I once wrote an essay about my son Isaiah's wish for a farm. He has a farm, of course, but he also dreams of a different one, the one in his imagination. What was funny was that all the adults that saw his wish understood it so very well. Many people tell me how much they want a farm. But other people show me that farms are easier to find than you think, even if they aren't perfect. These are all real people, who I know. As i start our garden design class today, I started thinking about all the farm dreams I've known!
I know a man who wanted to start a farm. So he worked and saved for years and eventually went out and bought 500 acres, fenced it and grew corn and hay, and ran sheep and cows on it, and then he had a farm.
I know a woman who wanted a farm, so she sold her business, cashed out her retirement and bought 176 acres, four cows, a bull and a tractor, and planted apple trees, and then she had a farm.
I know a man who wanted a farm so he rented 49 acres, an old barn and a flock of sheep, and raised wool and grew plants to make dyes with and sold yarn at the farmer's market and online, and then he had a farm.
I know a woman who wanted a farm, so she went out and bought 27 acres with her husband's elderly grandparents and started a CSA, then raised vegetable plants, chickens, herbs and goats, and then she had a farm.
I know a man who wanted a farm, and he moved into his parent's house on six acres, built a chicken coop, grew a garden and sold pumpkins at the farmer's market and eggs to his neighbors, and took care of his parents and then he had a farm.
I know two women who wanted a farm who bought the 4 acre lot on the first house over the line into the country and got goats and chickens and let their children run across it while they raised the food to feed them, and they had a farm.
I know a woman who wanted a farm, and she looked down and saw that she had three good acres, and fenced them, and got a Jersey cow, a garden full of cabbages and some hens, and then she had a farm.
I knew a man who wanted a farm and looked out and realized that he was renting a good half acre, and talked to the landlord and got angora rabbits, chickens and a garden full of raised beds, and then he had a farm.
I know a woman who had a suburban yard full of forest, and who grew shade loving plants under the trees, gathered acorns for her chickens and worms for her ducks and grew mushrooms in woodpiles along the edges of her yard, and then she had a farm.
I know a woman who had a 30Ã80 lot, and she built a chicken coop, planted raspberries and basil against the house, got a community garden plot and is trying to convince her partner to let her get miniature goats, and then she had a farm.
I know a man who had no room in his yard for more gardens, but who talked to his neighbors and the city and found two backyards, a vacant lot and a corner of a church, and filled them with vegetables and flowers, and then he had a farm.
I know a woman who had no ground at all in her apartment, but had a balcony with bees on it and a dozen windowboxes full of lettuce and strawberries, worms in her kitchen and the right attitude, and then, she had a farm.
I know a woman who had a 1/3 acre duplex lot in suburbia. She wanted a farm, so she planted enough veggies for her family of four to fulfill over 50 percent of their veggie needs. She planted fruit trees in the front yard and got a chicken tractor with 5 chickens to parole the area for bugs and weeds. Then she had a farm.
...and a young woman who sprouted seeds in her dorm room and traded her labor for fresh organic produce..and an old woman who no longer had the land, but had wisdom and knowledge to share.. they had a farm.
When asked recently "what do you do?" What popped out of my mouth surprised even me.."I am a farmer and I build chicken coops for a living." It doesn't matter that I cannot have chickens in my town (yet)I build for those who can..the food that I put on the table each night has at least one home grown ingredient from my city garden and the medicines and salves we infrequently use are likely made by me. My MIL sends me fresh lemons in December from her lone tree, she too is a farmer. Farming is a state of mind..and of the heart.
Reminds me of the time I grew potatoes in a box in my window. They didn't give much, but it was fun to have a garden in a 4th story inner-city apartment.
This should SO be a children's book -- something like "The Ox-Cart Man." -- companion piece to a book with chapters on each of these farms, or one like it.
We own 7 acres but most of it is wooded. We have about 2500 ft. in vegetable gardens, about 3500 feet of prairie gardens, and 4 hens. I'm expanding into using cover crops/green manures and planting more trees for a mini-orchard and an attempt at permaculture. I harvest eggs, vegetables, berries (rasp. and blue) and great satisfaction. I call myself a microfarmer.
Sharon, this is so cool. It made me smile. I keep telling my husband I want a farm but I just realised my quarter acre suburban lot is a good start! And I love the children's book suggestion - or maybe a poster for grown ups.
I have a couple of dozen pots, most of them tiny, and some potatoes in a brick planter out the front, a $0 budget and no idea what I'm doing, but I'm going to be a farmer. I have ambitions for more containers, happy plants that don't die or go to seed (too often), actual harvesting of edible things, and some chickens. And a couple of fruit trees and jam-making supplies... :)
Then there was the woman who always thought she'd move to a farm one day, then realized she was staying put on her 1.3 acres. So she planted lots of raised garden beds for vegetables, planted apple and peach trees, raspberry plants, grape vines, and blueberry bushes. She built a barn, ordered pullet chicks, and started raising rabbits. The day she got a sign to hang on the front porch proclaiming it to be a farm, she had a farm.
My dad had a farm (400 head of hogs a year, sometimes chickens, cows). Mom hung a needlepoint in the kitchen, "Who plants a seed and waits . . believes in God.".
Perhaps it is the prayers, and the nurturing, that make a farmer. And where that farmer walks, is the farm.
Finally the right audience for the only farmer joke I know, learned many decades ago while--What Else?--farming a one-acre plot with two friends:
Q. What is a farmer?
A. A. man. out. standing. in. his. field.[not sure how to punctuate that so the joke reveals itself!]
Aww, I love this. I currently have two citrus trees and an aloe plant in my office. I don't think that's QUITE a farm yet, but it is inspiring and I do hope to buy, beg, or borrow some land in the near future.
@Bill - my favorite farmer joke is WAY too dirty to tell here. Makes me a little sad.