Living Lives of Sterile Futility

I started this blog post a few weeks back. I started it in anger and I realized as I was typing furiously into my iPhone amidst the ruins of my compost bins in the alley behind my urban farm how ridiculous my situation really was. “You are all living lives of sterile futility!” I was grumbling about this, so I saved it as a draft. I can come back to it now with perspective. When I was taking apart the compost bins, I discovered three things:

  1. The homeless in the neighborhood had been using the bins to hide their belongings (now wet and moldy and ruined – because they were in a compost bin).
  2. The compost inside was really rich, having sat for 18 months with no turning, everything had decayed beautifully (decomposed – because they were in a compost bin).
  3. The busy alley is not the place to use a cart to haul compost from an alley compost bin for use in the gardens of Mezzacello.

Every time I would get the cart full of compost, a car would come racing around the corner and startle me. trying to pull the my now stolen cart – read about that here out of the way fast would cause it to tip over. Every time. I was hopping mad. But who was I mad at? My neighbors or myself? That’s why I waited to write this blog.

I was mad at my neighbors and their “lives of sterile futility”.

  • Don’t they know that it takes time and energy to empty three large compost bins of material?
  • Don’t they know how heavy compost can be?
  • Why are they driving down this alley while I am working?!

No they don’t, and they live here, dummy. You are the incongruous one here. You are the iconoclast living on an urban farm in the middle of downtown metropolis. They have patios and flowers. You have systems, animals, labor, and compost bins. Nothing I do at Mezzacello can be bought at Lowe’s. It has to be ordered or built.

I can buy parts from Lowe’s, but it has to withstand seasons, rain, freeze, thaw, relentless UV radiation. Additionally it is often used outside what it was originally (naively) designed for. Most people around me literally NEVER think of chicken sh*t or compost as soil. They live in a city, why would they?

I live on a 1/3 acre plot of manicured gardens and farmland in the middle of downtown Columbus, Ohio. To say I live in a bubble is an understatement.

But that’s what motivates my mission all the more. I truly believe we need to be more aware of the real costs of food and water. When we can be mindless and wasteful with no consequences we grow weak and fragile. I’m coming back to this topic because my carts were stolen last night, the same cart that kept tipping over when I was trying to get out of the way of my neighbors busily speeding along the alley – oblivious to my situation.

They weren’t wrong. I wasn’t wrong. But it is important that we both at least acknowledge each other’s existence. I can remember dictating this blog post that night over dinner to my husband Rick. I was Donald Duck – all anger and bluster.

Rick got me a beer, made me some dinner. I settled down and remembered I am the oddity. And that part of my mission is to Grow, Maintain, Sustain, and Explain the realities of urban farming. I CANNOT be mad that people are ignorant or comfortable not knowing how much work farming can be. That is the very reason Mezzacello exists. So I took a break. But I really loved the title of this blog.

The title is harsh, but the message is soft. Live your truth. But live it knowing it’s your truth and it’s real only to you. With grace and luck you’ll get to share your truth and be the change you want to see in the world.


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