In the spirit of mindful reflection, I would like to tell you a little bit about the book I just finished reading, The Accidental Farmers by Tim Young. Geoff and I have been following the escapades of Tim and Liz Young at Nature’s Harmony Farm in Georgia for over a year now. I’ve written a little bit about them before. When Geoff and I scoured the country looking for people who were successfully doing what we hoped to one day do, Tim and Liz most closely fit the model we were striving to achieve. They believed in restoring nutrients and health to the land, they believed in creating an ecosystem that was sustainable–for the animals, for the land, and for the humans in the system. Additionally, as we do, they believe in helping to restore and promote the heritage breeds of animals that are best suited to thrive on the land in their region. They opened their farm three or four years before we opened ours. Reading Tim’s account of their progress is, in many ways, like looking into the future of our own farm. Reading about their experiences has been both encouraging and daunting. I think Tim puts it well when he describes the thrilling highs and the heart-wrenching lows in the life of a farmer.
Tim and Liz were inspired by many of the same authors that lead Geoff and I to where we are–Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Polan, Joel Salatin, and others. But as Geoff and I set out with the explicit intention to farm as a way of supporting our family and upholding our beliefs, Tim and Liz began with the decision to “opt-out” and evolved into meat farmers.
One of the struggles I have faced in the transition to rural life has been how to live in harmony with individuals whose perspectives and backgrounds are so different from my own. The plants and animals on our farm live in harmony with each other and with nature, but I found myself wondering if I was living in a similar harmony with my surroundings. I don’t know if I have an answer to that question yet. I know I have discovered kindred spirits in my community, even if I don’t see eye to eye with everyone I’ve met. Something that Tim observed in the book stood out to me. He says, speaking of one of his closest neighbors:
He is who he is as I am who I am. We have different backgrounds, different life experiences and, as a result, different values and perspectives. We can see the world differently and still be friends, and we are.
I had a bit of an aha moment when I read that quote. I need to lighten up. Yes, I live in a place with different morays and traditions from those I grew up with, and that is okay. In fact it is good. It gives me the opportunity to broaden my horizons, and it gives me the opportunity to share my life and experiences with a new group of people. I need to stop viewing uncomfortable as bad and start viewing it as an opportunity to broaden my definition of comfort.
So, if you want to understand a little bit about what Geoff and I are experiencing as novice farmers, I encourage you to check out The Accidental Farmers. And, if you are moved by what you read there, or what you read here, support a farmer. Build a relationship with the people who produce your food. Meet with them face to face, ask questions, investigate how they do what they do and why. Let your food choices reflect your values.