Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rural Decay

There is an silent epidemic happening all across the country here in the US. A corruption that is moving through the land, oozing out of the traffic-ridden cities. The illness of urban sprawl. Rural decay.

When I lived in the city I dreamed of country life. It seemed so apart from what and where we were that in my mind there was a demarcation line between City and County. A thick band that was tangible, that separated here from there, now from then. Farms and farmers were completely seperate entities, a club to join, a specific place in the world. I know, it sounds silly but that was how removed from the process I really was.

The two co-exist, are sybiant really. There can't be one without the other. Without farms there could be no produce consuming cities, without cities there would be no reason for farms to produce. I understand that now. It seems the city still doesn't though.

All this week I have been hunting for Agriculturally zoned property in Florida. Around the entire country actually. Some place that we can develop our farm, legally have it a business if we so choose, raise the animals we prefer and not have to worry about someone iwith more clout coming along and telling us "No" because they didn't invision goats as neighbors in their retirement.

It's been a depressing and unfruitful search.

The reality is that farmland is being gobbled up. As farmer's die, retire, go broke, with no one to pick up in their stead, their hundreds of acres of what was once a nourishing, food producing farm are sold and parcelled off in huge tracts with restrictions forbidding the soil to be reborn to farming. Kansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin. Just to name a few.

Our country's heritage is being infected. The country's future is being threatened.

While stumbling around the internet in my fog of depression earlier this week, I tripped on an organization that fights to keep Farmland farming. The American Farmland Trust is established for just this purpose. Their motto "No Farms No Food" has resonated with me. I ordered a bumper sticker.

The increasingly overbearing regulations and restrictions the government has been pushing down on the American people regarding food production and sales won't matter soon as all the workable land will be sacrificed for country estates. The United States will become a negative food import country, much like Egypt and we all know how that's working out over there.

Without Farms there is no Food, it's simple math, really, that should scare everyone that thinks about it.

The new hype on urban farming is wonderful but growing enough food in our ever increasing society has got to come from a larger source. I completely think everyone on every block should have at least one house that grows at least some of it's own food, sell, trade or gift that food to neighbors, have children grow something in pots on the windowsill, revive a vacant plot with a small communitiy garden. People need to learn how to organically grow their own food to relieve some of the pressure of importing (even from different states) and other environmental impacts. I wouldn't mind heading to the city and teaching a group of people how to grow their own tomato plant.

Actually, teaching is one of the things I'm passionate to do on my farm. I want to have "Farm Weekends". For a small fee individuals and families can visit our farm for a two day weekend of workshops. Each weekend centering around a certain goal, task or product. A dairy weekend; a wool weekend; a harvest weekend and so many other future ones are floating around my head. Car loads of gownups and children spending forty-eight hours submerged in learning and loving. Bonfires crackling on Harvest Weekend while a couple of dirt smeared guys hammer out a tune as kids dance in the firelight their faces brighter than the flames. The last of the hard squash lining up in baskets behind them the cooling air hardening them off for winter storage. The smell of roasting chicken mingling with fresh bread and wood ash. Women gathered in the kitchen pureeing pumpkin for a pie, the sunshine from earlier in the day spicing the tender flesh. Finishing touches on the baskets of produce, eggs and meat packed up for them to take back to the city. Nourishing memories they'll consume after a stressfilled work day. Seeds of change germinating as callouses disappear from their hands.

But without land it will never happen.


  1. What you describe, a teaching farm, is quite similar to what some of the farms in this area do. They are quite popular! We have several farms in this area that are billed as "working farms" where people are welcome to come, tour, participate, and learn where their food comes from. Some use draft horses. Most are organic. Maybe you should look into land in Missouri (Kansas City area) and join this beautiful community. :-) ('Course, I'm just selfish, 'cause I'd like to see you all settle nearby, be neighbors of mine, you see.)

  2. I can't believe that they like cows over goats? I mean what is the difference? Really... they are all farm animals. Are they going to start telling you which colors of chickens you can have? Ugh.