Kicking 150 Pounds of Anxiety and Depression Through Farming
Six years ago, I was a woman who made art behind a computer screen and taught others to do the same. A woman who ate a lot and didn’t exercise much.
I hated a lot of things about myself. How I looked, how I felt, how I spent my time, and who I was. I drove to the grocery store a lot. I didn’t think much about where the things on the shelves came from. I picked up a ton of processed food while I was there and not a lot of produce. Inevitably… I got a whole lot bigger around the middle, more depressed, and more anxious with each passing season.
Thank goodness, that back then–I had a big dream. Of being a woman who farmed. I daydreamed about ducks. I was curious what it felt like to pull carrots. To stuff a wheelbarrow with squash. I wanted to know what it would be like to meet my meat. I geeked out over the idea of goats. I felt like my hands had memories of milking, even though I’d never even seen a milk pail….much less an udder.
I had a lot of questions too. Like where did my food even come from? How far had it traveled to get to my plate? Who picked it? Were they well paid? Was my food… sprayed? Were the animals that made my beloved cheese well loved? Did my fried chicken meet a quick and ethical end? And who cooked it before it got sandwiched between two sides of a biscuit and handed to me through my car window? And then came my real question…..What was that kind of food doing to me?
It suddenly all stopped making sense. The convenience all seemed to have had a cost. That cost showed up in the size of my pants. In the weight of my anxiety and depression. So I decided to try something new, not a fad diet, but to follow a farm dream. I chose to trade a large paycheck for peas. A life behind a screen for one in the sunshine. I decided to sow a seed and see if a woman who farmed…. would grow.
Today, those seeds of a new life have long since been sown. A TON has grown but my waistline shrank, by 150 pounds. My confidence grew by leaps and bounds. Infectious smiles now outweigh the sadness I used to carry around. I grow a lot of peas. I hang out with a lot of bees. I’ve found a lot of peace. As I chop a lot of wood and I carry a lot of water. I’ve found a home in the dirt. I’ve completely let go of having to wear elastic banded skirts.
Now, I teach other women to do the same. A forager and I use this 9.87 acres to share space and stories with women who have big dreams of sowing seeds. We provide a safe space for shrinking waistlines and/or growing confidence. I do it because when I had that big dream six years ago–no farm I applied to for an internship would agree to take me, my weight or my inexperience on. I do it because it means everything in the world to me to watch women grow. Just like the two women who own this organic farm did.
We lost a collective 225 pounds here as we grew, gave up gluten in lieu of our own food and began to go off grid. We have gained a million or more pounds of skills here. We can farm and forage our own food. We can build soil and make fire from sticks. We can make ink for our art from foraged walnuts. We can craft baskets from wild harvested plants. We can use every piece of what we take from nature. We can live more simply and with less negative environmental impact than we ever did before. And best of all, we can show other women how to do the same in their own way. We can send those skills back to their families, to their children.
We can sow a permaculture seed in young folks, so they will understand that one day their food could be free. We can give priority to women who apply to work here. Our farm can give them the chance that we were never given in the beginning. We can provide a safe space for women to learn to swing an axe. We can tell funny stories about how we grew and shrank. We can be honest about our mistakes and missteps in the hopes they will find a more sure footed path. A farmer can share how to raise rabbits, how to nurture things as they grow. A forager can show how she carved a path to the wild side, how she makes bows or creates buckskin. We can use our farm to show them, girls can do ANYTHING. That we can be anything we set out to be…. farmers, foragers, builders, hunters, nurturers, warriors and wild things. If the two of us can grow, any woman can.
It’s what we aspire to do here on our educational farm. Empowerment. Enlightenment. Education and experiences that are affordable and attainable. We pray that what we do here will change our little corner of the world to be a better place. That people will gain skills here that they will share when they go back home. If those people happen to be women who farm, so much the better. It means everything in the world to this woman farmer that we have a space to share, to teach, to show other women just how much we are capable of. In the hopes that some of those women, might just be the ones that can change our world.
I am a woman who makes art. A woman who eats food she grew and gets plenty of exercise. I still get to wear skirts sometimes too. I just love a lot of things about myself. How I look, how I feel, how I spend my time, who I am and who I am becoming. I drive to the grocery store a lot less. I think about where the things on the shelves came from, what is in them and what I can go without. I pick up a few bulk organic staples or spices while I am there. Inevitably… I get a whole lot stronger, happier and more skilled with each passing season.
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” —Maya Angelou
About the Author: Rain Parker is the Co-owner of Eight Owls Farmstead, a women owned homestead. "We focus on sharing our story about what organic and wild food means to us, now that we are a collective 225 pounds lighter than we were when we started! The homestead was established in 2012 and does three things. We share information on growing, raising, and foraging your own food, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and host educational events and workshops. We grow, forage and sell no spray and non-GMO produce and food. And in our massive amount of downtime on the farm since it is so calm around here, we also make and sell wild crafted art supplies and functional art."
Facebook: Eight Owls Farmstead