Monday, January 25, 2010

O Pioneers! and Detroit Goat Farm

Today I read and discussed the same excerpt from Willa Cather's O Pioneers! about five times (the short explanation is that I'm a teacher), in which a brother who has gone off to the city to work as an engraver has returned home and is reflecting with his sister, who remained in Nebraska, working the family farm. This gave me plenty of time to let the message sink in.

The city dweller describes life as "paying exorbitant rent for a few square feet of space near the heart of things; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing." The farmer replies, "We pay a high rent, too, though we pay differently. We grow hard and heavy. We don't move lightly and easily as you do, and out minds get stiff."

Both seem to envy the other's life, leading one to wonder if there's any place to live that lacks troubles. Detroit Goat Farm looks to combine the positives of community ties and owning a place of one's own to the joy of living close to the heart of a city. We hope to give people a sense of belonging while keeping their minds active, to keep their bodies strong while allowing them the opportunity to develop as a person.

Maybe there's nowhere trouble-free, but it's my hope that Detroit Goat Farm is a place where the troubles are worth having and worth learning from.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Many Ideas Generated from Successful Workshop

“Starting with community based farms could not only generate jobs in short-term and long-term progress, but it would also address the issue of how we get communities involved. We must allow communities to define their own ownership of a project.” ~ Participant, Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Leadership Conference

“If you think it’s a great idea, try to achieve it. But, you cannot do it alone. For any community initiative to be effective it must involve the current leaders of a given community. Forcing an issue as an outsider will elicit a reactionary, and assuredly negative response.” ~ Rebecca Busk, Co-Founder of Detroit Goat Farm

These quotes both came up during activities and discussion during yesterday's workshop, Detroit: A New Land of Milk and Honey. A few patterns of ideas emerged, including the one illustrated by the above statements, which is that local leadership is crucial to the success of this kind of project. Other concepts shared were:

1. People don’t need complicated vocabulary or extensive training in agriculture to be able to discuss urban farming issues with a sophisticated level of thought, if provided the right framework.

2. These programs have the potential for positive social outcomes, especially building community, which generated a level of excitement for these kinds of projects, stemming from the belief that this could be an effective method of change for the city.

3. Residents of the neighborhood can and should be involved in the decision-making process, and their well-being should be the number one priority.

We were thrilled with the quality of responses during discussion and the diversity of perspectives represented. Detroit Goat Farm hopes to offer this workshop through several other venues, including high schools, college classes, and community or faith-based groups. If you're interested in booking a workshop, contact

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You're Invited . . .

. . . to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. with Detroit Goat Farm!

We'll be presenting a workshop entitled "Detroit: A New Land of Milk and Honey" at Michigan State University's MLK, Jr. Student Leadership Conference. Get more information or sign up here. The theme this year is "The Message: Our History, Our Future," which Detroit Goat Farm will be sharing through information about Detroit's history and the hope that we have for its future in community development and local food.