The following blog post appears on my “Media and the Environment” class blog and on the Localvores blog on the WellCommons site. I’ve posted it on my blog to share some of what I’ve been learning this semester.
Coming from Clyde, Kan., my mom has always told me some interesting tales about her time spent on farms.
From cleaning chickens to helping deliver calves, I’ve heard my share of, and have been a bit grossed out by, these stories. But I recently asked my mom more about farming in our family.
I had always just assumed my mom grew up on a farm, but she explained that it was a little bit different than that. They had a small number of chickens and had a vegetable garden (which sounds like a farm to me), but they didn’t have any crops. My grandparents, my mom and my uncles also helped other farms in their community regularly. My grandpa helped process chickens for local farms — I’m not quite sure if I want to know what that means — while my mom said that she would help gather eggs or clean chickens.
She said she also thought my grandpa liked to garden as a way of therapy from this job at Northern Natural Gas where he would work in extremely hot and stressful environments. I think it’s interesting that even today growing food is still proven to be therapeutic.
Between my grandpa’s gardening and hunting and my grandma’s canning and baking, my mom said their family was pretty self-sufficient. Looking back she said she realizes how much cheaper and healthier that way of living was, but at the time, she said it’s just what they did.
“That’s just what we did,” — she says this a lot when she talks about her farming experiences. I think that because farming becomes such a tradition and a way of life for some families, no one really questions how healthy or sustainable it is to grow food for a family. It really just becomes second-nature for some families to decide to farm.
Since I can remember, my grandpa has always grown some sort of vegetable, usually tomatoes or potatoes. He still grows vegetables even though he and my grandma don’t live in a farming community anymore. My mom can no longer eat a store-bought tomato because she says it doesn’t taste right, and I’m beginning to be the same way. Veggies that Grandpa grows taste way better than anything I’ve ever bought.
My mom still has some farmland in Concordia, too. She has 360 acres of rotating crops of soybeans, milo or wheat. She told me that she is never going to sell it.
Like she always tells me, “Farmers never really retire.”
— Lauren Cunningham