Week 3: Farming, Detroit, and a Surfeit of Other Misconceptions

As week 3 came around, most of the hardscape work was done with. The mural building had been cleared of rubble and properly sealed to finally comply with vacancy standards. The future intern house, see below, was also cleared of debris and we installed new plumbing ourselves, an interestingly skill I didn’t expect to learn at a farming internship.

After finishing the plumbing the first day of the week, we got around to finally farming (and not just cleaning up from a year of idling). Planting seeds was fairly hardwork and close to nothing of how I expected it to be. For starters, the variety in shapes and sizes of seeds was startling. I never put much thought into seeds before, but I always figured they were all more or less the “pointy-oval” kind (e.g., watermelon seeds) and didn’t expect to see such odd shapes. My particular favorites:


The amount of time it took to dig the rows for the seeds, plant them, cover them, and water them was so much longer than I expected and really evidenced the phrase “things move slower on the farm”.

During the first two weeks working mainly with the hardscape spaces, I got the feeling that the general philosophy was something along the lines of “whatever works works” and that planning was not very important. This proved to be exceptionally wrong for the farming side of MUFI. Each year maps ( ) were made for every bed on the farm and two labels were placed on either end, showing the exact date and what particular crop was planted in the bed. Each bed had a string and post system to keep people and animals from trampling growing seeds and every bed had its own irrigation system that in a few years will be so advanced it will monitor the rate of photosynthesis on the crops and dispense water matching the most optimal ratio for the particular plant. Although it was relatively barren, there was a certain beauty that could be found in the order of the expansive rows.

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