The Columbus, GA Ledger-Enquirer has a story on two kids who started a farm. It's exciting to see that folk farming four acres can make a living of it, or at least that's the implication in this story. It does seem to be Chris & Jenny's first year o' farming.

This sort of throwback, no chem farming is becoming pretty popular (or at least trendy), and I've yet to see someone running such a farm complain about finding someone to take their produce off of their hands.

Yet these kids (and when I say "kids", I really mean a 26 and 27 year-old. Trying to keep myself feeling young, I guess) seem, from the short article, to be pretty daggum privileged. The life of the gentlewo/man farmer seems to still be a pretty tough nut to crack. Here's the evidence...

Last month, they traveled to Turin, Italy, to attend the biennial Terra Madre conference with 7,000 other farmers, food producers, chefs and educators committed to promoting traditional foods, local farms and sustainable agriculture. They spent four days attending workshops and sampling traditional foods that have been pushed near extinction by the homogenization of agriculture.

After the conference, the Jacksons took another seven days to travel and dine in Italy — a country where local, fresh produce is standard fare in restaurants and home kitchens alike.
It helped that Jenny’s parents, Maxie and Laura Earl, owned land that the Jacksons could farm — land that Jenny was born and raised on and that her father, who owns a flooring and painting business, had used to grow hay and raise horses and beef cattle as a side-hobby over the years.

But Chris and Jenny got their true hands-on initiation in sustainable agriculture in Hawaii, where, before they launched their own farm, they worked for four months on organic farms through a program called Willing Workers on Organic Farms. It was an experience that whet their appetite for farming.

Combine with that the movie of Chris driving around in his cabbed tractor, which I assume was another fringe benefit from Mr. Earl's "side-hobby," and I think you see where I'm going. Four acres plus a place to stay, I assume, plus a tractor and who knows what sort of start-up help is a pretty hefty leg up. Not to mention the chance to go to Italy and Hawaii... That's quite a proverbially blessed life they're leading and, for whatever it's worth, this sure ain't from each according to ability and to each according to need. This is hedonistic tourism rationalized by the discourse of sustainable farming.

I'm not knocking their 80 hour work weeks or their gumption getting the movable chicken coop working nor Jenny's majoring in horticulture. Those are all impressive, admirable traits. Nor did Chris 'n' Jenny claim to be overly political. They're in it to produce food as good as what they want for themselves. Yet I remain concerned with the continued social spin on sustainable farming -- I recently read someone who said that the one obvious demographic missing from his school's test garden plots was the white, dreadlocked vegan -- that seems to go on relatively unchallenged from within the sustainable, local, slow food movement.

I'm not onto anything new or novel. This critique is so common, I've got a story doing the same sitting in another tab of Chrome right now from the Xian Sci Monitor:

While it is certainly a glorious celebration of sustainable agriculture and eating, Terra Madre also embodies many of the tensions inherent in Slow Food itself. As the looming global recession gave added punch to customary complaints of elitism, attendees alternated between promoting a progressive political agenda and gorging on fine-cured meats and pastries.

Still, it bothers me. How does one go from migrant farming to the mired version?

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