This piece was cross-posted at Farmer’s Daughter
My family’s farm, Rose Orchards, is celebrating 365 years of continuous farming by the Rose family. We’re having a great big celebration on July 23, with lots of events and activities for family fun.
I love to think about what life was like in those early days, back in the mid-1600′s. Life was surely much harder, but families were much more self-sufficient and lived sustainably. I imagine that their biggest concerns were to grow, harvest and put by enough food, chop enough firewood, and make enough warm clothes to last throughout the long, cold New England winter. Growing crops, raising animals, canning, sewing, knitting, crocheting, other handcrafts, fermenting, drying food, cooking and baking were means of survival, not the spare-time hobbies of today.
Was it less or more stressful to live back then? I often wonder, as I can see both sides. On one hand, they didn’t have to worry about climate change, polluted air, polluted water, depletion of fossil fuels, endangered species, population control, and other contemporary environmental concerns. On the other hand, there was a constant need to provide for yourself and your family, prepare for cold weather, and the aspects of life beyond control: drought, or floods, illnesses, injuries, infection, never quite knowing if you’ve split enough wood or put away enough hay. Though my ancestors’ daily activities were much more strongly tied to their survival than my own, I think their lives were harder and maybe more stressful, in a different way, than my present-day experience.
As my family gears up to celebrate 365 years of Rose family farming, I find myself so thankful to have grown up in this place. I’m thankful to each of the thirteen generations for keeping the farm going, reinventing it so it can survive and be passed down. I love to listen to stories from my parents and grandparents, and I miss talking to my great-grandmother.
And so, when I think about what role I will play in keeping the farm alive for another generation, I know it’s different but still important. I no longer live on the farm, though it’s a few minutes away and we visit often. I don’t spend my days working on the farm or contribute to the family business in any measurable way. But yet, I love it. I am connected to that land in a way that many people can’t understand.
I fight for family farms with my dollars, my votes, and my blog. I know, admire, and support my local farmers. I frequent farmer’s markets. I contact my representatives when I see threats to family farms, and I vote accordingly. I am an environmental activist, in essence, because I love family farms and I see that they are hit particularly hard by environmental problems like pollution of our air, water and soil. If I stand up to polluters and demand that my representatives do the same, then I am standing up for family farms.
Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. We need your voice! If you haven’t already, please email the EPA to show your support of the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule. Thank you!