As I look around the blog world, Pinterest or Facebook, I see a common theme: a return to the land. Small farms all around the world are being purchased and transformed. Families who had been on the same land for hundreds of years are releasing their tenure, and handing the soil over to someone else.
Why the resurgence? There are so many answers, but the simplest may come down to our desire to understand the land we inhabit.
As small families are buying up small farms, the questions are being asked about the reality of their survival. Agriculture has been forever changed by corporations, and profitability is no longer a reality for most farming families.
As the book Radical Homemaking hit the shelves some years back, a group of families all across the world were taking up its call. A return to a sustainable lifestyle has become not only a catch-phrase, but a true revolution. Blogs abound on the issue of homesteading, small scale farming, and sustainable suburban and urban living. Families are taking to the land to raise their own food, teach their children the quieter ways of life, and in the process are rekindling a romance with the natural world.
Farming is not necessarily the goal, but a simpler return to the land to sustain each individual family. Chickens are raised, goats, cows, pigs, and hens. Small gardens are plotted, and a life off the land becomes possible. A return to the domestic arts has emerged as well, as knitting, sewing, embroidery, weaving, and spinning have seen an incredible comeback.
While most of this interest is steeped in desire over necessity, there is something truly magical about being able to raise your own food, tend your own home, and clothe your entire family.
As beautiful as all of these notions are, I have to admit that I wondered how successful this return to the land had been for most. I imagined myself, my husband, and my three children packing up and moving into a farm house, ready to be renovated, restored and adored. I could feel the love, the desire, but not necessarily the knowledge that we would bring to the journey.
I wondered what was needed to make such a transition successful, and what was the new model for running and surviving farm life in the modern world?
I came across some answers in a small farm outside Fort Collins, CO.
Rosemary Jedel Graff is one of those women who do not come along very often. Sure of herself, incredibly well educated, and a complete no nonsense attitude makes her a force to be reckoned with. Rosemary runs Laughing Buck Farm in Northern Colorado. A beautiful, and rather large farm that she purchased when she first arrived in the area.
Her story began like many others, with a desire for land for her children, and a horse she always knew she would one day own. As she explained to me when we sat down to talk about her experiences, there was not a clear cut path for her farming experience when she and her husband first began this journey.
Owning a farm is not an inexpensive endeavor, and Rosemary has made it work through both hard work, but perhaps just as important, sheer innovation. Laughing Buck Farm is not simply a space where Rosemary and her family live and work, but rather a space for an entire community to learn and share.
When Rosemary took over the farm, she wanted chickens. Knowing that she needed to buy in bulk, she began a chicken co-op with her community. Pretty soon she had a list of families who came out to help build a chicken coop, purchase feed, and maintain a rather large group of gorgeous chickens that now greet you on your way into the farm. It was an idea that not only worked, but has continued to thrive, with a waiting list that even I am tempted to put my name down on.
From that idea spun a pony co-op, a gardening plot for local restaurants to have home grown food, horse boarding, and perhaps most special of all, a farm school for children.
Rosemary grew her farm into not only a place where she could sustain the life she wanted financially, but she had also created a community of people who were learning about the ups and downs of sustainability, creating a small scale homesteading community of their own, and raising children who had the gift of spending their days grooming a pony, tending to chickens, or pushing one another on the barn swing.
Today 10 children ring her doorbell on Tuesday and Friday mornings, ready to feed the chickens, learn about the horses, groom a pony, make a craft, climb a tree, and run and play. They are learning what it means to live off the land, to get to know the animals that nourish them, to understand what sustainable is all about.
This will be an incredible part of their education, and hopefully something that they will never forget. It is slow paced, perfect for their age, and an invaluable resource for shaping well rounded and creative children.
As many families are taking up the same call as Rosemary, there is hope that radical homemaking is here to stay. Finding creative ways to sustain a farm can be a challenge, but so many are stepping forward to do just that. They are creating an environment that allows for not only their own families to thrive, but for others to learn the skills needed to do it on their own, or to simply enjoy a simpler way of life.
We may live in a world of modern technologies, but our hearts still seem to hear the call of the land.
To learn more about Laughing Buck Farm, please visit their website.
Heather Fontenot, co-editor and publisher of Rhythm of The Home, lives with her family on the Front Range of Northern Colorado. As a writer, doula, and yoga teacher, Heather has a passion for natural and creative living, and spends as much of her time outdoors as possible. She loves to knit, sew, garden, and homeschool her three sweet little ones. She writes the blog Shivaya Naturals, where she chronicles her life as a mother, artist, and gluten-free baker. Heather’s first book, Naturally Fun Parties for Kids was released in March of 2012. She is currently hard at work on her second book for Rhythm of the Home.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.