When I tell people that my dream is to be a farmer one day, they always assume that I want to be a large-scale crop farmer. They then proceed to tell me about how difficult it is to get into the farming business in this day and age: unless you've had land, machinery and infrastructure passed down to you, or you're coming to the table with a large sum of money, the costs are prohibitive to the majority. It's a tough life, they tell me - probably not one I want to pursue. I find it both intriguing and sad that this is how people think, and for more than one reason.
My desire to become a farmer stems from my passion to grow my own food. Food that I can harvest at peak ripeness and nutritional value; food that I know was tended to without chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers; food that was not grown, processed, packaged and transported across the country wasting precious resources along the way; food that was produced in such a way that I know I am helping to revive and heal the earth - leave the soil better off than when I found it; and food that I know I can rely on to feed my family, my friends and my neighbours if and when we can no longer buy it from a supermarket.
Many people have called me a dreamer and an idealist for wanting to be this kind of farmer. I wonder, when did doing the right thing by Mother Earth attach such a stigma to it? When did sterile soil, contaminated water ways and genetically modified crops become so acceptable as to become the new norm? How can we feel right about feeding our families pesticide laden food when food-related illnesses, allergies and childhood cancers are steadily on the rise?
I don't believe that conventional farming is sustainable. The statistic floating around estimates that it takes 10 calories of fuel to produce one calorie of food. What happens when the world runs out of cheap oil? What happens when the increasingly unpredictable weather prevents us from seeding, growing, or harvesting? What happens when the food shortages start in earnest around the world?
True food security comes from being able to feed not only ourselves, but our families and our neighbours too. Large amounts of food can be grown on small amounts of land - sustainably - just look at the Dervaes Family. But, we need to start thinking more about where our food comes from and how it gets to our plate. And, we need to change the way we think about the word farming. We can all be farmers, whether we have small city backyards or large acreage plots - it's not just for the big conglomerates.
We can all be this change if we want to. That's why I want to be a farmer.
Linked to Real Food Emergency Preparedness and Preparedness Challenge.