Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Keepers of the Land, Feeders of Us All

Have you ever driven through the countryside and just marvelled at the beauty? – the mowed fields, the waving grasses, the spectacular swaths and vistas of open space.

I do, everyday. These views and vistas, which most people take for granted, don’t come easy. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into them. Someone, usually a farmer, has to mow the fields two to three times a year. Without mowing, within a matter of a couple years, a field will grow up into brambles, then brush, then forest. Pretty soon, the vista has vanished. You can’t see the rolling hills, the mountains in the distance. Trees climb high to the sky and pretty soon the view is a woodland and the only thing you can do with it is let it grow, log it, or knock it all down and build a mess of houses unless someone had the foresight and where with all to preserve the raw land forever as a public space.

Mowing involves equipment – a tractor, a mowing machine, a rake, a tedder, a baler, the fuel. All these things help take the grass off the field and keep it pristine and beautiful for you to look at. None of this equipment comes cheaply. Then there is the time it takes. Time, time – noone has enough of it – even a farmer. But that farmer that mows your view and cares for the land - and sometimes your neighbors - feels it is important to enrich it with manure, to keep the grasses growing, to keep the land open. He or she may feed their animals with the hay but that isn't the only end-product for them. Most farmers I know take real pride in a properly cared for field or pasture, the neatly clipped grasses, and the view.

So next time you drive past a farm and think to yourself - “Why is there so much stuff in the yard?” “Why can’t they keep their place neater?” - try to resist shaking your finger. Farming is nowhere near an easy life and it is amazing that anyone chooses to do it anymore. Be thankful there are men and women who still are choosing to farm – they are taking care of your view and feeding you. By no means are they getting rich – they are working harder than most of us for way less money. Be happy to thank them by paying a little extra and buying their produce, milk, cheese, fruits and more. It’s the least you can do. Farmers shouldn’t be taken for granted. They are a disappearing breed. And when they give up because it’s just too hard a life, there won’t be a view to appreciate. If we all don’t support the small farmer, we won’t have a choice – we’ll all be eating our food supplied by large factory farms and the views will be gone.

It’s almost Thanksgiving – a time for us all to give thanks for the relative wealth, prosperity, and bounty that can be found on our shores. Help out the little farmer by buying a local turkey and local produce if you can. Chances are it will all taste better and you will be doing some real good with your purchase.

I’m stepping off my soapbox for now.


Mama Urchin said...

I'm with you 100%. Eat local. I need a bumper sticker.

Kim said...

Amen! I live in a rapidly growing area where the powers that be give little or no thought to the impact of developement (other than $$$'s). It is sad to see the farms I grew up near and the fields I played in disappearing.

PamKittyMorning said...

A very moving post. I wish more people would really listen. Not just hear, listen.

Green Kitchen said...

We're strong supporters of local food. One way we participate in our area is by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), you know, the weekly veggies in a box. There's a good online directory of CSAs:

Anonymous said...

I will join you on that soapbox...very true words you have written, and I whole heartedly agree, coming from a farming background.