As I write this letter—the day after an outdoor barbeque for Father’s Day—I am anticipating how fun July is for us in the Washington, D.C. area. Schools are closed, the pools are open and families are preparing for summer vacations.
July seems to be the official kick-off to the bounty of fresh corn and tomatoes from our Eastern Shore farms. There’s a place in Annapolis close to where I lived for a few years that receives beefsteak tomatoes and corn on the cob so fresh, you can still feel the morning dew on the corn husks. The farmers had just delivered them that morning. For me, sitting down to fresh crabs I caught off the dock, sliced tomatoes and sweet corn from local farmers is heaven on earth. I wish all of you that same feeling for whatever it is that makes your summer fun.
Although we have a way to go, it’s refreshing to know that many consumers and caring farmers are paying attention to the demand for organic healthy produce choices. Agriculture takes center stage in this month’s issue, with fresh perspectives on where and how we produce our food—and why it matters.
In “Crops in the City: Urban Agriculture Breaks New Ground,” writer April Thompson profiles some of the noteworthy pioneers that are forging a path to organic city farming on a commercial scale—tapping into new technologies and markets—and turning challenges like dealing with space constraints into innovative opportunities. Learn how these enterprising entrepreneurs have found their niche on rooftops, in vertical tower gardens and abandoned warehouses in former food deserts, reconnecting urbanites to their food sources while bettering the environment, communities, diets and health.
Meantime, budding backyard growers can get a boost from a small army of experts planted in nearly every county in the nation, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Help for Home Gardeners: Extension Agents at Your Service” details the resources available, including low- or no-cost soil testing, the latest research, handbooks on a variety of local gardening topics and workshops on everything from making rain barrels and creating rain gardens to implementing eco-friendly pest control, cultivating native plants and employing best practices for organic gardening.
Remember when kids were once shooed out the door to play and told not to return until mealtime? In “The Pure Joy of Play: Why Kids Need Unstructured Fun,” writer Ronica A. O’Hara reminisces about those bygone days and presents compelling evidence that free play is so important to children that pediatricians are actually writing prescriptions for it.
Such is the power of play, power being a recurring theme for July: There is the power of the vagus nerve, the superhighway that connects the gut-brain axis; the power of forest bathing, which renews mind and body; and the transformational power of dreams.
We hope you seize each opportunity—including great food and good playtime—that July has to offer.