Audra Russell’s Story
I have been farming all naturally for seven years. I graduated from the Maryland New Farmer Trainee program this past October. During this program I worked on a certified organic farm in Sparks, Maryland. I learned the importance of feeding the soil naturally via green manures (cover crops), and how important it is to keep the soil healthy. Healthy soil means healthy plants means healthy fruits and veggies! Organic farming is important to me because I believe that eating healthful foods that are not mired in toxic fertilizers and chemicals is important. I truly believe that many of the healthy problems people have today are directly related to the foods they consume. I want to do my small local part to continue to feed my family and neighbors fresh, all natural, delicious fruits and vegetables grown in an way that supports our environment and our bodies. Eat healthy, be healthy! We only have one Earth and one body and organic farming helps to sustain both.
I grow in my backyard and on 5,000 square feet of borrowed land about 15 minutes from my home. I start many of my seedlings here in my small cape cod. As I share my produce with my neighbors and my extended family each year, the demand for my produce increases. I do not have enough resources to start as many plants as I would like. Since I grow only heirloom plants, I have to grow everything from seeds, as I can\’t find many heirloom plants of what I would like to grow. I would like to purchase two grow light systems that have several shelves to be able to start more seeds indoors; a mini greenhouse, heating mats and cold frames that will allow me to increase my production of seedlings and be able to move them into a greenhouse where they can get the light and heat they need (once they are big enough) until they can be transplanted into the big garden.
I live in a blue collar community where many of my neighbors can not afford to buy large amounts of produce. The cost of living in the Baltimore/DC area is very expensive. My neighbors, and extended family, truly enjoy the fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, watermelons, peppers and other produce that I provide for them in the spring and summer. It saves them money and allows them to eat more healthful foods. By providing them with fresh produce, I also contribute to the local food movement by reducing the amount of trips they need to make to the store, and thus reducing the amount of fossil fuels being released into the air that contribute to greenhouse gases. I\’ve also gotten to know a lot of my neighbors as word spreads of what I do. So not only am I contributing to a better environment and healthier bodies, but I am also helping to build a real sense of community.