Friday, April 23, 2010

The Modern Farmer

We are always hearing how independent family farms are going away year after year. In fact I believe the statistic is something like half as many small family farms exist today as a decade ago. Believe it or not, family farmers still represent about 90% of the agriculture industry overall. The rub though, is their production is only about a quarter of the nation’s food output annually. That means that the 10% mega-farm corporate operations are growing 75% of the food supply.

Clearly the massive farming entities are more efficient at nearly every level. If a combine breaks, they have dozens of others. If fertilizer or seed spikes in price, they negotiate a special deal from the supplier to ride out the cost increase. Obviously small farmers don’t have all those luxuries so life can be stressful as they work with what they have, and try to make it ALL work – no matter what. Is it no wonder then that modern progeny do not look to taking over the family farm as a viable long term career choice?

Even if the idea of a family ‘production’ farm appears to be waning, I think it is still important to stress the value in self-sufficiency alone when it comes to this topic. American’s have kind of shook off their agricultural roots at a time when it is now smarter than ever to actually get your hands a little dirty. We all need to RE-learn how to fend for ourselves a little more and stop looking to others in big government and outsiders to sustain us in all things artificial. We should be nurturing our ‘kids’ to take time to put down the cell phones and video games, and get out and make SOMETHING grow. What better way to teach about, planning, perseverance, biology, responsibility, and independence?

No I don’t expect every apartment in America to have its own resident milking cow, nor do I promote child slave-labor to tend to your family bovine. I do realize time is at a premium with kids, errands, eating, celebrations, travel, and … well - JOBS. But why not try to carve out a little MORE time for self-reliance in-between all that endless consumption on behalf of others? There is a unique pleasure in growing and tending to food for your personal use. You not only get the benefit of having the freshest of fresh food but it feels good to break away from book work and offices and take–in some natural light, nature, and FREEDOM once in awhile.

Whether on the porch in a pot, or in a plot on a plat, even Dr. Suess would approve of re-educating your family about personal farming. You don’t pay taxes to buy your own grown food and you don’t have to spend time and gasoline to transport it from the store. You are teaching your family time-honored VALUES about the skill and effort that goes into growing what we all eat. Yes the modern farmer is truly you and I, and with a little practice, we’ll be growing more than food - we’ll be growing respect, independence, and character in our families too!


  1. Good thoughts, and I agree how good food-gardening is for humans. But the deer that drop in and eat everything we plant are just growing FAT instead of growing in respect. I wish we liked venison as much as they like tomatoes!

  2. Thank you for your comment on my blog! I do agree with what you say here, and I've found that family farming doesn't have to be raising tons of animals, crops, etc, but that it's more of a totally different life-view than the rest of the world! Family farming makes you put family first, and the family is nearly always together. (At least on our family farm!) A while back I argued city vs. country living with some folks, and that was our main problem...the vast majority of Americans think that that have to be caught up in the rat race of work and all these different activities and see no other alternative! Ok, sorry to go on and on and rant, but it is something I can be passionate about. And I'm not saying that everyone should quit their jobs, etc, because most people just don't think this way anymore and wouldn't be able to survive, since they are so relient on everyone else to get them food, tell them where to go, and what to think! I guess it's hard to explain just what I mean!!! I hope you understand my point!