I’ve been asked why I chose to be a farmer many times over the last four years, and in that time I’ve never given a fully honest account of it. The following are my reasons for why I chose to make a living growing organic vegetables.
First you should know I hated vegetables until roughly the age of 21, and at that point I only desired the blandest of lettuce greens slathered in dressing, not the more heavily flavoured ones like beets and kale. I’m 31 now, and the desire to eat a wider variety of veggies has grown, but it’s taken time.
When I turned 19 my skin on my hands and lower lip started to peel. A dermatologist recommended a steroidal cream; a homeopath recommended a whole slew of specific medicines and a diet change; an ayurvedic doctor also gave some interesting medicines as well as a specific diet change. Western medicine generally fails to heal chronic illnesses and rather treats the symptoms without addressing the cause. The homeopath and ayurvedic doctors helped point me in the direction I needed which was to look at what I am eating. It also started a lifelong hobby of learning how the body works.
My skin issues are no longer a problem, and eating whole foods regularly has been the greatest reason for it. People are probably familiar with this saying “Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.” Well, it’s absolutely true and the food Hippocrates, the founder of western medicine, whose quote that was attributed to some 2400 years ago, was referring to, are just regular old veggies and herbs grown without chemicals.
So, the biggest reason for learning how to grow food, and then starting and running a farm has been to improve the health of others. I’m practical and know that most of our common western illnesses can be prevented through eating organic food. This career provides an immense amount of meaning for me.
The other big reason for choosing to farm is that I’ve dealt with recurring back injuries for more than a decade, and so I felt having a job that would require me to be in shape would be the best solution to this problem. I realize there are other jobs out there that meet those needs. Throughout the growing season I’m doing yoga while I weed/transplant, squats while I move crates of veggies, and all kinds of core workouts while doing other chores around the farm.
But why I continue to farm, despite the economic challenges of doing so, is that this job is beautiful and incredibly interesting, this province needs more farmers, my community deserves healthy food, species at risk have a place of refuge on our farm, and farming is important. Simple.
In my next post I’ll talk about why our farm is certified organic and the difference it makes.