Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hand plows, Rabbits and Students

We always look forward to community events. It's not often that the timing works with our schedule, and sometimes things we plan to be attending or want to be attending just can't be managed with the farm. So last night we headed over to the local high school to talk with their agriculture club (along with some other really wonderful local new farmers) about choosing farming as a career.

I've already mentioned that I would have really loved to have such an opportunity as a teenager, and I think it's really amazing that the schools here really foster agriculture as a good career option. And these kids are serious- they planted a 'pizza' garden to start, and grew all of the vegetable ingredients to make good pizzas. Recently they finished building a huge commercial greenhouse, and they've been raising meat chickens and show rabbits. They were bright, engaged, and even made snacks.They're thinking about integrating meat rabbits into their enterprise- and if they do we'll be happy to help them get started. Awesome.

We were on a panel with farmers that we had met before and some that we just met that night. There is a local farm pretty much right down the road who have a lot in common with our story. They also have struggled with a hand plow, and bucket watering their crops. I forget sometimes that there is a similar struggle with young farmers, and that shared experience is really valuable. A lot of the ways we find to interact with others are through selling our goods, or writing about our experiences online. But it's really different to sit next to someone who has thrown their farm together with spit and will power and lived to tell the tale.

It's powerful to talk to young people with the same drive that threw us into farming. Some of those students have that inescapable drive that will steer them into agriculture. It's addicting, farming. I think that if you have the pull, it's a gravitational force. You can try and fight it, but sitting at a desk is never going to cut it. At least that was my experience. Even when I was working for a non-profit I really believed in, I would find myself counting minutes until I could get home to the chickens. I spent all my free time in the garden. I drew maps of future farms, I read books. The drive was insatiable.Not all of the students may end up running their own farms, but I think that they will have a clearer understanding of the work of food- that something you can't forget. Not everyone may choose to grow their own food, but everyone should know how the food got to their plate- and recognize the effort behind it. Schools with programs that encourage students to go on a journey to grow pizza ingredients teach those students not to take food for granted.

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