Staying Grounded in Farming During Crisis



At this point it’s pretty cliche to say this is an unprecedented time. I’ve been hearing that word a lot over the past 3 1/2 years, now it’s being applied to describe a challenging time focused on health and well being.

I started farming 10 years ago. It was also at an “unprecedented” time, we were still on the front end of a financial collapse. I got caught up in the middle of it, lost a lot of money, lost my home and out of that, determined the best way forward was to farm. My guess is, with the increased interest in buying local, supporting growers in your community, connecting with the source of your food — more people are going to decide, farming, in some form, is the way forward. We’re already seeing it. Have you tried ordering seeds? You can’t. They’re all gone, or at least, you’ll be waiting a while for them to come.

People are planting gardens. People who’ve never planted even as much as a seed, are seeing it as a way to connect, to their food, to each other, to the earth. Our Maine farmers are being turned on their heads with the response to offering online ordering, CSA subscriptions, curbside pickup. Here in Maine, there is a huge craft beer industry. Brewers are overwhelmed with the demand. They’ve gotten creative too, partnering together to make hand sanitizer with alcohol extracted from spirits, turning it into gallons of the stuff.

What does all this mean? To me it means people are realizing that in the midst of a crisis, when things are going to hell in a hand basket, when literally, the world is turned upside down, it’s time to get grounded. I would argue, there’s nothing more grounding than the culture of farming.

Farming is a Culture

From an anthropologic perspective, some would argue, farming has really overall been a disaster. Think about it. Farming, growing things, domesticating and caring for animals, cultivating the Earth has created a whole lot of problems. More food availability has meant more people, the more people, the more food you need and on and on. Living off the land, a lifestyle which would seem to be so much harder, is actually easier. You eat seasonally, only take what you need, simply gather what’s there rather than spending days and weeks tilling up soil with noisy machines that eat up fossil fuel. Pest management is non existent, the symbiosis of natural beings takes care of it. To put it simply, a lot of our problems began when we, man, decided we knew better.

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