It will come as no surprise that I’m a city kid. Born and bred as an urbanite (though with an intermittent stint in a Swiss village that only taught me that farmers own, on average, 10 – 15 cows on large pastures, each with its own little cow bell – bucolic, but not very representative) and with a black thumb that makes me struggle to keep a cactus alive (true story), it might seem weird for me to have such a particular interest in agriculture. Especially since I’ve never actually had any practical farming experience. Initially, my plan was to remedy that this summer and go WWOOFing in Scandinavia, but finding a farm with available spots for an unexperienced, if enthusiastic newcomer was harder than imagined, and slowly I got stressed about my lack of summer plans. Instead, I rather radically shifted plans and will work on another skill (language) that will hopefully be equally helpful in preparing me for what comes next. Yet, I can’t help but feel a slight let-down that I didn’t follow through, as well as this nagging doubt – am I an impostor? Do I actually have a claim on planning to set agricultural policy? But on the other hand, I think what my personal skill set is more attuned to is storytelling – if you will, the interpretation of pure facts and information overload into comprehensible tales of dilemmas, challenges, and decisions that need to be taken. Policy-makers require such summaries more than ever in our landscape of ever more complex systems of interconnected processes and facts. And as long as there are others out there willing to provide this initial information, maybe it is okay for me to define myself as the interpreter.
All that intro to say – I just found a blog that does a wonderful, wonderful job at providing one of these grassroots accounts of how it is to step into farming from a position of relative inexperience (not to say, though, that they require an interpreter, since the authors themselves are utterly skilled storytellers). Dina and Erik‘s journey starts in January 2012 when they decide to leave their careers as photographers and shift towards a more simplified, meaningful lifestyle by opening an organic farm. First, Erik spent a year going to farm school in Massachusetts, and currently, they are working hard toward their first growing season.
This post features a video showing the beginning of their story.
I love especially how they keep it real; the doubts, the challenges, the struggles – currently, they have had issues with their land, with frost, and with their tractor breaking all at the same time – are expressed as eloquently as the hopes and dreams they have. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they are former photographers, with supreme imagery supplementing their words.
I read their posts with great interest and would encourage you to do the same, especially since it gives a valuable first-hand impression of the challenges this current trend toward farming, coming from mostly urban middle-class couples, faces: is it romantic? Impractical? Mad? Or just the first and necessary step – coming along with all the mistakes and blunders one can only remedy through experience – of a greater reconnection to our food system?
I for one am rooting for their farm and hope that it will all be worth it; if not this year, then certainly the next and all the ones after. Good luck, Plough & Stars!