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Bright-lit city life on a dirty, beautiful farm

Bright-lit city life on a dirty, beautiful farm

 

Nat Dicou

Co-proprietor of Lincoln Street Farm

If you saw our little house in downtown Salt Lake City, you wouldn’t think “farm.” Sure, the backyard has raised garden beds and fruit trees. The human inhabitants inside are probably wearing denim, flannel, and shade-producing hats. And, yes, they’re likely engaged in projects typically associated with far more rural locations. But a “farm”? No, obviously not. 

And we would’ve agreed — until a year or two ago. That’s when we started to see — and actually know —that our 0.2-acre property that sits within a 15-minute walk of Utah’s tallest skyscrapers IS a farm. 

It was an idea that first hatched as a crazy dream — one we’ve enjoyed fantasizing about since before we got married on that very first day of marriage equality in December 2013. 

The gist? At some point in the future, we’d leave the city and buy or otherwise acquire a farm. The normal kind of farm that’s down a dusty road 4 hours from the nearest Trader Joe’s or international airport. 

Here in Salt Lake, we had stuff that was important to making our lives go, such as jobs. Plus: people we like to be around, excellent takeout options mere minutes away, and our backyard. 

Yes, our glorious backyard. How could we just leave it forever? How would we re-create, find, or even encounter such a splendid space again?

Back there, just a door away, we’ve yielded harvests, honey, and freshly hatched eggs; campouts and parties; and the single-most succulent watermelon we’ve ever tasted (or watched BURST OPEN on our kitchen counter with the lightest knife tap).

In our yard, we’ve had our minds blown by the length of pumpkin vines started from seed, and we’ve witnessed cruel pecking-order overthrows that taught us stark truths about the animal kingdom. 

In our yard, we’ve had pea-growing heartbreaks, tomato triumphs, and post-beer festival run-through-the-sprinklers sessions. I won’t even go into the innumerable joys of that summer we had the hot dog roasting pit.

Yeah, no. We couldn’t leave, can’t leave. We finally realized we didn’t have to. Because there’s no required amount of acreage for farm ownership. You don’t need a certificate that says you’re a farmer or a horse stable or a tractor or a pair of Wranglers or even a print of American Gothic thumb-tacked to your wall. 

You can just say you’re a farmer. And believe you are. You can just grow stuff and make stuff. You can sow, create, cultivate, build, and harvest. On however many acres (or decimal points of an acre) you have RIGHT NOW. Because who cares what anyone thinks. Who cares what rules people have played by in the past. 

I guess it’s something that many of us start to realize in our 30s. And perhaps it hits harder and is even more liberating if you’re queer, and you’re a woman, and you grew up in a patriarchal culture. You start to see that there’s no reason not to create your own reality because your reality is as real as anyone else’s. And because you can only ever experience the exact moment you’re in. Which means there’s no point in worrying about the past, or the future, or about the thoughts bumping around in the consciousness of others. 

So you put yourself out there, and your confidence grows, and you become more authentic, and you start doing things you love to do more and more. And you keep finding new ways to share your message, and pretty soon you have more ideas and dreams and plans and schemes than you’ve ever had before — ideas for things you want to grow and make and share. So you can inspire others and inspire yourself. 

So that’s how we spend our time these days. We make aromatic pillar candles and charcoal face bars and rosemary soaps. We grow zinnias, birdhouse gourds, burpless Japanese cucumbers, and heirloom black plum tomatoes. We are restoring an ancient greenhouse, hosting Seedlings and Soaps Sales, and putting our parents to work labeling our products. 

You know, farmer stuff.

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