Ecopsychology: Addiction Recovery for a People (pt. 5 of 5)

So today, dear reader, I would urge you to be involved in sustainable business.  For many of this you this may mean as customers: every local farmer needs at least a couple dozen of them.  If that’s too much and overwhelming, don’t sweat it.  There really are times when you have to buckle down and just survive, ‘cause I’ll say it again—it’s an insane, addicted, codependent, abusive world we live in.  Get through this and we’ll talk again when things are better.

Or if you’re in a more secure place and mere patronage doesn’t feel “big” enough for you, there are scads of other things you can do to forward local agriculture in your area—it’s struggling and really can use some passionate non-farmers to fill in the gaps.  Maybe you could find a few friends from church and your neighborhood to form a buying co-op and bring in weekly deliveries of some local food that you can’t get in stores, but is too far away to justify actually driving to the farm to get it every. stinking. week.  Start a middleman business moving fresh produce from small local farms to local institutional buyers like schools and hospitals—a big missing link in most communities, because neither farmers nor institutions have time to devote to this.  (Farmers would love it if you did any of these things.  Really, they would.)

You, or any enterprising 16+ year old with a driver’s license, could start a diaper service.  Or a composting diaper service, if you live in a desert.

Partner with a beginning farmer.  (Joel Salatin, alternative farmer extraordinaire, discusses this at length in his books—I couldn’t have thought of this on my own.)   A lot of people have dreams of retiring early to farm.  Here’s the bad news: Farms have a life cycle, and by the time you hit early retirement, you’re already going to die too soon for your farm to be viable as anything but a hobby.  It’s our economy’s cruel little joke that once you’re financially established enough to start something, it’s too late to see it through.  I only see this getting moreso as student debt continues to climb.

How about instead, you partner up with someone whose gut-busting-labor years are still ahead of them?  You can provide them with capital and general worldly experience that they need desperately.  They can take their energy and go far with it, providing you with some side income and maybe a sweet farm to live on in your working and retired years, and be established enough to carry the cycle on when you pass.  This, to me, is one of those Spirit of Elijah things—we need to bring our generations back together in this way just for our own selves, and if we’re serious about replenishing the earth.

If your town, like mine, has a suburban expanse connected to the main workplace districts by roads that get rock-solid constipated during rush hour, another partnership of the established-and-moneyed with the young could run a jitney shuttle service.

Become a solar power baron.  States and utilities are draggin’ their fool feet, so it’s probably just up to people like us.  I would suggest teaming up with farmers or warehouse businesses; they often have big roofs so the installation cost per watt is much lower than it would be if you put little panels on individual homes.  Also, farms and businesses are often eligible for tax breaks or outright refunds that homes are not.  Should you and/or your co-op manage to install enough acreage, you may even find yourself in a good bargaining position to get a better rate from the power company.

…And so forth.  The moral of the story is we can’t just be choice takers if we want to be good stewards.  We have to create the choices we want.  We also need to ensure that the means by which those choices are provided are self-sustaining—that they can provide at least a sideline income—so that we don’t remain dependent on our abusers.

Vive l’enterprise.

2 responses to “Ecopsychology: Addiction Recovery for a People (pt. 5 of 5)

  1. Betty Jo April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    re: “A lot of people have dreams of retiring early to farm. Here’s the bad news: Farms have a life cycle, and by the time you hit early retirement, you’re already going to die too soon for your farm to be viable as anything but a hobby. It’s our economy’s cruel little joke that once you’re financially established enough to start something, it’s too late to see it through.”

    With all respect, If farming is your dream, then don’t give it up just cuz you’ve got a few miles on ya. It does take a while to build a business. Learning curve, infrastructure improvement, market development, building a customer base all take time. Be patient. We were creeping up on breaking even for quite a few years. But it can be done. And there are few healthier lifestyles than working outdoors. Sure, the sciatica acts up now and again, but the nice thing about farming is there is no rush. We take our time with our chores and try to work smart. For the really heavy jobs, we found good help, treat them with respect and pay an honest wage for an honest days work. Invest in the things that make the work easier. Operate in a business like fashion. Don’t expect to be able to buy designer clothes, nor put your kids through Harvard with your profits. But you can expect to laugh outloud when the calves start chasing the chickens.

    re: your handle (xenawarriorscientist) I LOVE THAT!

  2. xenawarriorscientist April 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Yeah, I’m not trying to tell people “Don’t do it,” or that it can’t be rewarding and a little bit profitable to farm as a second career. This is about what happens *after* the farmer’s lifetime! Someday each of us WILL be gone. And if a farmer doesn’t have someone prepared to take over after them, all their blood, sweat, and tears are 99% guaranteed to either get turned back over to unsustainable monoculture or become an office park.

    Alas, most of the people who are attracted to farming feel that way because we’re antisocial in the first place. (Why d’ya think I want to do it? : D). This makes agriculture so incredibly, incredibly vulnerable. Farmers don’t want to deal with other people in their plans, a lot of them don’t even involve their own kids (but all the while assuming their kids will take the farm over when they’re gone) and then there’s a huge mess. And if a farmer’s kids aren’t willing or able to take it on, it’s pretty much all over. Happens all. the. time.

    The senior-junior farmer idea is straight out of Joel Salatin “2nd Generation Alternative Farmer Extraordinaire,” who– granted, some of things he says/does give me the heebie-jeebies– has done huge things with helping farm families break out of destructive patterns on their farms. We have a huge archetype in our culture of the “standalone, self-reliant farmer” which he sees as very destructive for farming communities. I’d DEFINITELY recommend his book “Family Friendly Farming.” It touches on a lot of this and how to break out of the destructive side of too much independence.

    (Man, that was long-winded. Thanks! I’m trying to get a Xena pic with a pipetter photoshopped in instead of her death-frisbee thing….)

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