This originally went out on May 1, 2014. (MAY DAY!)
How Small is Small?
Family size, inter-generational, hand tools, a few employees, 1 acre, 1000 acres? What makes a small farm small, anyway?
As our food movement grows, so does our understanding of the nature of farms. Make no mistake, farming at any scale is challenging, sometimes financially perilous, often offering its participants a mixture of success and stress at the same time. We have a particular notion of cherishing & supporting small farms…why?
What, fundamentally, makes us want small farms in existence and at the heart of our food system? You can ask agrarian authors of many stripes, you can ask your local farmers, you can ask neighbors and elders and many answers will be thematic. Family scale agriculture. A comprehensible food system. Resiliency. Diversity.
I was forwarded this article by Duane Preble, whose daughter organizes tours in California to help customers learn more about farming and the challenges farmers face. The article about one of the tours, titled ‘Viewing the Small Farmer in His Native Habitat’ caught my sense of irony, particularly as it was revealed that the featured farm was a 1500 acre farm…
As usual, it’s something to mull on. I wonder a lot about the relationship between celebrating farming culture and creating sports culture around it, whether we have an iconic vision of the model ‘small farm’ and whether that farm is financially viable today…things I know you think about too.
As we work out the answers, eat the food, get your orders together, and know that although the article mentions California asparagus, hold tight – ours is not far off!