Rebecca Bilodeau, Class of 2011

Major: Anthropology; Organization: Revision Urban Farm; Location: Boston, MA

Rebecca Bilodeau, Class of 2011I arrive home from my work at Revision Urban Farm covered in dirt, often with a forgotten pair of shears or other farm tool tucked in my pocket, and scheming how to prepare the extra produce from the day's harvest for dinner. Over the past few weeks, I have learned how to lay irrigation, experience weeding as a meditation, prune tomatoes, and harvest vegetables for our weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. I have led groups of volunteers who have come to get their hands dirty with us and reconsider their relationship with food and perceptions of agriculture (a young woman who is part of our youth program started out a few weeks ago asserting that she would never eat food from the farm because it was too dirty, but last week, after contemplating a head of cabbage, conceded that she would consider it to be something she could eat). But my role at the farm is slowly changing. Revision is located in a food desert, meaning that there is no grocery store within a mile of the farm; people who live in the community must drive or take a bus five miles to the nearest market. An important aspect of the farm's mission is to make fresh, healthy, affordable produce available to the neighborhood. To this end, we opened a farmstand on Thursday July 15, where we accept cash and EBT/SNAP (food stamps). This has provided me with a great opportunity to interact with members of the community surrounding the farm, some of whom are long-time friends of the farm and some of whom are learning about it for the first time. Already, shoppers at the stand have described the meals they plan to prepare with produce they purchase – delicious-sounding fish stews and fried eggplant – and told me how pleased they are by the presence of the stand. I will be working at the farmstand each week for the rest of the summer, and I anticipate learning about the food culture of the neighborhood even as the farmstand itself becomes a part of that culture.

I have experienced many elements of farming beyond the elbow-deep in soil part of the process, ones that I had never considered, and that I will hold in my mind as I continue to learn about different models of farming: What does it mean to be affiliated with a larger nonprofit (Revision House, a shelter for single parents and their children, and Revision Urban farm are operated through Boston-based Victory Programs)? How do you market produce? How do you design a workshop to get a group of youth interested in food politics (I'll find out whether I'm successful tomorrow)? My experience at Revision Urban farm has helped me deepen my own relationship with food, and reminded me that connections with a community or group take time, work, and patience, and I look forward to the rest of the summer.