Farming can be hard work dependent on Mother Nature, the economy and so many other factors but I would not give up this life for the world. I’ll take cleaning chicken poop out of nesting boxes any day over sitting at a desk inside away from nature and the system that feeds my family and I. Being in touch with this system is so important; now more than ever. We are seeing people go “back to the land” in droves and if you were to call a hatchery to order chicks for this Spring or Summer, they will tell you that demand is up, way up. The local food movement is strong and for good reason, we are losing control of our food system. Many Americans can’t tell you that a carrot grows under the ground or that cows eat grass. We are so disconnected from our food system, the very system that keeps us alive, that we are sick and confused.
There was a time not that long ago when people raised food for themselves, made their clothing from yarn spun from wool from their own sheep, made soap to clean themselves and candles to see by. If they could not raise it or make it themselves, they bought or bartered for it from a friend or neighbor. People used to make things, now much of our lives revolve around consumption. A good book to read is Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes (www.radicalhomemakers.com). Some say that we are much more advanced and educated than we were then but is it really advancement if we can’t even take care of ourselves at a basic level? People today are unhappy, always striving to keep up while sacrificing precious family time. Civic duties go unfilled because we are too busy taking the kids from here to there so that they too will have to rely on someone, maybe thousands of miles away, to produce the food and goods that they need.
We need to slow down. We need to get to know our neighbors and take time when we go into to town to chat with the woman behind the counter at the grocery store, the librarian, or the postmaster. We need strong communities that have the ability to pull together in times of need and in it citizens who are committed to supporting each other. If we cared how someone else were doing, maybe we would do better ourselves.
At an alarming rate we are seeing local businesses close their doors because they are not patronized as faithfully as the new box stores. Shopping locally is important. I was so saddened last week to hear that one of our own great local businesses will be shutting its doors in the near future. Sam’s will be sorely missed and the hole that will be left in the heart of Bellows Falls will be a constant reminder to me as to why it is so important to support local businesses. We never know what we have until it is gone.
So even though we may save two dollars by driving that extra half hour to get a product that we could get here from a local business, the environmental and social impact of that choice is so much greater that the two dollar savings. I hope that we are headed back to a time when we produce what we need locally. I hope that more people start to garden, raise animals and learn to feed themselves. I hope that we as a population start to realize that people and community are more important than what money can buy. I try to think about what life was like a hundred years ago and how people’s lives really did revolve around the seasons and food production. I try to envision what my life would be like if I could not just run out and buy what I want at a moment’s notice. This thinking helps me to realize the difference between wants and needs and helps me to fill up my time with activities based on family time and not consumer time.
Being a part of this local business has brought to me a heightened awareness of spending money locally, our broken food system, and the awful treatment of animals in factory farms. I am learning everyday. I feel confident that the lifestyle changes that we have made here and the type of farming that we are doing will help to change the world…Even if only a little!