Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Farming as a Living and a Way of Life

Via the Rural Blog, this essay in Salon.  The writer grows 10 acres of organic vegetables in California, made $2500. (I'm not clear, that may be $2500 in addition to roughly $100 a week.)

I remember my mother grousing about the land-poor farmers, who'd be better off by selling and investing the money at 6 percent.  (I don't think that's particularly right--land values in upstate NY in the 1950's weren't that high.  And maybe it was my high school ag teacher who made the point in accounting for farming you needed to charge the cost of capital (land) and labor cost, before you got to management income.)

As she says, almost all small farmers these days have "city" jobs as my mother would have called them.  The full-time small farmer is mostly gone, or just surviving because she has the land and the house paid for, so low cash flow isn't that bad.

The rewards of a small farm are a degree of control and independence (though cows and hens are a ball and chain, and being a slave to the market counters the illusion  of control).  It's also great for raising kids--they get loads of time with their parents, and all sorts of learning experience, plus blisters.

Without lots of small farmers you don't have much rural life or community, because there's no one to support the churches, the farmers organizations, the community suppers, etc 

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