Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Finding Farming: A Possibility for Deep Happiness

The good folks at Civil Eats ran the following essay, written by Chelsea Green’s Associate Editor Makenna Goodman and published in Katherine Leiner’s book, Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists, on their website yesterday. Enjoy!

Growing up I had these artsy parents who served “thoughtful” food. At lunchtime I got my avocado and cheese whole-wheat sandwiches out of wax bags, while my friends were getting fun foods like Lunchables.  That’s what I wanted—plastic food. I wanted to be like the rest of the kids–who wouldn’t? I grew up in the woods in Colorado, and while we had a vegetable garden, it was at high altitude and the soil was parched. Then, we moved to New York City. That change was a real shock to my system. For the next seven years, I barely survived science, played on soccer fields covered with syringes and trash, and dreamed about summer when I could go back to Colorado and raft down the Animas River.

In my junior year of high school, I went to the Mountain School where I found my Northeastern wilderness. Environmental science was taught within the context of the outdoors. We each had a little plot of land where we studied the history of the trees and the lay of the land. Within this context, science made a lot more sense to me, as did tending animals. I took care of Murray the ram; I fed him, watered him. I loved the way he smelled. I also took care of the chickens–boy, were they weird. I connected to the land in a deep and personal way. By the end of college, I decided to go back to New York City. I got a job in the publishing world because I felt obligated to make something of my degree. But I hated working in a cubicle, and I hated midtown Manhattan and those horrible soggy salads. It was a confusing time for me; I felt alienated from everything. Work seemed to be about earning enough money to afford a life which I didn’t want. So one day, 26 floors above midtown, I walked into my boss’ office—the corner office—and looked at the view of Hoboken. This is what I’m supposed to be working towards? I decided to move to Vermont. Eventually I moved in with my boyfriend Sam and helped him develop the small piece of land he had bought. I took over the garden, starting the seeds in our sunroom. When those little sprouts started to show, it was like a miracle. Life began to make a lot more sense to me. We increased the amount of animals (sheep, pigs, cows, chickens, hens), and started a maple sugaring operation. One morning, not so long ago, I heard serious squawking coming from the henhouse. When I climbed out the bedroom window onto our roof, I saw a coyote trotting off with a hen in its jaws. I yelled, “HEY!” The coyote turned back to look at me, and then kept on going. I felt sorry for the hen, but I respected the coyote. I cheered it on. That week, we built the henhouse and started fencing the girls in. I feel really lucky to have moved onto Sam’s farm. I’ve found mentors, too—many of whom are older than my parents. Without them I’d be lost. I would suggest to anyone who thinks they want to farm, to find someone to apprentice with, team up with an old-timer in your area, help them hay, help them lug lumber, help them shovel some manure. I think it’s really important to be around other people who’ve been farming longer than you have: we all need to start somewhere. There’s a big difference between growing tomatoes on your balcony and farming acreage. Rural living isn’t easy. It’s no wonder that some farmers’ children move to cities. But for those of us who do choose to move into the rural regions, we have a responsibility to keep it as close to its natural state as possible, to farm with humility (even towards those farmers whose practices we may not agree with), and to keep the tradition of farming alive. In doing so, we support a food system that allows our kids an opportunity to opt out of eating plastic food. The one thing I know for sure is this: if you’re going to be a farmer, you can’t be afraid to fail. The best advice I ever got was from Joel Salatin, who said exactly that. He told me, do what you like.  If you don’t like to weed, then mulch. Practice permaculture. Start an edible forest garden instead of a traditional French bed garden. If you don’t like chickens, don’t raise chickens. Most important to me, is uniting my life with my work. When the two connect, there’s a possibility for deep happiness. Food is life, after all. This excerpt appeared originally on the web at Civil Eats. Makenna Goodman is Associate Editor at Chelsea Green Publishing.


Recipe: White Chocolate from The Ketogenic Kitchen

Emerging research suggests that a ketogenic diet, in conjunction with conventional treatments, offers new hope for those coping with cancer and other serious disease.For decades, the ketogenic diet—which shifts the body’s metabolism from burning glucose to burning fat, lowering blood sugar and insulin and resulting in a metabolic state known as ketosis—has been used to […] Read More

True or false? Figs contain dead wasps

They are trees of life and trees of knowledge. They are wish-fulfillers … rainforest royalty … more precious than gold. They are the fig trees, and they have affected humanity in profound but little-known ways. Gods, Wasps and Stranglers tells their amazing story.Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles […] Read More

Ketogenic Diet and the Metabolic Theory of Cancer (Q&A)

Emerging research suggests that a ketogenic diet, in conjunction with conventional treatments, offers new hope for those coping with cancer and other serious diseases.For decades, the ketogenic diet—which shifts the body’s metabolism from burning glucose to burning fat, lowering blood sugar and insulin and resulting in a metabolic state known as ketosis—has been used to […] Read More

Recipe: Cracking Crackers – from The Ketogenic Kitchen

Emerging research suggests that a ketogenic diet, in conjunction with conventional treatments, offers new hope for those coping with cancer and other serious diseases.For decades, the ketogenic diet—which shifts the body’s metabolism from burning glucose to burning fat, lowering blood sugar and insulin and resulting in a metabolic state known as ketosis—has been used to […] Read More

Why Modern Wheat Is Making Us Sick

Why is modern wheat making us sick?  That’s the question posed by author Eli Rogosa in her new book Restoring Heritage Grains.Wheat is the most widely grown crop on our planet, yet industrial breeders have transformed this ancient staff of life into a commodity of yield and profit—witness the increase in gluten intolerance and ‘wheat […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com