J500 Media and the Environment


Farmers never really retire by Lauren Cunningham

Coming from Clyde, Kan., my mom has always told me some interesting tales about her time spent on farms.

From cleaning chickens to helping deliver calves, I’ve heard my share of, and have been a bit grossed out by, these stories. But I recently asked my mom more about farming in our family.

My grandma, my boyfriend, me and my grandpa at Coronado Heights Park in Lindsborg, Kan. Grandma and Grandpa always have the best food at their house, including veggies grown by Grandpa.

I had always just assumed my mom grew up on a farm, but she explained that it was a little bit different than that. They had a small number of chickens and had a vegetable garden (which sounds like a farm to me), but they didn’t have any crops. My grandparents, my mom and my uncles also helped other farms in their community regularly. My grandpa helped process chickens for local farms — I’m not quite sure if I want to know what that means — while my mom said that she would help gather eggs or clean chickens.

She said she also thought my grandpa liked to garden as a way of therapy from this job at Northern Natural Gas where he would work in extremely hot and stressful environments. I think it’s interesting that even today growing food is still proven to be therapeutic.

Between my grandpa’s gardening and hunting and my grandma’s canning and baking, my mom said their family was pretty self-sufficient. Looking back she said she realizes how much cheaper and healthier that way of living was, but at the time, she said it’s just what they did.

“That’s just what we did,” — she says this a lot when she talks about her farming experiences. I think that because farming becomes such a tradition and a way of life for some families, no one really questions how healthy or sustainable it is to grow food for a family. It really just becomes second-nature for some families to decide to farm.

Since I can remember, my grandpa has always grown some sort of vegetable, usually tomatoes or potatoes. He still grows vegetables even though he and my grandma don’t live in a farming community anymore. My mom can no longer eat a store-bought tomato because she says it doesn’t taste right, and I’m beginning to be the same way. Veggies that Grandpa grows taste way better than anything I’ve ever bought.

My mom still has some farmland in Concordia, too. She has 360 acres of rotating crops of soybeans, milo or wheat. She told me that she is never going to sell it.

Like she always tells me, “Farmers never really retire.”

— Lauren Cunningham

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6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Lauren,

I enjoyed reading your blog post. In your post, you mentioned that your mom has farmland in Concordia. Are you considering taking over that land in the future and continuing to grow crops of your own?

Micole A.

Comment by micolea

It’s funny you mention that because my mom often hints to both my sister and me how she hopes someone will take over her farmland some day. I think I would really like to take over her land eventually, but I want to know a lot more about it. Plus, it will definitely depend on where I get a job or end up. I would definitely want to explore my options of what I can do with that land before I decide to take it over. Thanks for asking.

— Lauren Cunningham

Comment by Lauren Cunningham

Lauren-
This was a neat post! My parents both grew up in big cities and have never been into farming or anything, but two years ago they started a small garden in our backyard to grow tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and a couple of other veggies as a hobby. I called my mom to see what her and my dad’s reasoning behind starting the garden was and she said “just for fun”. They check it all of the time and it becomes one of their fun things to do during the day. What is the reasoning behind continuing to farm for your parents and grandparents? Tradition, taste, health benefits?

Becca N.

Comment by beccan

Thanks for reading, Becca. I know that my grandpa still likes to grow things because (1) he can’t get it out of his system — he has been surrounded by farming all of his life, so I don’t think he’ll be able to stop — and (2) he still gets therapeutic benefits out of it. He has had some health problems over the past few years and hasn’t been able to grow as much or as often as he would like, but I know it kills him when he can’t get to a garden.

My mom still is involved in farming for really personal reasons, which I won’t go into detail on here. But it’s more about tradition. I don’t think anyone in my family really got involved in farming for the health benefits. My mom always says that it’s just what they did. They lived in a farming community, and that’s just the way it functioned. My mom recognizes the health benefits now and appreciates those, but I don’t think it drove her to continue doing what she does.
Thanks.

— Lauren Cunningham

Comment by Lauren Cunningham

Lauren,

I am just curious, other than eating your grandpa’s veggies, has the farm influence impacted other aspects of your life? Do you shop at farmers’ markets, etc.? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

Yes, I love going to farmers’ markets or any other local festivals, markets, etc. when I can. I also get a lot of vegetables or jams from one of my family’s friends who has a pretty big garden. Sometimes my mom, as a teacher, can get locally-grown food from some of her students or co-workers, which I try to get it on when I can.

I definitely don’t get as much of those things anymore since coming to college because I don’t get to see my grandparents or my parents as often anymore.
— Lauren Cunningham

Comment by Lauren Cunningham




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