Andrew recently wrote a post called Why Farming? that really explained his ideals and how they relate to our farming venture. I thought I would follow up with a bit about why I want to farm.
It’s important to me to take care of the earth. Good farming techniques can be used to heal the land and be an asset to the surrounding environment. I am really concerned with the effects of industrial farming on the health of the land and of the people. I’m also really concerned about waste and landfills. I’m not going to wax long about evil corporations and their chemicals here since there is so much good info elsewhere. But the danger of dousing our land in toxins then eating the “food” that grows in it is sobering. And the packaging that so much of our food, even vegetal, come in and how much of it ends up in landfills is alarming to me. I want to be part of a solution.
I hope our venture into farming encourages people. I hope someone comes across our blog and is heartened to see people trying and succeeding in small scale farming. I hope as we overcome barriers we give hope to others who share the vision.
For a community to be sustainable, we need everyone’s gifts and contributions. Part of our role is growing, cooking, and sharing food. Another essential part of a sustainable community is a localized food system. We can’t grow hundreds of acres of vegetables, but we can grow enough to feed some of our neighbors and friends. And alongside enough other small scale farmers, we could support the needs of our immediate community. Part of the cost of the industrialized food system is that the vegetables you eat come from far, far away. The truck ride to where you are did not improve them, that’s for sure. And the environmental impact of trucking them across multiple states is well documented. We can make a meaningful contribution to our community by growing fresher, more nutritious, more flavorful food right by the people who will eat it.
In nature, everything is interdependent. I’m fascinated with Joel Salatin’s method of rotating his animals through pasture for maximum pest depletion, soil fertility, and animal nutrition. He is all about making his farm imitate the patterns in nature. I want to be part of mutually beneficial processes in the garden and within my community.
I love small business. I have about about 4 million low-capital, high-sweat equity business ideas a day. I have more ideas than I have time for. I like the opportunity for ingenuity. I love the way farming balances physical and mental rigor.
I like learning
There is so much to learn about soil structure, erosion and natural pest control, composting, crop rotation, companion planting, business and marketing, local and state regs, animal husbandry, vermicomposting, economics, fertilizing, water conservation, building and fixing things, permaculture, how to work with people, contributing to a healthy bee population, soil preparation, proper harvesting and storing of vegetables... the list goes on and on.
Andrew and I like being together all the time. If there is a job we can do that allows us to work side by side, I’m in.
There are two sides to this one: my personal goals and the future of our communities. Farming relates to my long term goals. Some of you know I am training to become a doula. I hope our farming venture will become Andrew’s full-time job and my part-time job. If Andrew is employed in a home-based business that we can do together, it will also allow me to run out the door to serve a momma in labor- another way I can serve my community. Secondly, I really believe our communities need more farmers. The average age of farmers is now 55 years old, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, via the EPA. I have a vision to reduce our dependency on trucked-in supermarket goods and interdependency with other local producers. I don’t see trucking food all over the world to be sustainable, long-term, given the environmental impact. I don't see industrial farming to be sustainable, long-term, given the documented impact on human health. I want to grow my own food and be part of a solution to provide wholesome food for others who contribute to the community in a different way.
We have a vision for farming in which everyone in the family can contribute their gifts and talents, from the child following dad around the garden to the grandparent braiding garlic and distilling wisdom. It also means that the way we farm is safe and attractive. There won’t be any chemicals or health hazards. On a family friendly farm, we hope our kids will grow up remembering good smells, an interesting and intellectually stimulating environment, and a lifestyle that is satisfying and meaningful. We hope as 20-something year olds, that we, alongside many other producers, can impact the next era of farmers to aspire to family friendliness.
A Satisfying Lifestyle
All of the above equals happiness to me. I enjoy doing these things. I love vegetables, hard work, doing things myself, working with my guy, and the satisfaction I get from working with my own hands. I grew up keeping a large garden, chopping wood, butchering chickens and deer, and generally working my tail off and I liked it. These activities speak to me. They give me a sense of pride and accomplishment and simultaneously give us food to eat and share. Not only do I enjoy this stuff, it also correlates with my deeply held beliefs that we can make a real and lasting impact and be an asset to our communities by nurturing our corner of the world and the people in it through farming.