Farming.

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.

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SONY DSCIMG_2288SONY DSCSONY DSCFarming 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.”
-Masanobu Fukuoka

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Gems.

“Oh, you’re new to the area! Where are you from?”

“Well, we move around every few years but most recently we lived in Savannah, Georgia.”

“Oh, Savannah! We just love it there. It’s so romantic. And the history – wow.”

“Yea, it’s a gem.”

“You must miss it so much!”

“….sometimes.”

 

Without exaggeration, I have this conversation at least three times a week.  Everyone knows and loves Savannah. And we do, too. But many folks fail to realize that living in Savannah is much different than visiting Savannah. Not better, not worse – it just isn’t the same city. Residents don’t typically take trolley tours or peddle around with friends on the Slow Ride. Well, we do, but not often as we’d like since we’re usually at home battling spanish moss and fire ants. But for all of the less than charming parts that come with living in Savannah, there are an equal or greater number of gems that are only appreciated with time. It’s the food. The farmers. The markets. The restaurants. The collard greens. Mmmmm. It’s the music. The artists. The energy from the thousands and thousands of feet that passed through a historic building before you. The cherished and preserved and appreciated. 

So when we agreed to moved to the Charlotte ‘burbs, I was terrified I’d be in a cultural wasteland.  There’s something in my soul that needs to be around people with passion for music, art, musings and community and I was certain my heart would never be settled among subdivisions and minivans. Instead, we’re discovering excellent farmer’s markets and locally sourced restaurants.  We stumble across food truck rallies and historic mills converted into art spaces and shops. Yes, it will be hard to find replacements for our Savannah favorites. But slowly, we’re finding new gems in our new home and with a new appreciation for what they do.  

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