Home Opinion Column: Farming for the soul

Column: Farming for the soul

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Chelsea JenkinsBy Chelsea Jenkins – Collegiate Staff

Work that is considered “farm” work and the way farmers contribute to society has always struck me as one of the most honor- able lifestyles anyone could chose. I grew up in a small farm town, but much to my dismay, I was a city kid.

Growing up in the small town of Owosso, Michigan, I benefited from one of my closest friends William, who was raised on a farm.

Throughout my childhood, William would wake up early before school and then go home after school to tend to his chores, or the never-ending responsibilities of growing up on a family farm. While this may not have tickled his fancy, I always respected William and his family’s farming lifestyle.

As William was one of my closest friends, I had the privilege of growing up with him, getting to witness, and at times be apart of the day-to-day life at the Bemish Farm. This flourished my desire to one day have a farm of my own.

According to the New York Times, in the last five years, the U.S. has suffered a loss of 100,000 farms. A staggering number, with most of these farms being midsize.

“Farmers are respectable and interesting to me in proportion as they are poor,” said Henry David Thoreau in “Walden”, Thoreau’s personal reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.

Yes, farming may not be a lucrative career on the local, small-scale, side. Often when farmers can go on vacations and relax, the leisure to do so is often not hand in hand. With my experience working on a farm it’s humbling to realize you take part in affecting someone’s livelihood in a very specific way. Left to tend to a field, either planting or picking, you are the variable between a plant and whether it will have a positive outcome or not.

I’ve grown up in a millennium where careless consumer ideals of living are projected in a positive light by some media sources. This made me realize that if something is portrayed as hard and not lucrative, then it is not likely to attract mass appeal.

Why wouldn’t the media want to portray local farming as something honorable, beautiful, natural, and honest? Farming is beneficial in many ways. It gives you fulfillment, not in material possession or social status but it fills the soul. It’s pure, honest, and of the land. Farming creates independence from corporations.

I grew up around farms but it wasn’t until this past summer when I decided that farming should not be an act I simply admire and respect, but a lifestyle I need to become apart of.

Moving to downtown Grand Rapids nearly five years ago in pursuit of education, the idea of being able to take part in farm culture seemed distant.

Ham Family Farm is my place of serenity, calm, and peace where I am privileged to work.

Once out in the fields, there are so many times I want to stop in awe of how beautiful it all is, how amazing the food tastes coming fresh from the ground. There is something about the soil that makes everything the best my taste buds have experienced.

I crouch my body and feel the wondrous hot sun on my back, my hands grow wet and dirty from picking, and my knees and bottom covered in dirt, my beautiful farmers tan gets deeper and deeper. I can’t help but think, “How rich am I?”

Thanks to the farm life I have the ability to feel proud of my work. I feel more serene then I ever have in my life.

My already large appreciation for vegetables, fruits, sun, rain, soil and the Earth grows immensely every moment I’m out there. Eating is a necessity for life, yet many forget to appreciate where food comes from.

My appreciation for where food comes from has impacted my life in a far greater way than just diet. Enjoying the true fruits of my labor gives me the opportunity to be humbled by our Earth, as well as continue to make me even more conscious of the role I play and power I have to impact my life as well as the lives of others.