I recently found one of the twenty somethings I like to keep track of working on an organic farm in central Maine. She’s got a wonderful Youtube video (below- we love you Danielle!) in which she talks about trying to live on the land, and how to make it work when you have no money.
The best point she makes about Maine farming is that we have clean water here. I think there are two points really. We have water (anyone who has read about California recently knows that this is far more precious than we imagine). And we have clean water (which is necessary if you want to grow organic anything).
What most people don’t realize about organic food is that for a segment of the population it isn’t an optional consumer choice. It’s a commitment. Some people simply can’t do pesticides. Others can’t handle eating something that was raised in a factory farm. And another segment wants not only organic, but locally grown so that they don’t feel that they are adding to environmental pollution.
So producers of organic food are looking at an ever increasing market share, and Maine is perfect as a food manufacturer. We’ve also got land, and a population of aging farmers that need new blood.
The cover of this week’s Down East Magazine brought me up short.
I even bought a copy, which is unheard of for me (as a doctor, I get all my magazines free). Down East is worth buying.
What was amazing to me was that, in a world looking for meaning and commitment, here was a community offering both. I had thought that all Shaker communities had stopped taking members, but this one in Maine is still open to the possibility.
As someone who did not succeed as a goat farmer, I would say that the farm life is not for everyone, perhaps not for many. But as I look around at the young people in my practice and in my acquaintance, I am struck that not all of them will enter biotech. Some aren’t suited for desk jobs, either. But days tending animals and planting vegetables for market might be a possibility.
For those not ready to make the commitment, there are many farms that take on seasonal labor. Get junior out of the basement video game room and send him out to the farm. He might just find something more meaningful than the next app. Even if he or she doesn’t like it, they’ll spend time building muscles and soaking in the occasional Maine sunny day.
As Danielle says, a farmer’s life involves things like building your own home. Boring stuff like that. But before there was the internet, that was what people did. For Maine kids wondering where their next job is coming from, looking to the land might not be that crazy.