Ed and I watched a documentary called “The Real Dirt on Farmer John.” It was great. Farmer John was raised on a farm in Illinois, and inherited it when his father died young. He went to a nearby college, where he befriended artists and hippies, and invited them back to his farm to create a farming and artist commune. It all ended horribly wrong, with mounting debt and the local townspeople spreading rumors about violent drug induced orgies and murder. None of which were true. But farmer John threw up his hands, swore off farming, and went to Mexico. In agrarian Mexico he re-fell in love with farming, and the sacred relationship between farmer and soil. When he finally made it back to Illinois, to start all over, he decided that this time he would be an organic farmer. He found organic, done properly, required three times the amount of work, plus a LOT of knowledge he never had, and he was met by the town with the same skepticism and distrust that had met him previously. After a few years of breaking his back, getting nowhere, he once again swore off farming and returned to Mexico. When he came home the second time, he again started up his organic/artist farming community. With the help of his mom’s vegetable stand, and some restaurant owners in Chicago searching for local organic produce, he managed to sustain himself farming in a holistic manner.
It was a very good documentary and I recommend it. It illuminated a few things for Ed and I. First of all, here is this guy who was raised farming, all his family and neighbors farmed, who inherited a farm with all the equipment and animals, and he said organic was too much hard work! So how could Ed and I, without that background, really be expected to accomplish such a feat. Also, part of our dream for this place was to turn it into an artist retreat, where people could gather and garden and create in a relaxed environment. And we’ve been sad to have to let that dream go, but it was wonderful and cathartic to know that someone else out there had that same dream, and saw it come to fruition. Just knowing that there is an artist-friendly farming community out there really helps us to peacefully let that dream go for ourselves. And so we think we should drive to Illinois to shake hands with farmer John.