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earnest prose from a young farmer

Posted: June 12 2010
“A Pipe Dream Revolution” is a portrayal of a young person’s quest to be a sustainable farmer, to live off the land and with integrity. It’s representative of a surging movement of idealistic 20-somethings who are abandoning their urban lifestyles, sometimes forgoing college, to help spur agricultural change in the United States. With nothing but a dog-eared copy of the Omnivore’s Dilemma and an insatiable hunger for the smell of compost in the noonday sun, these brave individuals are embracing a radically different way of life in order to follow their happiness.
A Pipe Dream Revolution    
by Ben Kercheval

Living off the land.
A dream.
Idealistic though?
As idealistic as any dream.
So I’ll learn to compost,
Delve into the literature.
Omnivore’s Dilemma,
Joel Salatin,
Permaculture in a Nutshell.
But is this real learning?
Let’s drown our feet in the fertile loam.
Start adventures in raising backyard chickens
Fresh eggs, orange yolks.
Smell the clinging aroma of the purple tomatoes.
Uncover the writhing worms beneath the sentinel rock.
Find an ancient wheelbarrow,
Rusted with years of experience
and the wisdom of two generations.
On Craig’s List.
It’s enchanting.
But we need to move forward,
Seek a mentor.
Aged like a fine cheese.
A centenarian of the soul,
A sage of the land,
Always taking the time to do things right.
I’ll learn where strawberries go in the winter,
and why manure is so beautiful.
Get my hands pricked on the raspberry bushes.
Become an intern on the sage’s farm,
relish the solitude of the night
with a cup of tea, listening to the crickets.
Paint myself tan with solar energy.
My monthly stipend is passion, experience
and dirt under my fingernails.
This is more than the Prius and Whole Foods mentality.
Autumn arrives with relish,
Full of summer squash, cover crops and cold frames.
The time has come to journey onward.
A year has concluded,
higher education calls.
Registration, anxiety, elation.
“Environmental liberal arts”
What community,
What like-minded beings.
“The Ethics of Agriculture”
“Intro to Rotational Grazing”
It’s all food for thought;
Theories, concepts, and philosophies.
Graduation draws nearer,
A sling-shot into a different life.
A life of living the concepts,
A life of harboring connection,
and decomposition.
Once this day day has passed,
Student loans and land distress
creep over my skin.
Prickling, tickling.
Poking, stroking.
Devouring optimism and fidelity.
Paths to land, capital and resources
are obscure, overgrown and scarce.
Fresh paths must be cleared,
trailheads erected,
maps published.
On recycled paper, of course.
But perhaps part of the attraction to
this way of life
is the lack of maps,
the bush-whacking involved.
My future is uncertain,
independent from concrete,
windows and elevators,
Dependent on humus,
crisp air and the prairie.
I’m ready and willing.


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