Originally Published at Examiner.com
Farming grows more than just fruits and vegetables. It grows character, it grows confidence, it grows knowledge.
Farmers are known far and wide for having a broad set of self-reliance skills. Farmers are the original “MacGyver.” They are experts at taking what they have available and making it work – no matter how challenging the problem seems. Because farm income isn’t spread through the year, farmers seldom have much money available during the spring and early summer to invest in repairs, infrastructure, and inventory. They have to learn to make what they have last another season, modify it to suit a new purpose, or fix it to make it continue to be viable. This applies to farm equipment as much as it applies to seeds, fertilizer, and labor.
Being a farmer changes your way of thinking. You become more matter-of-fact. Politics doesn’t factor in your decision making. Will something work or won’t it? How you feel about it matters less and less. How others perceive it (or you) doesn’t matter as much. This thinking will overflow into other aspects of your life as well. You will start to consider who of your friends are really friends, and who are just using you for their personal gain. Those friends who require more input than you receive benefit will fall to the side, while those friends who enrich you as much as you enrich them will bubble to the top.
You’ll think about every day items and how they can be repurposed. Can a disposable drink cup become a home for a seedling? Can junk mail be shredded into compost? How much of your grass clippings can be used to stop weeds between your garden rows? Cleaning out the fish tank? Save that dirty water for your garden! It’s not so much a “green” way of thinking as it is a sustainable way of thinking. As a farmer, you want to use the most natural, readily available resources to make your soil and plants healthy and nutritious. You can do it with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or you can use the things you already throw away to make your garden and farm the best it can be.
You’ll become more confident in your abilities. After all, when you have to think about how to repurpose and reuse, you become more confident in your ability to find a solution. When you produce your own food, you feel confident that you can provide for yourself and your family when times aren’t so good.
When you are a farmer, you grow in character. Nothing is more humbling than having a crop fail – even though you did nothing wrong. Farming requires patience. The more you try to “tend” a crop, the more likely it will fail. You must learn to let the plant do what it will do, and not over-involve. Provide a nurturing and safe environment, and your plants will thrive. The weather, the pests, and the disease will all take their toll. Be observant and be prepared to solve problems, and you can ensure a successful season. Don’t beat yourself up when something fails. Take notes. Take precautions or make different choices next time. Be glad that you’ve learned something about your farm plan – and know that next year will be better!
Being a farmer (even in your small vegetable garden) will grow you in ways you never thought possible. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!