Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Sunday, July 17, 2005

She Even Remembered To Bring A Pen

The idea is to put a face on the farmer. It's a Japanese idea (no good ideas are American these days, it seems. All the worthy ideas are Japanese, or Native American, or Egyptian or Hindu. There was a time when jazz and the comic book were lauded as true American art forms, and celebrated as such. Nowadays, in order for an idea to be given any credence at all, it has to originate in someplace without running water.) And the Japanese came up with the idea of putting a face on the farmer. There's even a Japanese word for it, and those in the know will smugly drop this term when given the chance.It's a decorporization, if you will. If corporate agriculture depersonalized the food supply, then the food supply must now be decorporitized. The public is being sold the idea that an actual human being grew their food, and that human being is someone you can like and agree with. It takes the form of point of sale posters and leaflets - a store will hang a poster of a local farmer in their produce section. The poster will have the farmer's photo and a brief profile. It takes the form of farmers being mentioned by name in advertising, or visit-your-local-organic-farm tours, or branding a particular case of vegetables with a farm name. Like I say, the Japanese have a word for it.The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project is our local organization doing this type of work (they do it all.) Someone with-in the organization decided to put a face on me, and sent someone out to take pictures and compile information.She arrived last Thursday, and found Intern #1 and I seated in the shade of the white pine. We got her a chair and the conversation turned around to farming. We talked about sustainable this and sustainable that and how chain stores are evil and how organic lettuce is the best thing to ever happen in the world. And we learned in the course of things that she had come from Oberlin College to work a summer with ASAP and was then going to attend UNC-Asheville.Young people, or, perhaps more accurately: people a lot younger than I figure quite prominently in the cast of characters in the miniseries that is my life. Interns, friends of interns, people I hang with at market, friends of people I hang with at market ... you get the idea. When MB (my permanent intern for life) was still in school, I spent a lot of my time with her and her friends on campus. There are a lot of somewhat obvious jokes to be made in the they-don't-know-what-albums-are genre. They say yo at the end of a sentence. And from there we can move to a they have no grounding in the classics mode, and then make a short leap to what've they ever learned that can earn them a living? I could keep going, but it would probably make me feel old.They do make me feel old at times. At other times, they make me feel wise or experienced, and then, at still other times, I feel just plain stupid.I jump from place to place with my reactions to the younger people around me. There are times when my mind dismisses them as a bunch of beer guzzling kiddies who are wasting their youth. There are times when I say they've got a lot to learn before they'll be able to actually do anything. Or, the variation: they'll learn. As soon as they've got their own bills to pay, they'll learn.At other times my mind has jumped to a completely different place. They seem so together and grounded. They articulate their emotion so clearly. I sure didn't have my act together when I was that age. They seem capable of thoughts and feelings that would have completely eluded me at their age, or even today. I seem to meet a great many people with such an amazing sense of self-awareness and self-understanding. I think about how I was when I was in my early twenties and how absolutely juvenile I would've seemed next to so many of the people I meet now.All of this slapped me in the face again under the white pine as I tried to explain the farm.My interviewer expressed herself so intelligently, and so succinctly, that I decided to just shut up and listen. At times I was forced into responding to questions, and so I rambled on aimlessly with the kind of disparate thoughts that readers of this space are no doubt accustomed to, then backtracked and said everything all over again. All peppered with generous doses of ums and you knows. Then I'd shut up again so I could listen to her talk. She'd respond to whatever I'd said with some kind of intelligent statement and then ask me a question about something that I'd never even thought about. This went on for an hour or two before she finally left. I needed to rest.I'm left feeling dim-witted and slow. I'm left feeling like I've but a superficial knowledge of myself and the world around me, while so many others have figured out what's really going on and, what's more, can describe it intelligently. It's just me and my own muddled little brain here now, trying to make sense of things and wishing I was brighter.I doubt she'll mention any of this in the profile, though. She'll probably talk about my dedication to the environment or my heartfelt stewardship of the land. All that stuff that looks good in advertisements. If my customers only knew.


  • At May 31, 2007 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…



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