Thinking Like a Farmer…

Early this morning as we silently farmed, the sun slowly rising above our heads, tiny mosquitos buzzing relentlessly in our ears, there was a certain peace enveloping us into the land. Maybe we weren’t talking because we were just too tired (college students up and working at 6…that is rare I suppose), but I also found myself not wanting to shatter the silence. Sitting in the dirt, rubbing its softness in between my fingers, feeling the sun warming my back, hearing the chickens making their daily ruckus, planting new life into the soil… you stop thinking about yourself IN the environment. You stop seeing a separation between you and the land. Rather, you and the land bond together in a relationship – a cooperation. You work for the land, and the land works for you.

As I’ve been reading Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal Vegetable Miracle,” I’ve been reflecting on our work on the farm a great deal. The book is magnificent, but I’m sure that if I were reading it as someone who was not currently farming everyday, or as someone who had never set foot on a farm, the experience would be entirely different. Farming changes your perspective.

Weather is no longer that annoying topic  that forces you to change your social plans for the day – it’s your savior and your nemesis all wrapped up in one. It’s not a matter of wanting or wishing for certain weather, but rather NEEDING that certain weather – needing it to rain after far too many dry days, or needing the monsoon rains to stop.  It’s a matter of growing crops and making money – it’s your income and your life. And while we at STOGROW are not living as true farmers living solely on the profit made from our harvest, we do definitely get a preview of what life is like when you choose a career in agriculture and gain a new appreciation for our food that most consumers completely disregard when they’re searching the produce section at the grocery store.

As a farmer, I can no longer walk through the produce section of a grocery store and simply admire the beauty of the fruits and vegetables. Instead the thoughts running through my head sound something like “Hhmm…where in the world is this in season right now? How far did this have to travel to get to here, and how long ago was it harvested?” Or, “Wow, this must be a GMO for sure…Should I really be buying this non-organic pepper? The organic ones right over there…” After having a taste of the agricultural industry, you have new views, new appreciations, new struggles, new complaints. Growing produce isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work – and I mean manual labor type work. And yet people complain (including myself…) that often times the prices for produce, especially organic, is far too high. But yet, when you think about it, it’s not. It’s probably still far too low! The price you’re paying is for everything that went into that one piece of food – and often times that is hour upon hour of work and care. The price you’re paying is supplying someone’s income. And it’s the  price necessary to avoid sending your money off to large industrial agricultural companies like Monsanto that are dominating our world, our food and our farmers’ lives and their wallets.

We as Americans have become so detached from our food and our land. Most people never even think about where their food comes from, what it’s made of, and what went into making it. If everyone spent just one morning at a small farm working outside, listening to the natural world chattering around them, feeling the sun-warmed soil under their  feet, I think we all could gain a new perspective – a perspective that will maybe slowly lead to the food revolution we so desperately need. If everyone could just think about what they buy and  try to support their local farmers, this revolution can surely happen. It’s already starting…Buy local. Buy organic. Do either, do both. Do it every day, do it once a week. Just try it.


Bon Appetit

STOGROW sells all of its produce to our school’s cafeteria, which uses Bon Appetit as their catering company.  Our farm has a special relationship with Bon Appetit: they agree to buy all of our farm’s harvest, which allows us as farmers the freedom each year to experiment with different crops or ways of growing without having to worry about finding a market to sell to.

Take a few minutes and explore Bon Appetit’s webpage. You’ll be pretty impressed by their sustainable efforts, especially considering their size as a national food/catering company.  As a farm, we are lucky to be able to partner with them, and the students and staff at school certainly enjoy the gourmet cuisine that is prepared for us daily in the cafeteria!

The Future of Food

“The Future of Food” is an eye opening documentary about the truth behind the food we eat and the industrial food corporations currently controlling the food industry. It gives a thousand more reasons why locally owned, organic foods need to become the “norm” again in this world.