Farmers nowadays are a scarce commodity — there are so few of us that our profession (upon which all humans depend) doesn’t even get a box on the census anymore. At Happy Days Farms, we are honored and thrilled to participate in food and medicine production. Cannabis as a cash crop has enabled us to expand and grow our small farm, supporting us as farmers to build and expand our infrastructure so that we were able to increase the volume of food that we produce.
Without cannabis as a cash crop to sustain us, we would be unable to survive in the way we do. As young farmers, we have been able to gather our resources and support elder farmers in the community, building our CSA business in a way that honors and maintains the culture of small farms that existed before we took on the mantle.
What’s a CSA? Community-Supported Agriculture — an alternative, locally based economic model of agriculture and food distribution. Also refers to a network of consumers who have pledged to support one or more local farms, sharing the risks and benefits of production with the farmer. Via Wikipedia.
Our partnerships with other farmers have been supported and sustained because we have been able to extend ourselves in ways that would not have been possible without cannabis as a backstop for us. This is a fundamental truth of our reality that should be used as a template to support and sustain small farms throughout this great country.
Having cannabis as a cash crop means we can focus more of our efforts on stewardship practices, as we do not need to work off-farm to support ourselves. That means we are able to dedicate more time and energy to bettering our environment. Most American farmers pay for the privilege of growing food by working an off-farm job.
What All Farmers Have in Common
Farmers farm because they have to, it’s in the blood. Starting seeds and growing plants is like good coffee, good alcohol or good cannabis — the process creates an uplifted, elemental feeling. Being part of thousands of life cycles as the steward and keeper is a magical journey that is at the same time exhilarating and overwhelming.
Farmers work themselves to death to stay on the land because we love it, but we shouldn’t have to; regulation and policy should allow us the ability to make a good living from our excessive labors. Farmers are expected to sell everything at wholesale, buy everything at retail, pay transportation on both ends and sell food to a populace that thinks “cheap” is a good thing.
Cannabis is the fulcrum that can help support farms as we Americans re-learn the difference between “good” and “cheap”.
Connecting Cannabis to Food Farmer Survival
Europeans expect to spend approximately 18% of their income on food, while Americans expect to spend 7-9%. This inherent expectation that farmers produce cheap food has created vast land-use issues as well as cultural and physical problems in our “First world” country.
Cannabis is part of the answer to this crisis; it is a fulcrum that will support the popular transition back to a more holistic understanding of our human place in the world.
Wendell Berry has some excellent discussions of the principle of Husbandry as it applies both to the relationship that the farmer has with the land and a marriage between two people. The comparison is apt; the relationship that the farmer develops with the land is a deep and lasting commitment that is honored and maintained through time and love.
As cannabis farmers, we are coming into our time of land husbandry, gathering ourselves, learning and teaching as we gather in unprecedented representation of the goodness of our culture. It isn’t that we’re doing all the right things, but that we’d like to be! We are thrilled to be part of the Emerald Growers Association; we are small farmers and business people in the true Jeffersonian tradition — we must have access to appropriate regulation that will support us.
Check out Part 2 to learn more about America’s Big Con on Small Farmers and how farmers of all types can move forward together.