Growing up I helped my grandma in her garden and cooked with her in the kitchen when I was a kid. She grew her own food, prepared it, picked it, cooked it, baked it, dried it, fermented it, and froze it. She even made her own weird off the beaten path wine to complement dinner – Dandelion Wine. She had in those days what was called a left-over ‘Victory Garden’ to help ease the pressure on food supply during the war. Of course, by the time I was born, Victory Garden’s were fading, as industrial agriculture continued to grow.
I guess something took hold and stuck with me about the power of growing your own food and the miracle of life that a seed holds. Food is at the center of life in every way – in our homes, at our dinner table, at the store, and in schools and hospitals. I never forgot that garden experience as a kid, and as I got older and learned more, I became increasingly concerned about the health of people and our planet.
I learned where my food came from, how it was grown and prepared, and about the consequences of intensive monoculture and factory farming. I learned about the importance of healthy soil and how a decline in soil health impacts human health. We are just at the precipice of understanding the complexities of this living world beneath our feet and its ability to sequester carbon and create healthy ecosystems.
I launched Dragonfly Urban Farm this year with a vision in mind to do something better, to grow food that is healthier for people and the planet. I wanted to create something radically different from the norm – turning neighborhood lawns into something more powerful – a way to grow life-giving food that maximizes nutrient density, minimizes soil disturbance, increases biodiversity, creates environmental sustainability, and eliminates the use of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals that kill our soils.
Not unlike other business startups, I needed to create a plan, purchase the right tools, and have the time and the appropriate technology. As an Urban Farmer, I was able to bypass the need to purchase land – a major barrier for many who want to enter the agriculture industry.
I’m just getting started and have had a lot of small successes and failures this first year. We’ll see where year two takes us, but I’m committed. At the end of the day, I am completely at home on my hands and knees in the dirt with the plants, worms and pollinators. I consider it a privilege to grow food, and although this is just the start, if only small, I hope to contribute to a better way, and work with others to do something together – that’s better for all of us.
Maria Vandervert is the Owner and Operator of Dragonfly Urban Farm LLC, a veganic, no-dig farm located in Spokane County, Washington. More information about Dragonfly Urban Farm can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and at DragonflyUrbanFarm.com.