There have been two recent articles and many comments that have lit that fire in the farming community. Here is our take on the articles written.
“Being a farmer means wanting to do it more than anything else. It means giving up things other people take for granted as givens, like travel and the latest fashion, new cars and 401k plans.” From -Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers
Our farm was started because as like other small farmers there is a passion inside us that drives us. It’s crazy… sure… we love what we do though. We are not selling widgets here on our farm. We get to be stewards of the land taking care of the land and making sure that no chemical or GMO or whatever can harm the natural ecosystem. At the same time we get to compassionately raise animals so future generations can enjoy the same thing we experienced in our backyard when we started to become farmers. Certainly our losses have been great at times and but taking them in stride and trying to figure out what went wrong along the way is the agreement you make with yourself. This recent article really hits home because like many others we became farmers.
Quote from Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers -“Let them bring animals into this world, and realize they don't care about placenta on their shirt because they no longer care about shirts. Let them wake up during a snowstorm and fight drifts at the barn door instead of traffic. Let them learn what real work is. Let them find happiness in the understanding that success and wealth are not the same thing. Let them skip the fancy wedding. Let them forget four years of unused college. Let them go.”
When I looked at my closet of shirts I said to myself last week I didn’t have anything I can wear out to the city that is not covered in some farm stain, it reminds me…I really have become a farmer. Every dollar we have put back into the farm. This has given us one of the greatest gifts in life. The ability to feel like you're actually doing something that could benefit future generations. What corporate job besides a few could come close to saying that? Sure they donate millions but are their hearts in the right place or are they just giving to receive a tax credit? We do what we do because it’s not about us; it’s WAY bigger than that. It’s about being able to feed generations from now healthy non contaminated food. It’s about seeing our children grow up and swim in the same rivers that your grandparents did. It’s about teaching kids about the sacredness of life and how to love and care for plants and animals. Imagine every town or part of the city has its own small market, no huge strip malls. Culture is lost in these parking lot deserts. Imagine kids know where their food comes from every meal and participates in cooking or even harvesting it. Portland is definitely a model for how we can take this true sense of Agri-“culture” and embrace it. Creating spaces where people can gather and bring together the community. We all need to create this missing culture out of what chaos has destroyed for centuries, like famine, GMOs, herbicides, on and on. Farmers are the root of communities and have been for centuries. Build around them.
What I pulled from all these recent articles is that every farm has a different scenario. Every farm needs certain expenses to run and the cost of those expenses can vary widely depending on what they do. If your profits are coming in and interns save labor costs so you can take products to the market and compete with other more well established farms then so be it, make it work. Whatever the model is small farmers need to make it work and do it well. Small farmers are good at making things come together; they have ingenuity, they are great at building a community and have an enduring passion for the land. If not for thousands of years of natural breeding and selecting crops and animals the food system would not have survived. These were all the small farmers preserving generations of food keeping us moving forward. Keeping the small farmers in business is the best thing a community could do for everyone.
Please encourage your children to take part somehow. More farmers are needed and in all roles in the small farms community.
“Any son or daughter of mine that dared to be so bold would not be discouraged from facing the world with such fierceness for simplicity. Antlers on fire can set a lot more holes in a dark blanket.” -From Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers
Aint’ that the truth!
Here are all the articles and comments:
Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers Op-Ed in the Sunday NY Times by Bren Smith, seaweed and shellfish farmer of Thimble Island Oyster Farm in Brandford, CT
Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers on the Huffington Post blog by Jenna Woginrich, “Small Farmer, Big Blogger” and author of Cold Antler Farm blog in Jackson, NY
These Letters to the Editor of the NY Times by Joel Salatin, Jennifer McTiernan, Daren Bakst and Sam Hitt.
“Please let your children grow up to be farmers” from the Farmers’ Fold blog by Jeff Hake, the farmer training program manager with The Land Connection in Champaign, IL