Wednesday, April 9, 2008


A band of Howell Farmers (myself included) loaded two horses and a plow onto a trailer Tuesday and traveled to inner-city Trenton. There we joined forces with about 150 local school children and plowed the soil of Garden of 3 Points on Chestnut Avenue, a community garden located in a not-so-great looking urban neighborhood.

Howell Farm has been plowing this small plot of earth annually for some two decades now. The garden is maintained by a changing group of about a dozen gardeners from the community who plant and care for whatever vegetables they choose to grow.

(The project is sponsored by a Trenton-based community development organization named Isles, Inc. See their website

Inner-city plowing will be an experience that stays with me. I appreciated the striking contrast of city streets to old-time draft horses, and even more so I enjoyed watching the excited kids interact with the animals and get down in the furrow for a chance to steer the plow.

Howell Farm doesn't often travel like this, but groups of school children from New Jersey and Pennsylvania do visit the farm on an almost daily basis. Sometimes the kids say funny things or ask odd questions, and when a good line is overheard it is invariably passed on among the staff during coffee break the next day. This is my favorite way, as retold dramatically by Farmer Jeremy:

"Wait, you mean chicken is a chicken?!"

And then there's this question, from an inner city youth, visiting a farm for likely the first time:

"Where did you get all the dirt from?"

I can't decide if these two questions merely represent the phenomenon of "Kids say the darndest things," or if they are profound commentaries about something gone askew in modern times.