A Heritage That Must Endure
Over the past month of two, we have logged quite a few hours either in our own garden or volunteering on local farms. My experience has been this; that there is almost nothing more pure and noble than working the soil and being connected to it. Whether it’s the sweet smell of freshly churned compost, holding a tiny seedling in my hand that’s about to be planted and take root, pulling weeds to focus energy on productive plants, plucking a fresh worm to feed to our chickens, or just standing back and looking at how much life is sustained by such a simple process, there is little I have found more delight in than gardening, farming, or anything in between.
Much can be made a case for farming as a lifestyle. It is essentially the thing that has sustained us and our forefathers for generations. It only recently seems to have moved from a lifestyle endeavor to a business endeavor as the onset of an industrialized world has risen to the forefront. The peaceful, practical, tranquil nature of working the land and living off it has been replaced by bigger equipment, fancier facilities, less diversity, and tighter profit margins. Many a farming practice has become anything but a simple lifestyle.
The founding fathers of America seemed to understand the necessity and purity of an agrarian life. The book Founding Gardeners, which we have been listening to lately, tracks the life of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison, among other early statesmen through the lens of gardening. Their focus was not on profit and consumerism, as what defines the American Dream today, but on the biology and diversity of plant life that American soil offered. They understood the therapeutic benefits of being outside and connected to the land and believed the agrarian life would carry America forward.
“It will not be doubted, that with reference either to individual, or National Welfare, Agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as Nations advance in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent; and renders the cultivation of the Soil more and more, an object of public patronage.” ~George Washington
I don’t know whether farming is better defined as a business or a lifestyle, or somewhere in between. But I sense that farming is more in our nature than our current world shrouded by technology and material comforts allows us to see. Working the soil, whether in our backyards, in pots on a balcony, or over many acres is both a skill and a pastime that is vital for the health and well being of our nation as much today as it has been since our inception.
“When going back makes sense, you are going ahead.” ~Wendell Berry.