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.


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More..

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More..

Tracing the History of Cheddar with Cheesemonger Gordon Edgar

Cheddar is the world’s most ubiquitous and beloved cheese. You can find it nearly everywhere from macaroni and mousetraps to McDonald’s and mansions. Any cheese with so many fans has a story to tell, and Gordon Edgar is just the cheesemonger to tell it.In his book, Cheddar, Edgar traces the unexplored history of America’s most iconic cheese. Traveling […] Read More..

Winter Survival Tips From Mat Stein

Now that temperatures have started to dip below freezing and most folks living in colder climates have witnessed their first snow flurries of the season, it’s time to get serious about winter preparedness. Make sure you are ready for stormy weather and extreme cold on your next road trip with these winter driving tips from […] Read More..

A Book for the Fruit Nerd on Your Holiday Gift List

Have a fruit enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year? Then give the gift that Booklist calls, “a thorough investigation of one wonderful fruit”—The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan.Sure cherries, plums, peaches, and other fruits have their unique qualities, but nothing quite compares to the pear’s luscious texture, richness of taste, and fragrance reminiscent […] Read More..
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com