Tag Archives: farming

Oral Histories of Small Farmers Captured at Conference, Available for Listening

Interviewee Brent Koors, at the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference, 30 January 2016. Image courtesy of Traverse Area District Library.

Traverse Area District Library (TADL), in partnership with Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology, have released “Food for Life on Two Peninsulas: Stories from Old Farm Families, Migrant Workers, and the New “Foodies” of Grand Traverse Bay,” an oral history collection developed and curated by TADL staff and volunteers. The purpose of the collection is to capture history in the making, focusing on a central question: what has becoming a “foodie” destination meant to the people and farms in our communities?

Interviewee Michelle McClintock (left) and William Derovin, at the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference, 30 January 2016. Image courtesy of Traverse Area District Library.

TADL staff and volunteers conducted interviews with food producers and developers at the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference 2016, held on January 30, 2016, and executed by Crosshatch and partnering organizations. Interviewees ranging from former Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) owners to pioneers in regenerative farm animal grazing practices, representing a variety of experiences, longevity, and communities throughout Michigan, spoke on their roles in the local food economy.

“Seasoned farmers and greenhorns alike will find these oral histories to contain an enthusiasm for the love of locally-produced, responsible food, that draws our statewide “foodie” community together. We are grateful to Crosshatch for the opportunity to gather these stories, and look forward adding more,” said organizer Amy Barritt, Special Collections Librarian at TADL. There are currently 10 interviews available.

For more information and to listen to these oral histories, please visit TADL’s Local History Collection’s website, http://localhistory.tadl.org/foodforlifeoral, or contact the Reference Department at 231-932-8502 or ask@tadl.org.

Amy Barritt is co-editor of the Grand Traverse Journal.

Community Planting Festivals

Just in time for the coming of spring we reprint this section of a speech delivered by Mrs. Hulst in 1915.  There she discusses the possibility of making schoolyards into gardens, advocating that  woodlots close to school should be left wild to be used as nature study  areas.  The essay reminds us of efforts in the Detroit public schools to reclaim lots once filled with residential homes, since fallen to decay, and convert them to vegetable gardens.

Community Planting Festivals

by Mrs. Henry Hulst

….Would it not be an act to merit public gratitude if some one should introduce these rare and lovely things [wild plants] into our landscape?

The first thing that we should do is to educate the children and the community to work for beauty.  It should be the happy work of the children, aided by the Community, on two joyous Festival Days of the Spring and Fall, to devote time and effort to some public planting of their grounds and roadsides.   The planting of their small school yard will be a good beginning, but it is to be hoped that not many years hence the boundaries of the yard will extend until the lot is large—five acres—ten acres—forty.  In the Government Bulletins I read of schools in New Jersey and Colorado that are starting with seven acres, and our own new Township School at Houghton has forty.  Our National Commissioner of Education is urging the large yard and the farm school.

Is this too much?  I own that when I first heard Professor Roth, the enthusiastic Forester of our University, maintain that school lots should be not less than ten acres, I thought him extreme, but when I hear all that a ten acre lot can do for education of the school and the community, it seems moderate, and most wise, and only strange that it has taken so long to arrive at that wisdom.  The world seems to have waited until the 20th century for it to be held up as an ideal—perhaps it will not wait another century before the ideal is being widely realized, for progress is rapid in these days.  A ten acre lot, equipped with all of the trees, flower and shrubs of the locality, including stock to be used in teaching fruit culture, would make a first class laboratory for the study of the ways of Nature, and would “pay for its keep” many times over in a few years by the higher efficiency of the people of the neighborhood as farmers.  I am told that it would pay well as a wood lot, covering fuel expenses and even giving some revenue, while a forty acre wood lot would pretty nearly endow the school and set the community free from school taxes, aside from its value for teaching purposes.  What valuation should be put upon it as a things of beauty in the neighborhood, a park where people could gather for picnics, and public gatherings that can be held out of doors?  Should cities have all of the parks?  Some cities now have more of natural beauty than the open country.

It is enough to say that the ideal school of the future will be a building that will not “just do” but a dignified public edifice, an index to ideals of neatness, beauty and efficiency, as wsell as the learning from books, and where the community will meet to consider social betterment and to enjoy social privileges.   It will be surrounded by flowers, which the children love, and tend as part of their work; it will be surrounded by the park of the district.  In the city each school will have its garden, and every district will have its playground and park space.

Found in Keeler, Fred Lockwood, Special Day Programs for Michigan, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lansing: 1915, pp.15,16

The entire essay can be read in the Nelson room of the Woodmere branch of the Traverse Area District Library.  Pages may be photocopied for those wanting to read it carefully at home.

Header image courtesy of the United State Forest Service Region 5, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfsregion5/3598029211.