Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Farmers Unite!

     Don't know when your label shifts from gardener to farmer, but 4 years into the sport and you start to hear (by reputation if nothing else), of fellow farmers whose operations have become synonymous with getting it. (And by "it" I mean the juggle of it all...There is more to this farm living stuff than meets the eye. For a career so wholesome on the outside, I take small comfort in knowing it is just as pressure filled for everyone I meet who is likewise driven to farm, but stretched too thin in doing so.)
     Fortunately, there's a wealth of support through things like UT ag campus and extension offices. And there are non-profits, educational initiatives and cooperative efforts like Master Gardeners and Pick Tennessee on top of networking opportunities and field days to keep you up on the latest and in touch  with others. If anyone needs a support group, it's farmers. I keep thinking there should be a 12-step program...some Farmer's Anonymous to keep us sane through drought and blight and heat and bug infestations, but who would have time to attend?
     It was an early morning drive that I nearly talked myself out of, owing to the fact that I was behind on a number of things having cried my weekend away over the loss of a pup. But we rallied, we fed critters quickly and we made it to beautiful Spring Hill just in time for kickoff of the "Fruits of the Backyard" symposium where we met and talked with other Tennesseans specializing in everything from blueberry farms to canning to land trusts.
     I come away from these things in a state of sensory overload, marveling at the depths of knowledge it would take 10 lifetimes to absorb and the genuine people whose lives make it possible for us newbies to even think we have a shot at figuring it out. Like today, I start out wide-eyed and hopeful, looking for some tidbit of trivia to help me better maintain the balance of growing and learning...  some sage wisdom from the masters bestowed upon an ambitious though naive weed hopper like me. While I learn something, the constant take-away is an even deeper sense of awe and respect for a profession too often taken granted and a renewed sense of overwhelm for all there is to learn on top of all that waits back home just waiting to be weeded.

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