Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Po' chic organic farmin'

I know a little bit about farming. Worked on a farm summers and school-season evenings. Done it all; plow, disc, harrow,cultivate, seed, bale,  and so forth.

I didn't know much but I knew it was a tough gig. The vast majority of the old school farmers, guys with one or two hundred acres, now make their main income working off the farm. While the small beef herd may still make you $20,000 in a good year, just like it has for the past 50 years, you can't raise a family on that any more.

That's one of the reasons the organic farm I toured last year made such an impact. It was a hundred acres tied in to one of those "community supported agriculture" outfits.

Ya gotta be careful here, because after all, the words "community" and "communism" are fruits of the same roots...

Anyway, Missy with her hundred acres gets over 60 thousands up front from her band of organic food acolytes. You can actually have a life on that!

And she's doing that with intensive cultivation of approximately five acres of her hundred acres farm. The rest is hosting free-range grass-fed beef.

But guess what? Even five acres of kitchen/market garden takes intensive cultivation to cultivate. A five acre plot is essentially full time work for five people.

$60,000 can't pay five workers a living wage. And even if it did, there'd be nothing left over to pay the owner's mortgage.

So Miss Organic Farmer get's around that conundrum by hiring five "interns."

And the thing is, she can't really pay them, so she ends up with a bunch of middle-class idealist young professionals who aspire to be organic farmers, and who have the luxury of having a "real" career to subsidize their idealism and their organic farming aspirations.

Is this a viable model for our food supply?

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