by Samuel Oslund
Today might have us thinking a little obsessively about some big level tsoris.
But let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the reasons why we choose to get into farming in the first place. Speaking personally, I decided to farm because I felt it was a very concrete way to have some sort of impact on the troubles I perceived in the world. Disillusioned with politics, education and these broad means of change I saw farming as personal direct action.
Through the repetitive act of farming I slowly stopped seeing it as a political statement, and with each year that past, each additional scar on my hand and wrinkle on my face, I began to see the world through the lens of agriculture. I began to see the connections it makes – how good stewardship of land can bring a community together, that it’s about a lot more than vegetables and cows and endless hours- because through this daily act we begin to see ourselves in relation to all of these things.
It is hard not be overwhelmed by a narrative of hopelessness when we look at some of the societal trends of today. But we must not forget that every time we make the decision to put our energy into things that are close to us, whether a seed in the ground, supporting a cooperative, attending a community dance, or having dinner with neighbors, we are making statement about the ‘now’. Those things might not seem seem powerful in and of themselves, but I take heart in knowing the cumulative effect of these present moments are what make up the future.
Change doesn’t suddenly happen. Revolutions and movements don’t just spring out of no where. We feel an earthquake in a moment, but it is the result of the accumulation of pressure over great spans of time. So we plant seeds today not knowing if we will be the ones to reap them but aware that the act itself is powerful.
Wendell Berry said “eating is an agricultural act.” I used to think and say “eating is a political act.” Lately I’ve been reflecting on how my friend and fellow farmer, Anna, responded to that. She said “eating is an act of love.”
We don’t have to justify or try to quantify love. It just is. What calls us to the land? What keeps us? Only after years of working the soil did I begin to understand what it really means to farm. The word now encapsulates so much of me- embodying values, ideas, beliefs, and ways of being. As a farmer I am not chained to the soil, yet we are inextricably bound. I shape the land and the land shapes me. I rise each morning in darkness and welcome the sun as it wakes.