Tricycle nurtures the next generation of farmers
By Megan Wilson
January 7, 2019
In March, farmers and gardeners have a distinct scent: an organic breeze of soil, herbs and sweat. Their nails are noticeably dirtier. They’re often missing on Saturday mornings when you may normally find them at brunch. Instead, they’re pushing new seeds into the ground and popping into Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for more supplies.
Some of these gardeners are new to wearing this signature perfume. They’re the latest cohort of fellows from Tricycle’s Urban Agriculture Fellowship and Certification program. A class of six Richmond-area green thumbs graduated from the program in 2018, following nine who completed the program in 2017.
“The average age of farmers is approaching 60 years old,” says Sally Schwitters, the organization’s executive director. “Little is being done to cultivate new farmers. … If we don’t have farmers to grow our food, then we won’t have food.”
Schwitters hopes that Tricycle’s urban agriculture program will help, teaching community members everything from how to coax a fig tree into bearing fruit to how to build a business that stays green.
“We’ve brought in the elements of what it takes to start a business, with the hope that we will develop entrepreneurs who will develop commercial farms,” Schwitters says. “We want those farms grown in our community, by our community and for our community.”