By Katie Muir
My name is Katie Muir and I am currently working at the Farm at St. Joe’s as a Dietetic Intern. Although agriculture is often not considered an integral part of dietetics I believe that nutrition starts in the field. I have my BS in biological anthropology from the University of Michigan and have recently returned and received my Masters in Public Health in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. Strictly speaking, the farm is rather far removed from dietetics in a clinical sense, but then again, my background is in public health. What makes public health different from other parts of the healthcare world is the focus to shift our efforts upstream. This means that instead of focusing downstream, dealing with each problem as it springs up (in individuals and communities), public health shifts the focus to more broad efforts of prevention. You know the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, right? Well it may be cliché but it’s true and it’s what the farm at Saint Joe’s is all about!
Re-shifting our focus onto agriculture is the first step in creating healthy individuals, communities, and environment. Small, organic farms like the Farm at St. Joe’s, to me, are perfect examples of public health in action. I am delighted to have the unique experience of working on a farm that exists to promote health and wellness through food and environmental stewardship.
In addition to growing vegetables on a micro scale all my life as a hobby, I have lived and worked on another small organic farm and taken care of the community garden at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. I have never worked with hoop houses and there is always so, so much more to learn! To keep the farm producing without chemicals and heavy machinery is a labor and time intensive dance between unpredictable mother nature and the best laid plains of science and agriculture. It requires flexibility, patience, and persistence. Thanks to the help and experience of Farmer Dan, my understanding of organic growing methods is expanding quickly! I believe that gardening and farming is about so much more than food. It is a meditation to pull up the endless weeds and ponder just how much effort has gone into every bite we have ever taken for granted. Not to mention it is wholly satisfying to see the tangible outcomes of your toils. I love it!
I have been working on the farm for a few days now and most of that time has centered upon the sweet, delicious red bounty that is overflowing the hoop houses. Yes I mean tomatoes! Cherry tomatoes to be exact. Thanks to the weather and the aid of the hoop house the tomato field is a place to lose yourself. I mean this quite literally as the overflowing rows are jam-packed with sweet, tasty little orbs, stretching well over my head towards the sky. If you have never tasted a farm fresh tomato then you should go out to a farmers market asap and get some! The difference is amazing.