Family farmers are an innovative bunch—they've got to be to succeed in a job as tough as farming. Farmers are innovating ways to help our planet, alleviating climate change and building up the health of our soil. They're also creating and growing local and regional food systems that are stimulating our national economy. And they're creating ways to get healthy food into the places that need it most.
Here's another farmer innovation of a lighter sort—a creative way to help farmers find dates and get the fields weeded: Weed dating!
Weed Dating is not yet sweeping the country, but it might be by next growing season! For now, it's quite a hit in Vermont. Some creative and fun farmers came up with this play on speed-dating, the phenomenon of the early 2000s where singles move from chair to chair every 5-10 minutes, meeting a new potential mate with each chair change. Weed dating also gives singles a chance to meet many other singles, and also creates a volunteer work force for the farmer's fields! As USA Today explained it, "Weed dating takes place on farms among rows of sprouting produce. Participants weed a row with a potential romantic interest, then move on to another row and another partner. At the end of the day, some people might have cultivated a mutual interest — and no matter, the field is freshly weeded."
This is a terrific idea—even if no weddings ever come from these seeds, it's a brilliant way for farmers to get folks out to their farm and to also find a few extra pairs of hands for the tedious work of weeding! As Sarah "Kale" Heusner, one of the organizers of the first weed dating events in Vermont explains, "It isn't only about love and dating, it's also about making friends and community."
This past weekend NOFA Vermont held the last weed dating event of 2010—harvesting apples for the Vermont Food Bank. Folks seeking life-long partners, friends and honest work took part. If you'd like to get your hands dirty and maybe meet someone with a green thumb, good work ethic and loads of patience look for a weed dating event near you or, more likely, organize your own!
Heart graphic by Nevit Dilmen [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons