Focus on Sustainability: It’s About Two Relationships
Like any job, farming is hard work – not only mental, but physical too. It’s also deeply satisfying in that unlike many other jobs, the principles and practices to being a good farmer are found in the natural world. To be a truly good farmer, one must allow oneself to be humbled and admit that nature is the true teacher. Relationship number one.
But there’s another relationship in farming: you, our customers, our extended neighborhood and friends. In relationship number two, it’s our responsibility to let you know how much we appreciate your patience and support as we work to produce the healthiest vegetables we can for you and your family. The natural world is not always linear. 😊
In relationship number two, we also need your understanding. Farming is a tough way to make a living! Based on a 2016 article by Debbie Weingarten (co-founder of the Farm Education Resource Network), the average farmer is not financially thriving. Although her statistics speak to larger farms than ours, they still relate to us: “The projected median farm income for 2016 is negative $1,473. Just about the only statistic projected to rise in 2016 is farm debt” (https://aeon.co/ideas/foodie-localism-loves-farming-in-theory-but-not-in-practice).
A good question is: Then why do farmers continue to farm if it’s not a profitable enterprise for so many? Because we love farming! Sustainable farming is a transformative act of love, life-long learning and partnership.
When First Light Farm started nine years ago, we made a commitment to care first for the two P’s of Sustainability: Planet, People, and Profit. We chose to put first the health of our soil and the well-being of our staff believing that these initial commitments would ultimately bring about financial sustainability (profit) for the farm. We have invested money into the regeneration of our soil and chosen to pay higher wages than all of the other farms in our valley (still not high enough to truly support these young farming professionals). Although First Light Farm has yet to make a profit, we are a stronger farm today with greater knowledge, resiliency, and commitment to do what’s right even in these challenging times. We have our eye on a fully sustainable future where First Light Farm is actively involved in supporting young people’s research into the relationship between climate change and agriculture.
This is long way of saying thank you: thank you for believing in us. Thank you for supporting us through our CSA program. Thank you for your friendship. In this circle of healthy soils to healthy families, we are in this together.