I Will Survive. I Will Survive.

Blog by Gina...
As long as I know how to farm I know I'll stay alive...

This past week I have had the opportunity to put several miles on my car, enjoying the back roads of Washington County, Oregon, while visiting the farms of the vendors who sell at the Forest Grove Farmers Market. This week, I was reminded more than ever that farmers, as a group, are survivors.

In February, we were informed the land we have called “home” for the past four years was no longer available for us to use. We had the unfortunate task of telling 5 families who had put in countless hours of work, love, care, sweat and blood to improving the land so they could grow food on it, that the land was no longer theirs to cultivate. It was the beginning of the planting season and really poor timing. This was the year that our long term participants were ready to plant early. This was the year that on opening day of the market they were going to have the best booth-full of spring’s abundance. Instead, they were forced to leave their land and to either quit or continue on their own while Adelante Mujeres looked for new land to “house” the program.

I just visited the home of Nicolas and Norma Amaro in Hillsboro and they chose to survive. They made a deal with their landlord to cultivate the plot of land next to their apartment building. The plot of land is the future site of another apartment building but with the economy in shambles it is now a thriving garden. In the middle of Hillsboro, along the train tracks, they grow strawberries, kohlrabi, chard, fava beans and squash, tomatoes and cucumbers and carrots. Nicolas gives the tour while Norma quietly pulls weeds. Eggplants and chiles grow out of a compost pile. They have a miniature hot house and fruit trees in pots, unwilling to desert them if they are again forced to move, and all of this has happened since mid-February, when they had no place else to go. Now they are taking what they started at their house and are transplanting it to the plot Adelante Mujeres’ arranged for them at the Community Victory Garden. As Nicolas explained their operation, I was reminded of how it is so easy to give up and yet so amazing when people choose not to.

It’s inspiring to me because I wonder what I would do if I was told the land that I had been working on for the past 4 years was no longer available to me. Would I continue and put into practice all of the things that I had learned over the past years or would I quit? Would you quit or survive? It is easier to quit? Is it perhaps a cultural or a class issue? Are those who have been surviving all of their lives more likely to keep up the fight? Do those who have had fewer struggles in their lives find it easier to quit when faced with a challenge? I wonder what I would do. How about you?

I know what the Amaros have done. They have survived. They can be found each week at the Forest Grove Farmers Market selling a wide variety of produce, cultivated with lots of love and the spirit of survival!