Monday, February 25, 2013

Standing up

So, here are a few photos from our visit to Wells last week (thanks to the college for providing them!)

It was a really amazing experience. The campus welcomed us there, and it was a packed house. The audience was engaged and interested (or least they seemed to be). But it also really helped us solidify the way in which we want to present our farm.

We see our farm as a radical act, not just a business. We see that there are many people in our current society that are denied access to good, clean food due to socio-economic status, race, and a variety of Othered categories. We've worked with folks and have lived experiences of receiving government benefits and the limitations that places on access to whole food. So our choice to farm is more than just a commitment to caring for the planet, it's a commitment to caring for people.

There many successful organically minded farms who will absolutely have better profit margins then we will. But that's okay- it's not our mission to charge the highest prices. The nature of the products that we grow (not subsidized by huge government allowances) automatically means that our CSA is priced higher than some can afford. Having been in a position for many years to not be able to afford to eat well, it's really upsetting to know that the quality food you provide is automatically out of reach for a vast majority of your county and state. We're constantly trying to figure out ways to make our food more accessible.

So we see our role to help bring people to an understanding about the ways in which food and institutionalized oppression are related. It seems so simplistic to say, everyone deserves to eat. But in a state with enormous food deserts, and a county with a huge population receiving SNAP benefits (FKA food stamps), people aren't eating. Or, they're not eating food that's nutritionally valuable enough to help them succeed. If you ran your car on gasoline that was tainted or watered down- it would break. People don't run right on processed food from the gas station, but that's the option for many- because that's the only store within reach.

And we know the folks at the bottom of the food production totem pole, I've worked with many migrant workers- and I've discussed it on this blog. So we see our farm as a resistance to a culture that tosses people aside as disposable, and encourages the abuses of human lives in favor of profit.

We talked about this and a lot more last week. Our farm is a lot of things, and on most days, the list of tasks seems menial. And we have to have a good strong business plan to succeed. With a quality product. It's shoveling horse pens, and wrestling baby goats. It's washing canning jars and seed orders and plow reviews.

But we also measure our success in our ability to help people realize that what they put in their mouths is just as important as what comes out of their mouths. The way that we as a culture view food production and view the rights of all people to live a healthy life, matters. So even if our farm fails (and we will do everything so that doesn't happen), we want that to be a part of the legacy. We want our narrative to include that our farm doesn't rely on big bank loans, fossil fuels, chemicals, hormones or keeping another person down. Because it's an act of resistance to the way things are now- and the future we envision.

The morning after our presentation, we walked in a cold snow spray to tour the campus. I held my wife's hand as I pointed to my favorite spots among the old brick building, thick carpets and framed photos.The Minerva statue, the balcony where Ember sunned himself. The view of the lake and the haunted GP bridge (the haunted every where). While we walked, I told stories of antics, failures, triumphs. But my mind was also tied up in our fortune.

I really believe I was always meant to be a farmer. I would have ended up farming no matter where I went to school or didn't go to school. But the way that I farm, and the way that we have worked so hard to structure our farm- that's where Wells' influence lies. I'm thankful. And I'm thankful to have shared that with Kim, and have a wife and partner who shares my passion. She didn't got to Wells, but through her own pathways had similar revelations about food, society. And we've had to opportunity to build on that, together.

We're the lucky ones, I think even luckier for having had the opportunity to share our journey with others.

And now, on to spring!

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