Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Fundamental Right

When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, a lot of Folks had Farms to go to.  Some lived on Farms. We always went to Aunt Louise, Uncle Russ, and Cousin Russ' Farm. We would have Thanksgiving and 4th of July there.  In the summer, I would go out for a weekend or a week.  And I loved it.  I loved the Barn, the Cows, milking the Cows and squirting the Cats, tumbling around with the Puppies in their big box, riding on the Tractor, playing in the sweet smelling Hay in the Barn, going for walks in the tall grasses up to the Pond, sitting under the Cedars out in front of the house, checking out Aunt Louise's Veggie and Flower Gardens, sampling produce straight from the Garden and warm from the Summer Sun, feeding Calves from those buckets with rubber nipples on them (that made me giggle). The adventures were endless. 

Plus, my Family would often go on Sunday drives. Almost always, we would wind up out in the countryside cruising on country lanes in front of Farms which seemed very large to me. Compared to living in town which was where my home was, those Farms seemed spacious and free.

These days, most people don't have a Farm to go to. I consider that to be a national tragedy.  Farms are a part of our heritage.  Plus, Farms are needed to teach us about living on the land.  They (especially the ones in the days of old) give us an up close and personal look at growing our own food, stewardship, living with Nature rather than living apart.

We have National and State Parks which are very important in helping us connect with the wild.  We should have the wild everywhere.  We need Farms so that People can return to the land.  Farms teach a basic literacy of living for which there is no substitution. 

When I taught at the University of North Dakota, my students and I were involved in organizing Earth Day.  For 2 Earth Days, Mike and Mary Pat Klawitter brought Farm Animals to campus.  People loved it.  But some unexpected results occurred.  Some of the students, who were to become among our most educated in this country, did not recognize the Calf.  They thought the little Calf was a Dog.  I just could not believe it.

Current systems of agriculture which favor large industrial farms don't quite cut it in the way that those old small Farms did. They weren't perfect, of course.  But such modern systems are often quite detached from rural roots.  Instead of living with the energies of the land, these Farms mine soils and manipulate large landscapes for a narrow range of results.  These Farms are often not diverse in the ways the old Farms were.  I realize these Farms have a purpose, but that sometimes escapes me.  They are no substitute for the old Mom and Pop Farms that were so common place. Fortunately small scale Farms are returning.

As my experience on this little plot of land deepens and as I note the lack of Farm literacy among people in the world today (especially children), I am convinced that every person should either live on a Farm or have a Farm to go to, assuming they are interested.  It should be a fundamental right.  How can it not?

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