Author Archive

Family Farm or Industrial Farm, Is There Another Way ?

This morning at Singing Earth Farm, Boulder, Utah, while trying to accomplish some work before the heat of the day, cleaning some old dusty hay out of the barn, I thought of how overwhelming farming can be. Most farmers were born on a farm, some went to school and apprenticed on farms. No matter the path we don’t become successful farmers overnight. It takes years to learn, it takes years to understand the land we live on and if we are trying to do it on our own it takes tons of mistakes. Plus it basically is too much work to do it alone. So what are the options?

Family farming is definitely a great option. That is if everyone in the family is in it with their heart and there is good communication and respect of each others needs. If not, that can be hell. That is what most farms used to be and for many it was hell but with no way out. Once there started to be other options many children left the farms and that was the beginning of the end. The end of family farms and the beginning of industrial farming with its impact on food quality and deterioration of the land. We know we can’t go on, but how to change this? Are we ready? Do we have the tools? What are the tools?

Outside of industrial farming which we know is not a viable option, if we want to have direct access to quality food we need to produce it locally. Even organic food production is now in the hands of big corporations where profit is more important than quality. If we want to know where our food comes from, at least most of it, we need to take charge and produce it. This may be the most important task ahead of us today and it is a big job.

As I am sweating in the midst of thick dust, looking around at what needs to be attended, I can feel overwhelmed at times, but when in the evening we sit down in front of the house we know there is no other place we would want to be, no other life that would be better than this one.  This is not a family farm, there isn’t yet enough of us, so what’s the direction? Some call it ecovillage and this morning I call it tribal farm. My family may not be interested in farming and stewarding this land, so I have to plant the seeds that will give birth to our own tribe.    

This may sound weird to many, but we are, we have been at the end of something for a while now, ways that are dying and death is the place for new forms to be born. 

When young people can’t get in, old people can’t get out

Hi,

Today at Singing Earth Farm near Boulder Utah I just watched this video on Joel Salatin where he basically summarize today’s situation with these words “when young people can’t get in, old people can’t get out”. The average farmer in the US today is sixty he says and many young people who would like to farm can’t afford to buy land.

I thought it was so interesting that I found this video and heard about his new book Field of Farmers at a time when my wife and I, with our friend Lance, are just in that process of figuring out how to attract people to our farm. Especially a farm that is in a remote area like Boulder, UT.

What is the profile of a person who would be passionate about joining us on the farm. We have learned that practical skills, the kind you need on a farm, which basically are numerous, from gardening, animal husbandry, building, marketing, mechanical skills and so on are essential but not sufficient. What we have learned is how important is the human factor. We may be highly skilled in one specific area or many, but if we don’t have good communication skills, it’s just not going to work. That is a point often neglected, but of crucial importance.

So then the profile becomes a more complex thing. Now not only are we looking for people who are passionate about permaculture, sustainable building, about building a close relationship with the land, people who have a project they’d like to develop, now we are looking for individuals who are also good communicators looking for a situation where they will be contributing not only as a skilled this or that, but as a human being aware of the difficult task at hand: living with others. I would actually say exactly the same to people considering getting married. Now how many people at their wedding ceremony are truly aware of that?