People Thought I Was Crazy When I Became a Market Farmer at the Age of Twenty Five. Here Is Why They Are Wrong.
When I look at the reasons I became an organic, market farmer at the age of twenty-five, it wasn't because I am an activist. Although I am. And it wasn't because I care about the environment. Although I do. It was because I had a conversation in the parking lot of Thrifty Foods Grocery store, and said, "yes" to start a farm.
I had an electric conversation with a stranger where we both talked about the callings of our hearts. So rarely this is spoken between two people who just meet, and being the open person that I am, my whole heart was ready. He was an older man, traveling from the Haida Gwaii by bike, riding to the government of B.C. Canada to take action on food security for the North.
When I look back at this conversation, a 15 minute moment in a grocery store parking lot, my life became pointed towards regenerative, ecological growing systems for my community. I was going to be a market farmer, and 7 years later, I still own this choice.
The first years starting out, many people thought I was crazy. How would I make any money? How would I be able to get a mortgage? Why would I choose such a profession, selling vegetables at Farmers Markets?
Truth is, they were right in some regard. I am not making a lot of money, and it is hard to get a mortgage with my income tax return. But when I see the fires across the world, the floods and hurricanes, I know I made the right decision.
Let's think about why small-scale diversified farms matter:
- Agriculture uses up a lot of land. 40 per cent of the world's land surface is used up by agriculture. Small-scale, organic food systems protect the biodiversity of the earth. Industrial agriculture destroys the environment through the use of pesticides, fertilizer and produces loads of greenhouse gas from fossil fuel use. When you buy organic, local food, you are protecting the environment.
- Research shows "that small farms using alternative agricultural techniques may be two to four times more energy efficient than large conventional farms."
- Studies demonstrate "that small farms almost always produce higher output levels per unit area than larger farms." Check out this study that shows "alternative methods could produce enough food on a global basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base."
- Another reason I am a farmer is that I believe in farm worker's rights. Farmworkers can face atrocious working conditions. The poisons, traumas, and abuses that farmworkers face every day is a serious issue. By buying locally, you can speak to your farmer about the working conditions of the farm, and find out how they treat their workers.
- The average age of a farmer in Canada or the U.S. is 55. Where will we get our food? It is clear that we need more young people farming.
If you are interested in learning more about food security and small-scale farming please check out this article.
I may not be making a lot of money, but small-scale, local food does make a global impact. On our farm, we are building soil, sequestering carbon, and producing nutrient-rich food. I may not be rich, but I have a rich life.
I am an activist, and this is the reason I farm organically.
About The Author: Katie Massy is an organic farmer, cultivating soil and spirit in the Gulf Islands of B.C., Canada. She is the founder and director of Women Who Farm. Her life, beyond counting worms and witnessing miracles daily, is filled with weekly visits to the sea, walks with the old momma trees, and enjoying a strong brew of something.
Check out her Farm Heart and Soil Organics