I was raised on a 500 acre dairy farm in Western Pennsylvania. My childhood was spent constructing forts in the hay loft and chasing renegade cows down back country roads. Countless times I returned to the house with one less muck boot after rainstorms turned the pasture into a mud pint. But by the age of 8, I wanted nothing more than to leave the small town to fill the larger britches only found in city living. The arts, culture and community found in cities sing a song that harmonizes with my soul.
But the longer I live out of the country, the more I realize there’s another part of me that’s starving. I suppose this is why I feel most comfortable at the farmer’s markets discussing heirlooms and companion planting with the farmers. Seeing that I’ve spent my adult life between the corporate world and as a stay at home momma, I don’t have any real talent in farming but it’s more familiar to me than discussing family vacations to Disney or the newest gadget.
Real farming is far from the idealistic version Americana portrays. It’s a lot of sweat, swearing and heartache. But it’s genuine. It’s sacrificing the luxury of time and convenience for the sake of growing food and crop. There is no cheating or cutting corners. You are subject to the elements, acts of God and sometimes just dumb luck. I remember winters when the temperatures would drop dangerously low and my father would spend nights in the barn testing faucets to make sure water lines wouldn’t freeze and packing in extra hay around the cows. It makes me proud to be the daughter of a third generation farmer.
Sorry. That was a bit of a tangent, wasn’t it?
By the nature of Josh’s job and our relocations, we’ve been city dwellers since college. Or at least suburban settlers. As we eased into a more natural lifestyle, we wanted to source most of our diets directly from farmers and support those who’s practices we believe in. We started shopping at farmers markets and eventually joined a CSA in Savannah. With our move to Charlotte, we’ve had to rebuild our network of farms and it’s hard. Not everyone has good farming practices and many consumers don’t ask the questions that matter to me. So I was stoked to snag a LivingSocial deal for the seventh Charlotte area Know Your Farms Tour and get a chance to see the farms in person and meet the farmers face to face.
The event included 13 farms split between Saturday and Sunday afternoons. They spanned from far Northwest Charlotte across to the University area so with traffic and travel, we could only squeeze in three farms. But we weren’t left missing out on anything. We visited Wish We Had Acres (a dairy goat and herbal medicine farm), Apple Orchard Farms (beef, pork, eggs, honey – oh, I could go on) and Allee’Bubba Farms (ducks, chickens, vegetables and horseback riding in the most unusual suburban setting) and left feeling nothing less than inspired.
Farming is hard. But it’s good. I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for a lifetime full of Disney adventures and a part of me worries I’m depriving my children of the goodness that comes with being a farm kid. The world is changing and I want to want less and apply my efforts toward those things that are simple and sustainable.
Will we become farmers? I’m not sure. But homesteading? I may be able to hang.
“When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”