I finally got the chance to watch the film Farmland by award winning director James Moll. You can watch it on Comcast OnDemand, YouTube, Amazon, Blockbuster OnDemand...and a bunch of others. The movie follows a handful of young farmers as they start their own farming operation: 1 being a first generation farmer, a few having the reins passed to them (in the transitional phase between young and old), and one having landed into running the operation after his dad became sick and passed away. I think the director did a great job of balancing big organic (700 acres) and small organic (just a few acres) and big conventional crop ag and livestock production.
I can relate to every single one of them in at least one way. No matter weather you're a poultry farmer, grain and soy bean, cattle rancher, or into organic vegetable production all of us 20 somethings are experiencing many of the same challenges: capital, weather, market highs and lows, and money.
At one point the Mom of the first generation farmer was saying how her daughter isn't from farming people and what non-farming people don't understand is that, "The farm comes first."
And Mom couldn't be more right.
I see people in my life struggle with the idea that the farm comes first. It all plays into the fact that it's a very unique job/business. I had a friend who's brother would always ask me every time I saw him, "How was work today?" I always answered, "It's not work. It's life." It's a life that revolves around a very capital intense, highly thought out and calculated business. Since there's so much invested monetarily, physically and emotionally there's no question: the farm comes first.
Being able to see something from start to finish is so rare. A rare and beautiful thing. I squeal like a little pig every time I pick heirloom tomatoes (there're just so fun...see below and tell me you don't just want to squeal too) or when I think about what I'm putting in the Buying Club boxes each week.
|field grown heirloom tomatoes|
A while ago I was enjoying an article about two young ladies who started a farm on a piece of state protected land in New York. I was really into the article and in full support of these first generation farmers. I was cheering them on until I got to the line that said (I'm paraphrasing here), "They created the farm with a board of directors rather than just going in on it themselves for when they want to pursue other interests." Pursue other interests? Now things happen in life, yes. As the Dad of one of the characters in the film says, "I've been broke more times than you'd want to know." So yes there are circumstances in which someone's farming life may/could end. However farming isn't a "do it until you decide you want to do something else" kind of job. It's a "for life" job because "the farm comes first."