The average farmer in America lost $1,682 dollars last year. There is a risk in the story I am telling, one where you might pity farmers. Yes, it concerns me that the average person growing our food does not make money. It concerns me because farmers are creating what is the most necessary ingredient for life, ingredients themselves. The systems we have designed for how they grow food, and how it is contributed to the economy, is so inefficient that it makes a necessary resource a problem. It concerns me because the people taking on significant risk—in terms of their crops and their health—do not make enough money to overcome a catastrophe. It concerns me because I want to grow food.
But there is a reason I went into agriculture. Farmers who do it well hold the wealth of our culture’s poverty. They work outside. They interact with the natural world. They do not spend their weekends observing nature, they have a relationship with it. One of study, of questions, and eating the answers. Some farmers do not make a living, they make a life.
But then there is a risk in what I just said too, one of romance. Farming can be a grind. Much of the time it has little to do with communion and more to do with loading boxes with a hurt back, a thousand feet of weeding, or fear of a late frost.
Then there is the risk of presenting this story as though it were new. Farmers struggling to make money is an old story, a dangerous one to offer any kind of solution.