Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Further Evidence, As If You Needed Any, That Your Government Cares About You

Farms are disappearing from the landscape faster than haberdasheries, so those of us here seem to be bucking some kind of trend..
We are, as it turns out, a farm, and the United States Department of Agriculture recognizes us as such. They mail me things from time to time, just to let me know they care.
Friday they sent me my own copy of the 2004 Farm Succession Survey. They want to know who’s gonna take over the operation after I croak.
It took them 8 pages and 34 questions to ask this. I told them I don’t know. It took me three words to tell them I don’t know.
They stumped me on page 7, question 29.

29. What will you miss most about farming when you retire or semi-retire?

I stared at the survey for a good fifteen minutes. My mind refused to wrap itself around the concept. What will I miss?
What did they want me to say? Weeding?
What will I miss? I’ll miss seeing herons on the pond early in the morning when I walk around the fields. I’ll miss seeing gold finches perched on the tomato trellis. I’ll miss staring at weeds in carrots for three or four hours and then looking up and seeing the mountain behind H*’s farm and I saying "Ahh …" I’ll miss spending two hours on the phone with other farmers talking about chicken manure and alternaria leaf spot and sources for certified potting soil. I’ll miss pouring bags of ice over eighty pounds of broccoli. I’ll miss fixing the tractor at midnight so I can use it the next morning. I’ll miss selling food to people.
How do you say that to a statistician? Do you try? And will I really miss any of that?
Will I be an old geezer, sitting on my porch, longing for the days of truck farming? Will I go to Florida and learn golf? Will I live in a cave and write poetry? Will I sell Amway products? These questions and others I want to ask the Department of Agriculture, but I fear they will have no answer for me.
Will I be different after I retire? Will I still see herons and gold finches? Will I still talk to my friends? Will I still fix broken stuff? So what’s the difference?
I had trouble explaining these things in the space provided. I responded to the survey, anyway. I always respond to their surveys. Whatever else I say, I am able to put into one more computer in Washington the notion that there are 3 acres of vegetables being grown on Spring Creek, and that, compiled with all the other 3 acres out there, may make a difference, somehow. Like Arlo Guthrie said, "They’ll think it’s a movement."
The Farm Succession Survey addresses some significant points. That they are even conducting the survey shows they know there’s a problem. They want to know if farmers know who will succeed them. They want to know if plans are being made for the land.
That’s the other reason I answered the survey. I got to answer question 34. That’s the inevitable Other section that surveys have. Other comments on farm succession. I told them the biggest obstacle to keeping land in agriculture, the biggest obstacle to young people getting into agriculture, is rising land costs resulting from urban sprawl and development. That must be addressed by all of us, quickly, or there will be no farms. And as the bumper sticker says: No Farms, No Food.
I still don’t know how to answer the question about what I will miss. Maybe I’ll just send them a link to this post.


Post a Comment

<< Home


Powered by Blogger