Monday, January 19, 2009

Farming - What a Concept!

My production colleague, Bryan and I talked about it a few years ago. Last year he bought a few acres in the Pacific Northwest.

Another friend, former radio broadcaster Courtney, just emailed that she and her husband are talking about it.

Farming. It's becoming a dream and a reality for more and more people. The numbers of professionals and urbanites moving to the land are going to change the popular idea of the word.

The 5,000 acre factory farms crank out food we buy in the supermarket. But what about the micro farms of just a few acres? What about "farming" your suburban lawn or backyard garden? Edible landscape makes a lot more sense than ornamental shrubbery in areas with scarce resources like land and water. So what if you're only farming 1000 square feet? If you're growing food for your family and neighbors and feeding yourself from your land - you are farming.

When we teach our children what a farm is, we start with story books that show the small, mixed crop, family farms - typical of the 19th and early 20th century. Why don't we show little Savannah and Trout the endless mega farm that grew their breakfast cereal? Maybe because it's a cold image of industrial resource management that isn't very appealing.

There's a certain amount of anxiety driving all of this. We know WE didn't grow any food for ourselves this year, we're assuming that someone else will. But we know from seeing the aftermath of war and disaster that it doesn't take long for society to collapse when the food trucks stop rolling. So we are left to hope that nothing will ever break down in our food chain.

As I wrote to Courtney, "stop talking about farming and do it. You'll only regret that you didn't start sooner." If that's not a choice you can make, plant a "victory garden" this year. Declare your independence from anxiety and the supermarket - even if it's just for a few meals. Bringing food to the table from your land is an experience that makes you feel better about your chances in a changing world.

These photos of our organic navel orange crop were taken last week in Santa Barbara.

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