Corn, beans and summer squash growing together here at Rolling Hills Organics
in a "milpa" system practised by Central and South American smallholders
The reasons I farm were addressed in my book High Up in the Rolling Hills, of course. Here is my commentary on an article in the Summer 2014 edition of Edible Toronto magazine written by Montana Jones:
To farm or not to farm? For me, there is only one answer to this existential conundrum – a hearty affirmative. As an organic market grower, I would be bereft if I were not to be able to farm. I dread the day when my bones ache so much and my back is stooped to such an extent that I shall have to surrender my body to the waste heap and give up this farming life.
Yes, farming has its challenges – the trying weathers with their spikes and extremes, the bugs, the pests that gnaw away at the leaves, the weeds that grow faster and bolder than the sown plants, the fatigue, the various downsides that Montana describes, but…
There is nothing in this world that I would rather make a livelihood from, nothing I would rather be doing, dreaming about, planning, experimenting on, learning about, innovating with, or even getting wrong, not perfecting. Each season always throws up something new – new crops, new failures, new shortages, new over-abundances, new challenges, and fresh successes, fresh insights, fresh joys.
What could outdo the pride and joy gained from seeing seeds germinate, planting out rows of transplants, dripping with the early morning dew, watching the red sun come up over the horizon hills, harvesting the fragrant blooming lavender and the strong garlic bulbs, looking back from the tractor as the earthy soil folds over with the furrow plow, being in tune with the weathers and seasons, inhaling drafts of fresh country air, feeling the glow of robust good health, interacting with cheery regular and loyal customers, coming home from market sold out of produce again, tasting the bounty, falling into bed and deep sleep as head hits the pillow? Only by sinking hands into soil, out in the fields, in the glorious landscapes we steward – only by farming – can we do all of this. To me, farming is a learned trade; as with everything, proficiency comes with practice. And yet, it is also a romance, a passion, a marriage, and a full-time commitment. There is occasional heartbreak, but there is endless beauty. As in life in general, we do it for the love.
So, hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to farm I go. Let’s keep on encouraging and inspiring fresh, new, young farmers, and count our blessings.