Sunday, July 27, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

It's been a strange three weeks. I didn't expect WWOOFing to be life changing. I had a lot of ideas about it that weren't completely rocked by the actual experience of new people and places. Then the experience that did rock me happened here in the city amongst old friends. Well.

I wanted my first return post to be a kind of conclusion-good or bad, yea or nay- and then go on to the anecdotal as they relate to the issues that interest me. But now that I'm sitting here I don't really have a conclusion because I feel like three weeks wasn't enough to scratch the surface of what being a farmer is like, what homesteading is like, what raising and slaughtering your own animals is like (I didn't eat goat, incidentally).

The two farms I stayed at represented two sides of organic farming. There are probably many more sides but for the sake of comparison I'm wearing tunnel vision. One was all about environmental sustainability and the other about economic sustainability. At the Frosts' home everything they did was with consideration of what was good for the world. They took as little as possible from the land around them and put back as much as they could. At Dani and David's the foremost matter was how to make money off their farm. They didn't care much about organic food and barely ate out of their own garden except for the castoffs that wouldn't sell on their stand or in restaurants.

I'd like to say I'm not judgemental...but I also like to judge.

Whatever their personal choices were, if you have a small farm the healthy choice for it is organic, so good for you for trying to make it work. If you have a farm, period, how you're going to support yourself with it is a challenge. Farmers work hard as shit and we're addicted to cheap food. It's kind of a losing battle for them and selling 'gourmet' and specialty items, aggressive marketing and never eating something you can sell out of your own mouth is one way of dealing with that.

Also, I couldn't live the way the Frosts do, even though they seem pretty happy with how they've arranged their lives (the Frosts have been farming for about fifteen years, Dani and David for only 3). Well, that's not entirely true, I lived how they do for about ten days and settled into it pretty comfortably. It's not so hard when someone else is building the composting toilet and installing solar panels and making goat cheese (I did eat goat cheese!) though hopefully not in that order...Their way of life is possible because they live in a community that supports them. It makes me want NYC to be a friendlier place for solar power. We're all so used to letting our comfort and amenities swirl invisibly under us. How can I live more like the Frosts and still like me? It's something I'm wrestling with. Again, no conclusions.

Ultimately, yes this was a great experience. I'd do it again. And my life has been changed by it, though it may be the kind of passion inoculation that needs a booster shot. Eating locally, organically, seasonally is something I'm striving for but it's easy to forget the value of it when you just want to stuff potato chips into your mouth. Can we do it?

Please check in to read about my pathetic failures.

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