if you ever meet a farmer….
I have had the pleasure of observing a beautiful new trend- young farmers, passionate about what they do. Maybe they are called to find their roots- ancestral lineage of soil dwelling, bee keeping, radish eating, cow milking humans- passionate about healthy soil, food and food accessibility, food security, and community. All with an understanding that joy can come from simplicity.
A joy that saddles up to a lotta hard work, in the field, greenhouse, planning, marketing, selling and finally sitting down to a good meal of food that was tended by their own hands. Some of these young farmers find the time (I’m not sure how) to work a second job to pay the bills. I think I can safely say that the food they and their families eat is their main form of health insurance. Being out, in the fresh air, rising early and working hard and eating well is a healthy way of living. I have so much admiration for the visionaries who are planting the seeds, hoeing the beds, harvesting the crops to offer for sale, so that we can prepare an amazing meal to sustain our bodies, our families.
Maybe your thinking that I am making them out to be some kind of angel, doing this work, they choose. Well I figure that you need to eat, I need to eat, and if we are thinking of ways to turn things around for the better of this beautiful planet, and we seek out healthy local food to feed our bodies and soul with, then yes, i shout out a big thank you to those ‘angels’ who put health and well being before personal profit! …because, if your a small farmer- sadly- profit means just barely enough to get you by.
It is an interesting dynamic, our relationship to food. Some consider it fuel- fill the tank, quickly and as cheaply as possible, others slow way down and cook all their meals, and some eat out, every meal- allowing someone else to prepare their fare. Some pick out food for convenience, while others invest for two years- raising a cow for meat for their family. Others- somewhat on the fringes dive deep into the unknown realms of a dumpster, glean from free access, share and grow their own. Our tastes in food vary even more and the history behind that would be a lovely exploration I’d like to dive into, another time.
Some years back, I wanted to make a conscious choice to eat simply and organic, freeing myself of highly processed, genetically modified foods. On an annual income of under $10,000, this was a challenge in creativity! I was determined though, because I wanted to know where my food was coming from, what was used to grow it and how far it had to travel to arrive at my dinner table. One of the ways I saved was to buy in season, meaning that I did not purchase a hothouse tomato grown 3,000 miles away just to have a tomato, I love the anticipation of a tomato, ripe off the vine, grown right here- in the region I live. The taste is amazing and the wait is exciting! and by waiting, you are paying the farmer for their craft, rather than the fuel to truck it to your city, and the middle-person and the corporate grocery store……. If there is a food that I would like to purchase, not able to grow in the Pacific NW, I make the choice, knowing the energy that went into getting it here, and thank the farmer, far away for their craft. The main thing I traded for the opening to make these choices was that I prepare most of my own meals and I rarely go to the cinema. I began growing some foods in a small p-patch plot in the city, was an active community member of a food not bombs free market and shopped from local farmers at the farmer’s markets and our city co-op. I made some choices that worked for me, to allow me access to safe, healthy foods and I am thankful that I have the options to make these choices and I wish to work toward all having this kind of food accessibility. This year I have made the choice to intern at a farm, here on Vashon, in trade for beautiful fresh produce that I helped tend to. Nothing better than this- quality time spent, in the fields- working along side some beautiful ‘angels’, chickens, ducks and a dog named Gertie. Pushing to plant squash and cuccs (oh and talking about pickles!) weeding and thinning beets, while taking a few moments break to watch a pair of eagles in mating flight. Just being there is enough food for the soul.
When you decide to make your way to a farmer’s market or happen to meet a farmer, selling radishes with a big teethy grin, give thanks to their hands, which tend the soil- to grow food to sustain our beings. Remember they are human, not really angels and never tell them the produce is too expensive.
if you ever meet a farmer….