It's A season of Renewal At A Farm In Downtown Salt Lake City

It's A season of Renewal At A Farm In Downtown Salt Lake City

It's A season of Renewal At A Farm In Downtown Salt Lake City

By Sandra Olney  |  Posted May 5th, 2017 @ 7:31pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Signs of new life are popping up in gardens across Utah this time of year. And there's a different type of renewal taking root on a farm in Salt Lake's Depot District.

Urban farmer Nikki Long says, "I never used to like my hands to get dirty ever."

But Long has been digging deep into the soil over the past year.

"And now I am touching the dirt and I am planting lots of plants in the dirt," Long says.

Last August, Long started working on the Green Team Farm, a 1½-acre urban vegetable garden in downtown Salt Lake. And that is when Long says she started to feel like "there's a spiritual healing in here (the farm)."

It has taken a combination of faith and hard work to transform this once garbage-strewn vacant lot into what farm director James Loomis calls an emerald eden.

In fact, Loomis says his half-dozen female farmers "want to be here more often and work more hours."

Talking about dedication and perseverance in the face of tough conditions, Loomis says, "If you have any doubt about the work ethic of these women, you come work with me for a day."

The labor can be intense, but the women don't mind the challenging work. They've taken the produce operation through a growing season, a bitter winter and into spring planting. It's been a period of renewal for the farmers as well.

"This has been a great spiritual healing for me. I was so disconnected that just the minute I stepped on this ground, it was like amazing," Long says.

Loomis tells us he knows how to grow vegetables and other farm products easily, but his biggest challenge on the Green Team Farm has been cultivating a sense of pride and self-confidence in the gardeners.

"Growing people's mojo and self-worth, you know I'm still taking notes on how to do that," Loomis says.

Why? Because these women have been trying to dig their way out of homelessness for years now.

"It was real tough. I had to learn how to stand on my own two feet again," Long says.

 

Signs of new life are popping up in gardens across Utah this time of year. There's a different type of renewal taking root on a farm in Salt Lake's Depot District. (KSL TV)

And just like the green shoots of new growth on the farm, hopeful signs are popping up. Long and two fellow gardeners have moved into downtown apartments in the last couple of months.

"It makes me feel that I can start life again," Long says.

Loomis is excited about what he's witnessed. "I've seen miraculous change in every one of the participants that have stuck with us."

The Green Team Farm is the newest piece of a patchwork of programs designed to put the homeless to work while they find full-time employment and permanent housing.

"It makes me incredibly optimistic for the long-term vision of this farm," Loomis says.

The farmers are also paying their success forward. Everything they grow this season will be donated to a Headstart program for low-income pre-schoolers.

Long stands in the middle of the farm and tells us, "I was meant to be here. I didn't stumble this time, I wasn't forced to be here."

And now look at how she's grown. "I love the soil," Long says.

The Green Team farmers start their workdays with yoga and meditation. It's been life-changing for the women who often suffer from stress and anxiety.

This spring, Long is completing her training to be a power yoga instructor

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