My dad is a man whose hands were perpetually rough with calluses and deep cracks, whose fingernails were cut dangerously short,left with barely enough room to be lined with dirt. He spent his evenings after work and his weekend mornings in our garden, wrist deep in the familiar warmth of soil that was nourished by our friendly hens and the roots of our thriving plot of vegetables. I inherited my dad’s deep love for the earth and some small part of his green thumb, which instinctively drove me to write my senior thesis on the dynamics of sustainable agriculture in Orange County. From that research arose one of my lifetime heroes: Dan Barber, co-owner of Blue Hill Farm and a leader in the world of food culture and sustainability.
In his riveting ethnography titled ‘The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food’, Barber comments boldly on the current state of our agricultural system. “In the rush to industrialize farming, we’ve lost the understanding, implicit since the beginning of agriculture, that food is a process, a web of relationships, not an individual ingredient or commodity.”
Before the wave of monocultures that struck our nation in the early 1900s, agriculture was characterized by small farms that were home to a community of livestock and a diverse range of crops grown on the same plot. Each plant was dependent on the other to thrive. An ancient Native American technique called companion gardening is the purest example of this symbiotic relationship that exists between plants. Certain plants complement each other especially well, such as beans, squash, and corn. Each were planted in close proximity to one another to support each other in each stage of growth. Beans fix nitrogen in their roots, improving the fertility of the plot. Shallow squash roots act as living mulch, and their spiky leaves ward off pests. Corn acts as a natural pole for the beans to climb, and in turn the beans stabilize the corn stalk. Their relationship is not ambiguous, but rather a symbiotic partnership where there needs to be equal levels of dependence between each plant, intentionality on behalf of the gardener, and creativity in designing the plot.
From the idea of companion gardening, we introduce to you: Forum, by FLDWRK. Forum is built on the idea that we are all believers in the beauty of work and the necessity of learning. As we strive to advance the common good, our weakness is self-dependency. Without inspiration, support, and opportunities to challenge our thinking, we wither. We are not to be a wash of industry-specific monocultures, bound by the limitations of self-sufficiency.
Forum is a free for Global members! Bring your own lunch and be a part of a culture of people who crave opportunities to challenge each other and build a community around a shared interest in the common good. Join us at FLDWRK in Costa Mesa as we launch our first Forum from 12-1pm on Monday, October 3rd. Not local? Participate on your own time via podcast or join us in new locations as we continue to expand.
October’s topics + speakers are listed below, so you can save the date. Also - great news! Our first Forum is open to EVERYONE - not just FLDWRK members! So bring a friend and learn together over lunch.
October 3 Joel Beukelman, “Do Something: The Power of Personal Branding”
October 10 Jeff Tanner, “Redeeming Work: Exploring the Future of Work as a Tool for Creating the World’s Best Future”
October 17 Jonathan Menkes + Thomas Yee, “10 IP Pitfalls Every Startup Should Avoid”
October 24 Steven + Amber Cowell, “Dropping’ Mics on Open Adoption”
October 31 Emily McLaughlin, “How to Improve Your Company Culture Without Spending a Dime”