Friday, April 25, 2008

In Praise of Farmers

Lisa Kerschner and her husband Ike love growing food for real people. They are the owners of North Star Orchard in Cochranville, PA. In 1992 they started with a 4 acre piece of ground. By 1996 they added another 6 acres and today they farm 20 acres, in all, producing fruit and vegetables of all varieties to sell at their local farmer's market.

You probably won't see Lisa driving around in a new Mercedes or sporting a Rolex. There are no windfalls in farming but in her recent article in Newsweek, Lisa tells about the meaningful life she's found tending the land and providing one of civilizations three basic needs - Food.

Better yet, she and her husband sell homegrown, sun-ripened goodness. The pears and tomatoes are full of flavor and color - not the bland product what you find in the grocery store that's shipped in from industrial farms from around the world.

I know exactly what she means when drawing this contrast. Every summer, my father has a vegetable garden. It's small, about a half acre but on that small plot he grows corn, okra, beans, cabbage, lettuce, squash, tomatoes...I could go on and on about the varieties he's tried. We always had fresh food and in the winter we ate the vegetables my mother had canned or frozen during the harvest season. I never appreciated it until now.

Our world is facing a food shortage. I heard yesterday that rice is being rationed by some of the large food chains in the US. A majority of our population does not know how or lacks the resources to grow their own food. We are at the mercy of industrial farms, big business, and government regulation. That's the downside.

The upside is we can change that. If you have a yard plant a few vegetables. Most are so easy to grow with a little care and simple knowledge. No yard, plant tomatoes in pots. Lobby for responsible farming that produces sustenance for people, not fuel for cars or food for consumer products (cattle). I'm not advocating that everyone become a vegetarian but if just half of the land around the world that is now being used as grazing land and acreage to grow food for the cattle were converted to rice, wheat, and millet, I believe we could solve the food shortage dilemma.

Lisa says she loves going to the farmer's market and interacting with the people who buy and actually eat the food she grows. It must be so satisfying. I remember the look on my parent's faces when they'd give away bundles of vegetables to their friends. They knew they were giving away something of great value. Not only does their gift feed the bodies of people they loved but it feeds their souls when they grow and share something so important.

Next time you meet a farmer, say thank you..honor him or her. They certainly deserve it and I believe, in the coming years they will become more important to us than our banker or doctor.


mary k said...

Great post! You're right that there are definitely things we can do. I'm a huge fan of farmers' markets. They are a win-win: small farms have an outlet for their products, and consumers have access to locally grown, very fresh fruits and vegetables. And we can support non-profits that teach third world communities to grow their own food, rather than relying on outside resources.

Natasha said...

Sometimes I might read your blog... sometimes I might read other blogs... I don't know if you've seen this blog but you should:
It's an amazing blog and their story... wow... I don't pray and I am generally nonreligious but I actually prayed for them on April 2nd when Tricia got her lung transplant. Their story um... touched me, I could say. :3

and I don't know if you knew the Day of Silence was today, but it honored Lawrence King this year:
I participated today as one of three people in my school, the only one in my grade, and I think it's amazing that so few people knew about it... I had to explain it repeatably on paper! :3 I'm still not talking, too. Nope, not till 12.

Your blog is an amazing way to get causes known... two boys in my algebra class wanted to organize our own day of silence next week and my friend Caleb called me courageous to go it alone C: I think more people should know about it so I don't ever have to do it alone again.

Yeahhhh... ^^ well, bye then
Natasha Sushenko

Lisa McGlaun said...


Thanks for the input. You are so right. Living in the desert has made it difficult for me to have a garden. I've tried, believe me. I couldn't even get my beans to sprout! I need lessons. I'm used to the rich soil in Georgia and Alabama.

Small farmers will save our food supply, I think. We should support them in every way we can.

Best Wishes,

Lisa McGlaun said...


I knew you sometimes read my blog. I'm so happy you commented. I didn't know about the day of silence. I'll go look at the site. Thanks for telling me about it. And yes, your friend is correct, you are a courageous and intelligent person. I'm happy that I know you!

Best Wishes,

franscud said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for this post. I agree ... this is really an important issue that we should all be learning more about. Economically and environmentally it's crucial that we begin to change the ways we grow and transport our food. Buying from local producers saves all that fossil fuel use and supports local economies. We need to re-revolutionize the way our society is organized and undo the damage of industrialization. The technology is there, we just need to educate ourselves and spread the word ... like you just did :).

Lisa McGlaun said...


I've missed you! How are things going? Right now my dad is thinking about what he is going to plant...I miss his garden. He filled his back yard with fruit trees a few months ago. He's an inspiration when it comes to growing food.


Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa,
Excellent and relative artilce to today's problems. I was a lsitening to a radio program today where it is said that we encourage corn growers to allocate huge portions of theior crops to produce ethanol, and it is found that ethanol produces too much carbon to be worthwhile. It seems that we can steer this corn to cleaner burning bio fuels, such as bio deisel, or eat it. Thanks. -Mike

thewishfulwriter said...

wow - were you at our dining room table the other night? We were just discussing this very issue.

I have a black thumb, but I've seriously been giving some thought to trying to grow a few things..which lead to a discussion about how little most of us know about farming...something we rely so much on.

Great post :)

Lisa McGlaun said...


So good to hear from you. I think we should use the corn for food and find othe sources of fuel for cars and such. There are many other ways besides cutting in to our food supply.


Lisa McGlaun said...


I'm not so great at it either..I never really paid attention to my dad when he wanted to teach me. My ex-husband was determined to learn and we had a garden most every summer when I lived in Alabama. It's just too hard here and that scares me if we ever really had to grow our own food...I'd definately have to grow the plants in pots.

Best Wishes,