Earthworks Urban Farm was founded in 1999 by Brother Rick Samyn in an effort to feed the hungry while addressing “the systemic causes of poverty, broken relationships and a wounded Earth.” The garden has been growing in size, bounty, and reputation ever since. The Meldrum Fresh Market (named after its location on Meldrum St.) sells the organic produce grown on the garden located directly behind it.
Baskets of plump eggplants and leafy kale fill make a bountiful spread for customers to choose from. All of the food is laid out under the unstained wooden shed. The shelter has sinks and a washing-processing area in the back where farm apprentices wash the vegetables before selling them. The shed is tall and protected so that work can be done inside, but with open walls allowing sunlight to pour in over the fresh food.
The busy people doing this prep work are members of the Earthworks Agriculture Training (E.A.T.) Program. The program is made up of three mentors and 12 mentees. Brittney, a current mentor, explained that the nine-month long program teaches the farming skills necessary to grow healthy crops, as well as the marketing techniques required to sell them. Last year, Brittney was a mentee within the program.
The mentor-mentee relationship is a small-scale, close to home version of the community that is fostered at the Earthworks Urban Farm. Part of their mission is to strive for “peace, respect, and harmony between Neighbor and Nature.”
The “Garden of Unity” is an example how Earthworks reaches out to its neighbors, who tend to small patches of land. A larger idea of the word neighbor can also be applied to the visitors that Earthworks receives from around the world. Brittney recalled people as far as Spain and Australia.
Sean Bernardo has been coming to Earthworks for over two years. His brother, Shane, is the market manager of the Meldrum Market. Originally from Windsor, these brothers have become heavily involved in the urban farming scene within the city. While the farm draws in people from all over the world, Sean emphasized the community and continuous support he receives at Earthworks. “There’s people you can talk to,” he said. “If you’re having a crisis, there’s people to talk to. You can be at home.”
Whether it is the immediate neighbor living down the street, or the international neighbor, Earthworks extends a welcoming hand. The E.A.T. employees were so knowledgeable, enlightening me on topics ranging from species of peppers to how certain geography and development processes lead to flooding. I left well-informed on a wide range of subjects, and with the strong urge to become more involved in such a wonderful place!
The Meldrum Farmers’ Market is open every Thursday from 11a.m.-2 p.m. at 1264 Meldrum. They accept SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks, Project FRESH, and Senior Market FRESH. Its last market day of the season is October 30.