19. Thank a Farmer

A birds-eye view of our little farm

I rarely buy organic produce. That may come as a surprise to some of my friends who know how passionate I am about great food and vegetable gardening. But for me, it's always been a cost benefit analysis. I'm a budget shopper. I know organic foodstuffs are generally more healthy and nutritious, but is 10% more vitamin X worth 25% more dollars? I've usually thought not.

But coming to work on an organic farm has started a bit of a paradigm shift for me. What I've learned is that the jump in cost has nothing to do with nutrition. It's simply a factor of the amount of work that's required to bring each and every organic fruit, vegetable, or tuber to market compared to their conventionally grown counterparts. I spent an hour and a half this afternoon pulling weeds by hand on a single row of spinach. I had a partner, and we only got about a third of the row done before the work day ended.

An organic farmer has to love what they do. There is no way around that fact. They've voluntarily chosen to do things the hard way day in and day out because of a personal conviction that it's the right thing to do. It's a special kind of love they're pouring into their daily work, and many rarely even meet the end customer they are loving so hard on.

That's generally not the case at this particular organic farm I find myself on. Our main clientele is a local farmer's market where customers often shake the very hand that picked their strawberries or baked their bread. It's a very special role these farmers play, as a vector by which Mother Earth provides sustenance to her constituents. It's a beautiful thing to be a part of.

So I am not writing this as a declaration that I am now a loyal Whole Foods customer. Especially in the same week I've learned that they are about to cozy up under Amazon's massive umbrella. But I will say that it's become very clear to me that farmer's markets are a very important part of your community. They will play a huge part in any move our society may be able to make toward a more equitable relationship with our earth. There's no reason besides ignorance and stubbornness that hundreds of people and gallons of petrol should be required to get an apple to put into your kid's lunch box. So I encourage you to take a stroll to your local farmer's market this weekend. Grab some seasonal veggies, herbs, meats and breads. Your belly will thank you. And while you're there, be sure to thank a farmer.

Our stand at the Comox Valley market.  Photo credit Chloe Johnson