Vicki Robin

Letter to a young farmer

In Uncategorized on March 8, 2012 at 9:33 AM

While this blog is called “Your Money or Your Life” I am migrating the core understanding of living your values financially to living your values through your eating – and I’m bringing you along. The book arising from the potters wheel of my mind is called Blessing the Hands that Feed Us. I have asked some of my local farmers featured in the book to answer questions about why they farm, even in the face of minimal net income.

As the answers roll in, I am more in love with them and my work as a “word farmer” – our motivations meet in love for the tangibles of earth and life and the intangibles of love and service.

In response to one farmer I wrote something rough but heartfelt and I wanted to share it:

i don’t know if i told you that i am calling what i discovered “relational eating” – that eating is never a lone act, tho the industrial systems fosters that illusion. It is a relational act. Our food is connected to seed and soil, farm and farmer, forest and forager, and the living system, especially when we eat the food of our locale, food that breathes the same air we breathe. The industrial/commodity system hides all that like the glasses in the Emerald City and the tricks of the Wizard of Oz.

i learned from the YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE work that the consumer culture lives like a vampire, by breaking human bonds and sucking our vitality (to be terribly graphic). every bond broken engenders the loneliness and insufficiency that sends people into consumerism to fill non material needs. so it is with food. we are nourished without being related and it is fundamental insanity. i suspect “lone eating” and being nourished by processed and packaged food-like substances contributes to all food disorders, personal and systemic.

this appears to be up to the lone individuals to fix in their own lives, but it is not. it is up to us to change  our collective approach to nourishment.

Another dynamic of the consumer culture: problems are systemic but our notion of freedom makes us believe our power is in personal solutions. While fine for the aware individual, it is disaster for all of us eating the output of the invisible grinding system, permitting the industrial/commodity approach to food to make problems we as individuals – believing in a false notion of freedom – must solve. Now the problems are multiplying so we the people are crazed with trying to know enough to fix ourselves.

I say reversing this dynamic starts with seed and soil and farmers like you joined by eaters like me who advocate for change, join organizations, build businesses, raise money, spend money locally, lobby, work for change, partner with farmers in every way, allowing them to grow our food while we grow their capacity to farm.

This is all relational eating. This is what i bow before and what my words are dedicated to – as well as the pure joy when the words are flowing and when i know my words have carried ideas across the chasm between my heart/mind and another’s – and inspired a shift in them as well.

Bon Appetite

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  1. I really enjoyed reading your letter above. I grew up in central Maine where farning was popular, even though it seemed to be hard work. I have gardened a lot in my life; now it is patio container gardening and it still brings me great joy. I just learned from another gardening friend that I can plant the bottom part of a green onion and it regrows. I don’t know if that works for other veggies. She has done a lot of community gardening in CA and also in her backyard. I live in CO and it is a tad challenging to garden, but still rewarding when something succeds.
    I feel spring is almost here…
    Sharon

  2. Well done. I grow most of what we eat on 3/4 of an acre. I have been taking farming class for several years and plan on starting to sell what I can from this little plot until I can move to more land. We live in Snohomish now but Whidbey is one area we are looking at. I believe you are also on the island. Great farms and people.
    Heidi

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