I always cheer when I read of people entering rather than leaving farming. I feel strongly that in the long run, our nation will be better fed and more likely to survive the vagaries of weather, fire, pollution and other vicissitudes of life if more people get involved in the daily business of growing food.
What’s interesting is that quite a few of the people entering farming these days are young, well-educated and making a living on small farms. This is in direct contrast to the “get big or get out” mentality that has dominated farming for so many years. It’s also interesting that for many, the goal is to become involved in the local food movement. I see many potential benefits to these changes:
- Highly-educated people often have a broad perspective on issues. Education can help broaden one’s perspective, as can extensive reading in the absence of formal education beyond high school. Not that it’s a given. I’ve known high-school graduates who were deep thinkers and more than one Ph.D. who couldn’t (in the inimitable words of my spouse) “pour p — s out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel.”
- Community. No man/woman is an island. We need others for help, entertainment, genetic diversity and a variety of other things. When you become deeply involved in the community, you think about community benefits, and less about yourself and your concerns.
- Small acreages are easier to manage, cost less in property taxes and fencing material and can be equally if not more productive than large places a beginner can’t handle because she bit off more than she could chew.
- Boosts the local economy and saves on oil costs for trucking food. ‘Nuff said.
- Transparency. When you know the person who sold you your breakfast eggs, you know how the chickens are handled and what kind of care the eggs were given before they got to you. When you buy your meat from a farm that does its own butchering, you know that animal had a good life, was respectfully treated and quickly killed for minimal suffering. If not, you take your business to another farm that does do it your way.
- When there’s a trucker’s strike, a major freeze in Florida, a drought in California or a snowstorm that shuts down a dozen states, you’ll have a local food supply. You might have to scramble for toilet paper, however, so stock up ahead of time.
- When you live on the land, you are much more likely to nourish and take care of it. That benefits not only you and your family, but your community and the local ecosystem.
Farming – it’s for all of us.