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Update from On The Fly Farm

March 2, 2013

David Meyers (front) with former collaborators from Hidden Haven and Foxglove farms

We just got this update from On The Fly Farm, one of the farms featured in Farm Together Now in the section about “On Donated Land.” Well since that time David has moved to a new piece of land which is rented and not donated, but the backstory is still very much the same. We were inspired by David’s approach and felt it was a useful counterpoint to some of the more business-like CSA farms out there and loved his transparency with money and the idea of a “solidarity subsidy”. David is also a coffee roaster and instigator of lots of projects, so please keep up with him and if you know people in the Chicago or Northern Indiana or Southwest Michigan who might want to subscribe to his CSA, send them this link! (-FTN)

David’s Update:

Why Not Take the Gambol of Summer Produce Pleasure with On-the-Fly Farm? Quirky, Irregular, Greens-Heavy, Socially Relevant: Well-Worth It.

Contrary to current trends in spelling and some confusion in sound, the word “gambol” is not a misspelling of “gamble,” it is merely a different word from it, and one maybe not used so much in places where raccoons and other wildlife are less prevalent.
gam·bol – To leap about playfully; frolic.
n. A playful skipping or frolicking about.
[Alteration of French gambade, horse’s jump, from Old French, perhaps from Old Italian gambata, from gamba, leg, from Late Latin, hoof, perhaps from Greek kamp, bend.]
At any rate, welcome to a screed from On-the-Fly Farm. A pastiche, really. I’d like you to subscribe this year to a Quirky, Irregular, Greens-Heavy but Still Well-Worth It CSA, which puts you in the near-idyllic position of receiving quality vegetables and other rural products, supporting a small-scale organic farmer and a grassroots movement, while acting in solidarity with some freedom fighters in our community.
This year On-the-Fly Farm will grow a variety of vegetables that is neither comprehensive, unintelligible, nor daunting, nor anywhere other than beyond the pale (potatoes and ruffled kale and a dozen other greens, tomatoes, several different beans, winter squash and zucchini, cucumbers, salad mixes, radishes, turnips, onions, copious sugar and and prodigious snow peas, dill, basil – a rather limited palate, but still – substantial).  We’re also committed to maintaining relationships with other small farmers nearby, so from time to time we add free-range eggs (substitute more greens if your vegan), fruit, pickles, and other produce we don’t grow ourselves to your weekly bags. Our fairly traded, organic Resistance Coffee, with its Kropotkin’s Kaffe revered in some circles, will also be part your On-the-Fly experience.
Subscriptions cost $400.  For this you’ll receive a goodly number of deliveries of fresh produce over the summer, beginning in June. Pickup and dropoff will include Humboldt Park, Westtown, Rogers Park, and Hyde Park, with other area drop-offs possible as well. Home delivery is available for an extra $50. [If you are low-income, and these prices are too high, let me know. We’ll figure something out, as always.]
Your subscription will go towards supporting On-the-Fly’s solidarity work in Chicago as well. Your additional donation will further that reach.
On-the-Fly is a project of the Chicory Center, which since 2004 has worked towards creating a just food system within a just society. With your subscription you take part in a solidarity effort that makes sure organic produce finds its way to low-income eaters as well as to your own table, while supporting an organic farmer and the growth of sustainable farming. This year, your subscription and additional donation will go towards solidarity with low-income stellar folk in our community, whether that is two subscriptions for Iraq Veterans Against the War, or somehow supporting work to free Jeremy Hammond and/or other imprisoned anarchists and anarchist endeavors.
                 … Pastiche …
Projected On-the-Fly Budget 2013
    Expenses                                     Income
    $ 1,200   Transportation           Subscriptions    $4,000
                   (Car, Gas, Insurance)   (10 x $400)
    $   300   Seeds, Potatoes            Market Sales     $   500
    $   100   Supplies, Tools              Donations          $1,000
    $   200   Fertilizer, Lime
    $   400   Eggs, Pickles, Fruit, Etc.
    $3,300   Farmer Pay (26 wks x 20 hrs) = $6.35/hr)
    $5,500   Total Expenses Total Income      $5,500
The anarchist Chicory Center was founded in 2004 to attack food injustice while opening doors to constructive, radical social action, growing out of a do-it-yourself ethic. The project serves as a nucleus for acting upon local and regional food and social justice issues from an anarchist perspective, while fostering self-sufficiency and community well-being. In practice, the project’s On-the-Fly Farm serves to model a kind of solidarity that works closely with individuals, poor people, activists, organizations, and poor communities overcoming economic, social, and political oppressions. We believe in sustainable, democratically run food systems not controlled by the state, food systems that function independent of wealth and privilege.
Recognizing that capitalism and the corporate malaise including entities like Whole Foods exist to profit the few and have no interest in making quality healthy food available and affordable to all, we work to support a grassroots, class-conscious, people-powered food justice movement. The role of the U.S. government in generating and maintaining non-democratic, non-participatory, and corporate-controlled food supplies and agricultural policies puts us all at risk of radical food insecurity. The USDA’s corporatism makes even the minute trickle of research and funding directed towards supporting sustainable, community-powered agriculture appear as little more than a sugar-coating to keep non-profit, progressive, radical, and revolutionary critics silent or at bay. The Chicory Center and On-the-Fly Farm support flying in the face of conventional wisdom in an effort to show that people acting creatively, on their own initiative, can not only feed themselves but in that effort further the struggle for a just and liberated society.
The Chicory Center also serves as a retreat available to poor people, activists, artists, and the like. We are engaged in a unique process of experimenting with what a vital, coherent, healthy village might look like in these times – one that is inclusive, not exclusive.
– Chicory Center,
– Featured in Farm Together Now,
–   “With your farm subscription, weekly you will get not only recipes to deal with
      vegetables you haven’t really experienced before; nor just the scribblings of
      yours truly; nor mere sexy photos of farming; you will get solicitations to write
      letters supporting political prisoners, information on upcoming actions, and
      invitations to cultural and musical events out at the farm.”
      – 2008 On-the-Fly Farm solicitation
More Pastiche …
Your produce will be delivered in biodegradable bags, which if possible we’d like you to return to us the following week filled with your organic kitchen scraps. Not every one in the city has an easy place or way to compost, and this will allow you to do so easily and allow us to continue building up our soil.
If you’d like to get your hands dirty, the first weekend of each month subscribers and friends can come out to the farm for agriculture and culture, with music and other festivities while we work.
Economically, farming is one tough field to start out in without some sort of subsidy or inheritance. During On-the-Fly’s first two years, 2004 and 2005, my work as a grant writer provided that. As some know and some do not, I have been a war tax-resisting anarchist for many years. I sent the money I would have paid the IRS to local groups working for social change and away from the military. The IRS doesn’t agree with this sort of thing. This was enforced through levies on my pay. Thus in 2006 my attempt to earn a living solely by farming began in earnest. It was naïve; well-worth it, though.
John Brown inflections.
Growing fruit is one of the things people mention most when I ask them what they’d like to see in the weekly bags. Without permanent access to land, planting fruit trees just doesn’t make sense. I’ve been augmenting the bags with some fruit from nearby farms, very little of it organic. This year we’ll be subscribing to a nearby organic apple farm, in a CSA-style arrangement where we’ll get all the apples from one or two trees! Fruits that would be feasible for On-the-Fly to grow or gather ourselves include strawberries and blackberries.
We planted 25 wild strawberry plants last fall, so whether you’re an Ingmar Bergman fan or not, we should get a crop later in the season as the weather cools back down. Blackberries abound in the region, it’s simply a matter of having the people power and labor to go get them.
On-the-Fly Subscription for Summer 2013
___ I am enclosing a payment of $400 for a quirky yet substantial amount of local produce, delivered
       regularly over the summer
___ I am also enclosing a donation of $_____ to support On-the-Fly’s commitment in solidarity with
       low-income anarchists / activists
___ I want to further ensure that On-the-Fly remains sustainable, and am
       donating $_____ to the project
Please make check out to Chicory Center, and mail to David Meyers, 19825-B South Lakeside, New Buffalo, Michigan 49117.
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