Why I am a Pretend Farmer, and Not a Real One

I am not a farmer.  I tried to be one once, and I failed.  But that’s okay, because I found a way to be a pretend farmer. 

My passion for -cide free food started small, just as small as the little baby inside me that inspired it.  I was struck for the first time that she was what I ate, and although our budget was equally tiny, I bought organic whenever I could.  More children came, and through the years, I set aside more in our food budget for good, clean food.  Eventually, when we moved to the Houston area, I joined an organic food co-op.  As wonderful as that was,  I grew tired of the produce from my organic co-op rotting just a few days after I brought it home.  I was paying premium prices for food that I knew had been grown without pesticides, but I was a little disturbed seeing that most of it came from California, not Texas.  I was sure that some of it had been sitting in cold storage for a while because I was able to order just about any vegetable I wanted, in any season I wanted.

Daughter scratching the dirt.

My solution?  I’d grow my own.  I’d be my own farmer in the midst of suburbia, in my patch of lawn surrounded by other lawns treated with who-knows-what.  I could read and follow tables, at least.  I convinced my hunky husband to cart loads of vegetable mix into my small plot.  I dug, I planted, I watered, I mulched.  The outcome?  ‘Garden’ really was too generous an appellation.  This farmer here managed to grow just three big tomatoes, a modest amount of jalapenos, exacty one cantaloupe, and a handful of surprise green beans in December.  It was cute, but it was not a garden.  It certainly could never supply my family of 7 with more than a bowl of salsa every three weeks.  Discouraged, I let my miserable little patch lie fallow.   

I was back to buying grocery store organic vegetables, without thought to the season.  My image of myself bringing forth abundance from the earth, dashed.  Then, last spring, I arrived with a friend at our favorite park for a playdate and found a farmer, and truly a new way of eating, instead.  She was handing over 1/2 bushel baskets of overflowing greens and cartons of fresh chicken eggs to smiling customers.  She was a real farmer, who could grow everything I couldn’t.    I practically ran my friend over, trying to get to her first.  There was one membership spot left in her CSA, (short for Community Supported Agriculture) a partnership of sorts between farmer and consumer.  I reluctantly deferred to my friend, but a few days later, she had plans for her own garden (sucker!) and said that I could have the spot.  Yippee!  And that is how I became a pretend farmer.   Weekly, I bring home a basket full of fresh, locally grown vegetables that have been cut just hours before only miles from my house.  I pay my farmer in advance of the season, so that when the harvest comes, I can stand in my kitchen and wonder what to do with so many radishes, just like real farmers do.  I’m sure that qualifies.

Pretending, by the way, isn’t a bad thing.  Who hasn’t pretended to pound the keys of a make-believe piano, just to be able to participate in a beautiful song?  Organic farming, I’m learning, is more of an art than a science.  It brings me great joy to be on this end of farming, even if it’s just finding delicious ways to turn the bounty into dinner.


About Jill Thaxton

Wife, mom, writer, cook, professional Googler. I can't seem to narrow my interests to one topic, but love to ponder people, culture, faith, health, food, relationships, and science. I specialize in minutiae. Oh, and I will forever regret quitting piano, in case you were interested.
This entry was posted in The Art and Science of Clean Food, Thoughts and Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why I am a Pretend Farmer, and Not a Real One

  1. Cool that you found the co-op.

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