That’s me, Farmer Rin (notice how all the kids’ stories about farmers always assume the farmer is a man?)
I started this farm as an experiment, an answer to a problem. I want to live in Vancouver because this is where my friends, my community are. I also want to live autonomously; by this I mean that I don’t want to work my ass off to make somebody else rich, I don’t want to work some job that I need to keep in order to pay for the car I need to get to the job. I want to do work that is meaningful and real, work that needs to be done because it has inherent value, not work that needs to be done only to make more work in order to continue existing. The problem is that living in the city means interfacing with a system that doesn’t value my kind of work, doesn’t speak any language except money, property, scarcity, acquisition. The problem for me was how to reconcile these two realities, make space for my kind of values in a place where they are foreign and in some cases even antithetical.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the realities of the world that we live in. I don’t have some sort of utopian vision, I don’t think there’s a perfect world out there waiting to blossom where everything will be perfect and everyone will agree with each other. I also understand that we can’t just escape into self-righteous isolation; I know that even though we didn’t necessarily create this mess, we were born into it and whether we like it or not, it’s our collective responsibility to clean it up because nobody is going to do it for us. It’s kind of like that pile of dishes in the sink; nobody knows whose dishes they are, there’s probably some there from everybody, but if someone doesn’t clean them up they’re going to start breeding flies.
I also understand that it took thousands of years of empires, armies, wars, greed, and destruction to get us to where we are and we’re not going to fix it all in one lifetime. There are so many problems, so many issues to worry about, it’s easy to lose sight of where we are and not know where to start. It’s also easy to get paralyzed with fear, to be so caught up in articulating what’s wrong that we forget to act or to be so worried that our actions will cause harm that we’re afraid to.
The answer to all of these things, for me, is food. Food is the one place where I see all these issues intersecting; inequality, disparity, environmental destruction, animal rights, human rights — all are implicated and invoked in every bite of food we eat. Who grew it? Where? Under what conditions and with what resources, inputs, machinery? How will it effect my body, my children, my neighbours? There is no single issue approach to food, it is inherently complex and always changing, just like our world at large. And no matter where we come from or what differences we have with each other there is always this: everybody eats. Even if we disagree about everything else, at least we can agree that everyone needs food and if there’s one common interest we share, it’s that we have a right to eat what we like, when we like, without destroying anyone else’s right to do the same.
And then there is also this: when the markets collapse and the governments fall and there’s no more power lines and no more shopping malls and no more gas stations and all we have is our wits and each other to depend on, there will still need to be farmers. I intend to live as if that world is already here, as if the revolution has already happened. So I grow vegetables. I grow vegetables and share with others what I’ve learned so that they can grow some too. And then, when that collapse does come, whether it’s in a thousand years or tomorrow around lunchtime, we’ll be ready.
In the meantime, growing food for my living means I get to live a lifestyle I want to live. I have the freedom to create the world I want to live in right now, not in some mythical utopian future. I hope that by doing so I can learn and share things that allow others to do the same.