Honorable Profession

I’ve been re-visiting a book by Michael Ableman entitled Field of Plenty: A Farmer’s Journey to the Frontiers of American Agriculture. It is a fine read by a man who has devoted his life to small farms in our country. I’m enticed to read page after page of his prose—his stories of farms that have survived the storms of development and corporatization of food supplies. He strives to demonstrate by these stories that “farming is not just some lowly form of drudgery, but that it is an art and craft and an honorable profession. . .that good food is more than just about the confluence of technique and fertile soil, that it is the result of men and women who love their land, and who bring great passion to working with it.”  This is the new agrarian movement he sees sweeping the country.  How I wish more of this movement would find a foothold on the beautiful agriculture lands here on Kauai.  Seems like a wish that is just a whisper on the tradewinds, lost in the shortsightedness that is so-called progress here.

And, so we carry on here at North Country Farms in this honorable profession, while fewer and fewer folks are allowed that privilege here on this expansive and expensive island. I cannot solve that political and financial conundrum, but we can continue the intention that grounded this beautiful piece of land and my family in the love of growing food over 20 years ago. I can say that it is a livelihood that finds me at the end of every day tired and pleased, albeit sometimes frustrated at the never-ending list of projects to complete.

This summer has been so full of fine weather, making the usual summer doldrums retreat in the wake of the plentiful gentle rains. We are successfully growing things that usually balk at summer — like abundant lettuce and greens. And the new vegetables that Sky has brought into our rotation are growing gloriously under his tender care — like red long beans, purple scallions and fennel. We are looking for new sources for seed, Sky being particularly interested in heirloom varieties and their potential for seed-saving. We are exploring the no-till method in the style of John Jeavons for our smaller gardens. It is an ever-evolving process with golden intention and grueling work.

I take heart in knowing there are other small farms with people who also believe in this model, who have the energy and passion to carry on in the face of mammoth inappropriate corporate mega-farming. People with the same mindset and heart who also feel that their efforts are vitally important. Sharing their path and their passion gives me glimmers of hope. Communities are enriched by farmers and we, in turn, are surely uplifted by the community.

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