Preaching is hard. Farming is hard. Preaching as a farmer is especially hard.
For years, I have dreamed of owning a tiny farm that would provide enough food for my family to eat well and enough income so that, at worst, only side jobs would be needed to support our lifestyle. I always dreamed of making it, even while fully aware that it was probably not reality. It could be, of course, with certain sacrifices, such as no more of this or this or this.
This dream generally received one of two responses. Either people thought it sounded amazing, or more often, people would regale me with stories of friends or relatives who had gone broke as farmers. I never listened to them, and I still won’t, primarily because it’s a dream, not my (current) reality. But also, I won’t listen to them because I want to believe in the small, independent farmer, just like I want to believe in the small, independent bookstore, coffee shop, restaurant, or _____.
As part of the dream, I follow a number of small farm blogs. They range from the practical, such as Tiny Farm Blog, to the philosophical, such as The Raw and the Cook. There are also those that are evangelical farmers, the ones who seem to be doing it because operating a small farm without pesticides and GMO crops and with minimal mechanical equipment is serving a higher purpose than just damn tasty food. The best of those blogs was from Agrarian Grrl, a Canadian farmer.
Her posts, which came pretty regular, ranged from market updates to contemplative essays to rants against evil corporate agri-biz, especially everything Monsanto. Even when they were too heavy to really digest or nothing more than a hammer to a head (and there were a couple), they were thought-provoking, educational, and very much needed. But a post two days ago hit the hardest, because it read like a farewell note. In short, the practical burdens of farming and weight bore on the shoulder of an evangelical farmer seem to heavy, and so she is going to focus on raising crops so she can, hopefully, make it.
Within that post, she gives a pretty good list of everything that is wrong with the current food system, most of which can be directly pinned on individuals, not corporations. But, enough: go read it yourself. Thankfully, she has put up a couple of posts since this one, but even the thought that it is too much for even the most passionate person is, well, something I’m going to refuse to believe.