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Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of traffic this month and that’s just fine. Scanning people’s daily statements on Facebook about what they feel grateful for, I am impressed by the effort. This grand scheme to notice what you love in your life is pretty great.

I wasn’t pulled to join the chorus though. So I’ll say here one thing I’ll grateful for: the neighborhood farm.

The Produce Project is an urban farm two blocks down the hill. Started by Capital District Community Gardens in 2009, the land is worked by students from Troy High School.

This stretch of Eighth Street was denuded of houses forty years ago for a highway that never got built. The houses were demolished before anyone tested to see how suitable the area was for a road. Not very.

Despite the loss of the buildings – some of them were big and elegant, the Hillside being a nice little hop up from the smoky grime of a very well industrialized downtown in the late 1890s – I am glad for this new use. Think of it as the highway that is being rebuilt, the highway between people and food.

This is a path Community Gardens has been blazing for a long time. Back in the seventies, Garden Way, the company that made Troy Bilt rototillers, helped form the organization and established its first community garden plot right on 11th and Eagle.

The city gave the land on Eighth Street to Community Gardens a ways back, and there has been a big community garden on part of the street for a long time.

I’m a fan of the farm for a lot of reasons: because I love that people can see food growing in the city. I love that kids are getting their hands in the ground, figuring out how what we eat gets to our mouths. But mostly I love the food.

I got to cook with vegetables from the Produce Project on Monday with my students. I teach a class at Russell Sage College, and this semester my students held a community dinner to help introduce the neighborhood to the producers.

We fed collard greens, mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli with ranch dip, and sweet potato pie to about fifty people from the neighborhood. (We also made macaroni and cheese but only the milk and cheese were from close to home – Meadowbrook Dairy and Cabot Cheese.)

The Produce Project students helped cook and set up the room at Oakwood Community Center, and did a presentation on their work.

All that food from this ground! I am so happy that this path is being paved for more people to know what we can do to change the way we eat.

Thank you Capital District Community Gardens. You are my daily exercise in gratitude year round.

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