Saturday, June 27, 2015

3 Things I Learned from Having a 'Farm'

1 of our 8 Veggie beds
About six years ago, we jumped on the urban farmer movement that was sweeping the Bay Area.  We went on Urban Farm tours through out Oakland and Berkeley.  We (shall I say I) because obsessed with the works and teaching of Novella Carpenter, a woman who turned a vacant lot next to her West Oakland Apartment into a farm, complete with turkeys, chickens, and rabbits.  To me, she was a revolutionary...  doing something that Oakland really need at the time, to invest in FRESH FOOD in communities where there was a grocery store wasteland.  (There are parts of Oakland that do not have a grocery store within a 5 mile radius, but only convientient stores.  Many peoples menu choices are Cheetos, Soda, and Hungry Man's Frozen Dinners.)   One day, while driving on the freeway a couple of weeks after I finished Carpenter's Book GHOST TOWN FARM, I was very aware of the farming way of life.  Eric and I noticed a Toyota Truck that had hay flying out of it (this is a sight you NEVER see in the Bay Area.)  Of course I made Eric catch up to car wondering who/what farmer was in the middle of the city, and it turned out to be Novella Carpenter!  I had a heart attack at that moment and quickly found a piece of paper which I wrote:  I LOVE YOUR BOOK THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU!!! As we drove past her, I held this sign to the window.  I'm proud to say she saw it.  She gave me a thumbs ups and a huge grin!   It was a sign, we were going to create our own farm!!!  And ultimately, we would become happier, calmer people.

Plum Wine In The Making
And for the next four years, we had an 1/8 acre "farm" in our backyard completely with a plum tree, apple tree, fig tree and four chickens named Puffy, Cinderella, Bramha, and Lady.  We grew Quinoa, Zucchini, Fava Beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and even our own Omega- 3 rich chicken food.  I made homemade apple sauce, pies, plum jam, and plum wine.  I even started experimenting with making cold processes soap (yes I am self taught!), laundry soap, and Eric started brewing beer. And don't forget, both Eric and I were both full time teachers as well.  We learned a lot about farming and ourselves.  Here are the top 5 things we learned about have our own 'farm.'

1) Don't Believe Everything You Read:  One of the biggest reason this city slicker started an urban farm was because everything I read (books, blogs, how-to's) painted a picture that by having a farm, and living sustainably would simplify my life and the life of the community around me.  I would let go of my worries, find inner peace, and heal a community problem of lack of fresh food in our community. Was I a little nieve?  HELL YES I was...  Maybe on Saturday morning I found peace, but that was probably because I wasn't around 30 kids.

2) Running a Family Farm is Hard Work:  Don't get me wrong, gardening, cooking, and collecting eggs where very much a stress reliever, but not so much around report card time. There was a lot to do.  We had to get up in the morning and water everything and collect eggs.  And don't get me started about chickens...there was chicken shit EVERYwhere.  They dug up my artichoke plants (which at that point... if the neighborhood skunks got them for dinner...  good for the skunks!) I had so much zucchini, and lettuce that I couldn't give it away fast enough (we left boxes of fresh food for people to take!) Processing Quinoa to get toxins out of it is no joke....  it took ALL DAY just to clean one cup of the stuff.  But the pies were good and plum wine would knock your socks off, I can't complain about that!

3) Giving Up is Not the Same as Knowing Your Limits:  This experience led me to a new found appreciation for the farmers of the world, their hard work, and their commitment to bringing people food. As the years went on in our little farm, the more responsibility it took on.  Eric and I were at the point, where it was becoming a full time job and needed to reconsider how we were going to keep up with all of this. Both of us have dreamed of a lifestyle such as this.  We talked (and still do) about owning 50 acres, but this experience taught us that right now, at this point in our lives, we were not ready for it.  To keep our sanity, we needed to scale back. We needed to get rid of those elements that were overwhelming and keep doing the things that only brought us joy!  So, we found a nice home for our chickens in the next city over.  We believed growing our own food is still a priority, but we only grew enough for the family.  And I made cold processed soap a priority (how I went from classroom teacher to running my own soap business is a whole other story!), and Eric kept up with brewing beer on a regular basis.  Most importantly, we had faith that one day we would have our 50 acres.

Yes, one day...  What experience have you created in you life that have shown you your limits?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...