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  farming in community CAN work!

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You may have seen a recent opinion piece in the New York Times titled: “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers.” (If you haven’t seen it and are interested: http://nyti.ms/1lKACaf will get you there.) The essay has been the topic of many a conversation around here. Written by Bren Smith, a shellfish and seaweed farmer on Long Island Sound, the author begins with this statement: “The dirty secret of the food movement is that the much-celebrated small-scale farmer isn’t making a living.” Smith outlines a number of issues facing small farms, some I think are legitimate, some are simply distractions. Land prices are certainly a major barrier for new farmers as are the investments it takes to get started. Farmers often do work off-farm jobs, particularly in the beginning years as they make major investments in their enterprise. It’s common, in the case of a farm couple, for one of the pair to work an outside job to provide the family with health care coverage. Those first years are often difficult ones.

Community Supported Agriculture, as we understood it and as we’ve experienced it, was meant to address some of these very issues. Believing that sustainable food production and care for the land was something we all had an investment in, the model sought to connect community members with farmers. That connection and investment from the community would bring stability to the farm family allowing them to make choices that would serve the land and the community. We credit Spring Hill’s Core Group and you, the Spring Hill Community at large for continuing to hold this vision. We are making a living. It has required hard work and passion and it has required a community of folks (that’s you!) who have been willing to push the vision forward and support us in good years and in the lean ones too. The question becomes then, how can we carry this beyond Spring Hill. Smith’s solution is for farmers to “start our own organizations – as in generations past – and shape a vision of a new food economy that ensures that growing food also means making a good living.” I don’t think that’s the answer. We (farmers) are currently less than 1% of the U.S. population. Our average age in the 2007 census was 57 and trending upwards. If there is to be change in agriculture, it’s going to take a broader community, a community that respects the farmer voice enough to listen to it, a community that respects the work enough to compensate it and a community that loves the land enough to ensure it’s tended for generations to come. I think that’s work ALL of us ought to do together.

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Spring Hill Events - 2014
Sunday, September 21st - Fall Work Day
Saturday, November 1st - Harvest Dinner

To be a sustainable farm that provides for the land, the farmers, and a community committed to connecting to their source of food and eachother.

• share in the work to create a farm that is economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable;
• share the risk and share the bounty;
• make decisions together;
• ensure that the size of the farm holds in balance considerations of land, community, and farm viability;
• work together to nurture a friendly and creative community.