, whose focus is mushroom cultivation and beekeeping in Washington, D.C. Xavier Brown is the creator of Soilful and a resident of Washington, D.C. He uses his gardening expertise to build community in the D.C. area. Both individuals discussed the importance of self-care and community participation. The discussion focused on connection to the land, the community and the impact of self-sufficient farming. All of the participants shared a wealth of information and piqued my interest in gardening for myself and the community. There was an underlying tone of generosity and sharing resources that came out of
the event. It’s an idea that I connect with Martinsburg and the Eastern Panhandle.

I had a wonderful time at Fox Haven, and I look forward to attending more activities in the future. I feel it is an investment not just in my backyard but for the community as well. I look forward to learning more about farming to build a stronger connection with the food I consume in my life.

Natasha Bowens is the 2016 Keynote speaker for the 2016 Common Ground Books, Business, & Art Expo on Saturday, February 20th. Learn more about the event here and her book, The Color of Food

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(Photos by Nicholas Trietsch)

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