Jean Martin Fortier in his videos and book speaks of the necessity of the ‘why’ as providing clarification for the ‘what’ and ‘how’, in any chosen activity or career field. Upon learning to perfect one’s chosen craft, it is not enough to seek success for the sake of ego alone. What difference are we really making, especially when profit is not an option (as with beginning and apprentice farmers) and what can we do better to justify the time and labor invested in a line of work where even one’s bosses from other jobs at best are just breaking even?
If the Monsantos of this corporate driven world have cornered the food market then what do small organic local farmers have to offer and contribute, minus the motive of seeking profits which frankly is no more effective than attempting to draw blood from a stone. In a market atmosphere where local organic food production has taken off on so many fronts, as recently it has here in Kingston, having not only the farmer’s market to contend with but other such reputable urban institutions like the Farm Hub, the YMCA farm project, Seedsong farm and others, one is inevitably led to view farming no longer in the light of ambition and profits but rather in terms of aspiration and finding effective methods of distribution.
What we’ve decided for 2020 is that the old ways of operating are just that, irrelevant to the demands of the present. If the purpose of a livelihood is not readily satisfied then clearly just one purpose remains and that is to be most useful in making fresh food increasingly more available to those most in need of it, earning just enough to keep the enterprise going indefinitely. It has become clear to us after five years that there is no other motivation besides this, where money is not and cannot be a driving motivational factor.
To farm with a purpose IS the real purpose, upon which all other future endeavors depend, while we otherwise support ourselves through other important jobs which serve as our means of financial sustenance. In our sixth year at South Pine Street Farm it’s become clear that no lesser purpose is worthwhile if continuing to farm is our intention.
2020 will be the deciding factor for where we choose to go from here, having always the backup option of blissful backyard gardening and growing at home as a viable alternative to fall back on. To contemplate what one can get from long hours of laboring is far less to the point than is figuring out what one is able to give, as being the truest definition of true success.
Joel D. Zenie