As a kid, cities fascinated and inspired me. I looked at towering skyscrapers and miles-long bridges and pondered the massive architectural potential of our species. I'd think, “If we can build a glass house 75 stories tall, we are truly capable of anything!” And when I would visit my extended family in eastern Nebraska, usually about once a year, I lamented that my grandparents lived in the boonies. The tallest structures around are the grain silos, and they didn't impress me.
At the time that our constitution was being drafted, more than 90% of the labor force was made up of farmers. Calories were our number one priority as a nation; we ate well and the average person had a direct and intimate relationship with the earth. And over the course of a few centuries, through slavery, and then industrial revolution, the number of people cultivating that direct relationship with the soil quickly dwindled. It became easier and easier for more acres to be farmed by a smaller number of people. And today, we're at a point where less than 1% of people feeds the rest of us.
In the two centuries and change that it's taken for this dynamic to shift, our diets have changed. So today's people spend all their time inside, in cities paved in concrete instead of rows of crops, and we eat an astronomical amount of sugar and processed foods. We breathe exhaust and smog instead of fresh air, and all of these shifts are possible, or even likely culprits when we start asking questions like:
- Why is America so fat?
- Why did diabetes become a health epidemic in the USA over the last generation?
- Why are so many of my peers battling depression and drug addiction?
I believe that humans are happier and healthier when we are living a life that is intimately connected with the natural environment. Though I'm not fat, drug addicted or depressed, I am always trying to get better. And I don't think it's crazy to think there has to be some opportunity in small-scale agriculture, seeing as how 90% of farmers have left the biz in the last couple hundred years.
I appreciate the “boonies” environment a lot more than I did when I was little. I've become an avid angler, and I've learned to appreciate all the quiet (and occasionally loud) outdoor moments. I love my neighborhood of the Rocky Mountains, having been born and raised in the front range of Colorado.
So this summer, my lady and I are heading deep into those hills for some adventures. We'll do some WWOOF volunteering at a couple farms in Canada, and learn as much about farmstands, homesteads, and hepcrete as we possibly can. We'll take the mountain bikes on some trails in Montana and Idaho, and most nights we'll camp dispersed in National Forests along the way. I'll get to see a rainforest for the first time!
All the while, I'll be looking for ways and opportunities to change my lifestyle toward cultivation in a more permanent way. I'll be looking at those “help wanted” flyers on small-town coffee shop pin cushions. I'll have the cameras out the whole time, to share the adventures with loved ones. We hope to learn how we'd fare living out of a camper for some time, so hopefully our farm hosts RV's aren't too kushy!