by Jim Godsiil
So, my father became an urban farmer. He took some worms, someone else’s trash, his backyard (and later his front), one daughter’s hard labor, one daughter’s encouragement, his calloused hands, his bare feet, his urine and his smarts, and started something new. Something new, yes; but it had always been brewing within him. The need to cultivate and nurture, create something with those rough palms. Something edible. Sustainable.
Something from hardship.
To let him tell it, this all started in 1998, July. Wet, hot, sweaty, outrageous and impossible July 1st, 1998. Easier to write about now, easier in 2008, when we’ve made it, in his words, to the house with the fence and the table with food upon it. He got us to that table and yes, it took ten whole years after that July. That humid July that found us three motherless.
We were indeed face down in sand, four desperate expressions molded into the hard, grainy and gritty surface in the beach of our imaginations. Expressions that were washed away in nature’s fashion: immediate and sure, swift and unforgiving. We were sick, battered, enraged.
But we moved on befitting nature as well: slow, unsteady at times, always resilient.
So, Dad got us to the food on the table and decided food on a table from God-knows-where wasn’t good enough. Not for the ten years we had been fighting through. We, his children, we three, deserved more. A farm.
A real life farm with raspberries and basil and kale and soil. Real soilósoil he breathed life into with his words and his worms. Soil compounded from foul smelling articles no one knew what to do with: yeast, urine, coffee grounds, rotting vegetables, eggshells. Soil that brought up heat when hoed in the dead of winter, soil that, by spring, smelled sweet and like life itself. He knew we children, we three, needed that soil to build upon more than that food on the table. So he made it. He made the soil from tears of joy.
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