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Hi, I'm Paul Sloth

I work in Outpost’s marketing department. I like to use what skills I have to spread the word about Outpost Natural Foods. On the greatest of days, this involves trudging through a farm talking with one of our many vendors. On really good days, this...
Paul Sloth

Now you know why I'm not a farmer

In the Aisles
By Paul Sloth on June 20, 2012

The last of the season’s strawberries are just about picked, at least here in Wisconsin. Standing in the field at a nearby pick-your-own farm recently, I heard the characteristic groan of someone 

who doesn’t farm for a living. In fact, the person said as much. “I have to get up … my knees. Now you know why I’m not a farmer,” she said. I hear you sister. 

There is a part of me that wishes I farmed. It’s in my blood. My dad left school at 13 to follow his dream of becoming a farmer, just like his aunts and uncles and cousins. I don’t know if a lot of 13-year-olds dream like that anymore. That was in 1939 in Denmark. My dad left farming and the promise of his own farm (something my grandfather offered to buy him if he’d stay in Denmark) to come to America.

He never farmed again. Once I came along, the farming bug had long since worked its way out of my dad’s system. It wasn’t something he dwelled upon. It was a long time before I realized my dad’s connection to farming. Sure he always gardened, but I wouldn’t have guessed that he once dreamed of making a living off the land, if you call it that.

I’ve fantasized about farming. There’s something romantic about it. But, growing up in the air-conditioned comfort of the suburbs, it was most certainly not something I dreamed about at 13.

I know it’s what drove thousands of folks “back to the land” in the 70s and 80s. It’s probably a factor in convincing people in recent years to walk away from careers in the city to buy a piece of land and start growing something, anything.

Sure it’s romantic, until it isn’t. Until you’re knee deep in stories about crops lost to a killing frost in late spring, a midsummer deluge or a freak hailstorm in the fall. It’s happening right now as I type this. The folks growing our food, right here in our own state, are either dealing with near drought conditions in the south or flooding up north. Either way, their crops are being affected.

You might not notice it or think about it, because there usually isn’t a sign reading, “Sorry, no strawberries this year. The heat ate them.” But what if there was?

I couldn’t do it. But thousands do, here in Wisconsin and around the country. They put up with insects, drought, rain, hail, sprawl. You name it. I might dream about farming, but the dreams never include the bad parts. The farmers we get our food from live with the good and the bad, day in and day out, year after year.

Now you know why I’m not a farmer.


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