Having grown up in a city and having spent most of my professional career in the IT world, I always felt disconnected from the land. In fact, I did not even realise I was disconnected from it, as it wasn’t something I even thought about. Totally out of my radar.
Although my grandpa is an award-winning farmer (honestly) and my father a true lover of Nature, the seed never sprouted within myself. It was there though, waiting.
The wait came to an end while backpacking New Zealand, where Clyde Potter, one of the most well-known organic farmers in the country, gave me an opportunity to work on his farm.
I was tasked with looking after the plant nursery of the farm, a huge responsibility!
The first task was to fill up a seed tray with soil in readiness for sowing. I will never forget the exact moment when my hands ventured into the sowing mix bag – the freshness of the soil felt physically, mentally and spiritually refreshing. I deeply felt a ‘sense of rightness‘, one of those moments where life tells you that you are on the right path.
I spent the following months looking after my ‘baby plants’ (seedlings) and I totally fell in love with the task – they inspired tenderness, empathy, compassion, patience and stillness.
I had to fully open my senses in order to read their subtle signs. They invited to meditation and reflection, and it was during this time that I understood the beauty in the connection with the land and with the art of growing food; however, these have been mostly lost nowadays, as we rush around in our busy lives, connected to our screens and disconnected from ourselves and other living beings.
In the city where I come from very few people, especially my age, would be able to grow their own food, or for that matter, care about it. I don’t even want to think what would happen if the supermarkets were to run out of food for a week!
I grew up in an environment where farmers were seen as ‘low-class workers’, unskilled rural people somewhere down at the bottom of society’s hierarchy. Unfortunately, this does not only happen in major cities like Madrid – it seems quite widespread. This mental image probably originates from the disconnection to the land itself – as Eisenhower once said:
“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”
It was rather normal for me to receive odd-looks when I mentioned that I was working on a farm. ‘Hold on, weren’t you working as an IT Coordinator less than a year ago?’. Many couldn’t comprehend the move from office shoes to wellington boots. But luckily, they loved me enough to be satisfied just knowing that I was very happy and content.
I still struggle to understand, after a couple of years, why the art of farming is looked down on so much by modern societies. Where would we be without farmers? Are our smartphones edible?
There is this quote that reads:
“My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.”
I suppose that all that I am trying to say is that we should respect and value our farmers much more, and realise that without them, none of us would be here.
True – there is a generation of young farmers recovering the sense of pride but, unfortunately, this is just a minority of people. We need more young people on-board!
I am lucky enough to be in direct and constant contact with food growers, and their knowledge and respect for the land are remarkable. Truly inspiring people to be around.
I for myself do not know whether one day I would become a farmer or not. I certainly will grow my own food, as it is truly a beautiful thing to do, but at the very least I will pay respect for those people working so hard, every day, for us to have food on our plates.
And if one day I end up becoming a farmer, why not? I would be well proud!
As I once explained to my mum, ‘I would rather be dirty outside and clean inside, than dirty inside and clean outside’.