Once Ariana Taylor-Stanley got her hands in the dirt, she figured out that "growing food is more fun than sitting around talking about it."

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Ariana Taylor-Stanley, urban farmer

What do you do? Mostly, I grow vegetables on underutilized urban land with my farm, City Grown Seattle. I also coordinate policy work for two great farm-oriented nonprofits: Tilth Producers of Washington, a state-wide organization of organic farmers, and the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, which does education and advocacy on the biggest piece of U.S. food and farm policy.

How did you get started in agriculture? I started out as an environmentalist. In learning about environmental issues, I saw the impact that industrial agriculture has on the climate, soil, water and people, so I narrowed my focus to food. And once I got my hands in the dirt, I figured out actually growing food is more fun than sitting around talking about it.

What’s a typical day like? Take yesterday: First, I stopped by a farm site to pick up some fertilizer and check the irrigation. Then, I met with a videographer who’s going to film the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group’s “Farm Bill 101” workshop, and called Senator Murray’s office about a farm tour we’re planning. I spent the afternoon weeding and fertilizing garlic and pulling up bolting kale plants.

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What’s the best part of your work? Getting to do it all. I get the satisfaction of producing food, feeding my community, and I also get to focus on the wonky, high-level work of creating a more sustainable food system. And also, in my line of work, you get to eat really well.

What surprises people about your work? Finding themselves seated next to a rototiller on the bus? 🙂 I think people are surprised by the amount of food we’re able to grow in the city. We have over 30 CSA — Community Supported Agriculture, a farm subscription program — members and two farm stands, with less than a quarter acre under cultivation.

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