by Rain Parker
republished from her blog The Farmer + Forager…
Six years ago, I didn’t even really understand what organically grown meant. I mean, I saw vegetables in the grocery store that said they were. I also saw their price tag often being double or triple the cost of the other produce beside it. I was an art teacher, so my wallet was already a bit strapped for groceries anyway. Since my belly back then really preferred the convenience of the freezer section, or better yet the candy or bakery aisle to carrots anyway… I’d just shake my head, put those carrots down and walk away.
Yet—I weighed 300 pounds, that walk to the candy aisle was pretty slow. Going through the checkout line with a cart full of chips, soda, bread and chocolate always seemed to make my anxiety and depression worse… Not better like I thought it would. Somehow I thought heading home to stuff all that junk food in my mouth in the evening in front of a television would make me forget the looks I got from the cashier or other customers when I bought it in the first place. But it didn’t. Not even a little tiny bit.
What I didn’t realize then, but do now–is that just picking up those carrots did something to me. They planted a seed. Of what seemed like a crazy idea at the time… what if I could grow organic carrots of my own? What if I could get an egg from a free range chicken I’d actually raised? What if I actually knew where my food came from?
It’s funny how depression worked for me, it always just kept getting worse and worse. Worrying about my weight just seemed to make the numbers on the scale keep spiraling up at a dizzying clip. Until one day–that idea of carrots and chickens was all I could think about. It felt like it might just be a way out… of being overweight, of feeling so disconnected, of being so anxious and so depressed that I didn’t want to even wake up some mornings. There were actually nights back then that I would be so sad and feel so bad, that I’d go to sleep crying and praying I wouldn’t wake and have to face another day of being who I had become.
Fast-forward six years…. to today. To find a 154 pound permaculture farmer sitting on 9.87 acres of her very own. A lady so dang excited about life, vegetables, rabbits and chickens that she can rarely sleep past five am. A woman that is so proud to have been organically grown.
The last six years have been the very best ones of my whole life. I spend daylight hours outside sowing seeds and not so much behind a screen. I know exactly where the food on my dinner plate came from, because I usually put it there. I’ll skip the freezer section every time these days in lieu of my deep love of food preservation. I go to the garden instead of the gym or the grocery store. Lack of confidence that used to crush me grows stronger and bigger every year out here. Muscles and big smiles I’d never seen before do too.
I’ve gained skills on this farm that I never even knew existed before–when I just went to the grocery store. I can butcher my own meat. I can find those sneaky free range eggs the hens hide. I can grow some serious squash. I still don’t grow carrots so great, but I’m okay with it–I grew a lot of determination to keep trying here too.
I share this homestead life with a forager, who overcame her own issues and found her best self in the forest and with the wild things. Who lost eighty pounds here her own self. A side effect she didn’t expect when she went into this with me on a quest to just skill up. So that means my life has the happy balance of also being about primitive living and wild foods. I can start a fire with sticks. I can hunt the precious chanterelles I love. I know how to breakdown a deer and use every single piece of that amazing creature to feed my belly and put clothes on my back.
An organically grown life–it means everything in the world to this farmer. I may not have been sown or sprouted until I was 31 years old, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I did. Every single day feels so incredibly precious and inspiring. These days I simply cannot wait to wake up, and I don’t pray for much else except to have a lot more of them days that I do. Well, and for rain! Yet, not today–it’s raining right now as I speak and it sure does feel like nature saying thank you. For being willing to grow… Organically.
Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.