Down on the Urban Farm

One of the many reasons I love Boston is the distinct lack of farming that happens here. After growing up in a small town where cows standing in the road routinely made me late for school, I was happy to move to a place where Dunkin’ Donuts locations outnumbered bovines and tractors.

1212509465But it seems that some city-dwellers insist on bringing farming to the city.

First came the chickens, now come the urban horticulturalists.

Cost is also a concern for consumers who have developed a taste for organically grown fruits and vegetables. For instance, 15 healthy tomato plants will produce about 100 pounds of tomatoes in a season. At $3.99 a pound for certified organic tomatoes – the recent price at a large chain supermarket – they would be worth nearly $400.

The investment required to reap such savings is relatively modest. It costs about $55 to grow 15 tomato plants, said Mark Cutler, greenhouse manager for Mahoney’s Garden Center in Brighton. That includes a 40-pound bag of composted cow manure for $3.98, single tomato plants in 4-inch pots at $2.98 apiece, and a 5-pound bag of organic fertilizer priced at $5.98.

Yes, but you’ve got to spend all your free time babysitting your plants. There’s a reason people farm in rural areas—there’s nothing else to do. We city-dwellers have museums, theater, and great shopping to keep us busy. That’s why we live here.

The trend isn’t only happening in Boston. In Seattle, a woman coined a new term after city officials said she couldn’t plant vegetables in her yard.

“The city’s not going to go out and be garden narcs, and good on them for having better things to do,” [Mary Heim] said. “But I’m not going to go out and be a total scofflaw.”

We’re totally going to start a band and name it Garden Narcs. Which means we’d be horribly uncool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, according to this New York Times report on hipster farmers.

The Billyburg scene has changed, said Annaliese Griffin, who contributes to a blog called Grocery Guy. “Having a cool cheese in your fridge has taken the place of knowing what the cool band is, or even of playing in that band,” she said. “Our rock stars are ricotta makers.”

If the picture of the cutesy hipster couple that accompanies the article didn’t make us want to smack somebody, that quote certainly does. If you need us, we’ll be looking for a second mortgage to finance our organic produce purchases at Whole Foods like a normal person.