Q: Twenty years from now, can urban farming become a model that people live off. Or will it stay a thing for passionate people who believe in a certain mission?
Molly Culver: I guess I would just say…farming is farming no matter where you do it. It can look glamorous on the outside, in the city. Like Annie is talking about, its a labour of love and its a lot of hours and a lot of work. But we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t get a lot of joy out of it. And so there is that income you have to take into consideration. If you have a partner, if you have a friend, you figure out a situation and you make it work. In terms of the future of urban farming, I mean from where BK farmers is standing right now we could be growing all high end crops and selling straight to the highest end restaurant, and bring in a lot more income, but thats not where our values are. So a lot has to change in this economic situation for us to be making a sustainable living in New York City.
Annie Novak Tyler Caruso and Molly Culver
Annie Novak: I would actually step back one from that question….as Molly mentions quality of life is another way of looking at the income that we make. There is a very clear moment when I decided farming was what I wanted to do. Where what I was embracing was just making X/K per year, but like…I want to be outdoors. I want my quality of life to include my physical exercise. I want it to include eating well, and having enough of a harvest surplus that I can share it with people. To me, that is what attracted me to the career.
The only other point I’d make is food is just, extraordinarily, falsely cheap. We do not pay the full price of food. When you spend seventy-eight days growing a single head of broccoli, and then you have to sell if for $2.50 and that’s called expensive — on a piece of land where someone else would rather build a condo because its New York City — I say to you that if you want to eat well, you have to support the systems that feed you well. It has to include things like the value of labor that went into it. Certainly I’m sure this is true for you as well as an organic grower. We spend an enormous amount of time considering your health in our practices, and the health of the soils, so that we can continue to practice good health for you for as long as we use the land. So, I am tired of thinking of farming as a career choice where people should worry about not making enough money. Because money is such a side issue compared to what we are doing to the land that we have in our country, and what we’re doing to our food. And what we’ve come to expect.