Farming can be hard – and joyful – work
Beneath the view that farming must be sustainable economically, ecologically, and socially, lies the foundation on which its future rests: farming must be personally rewarding and truly enjoyable. In other words, farming should (and can) be joyful work.
Indeed, we can grow food in ways that unleash creativity and collaboration, while requiring much less energy input, labor and expense. Admittedly, this is no easy task, given how fragile our current farm base is in the US and elsewhere. But it is essential work, especially at a time when we need to find ways of encouraging young farmers to succeed their parents and elders.
Fortunately, we can cultivate a new generation of competent, confident, and joyful farmers.
While conventional methods require use of tractors, plows, and other modern (expensive) tools and techniques, people like Sepp Holzer and Geoff Lawton have challenged conventional assumptions, and have shed labor, reduced costs, improved ecological health, and produced good food and valuable resources.
In exile settlements across southern India, Tibetan farmers are also exploring a variety of creative approaches to their agriculture, blending subsistence growing and eating with market farming.
They have begun to design farms built of “guilds” of various plants, animals, composts, and other resources. They strategically locate these guilds to optimize interactions and reduce labor. The result is a win-win-win scenario: diverse and abundant productivity, economic resilience, and healthy ecosystems.
These delightfully impressive and replicable examples of farming with nature inspire what is possible for farmers around the world to build a sustainable, enjoyable agriculture.