Organic outlaws, part II
Read the first in this series, Organic outlaws, part I »
Woke up this morning after a night of foot scratching; my legs and feet are pretty bitten up by insects, and throughout the night I was convinced that scratching the heck out of them was the only way to find relief. I walked the gravel pathway up to the studio where I made myself some eggs on English muffins with sautéed garlic scapes, kale, collard greens, and smoked Gouda cheese. Tim has fresh eggs from his chickens every morning; nearly two egg cartons full at all times. I asked Tim what the plan for the day was, and he mentioned the Wednesday Work Party.
At the work site, I met Amanda—farmer of Food Love Project. She guided me to a chamomile plant where I picked the flowers that would be dried and made into medicinal tea. She said I might feel “extra calm” after picking for so long. It was easy work, similar to picking the heads off daisies.
While picking, I overheard a conversation about farming as a career. Jack was talking about how passionate he was when he first started farming. But after a while he started crunching the numbers and asking himself, Is getting paid $3.50 an hour worth my time? He and Jill discussed their life goals and values. Jack knew he couldn’t do the things he wanted to do in life with a wage of $3.50 an hour. Were these people having the conversation I wanted to have for me? It’s a hard decision to justify, and it’s a bridge all farmworkers must cross at some point in their lives.
I was ready for something new once I had a sufficient haul of chamomile, so I began watering some fruit trees. I was nearly finished when Amanda blew a whistle and yelled across the crops, “Take a break!” It was more of a command than a suggestion.
I met someone that day named Anygirl USA. While on our break, someone asked her how her recent visit back home went. She sighed, and with an embarrassed smile told us how it was nice to see her dad, but her mom not so much. Her dad supported her decision to give farming a try, but her mom insisted on pointing out Anygirl’s friends who, out of college, already had steady paying jobs. I don’t think Anygirl’s situation is completely unique. In fact, I think this type of conversation is happening all over the United States. It’s inevitable. Our parents want to know whether their money will bear the fruits that higher education ought to yield, and they want to know now. And who can blame them? Instant gratification is a part of our culture, as are investors who always expect a return.
Grant Neely is a senior English major at Portland State University.