The Benefits Of Modern Farming
The last 150 years has witnessed a huge shift in the U.S.’s connection with agriculture. In 1900, 70 to 80 percent of Americans made their living off the land. In 2012, that number has dwindled to less than 2 percent. We now import many of our fruits and vegetables from foreign borders. And new technology like pesticides and mechanical farm equipment make it possible to grow large amounts of food with relatively few human hands.
An Agricultural Revolution
Today, however, many Americans are starting to get their hands dirty. Farm production is in the midst of a revolution, as movements like urban agriculture, sustainable farming and homesteading are popping up nationwide. While the causes of these movements are widespread, many include Americans interested in growing some of their own food.
Homesteader Eric Forehand, who grows his own food and livestock just outside Raleigh, N.C., sees this movement as a chance to connect with the natural world. 'The best part of my experience so far is the connection with the animals and land. It's real. It's there. You can touch it."
Urban Farming, Healthy Living
Urban farmer and co-founder of the Raleigh City Farm, Laurel Varnado views the modern agriculture movement as a health movement, as well. "Gardening and homesteading help people cultivate healthy lifestyles year-round," she says. "They get people outside and moving around, provide fresh food for the table - even in the winter through canning - ;and give us a way to escape a sedentary lifestyle. Since so many more people are working in front of a computer these days, it seems natural that we would want to escape to a hobby that lets us dig in the dirt, plant our own vegetable seed, and reap the more tangible and delicious fruits of our labor."
Read The Community Food Security Coalition's paper about the Health Benefits Of Urban Agriculture.
Considerations For Sustainable Living
Varnado has tips for growing a sustainable urban garden at home. "Start by getting several books on sustainable living," she says. "It also helps to go visit or volunteer on farms. When planning your garden, consider companion planting", she says. "Herbs, such as catnip, basil, and mint, all produce scents that seem to repel or confuse pests by masking scents of other plants that attract insects. Companion planting can also help attract beneficial insects."
Forehand has a word of advice for anyone planning his or her homestead: "You'll love it," he says. "But be prepared to do some work. Every day. Seriously, every day."
Tips For Urban Farming
- Check regulations or talk to your local municipality to see what crops & livestock you can have
- Talk to your local Southern States store experts! Many of our employees have first-hand experience working on small to large commercial farms.Find a store near you.
- Talk to your neighbors who grow vegetables or raise farm animals
- Collect farm resources, like books and articles (many can be checked out at your local library or found online in our How-To Articles Sections)
Additional Farming Resources: