Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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A City Boys Organic Education

Knowledge is Scary

I grew up in Baltimore City in a mostly Italian family.  Mostly, because I was only half Italian by birth but practically 100 percent by culture.  My mom's father was a produce man and my grandmother was a great Italian cook.  She would take what was brought home add her own pasta and sauces and have fresh baked bread for dinner, the true example of home cooking at its best.


My father always had a garden growing tomatoes and peppers and what ever else he could fit into the small plot of soil that comes with a Baltimore city row-house.  One of my first experiences with being embarrassed by my parents came when the local arraber would come by selling his fruit and vegetables.  Arraber is a Baltimore term that describes a horse drawn cart carrying fresh fruit and vegetables.  They would come thru the streets and ally-ways on a summer day yelling out what they had for sale.  On Saturdays they’d come by and my father would be waiting with shovel and bucket in hand, hoping for a chance at fertilizer.  No sooner than the horse was gone he’d be out collecting what the horses left behind.  Kids being kids would see this and we’d hear about for ever.  What I didn’t know at the time but now admire was his gardening prowess.  He was an electrician by trade and worked at the steel mill his whole adult life.  But each spring he’d get his vegetables, look for a horse walking by and plant his bounty.


I got into gardening much later in life; my real passion growing up was baseball and then learning how to cook from my grandmother.  My older brother on the other hand was taken by the call of growing plants much sooner; he actually majored in and graduated with a B.S. in horticulture.  So although we didn’t come from a farming family we did get valuable lessons on eating fresh, in season, grown locally and prepared fresh foods.


By 1990, I was married and had moved to house on four acres.  Three point nine acres of which was trees but I was determined to grow my own tomatoes.  I started growing organic as I learned of the dangers of pesticides and herbicides and other chemical compounds that made people sick.  Knowledge of what these chemical residues could do was scary and I wanted no part of it in the food I grew or ate.  By this point in time I had learned how to make most of my grandmother’s dishes which included home made pasta, ravioli, bread, sauces, pizza, and salads using fresh seasonal ingredients.  I was also learning with my wife how to “put things by” as the term goes.  Learning how to can was another one of those processes that makes you feel a little bit more independent.  Like making your own pasta or pizza dough.


As the years went by my wife and I talked of buying a farm and started socking money away for what was our combined dream.  Having grown up in the city my dream all along was to buy a house with a lot of land.  I just always knew I’d have a garden, a swimming pool and a stable for my horses.  So our discussions were not born out of whimsy but by well nurtured dreams.  I’ve learned that dreams don’t always come true but sometimes they manifest themselves differently then how they were pictured.  We don’t have a swimming pool but we do have two 3,000 gallon rainwater collection tanks. My horses turned out to be forty Rhode Island Red hens and that number grows each year and our stable is used for new chicks or as a chicken hospital.  We’ve been blessed by good times and bad and tested by ignorance, nature, government, neighbors and other man made foibles.  In the coming months I hope to chronicle our experiences, our successes, our failures and the fun that we have along the way.  See you soon, buy local.  



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