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US professionals taking up farming  RSS feed

 
David Livingston
steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23849569

Permies on the BBC?

David
 
Lyvia Dequincey
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That's an odd way of looking at it to me. The article says they are likely college educated and have jobs off the farm, so that's not quite quitting the rat race.

Another way to look at it is that techniques and knowledge sharing have grown so much that the next generation of my mother's 8x8 victory garden patch of tomatoes beans and peppers is no longer all you can do in your spare time. My neighbor had an eighth acre, with lots of strawberries, and also a plum tree and a grape arbor. All old-world, tended by hand, very Mr. MacGregor with hoe scowling at rabbits. I have no idea what he did for fertilizer, but there were no domestic animals.

There is also a greater trend to monetize every act, to the extent that listening to friends and giving advice is now called life coaching, and the coaches expect a lot more than a cup of tea. So rather than leave a bag of tomatoes on the neighbor's stoop, one sells them for cash for gizmos like ipods instead of seeking neighborly goodwill.

There are other trends at play of course, like supermarket food becoming as glossy and fake as pimped supermodels with hormone-induced eyelashes.

Yet even if I grew enough to share and sell, I could not imagine leaving the intellectual challenge of my job. Maybe because it wasn't so long ago that women were not considered suitable for many types of work, or because I worked many decades to get to my salary level, and people still respect/judge me accordingly. Maybe because I don't want to go to a party and say "What do I do? I garden a lot."



 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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Lyvia Dequincey wrote:That's an odd way of looking at it to me....
Maybe because I don't want to go to a party and say "What do I do? I garden a lot."


It's called being an organic market gardener. It is a profession, an ancient one, and one of great dignity. The intellectual challenges of permacultural farming are not inferior to those of any profession. I have neighbors, former rocket scientists, who now dedicate their lives to growing food professionally. It is not a step down in intellectual pursuit. It is tragic that our modern day society parties attempt to look down upon such a truly respectable career.

Supermarket food is no supermodel in appearance. It is flat and lifeless, dull in color and boring in form. In contrast, take a look at the organic farmer's market stand of an accomplished market gardener. It is superior in appearance, in every way possible, to the anemic supermaket display. Most people just never get a chance to behold such a sight!

I believe that it is our responsibility to restore pride to the great profession of growing food and stewarding the Earth. I try to be a living example.
 
Lyvia Dequincey
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You know, I had to sign off quickly and later looked back and thought that should have been edited more. I understand it is a justly proud profession, it just doesn't quite address my insecurities. Sorry about that.
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Lyvia Dequincey wrote:Maybe because it wasn't so long ago that women were not considered suitable for many types of work, or because I worked many decades to get to my salary level, and people still respect/judge me accordingly. Maybe because I don't want to go to a party and say "What do I do? I garden a lot."


I revere people who are connected to the land for their resilience and wholeness in life. Fuck what party people might think, I got a pair...
 
Grace Birdie
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Conscientious farmers are the breed I most respect and admire. Run-of-the-mill folk are always chasing status and envy. They feed off each other's insecurities and work themselves into frenzies of elitism. Been there, rejected it ages ago.
 
joseph stanski
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Lyvia Dequincey wrote:

Yet even if I grew enough to share and sell, I could not imagine leaving the intellectual challenge of my job. Maybe because it wasn't so long ago that women were not considered suitable for many types of work, or because I worked many decades to get to my salary level, and people still respect/judge me accordingly. Maybe because I don't want to go to a party and say "What do I do? I garden a lot."




Just as you are passionate for whatever reason about the intellectual challenge of your job (though from the sounds of it and to get down to reality, you can't imagine life without a cushy salary), a market gardener is passionate about his job which requires a deep understanding of all the physical and biological sciences, direct and whole sales marketing, labor management, various forms of construction, and is subject to a big unknowing force called "nature." Oh, and you're working in a field where you buy everything retail, people are completely uneducated on your product, people are extremely demanding of your product (they want things that are sweet, uniform, unmarked, cheap, organic, oh and they want them early too), and you have razor thin margins. I can't think of a job that is more intellectual stimulating that I can talk about more than gardening really, Louis Bromfield has a few great writings about how it truly is a business that is more complex than nearly any other. Sorry but your comments really really bothered me because it is so typical of the comments i constantly hear from people probably less educated on the subject than you, and I know you already said you were "sorry for the comments" but I know in your heart that that's truly how you/they feel about it, even after I make them feel stupid for thinking of farming as something for simpletons and they without fail apologize.


But on the subject of this article, I would consider myself someone who "quit the rat race" but I did it a long time ago when I dropped out of graduate school to play poker for a living. Watching enough alan watt's videos, growing up in a family that always pushed either working hard at something you love doing (and not something you love because you are paid well, something you truly would do for subsistence income. I hear so often people that 'love their jobs' then say they wouldn't do it if i ask if they would do it for $8 an hour) or not working at all, and realizing i had an "out" of the system through poker really was amazing for me. So I did that for a few years, but found my life balance out of wack and truly wanted to do work I was proud of, and I think I've found that with market gardening. Its such rewarding work for the body and soul, connects me so much to my ancestors and the life that surrounds us all, and being outside 90% of my waking life instead of 90% being spent inside like the rest of the world is just great. I also get to eat the best food in the world.

I've found that nearly anyone with a brain quickly realizes how bullshit the corporate world is and would either 1. like to opt out of the system or 2. does opt out of it. There are so many number 1's in the world that just can't see an alternative, and the smart people in the world who aren't number 1's have wool pulled over their eyes by their piles of cash they are accumulating. Its good to see smart people are starting to see a way out, though its always unfortunate that nearly everyone I meet has little startup capital and little knowledge of how to obtain startup capital, and so they are at such a huge disadvantage from the start to actually try to make 35-40k a year doing this. It is possible though, and it is challenging, and many times I wonder why i don't go back to poker and print money, but I am sure I can succeed at this since others out there have.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6150
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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The only place where I regularly hear the idea that lots of people think there is something low brow or unsophisticated about being a farmer, are on these forums.

Just about everyone who I've told that I bought land to farm in a natural way, thinks that's a great thing to do. They say "cool" as though they just learned that I'm in a band. They make all sorts of positive assumptions based on my landed status.
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There's also only one place that I regularly frequent where the professions of non farmers are regularly dragged through the mud by a few who don't seem to have any sort of profession. This behavior reflects badly on those of us who do it and I think it reflects badly on permiculture in general when holier than thou attitudes toward millions of people who may pay us a visit are expressed here. Stop it.
 
joseph stanski
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I lived on vancouver island for a while and attitudes are way different there then in the majority of the U.S. and certain parts of Canada. Trust me you will get no respect at first, might even get laughed at, and people will even wonder if you can make a living doing it. I am speaking from experience in rural and suburban Mid-west. It takes a long convincing speech to explain how it is that people make money on a market garden, and most older folks will usually suggest you go back to school to get a degree in AG and work in research if you are interested in agriculture.

Its nice that you took a shot at me not having a profession, I don't know why you chose to do that while simultaneously complaining about me taking a shot at someone else. I was actually quite successful at my former profession (which was another fun one to explain to people).
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6150
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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