It is very easy to not think about agriculture when you grow up disconnected from it. As I was growing up, my mother and grandmother had a love for gardening that I never fully developed growing up in the city. I moved with a herd of shiny cars through traffic.
Digging around in the dirt never appealed to me because I grew up around concrete. Tall, shiny buildings with large windows were the only things that grew around me. A plant could not match that level of magnitude in my mind. Agriculture was hard for me to participate in because it never seemed to fit in my spaces.
Yet agriculture has always been something that has interested me, but never something I thought I would find myself passionately promoting. It was not until I found urban agriculture that I felt I found my niche in the world of agriculture.
College opened my mind to the possibility of being in the agriculture industry as a career. I spent the summer before my freshman year exploring the College of Agriculture at Purdue University. I quickly discovered that working with animals in a hands-on environment was not my calling; neither was working with soil and the natural elements. While none of these proved to be second-nature to me, I did start to appreciate the work and process that allowed these industries to flourish. I began to enjoy the adventure of rediscovering agriculture and nature. It was the joy of learning that led me to my passion about taking agriculture to the city to allow others these opportunities.
As I grow older, I have seen a rise in the amount of urban agriculture sites popping up, as well as their popularity with schools. My niece is an example of what comes when you bring urban agriculture to schools. The elementary school has “chores” for the kids to do in the garden as well as chickens that need to be fed. She enjoys feeding the chickens, something I still struggle to do as gleefully as she does.
At 8 years old she has an ease and confidence about being in the garden that I never obtained. My niece is part of a generation that is going to grow up wanting to be connected to their food in a way that some generations used to be.
My story is not about how a young woman from the city moves into the country to start her own farm and produce her own food. My story is about a young woman who goes away to college and discovers the agriculture industry, and decides to take the country back to the city with her.
Baker is a senior in the ag communication at Purdue University.
Editor’s note: Maurina Baker presents a first-person look at agriculture as only someone who grew up in the city can. Her comments about a noticeable change in her niece’s generation, with a desire to know more about the food she eats, gives insight into why urban agriculture is flourishing in some locations. Baker will explore urban agriculture and its importance in an upcoming article.