If sustainable, family based farming is going to survive, more people need to make it their chosen vocation. Right now in our county, there are only two other operating farms that I know of. That is simply not enough. Agriculture has been pushed out so that people never see where food comes from and they see little to no value in having family farms as a part of their community. What is really needed is for farming to become more visible so that a farm like ours is not just seen as a novelty, but rather is recognized as a necessity. As it stands right now, the zoning laws here have been developed under the guise of protecting quality of life and property value that they deprive us of the very unalienable rights the founders of our country gambled their lives and fortunes to preserve; Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Not only have the citizenry accepted these laws as necessary, but they have been made unwitting accomplices in enforcing them and infringing on their neighbors’ freedoms. “Violations” are usually only cited if there is a complaint filed. So someone could be minding his or her own business, using their property as they see fit or right, doing no harm to anyone, but then a passerby sees something that looks out of place and possibly detrimental to the community, a vegetable garden, a compost bin, a woodchip pile, a green house. A while back I wrote a blog post titled This Land is Your Land, or is it? regarding my own experience with zoning. After this experience, I found that we are treading a fine line and we are always dangerously close to being zoned out of existence.
So unless more people choose to use their property for growing food rather than letting it sit fallow, our society will only continue to devalue and dismiss the idea that a patch of land one can call his or her own, and use it to sustain their Life, express their Liberty, and Pursue Happiness, is something blood was shed to preserve. So even if you don’t own more than 1/2 acre, dare to plant blue berries instead of shrubs, figs instead of crape myrtles, and potatoes rather than petunias. Should you be one who possesses a tract of land, challenge the ideals of your local government and populate it with cows, chickens, goats, and/or pigs. Call up a guy with a tractor and till in a bit for a market garden. If you find yourself dreaming of feeding yourself and others but you’re short on land, look up the owner of that overgrown pasture you pass on your way to farmer’s market and he just might let you use it. Dare to get dirty, it was a popular notion once.