Some days I dream of owning a farm. For so many reasons I think it would be such an amazing life. Other days, when I think about the reality of farming, I wonder if I could really do it.
Farming has got to be one of the most difficult jobs out there. Beyond having to know a whole lot about, well… a whole lot, farmers also have to be willing to do a whole lot. They put in long hours. They have to know the soil, climate, and the complexly connected relationships of the seeds, animals, and surrounding vegetation. There is no mercy for a farmer who procrastinates or tries to take shortcuts. Everything is time and work sensitive. And everything is done with the future in mind. This is the law of the farm.
Sadly, it seems that our world is far too often trying to survive off the “law of the factory.” We value consistency and homogenization within a sterile and controllable environment. We cut ourselves off from nature. We want to get as much “bang for our buck” as possible.
What’s lost when we live the law of the factory?
Whether it’s food, goods, or solutions, the law of the factory hurts the integrity of our “product.” In the quest of “more for less,” we lose quality. In the pursuit of consistent, measurable results we lose variety. And in order to cut down any risk of failure, flaws, or pathogens, we often destroy the spark of life.
For the worker, the factory gives us our single task (pull that lever), and then asks us not to think beyond our assigned role. We lose our ability to understand the creative powers of the world… the synergistic workings of the interconnected parts. The workers are expendable instead of contributing members of a bigger picture. We lose individuality.
Of course the world paints a different picture of the factory.
Through clever marketing, the world tells us that the law of the factory is efficient. It’s progress. It produces reliable products and results. It saves money. It allows us to get what we want, when we want it, and for the best price possible. We get more convenience, more “stuff,” and all with less work.
It’s a win/win, right?
Ultimately, the law of the factory sets us up in an isolation booth where we are only concerned with our most immediate wants. There is no vision of future ramifications. We are short-sighted from the imbalances created when we forget the law of the farm. We forget our responsibility to our future self, to each other, and to the generations that will follow.
On the other hand, the law of the farm reminds us that there are no easy roads to a bountiful harvest. The farm takes time. Food takes time. Health takes time. Education, relationships, goals, dreams, and life all take time.
I think this is one of the most powerful things I’ve learned through my journey to real food. It does take time. And there are some moments when I briefly wish I could go back to my processed, “convenient” food. I even justify it by saying, “but think about how much more time I’d have to do _____”. But when I think about all that is lost in that process (as well as what is unnecessarily added), I realize that those “conveniences” come at a huge sacrifice.
Of course it’s not just about food. What would happen to our idea of education, to our businesses, and to our families if we embraced the hard work that is necessary for continual life? If we kept the future in mind as we live in the present? What would happen if we enjoyed the time it takes to sow? What would we gain if we reconnected to nature, natural consequences, and the living world?
The law of the farm is a principle that is helping me take on a new perspective for my whole life. As I put in the time and remember that I reap what I sow, I recognize that I have tremendous power to shape my health, family, and life. Instead of being some minimum wage expendable factory worker, I am the farmer with the power of creation at my disposal. If I’m willing to do the work, I will enjoy the bounteous harvest that will follow.