Monday, February 10, 2014

The 500 Year Farm Manifesto Part 2

In this post I intend to cover the selfish reasons for wanting a farm.
The first and foremost, I want to do something where I can be in complete control of what is going on. I loved that about gardening as a child. I used to take care of most of my parents large suburban yard that included many fruit trees as well as rose gardens and a small vegetable garden. I also did some work with a friend of the family that had goats. I loved the sense of accomplishment and rewarded for hard work.
When I started as a pipefitter I loved he feeling of reward I got from accomplishing something with my two hands and hard work. As my career has progressed I got farther away from that and the sense of accomplishment. As I've grown older I've wanted to do something more for myself, a "be my own boss" sort of thing. I've always though at some point I'd become an entrepreneur and I've looked int o many paths for this. I've always come back to wanting to do the more basic things I love. I love working hard and the feeling of accomplishment just about as much as I like the reward of growing and raising my own food. So, I do view the farm as a selfish act. If we are to dream, why shouldn't we be selfish? After all, happiness is a choice and we can choose to do the things that make us happy.
I wouldn't change anything related to my life up to now, it has giving me loads of useful skill I wouldn't have gotten otherwise and it fed my family. I'm always pushing to learn how to do more and to challenge and refine my world view. I appreciate the people I've met, worked with and learned from very much. I don't think 18 year old me, given all the necessary resources, could have handled all the things required to make a farm successful. I needed to be pushed to learn the things I did in the way I did. What I hope more than anything is that use what I've learned to achieve my ultimate dreams. Namely building 500 Year Farm.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The 500 Year Farm Manifesto Part 3

Now it's time to address the second issue I brought up in the first post. A lack of access to healthy foods.
Now I wouldn't say that I live in a food desert, in fact, in many respects I'm quite lucky. We have access to the cheap stuff, the better stuff and the good stuff, also we do have a local farmers market. What I've found so unsatisfying with the food supply is that I don't know how the food is produced. Sure, you can put an "Organic" sticker on something and I at least know something about the food. I still have questions, I still have concerns and while this sticker might be enough for some people, for me it more than falls short. I don't agree that organic is the bar our food should work towards, at best for me it's more of a "better than nothing" proposition. There is a miss-association of the word sustainable and organic. There is nothing about organic food that makes it sustainable in any way. It is better than corporate chemical agriculture, but let's be honest that isn't saying much. Our local farmers market doesn't have anything that bares the "Organic" monicker and when asked they simply say no and aren't real interested in talking about their farming practices.
Our first world society has lost touch with producers of food. There isn't an actual free market in food and that is because we lack choice. The corporate take over of the food supply chain has been so effective and complete that it effectively created a single way of doing things and left consumers with no other options. There isn't pressure with regards to food production to allow consumers to make reasonable decisions on what they eat. I have one non organic farmers market with one producer selling vegetables. My only other options are the same sources that are everywhere. Yes there are a few CSA programs that can deliver near me, but you have to pick up on their schedule, the prices are fixed no matter what is in season, you don't get any choice, they don't provide food year round and are easily 4 times more expensive than even the most expensive organic brands. Even if those where not these issues, a CSA doesn't mean that I can feel any better about how the food was grown because I don't have enough competing choices to pick the one that best align with my values when it comes to food. Not to mention, so far, I'm only talking about vegetables. I think I'll save protein production for the post about ethically produced food.
The only solution to this for me is, instead of complaining about the lack of choice, create it. I'd rather be a producer than a whiner. I'm really trying to live my ethics and be the change I want to see in the world and while I'm not there yet, I'm working every day towards making it a reality.