As many readers of this blog know, our son Noah has been converting a former convent, then Detroit public school (Peck) into a 4 acre farm ( Food Field ) for the past three years.
Friday we were down there to deliver straw and used coffee sacks and add a few hours to string poles for the pole beans, hang garlic to dry, and weed between tomatoes and the cabbage. He's a whirlwind of design, management, labor, public relations, architect, mechanic on this patch of earth in a city bruised and battered from neglect and abuse.
Every trip back is mixture of melancholy and a wee bit of optimism, that efforts like his and countless others emerging from the rubble might hint are possible. I think this correlates with what the author of a book I'm reading calls 'feasible utopias'. It is indeed feasible as a picture of his site would show, but it seems utopian when you see the impoverishment surrounding it in so many areas of the city.
We learned this morning as he was preparing to get ready for a volunteer group to arrive that his steel shipping container that doubles as a future home, drying room for garlic, and tool shed was broken into and all his tools and equipment were stolen over night, save his tractor which was chained down near the chicken coop. He has much to grow and harvest and we have had two 90+ degree days with three more coming. When you're pinching pennies to make a go of it, you sometimes cut back on what many of us would find unthinkable, like insurance. Insurance, the luxury, that so many of us take for granted - for health, home, auto.
Noah seems resilient in spite of this latest setback. We'll scrape up some tools and get them to him shortly. He'll keep at the weeding, watering, harvesting, mowing, plant succession, marketing, delivery that has been his daily ritual for three growing seasons, and he may yet come out of it with a successful year -i.e., the solar system, will one day be working so the fish will swim. A farmer's life, especially when growing dozens of different crops, is not for sissies.
Neither is working for peace. Our friends who show up every week to bear witness to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are built of the same stuff - the strength of perseverance. What is important enough to each of us that we would persevere through tough times? I'm in awe of those who have that strength.