One Life to Farm (A True Story by Scrapple - Little Seed Farm)
Making a transition in life is no easy task. Humans are creatures of habit and it can be difficult to make significant changes, especially changes that involve your very livelihood. However, every once in a while there comes a dream so powerful that every second is filled with thought and the heart can be ignored no longer.
I grew up in a middle class family. Definitely not poor, but definitely not rich. Instilled in me was a dream of making a class leap, jumping up a level and really having it made. On that level there were no worries that money couldn’t solve, it was just a matter of making ‘enough’. When I was a teenager ‘enough’ meant $100,000. I thought that if I could make $100,000 then life would be a breeze. I had no real frame of reference, but that was my goal. As it turns out, I was lucky enough to achieve that goal in my first year out of college. It allowed me to pay-off my student loans relatively quickly and then move on to help pay my sister’s. Pretty soon I was able to live in a nice apartment in a decent part of New York City and all I had to worry about was my job. For many people that would be enough. Maintain a well-paying job, work your way up the corporate ladder, enjoy life outside of work and don’t rock the boat. Certainly, my parents thought that was a fine solution. So when I sat down with my fiancée (a.k.a. Sweetbreads) and we told them that we wanted to quit our jobs and start farming there was more than a hint of terror in my father’s eyes. In fact, the common feedback has been, “We want you to be happy, but you don’t want to farm.”
My great-grandfather farmed everywhere from the deep south in Mississippi, all the way up to South Dakota and back down into the panhandle of Texas. That man could farm. One of my favorite pictures is of him speeding across a field on his old Allis Chalmers, surely at an age above seventy. His passion for farming stemmed from a different desire; he wanted to provide his kids a means to pursue a ‘better’ life, a life in the city where back-breaking work for a low wage didn’t have to exist. Between WWI and WWII my family made that transition and the Air Force pilot he had for a son (my grandfather) moved into a nice house and raised a big family. From then on, farming wasn’t an option.
So, what happened to me my Dad must wonder. In only three generations we had gone from a nomad farm family to the cream of the New York City crop. And now that was all at risk. Now that would all be tossed aside to return to a farm. What led us to that end?
Life takes on a certain cadence when you join the nine-to-five workforce and for me a sense of malaise set in. I wasn’t inspired by life anymore. I felt disconnected and I needed to make a change, but there wasn’t an obvious answer. Sweetbreads felt similarly about her path in life and we agreed to find a mutual passion to pursue. We spent months debating different options, but nothing fit. Along the way we started learning more about our food system and our dream of farming started to coalesce. Being so far removed from something so basic as our food and realizing that our trust in the system was misplaced caused us to boomerang back to our roots.
Thus emerged our dream to create Little Seed Farm. A variety of revelations have motivated us along the way, chief among them are: a realization that money is not the answer to happiness, a yearning for community, a desire to create a sanctuary for our family, and a recognition that the world needs more farmers producing natural, nutrient-dense foods. By pursuing our dream of farming we can fill all of those voids, but it takes an extreme amount of dedication, an ability to learn many different skills, a strong dose of humility, and a real leap of faith that it will all work out in the end. Farming is also a fantastic way to play a positive role in the community on one of the most basic levels, providing food and education.
Starting a farm is intimidating and before making any serious life decisions we wanted to be sure it was right for us. Despite not having land or animals, we’ve been able to deliberately plot our course and take a number of small actions to get the ball rolling. In addition to reading books, blogs and magazines we’ve joined the core group of our CSA, visited and worked on farms across the country (farm-hopping as we like to call it), and in the near future one of us will even be quitting a job to apprentice on a nearby farm (stay tuned!). We are a few small steps down the road and we continue to learn more every day, but one thing is for certain: come hell or high water, we’ll be farmers! We hope to share our experiences with others and inspire more people to pursue their dreams. You can follow that pursuit at www.littleseedfarm.com.