Palaver from Persimmon Crossing — Not Farming … What Does It Cost Us?
|January 11, 2005||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Palaver from Persimmon Crossing
with Warren Faulk
Not Farming … What Does It Cost Us?
I grew up in the rural south near the Gulf of Mexico. The children I grew up around were about half from farming families and the rest raised in small towns of less than 3000 people. The farms were measured in dozens of acres for the most part, the businesses in town small and there weren’t many rich people around. If there was anything that qualified as a government welfare program for destitute families, I wasn’t aware of it and we were in the grocery business. I think I would have known.
But there was a support system. Churches took care of their own and reached out to others. Farms provided work, paychecks and even food directly. Businesses provided jobs and sold on credit, knowing full well that some of those debts would not be repaid. School teachers funneled children to the Red Cross and other charitable organizations for clothing.
The lay of the land was such that all of the settlements in the area were small with several miles of farms surrounding each. As a town kid, it always seemed to me that the farm kids were bigger, stronger, more at ease with machines, animals and nature. They were a step ahead in sports and idleness among them was unknown. Some of my cousins were among these and both my parents were raised on dirt farms. I recognized a superiority among them, not as they might have said …” putting on airs”. It was just built in. Was it my imagination? I don’t think so. Have we lost something important? You bet. Can we get it back? Maybe.
First we have to understand what we have lost. Those small communities and farms were the seed beds and incubators that nurtured a pretty terrific and unbelievably productive society. The strongest the earth has ever known. But we have deserted this foundation to our detriment, maybe even our peril. And we have picked up some real bad habits along the way. To a very great extent we don’t really care about each other or the environment we live in. We can look back and see where our success came from, but seldom consider going in those directions to solve our growing problems.
I have a dream for America. Let’s call it something with an oldtimey sound to it, like THE FAMILY FARM. How would we do that physically? Pretty much the same way it was done the first time around. By clearing land. This time we would be moving asphalt and buildings instead of rocks and stumps but the concept is the same.
Would these farms be profitable? Not right at first. They would have to be underwritten by subsidies for the first generation at least. We have lots of experience in subsidies don’t we? What products do we seek from these farms? Healthy organic foods in quantity to feed the nation and a great crop of children. What about the big farms? They should be feeding your gas tank, not your dinner plate. All that corn out there in Iowa should be going into regular unleaded by the year 2010.
— Warren Faulk
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