Meeting farmers around the Carolinas on this tour has kind of jolted us into a reality we are afforded glimpses of, but maybe don’t fully think about at the time. Working the land as your livelihood requires a tenacious leap of faith. Farmers, and their families, employ a brave confidence in their ideas in growing food. Every morning wake-up call (whether it’s the rooster’s crowing or an early harvest) is a reminder of the valiant push necessary to make it all work. To make a meaningful, profitable life with your family. (CLICK BELOW TO CONTINUE READING.)
But the farmers we’ve met can’t imagine doing it any other way. In fact, many of them have, as former corporate honchos or college students swearing they’d never farm like their parents. Alas, their faith has created a growing number of new small farmers, reinforcing the hope in our communities for healthy, responsible food.
We met Jimmy Livingston of Wabi Sabi Farm in Cordesville, South Carolina. After years of owning and operating a T-shirt printing business, he and his wife literally became sick due to the toxic fumes and chemicals. They began farming as a business, naming their farm after a Japanese philosophy that encourages to find the beauty in things with even the greatest imperfections. Now, Jimmy, his wife and children live and breathe the land. His son experiments with long beans and strange gourds, naturally. His effective method for keeping out deer was featured recently on our site, too.
And then there’s Bethania Bottoms, just outside of Winston-Salem. A serendipitous run-in happened when I was with Margaret and Salem, the mother-daughter team behind Beta Verde and Old Salem Cobblestone Market managers.
The ladies had spotted the farmers, who I met at the local farmers market the day before — a beautiful young family of five, farming responsibly and by hand on preserved land they had inherited. Their five-year-old son, with cerulean eyes shining bright like marbles, showed off his father’s heirloom tomatoes at market and explained how he helped dig out the garlic bulbs. Bethania Bottoms offers a CSA to their community and proudly says on its website: “Some of the land we use is the same land original settlers of Bethania used to provide food for their community.”
“How y’all doing?” Salem yelled from the backseat window as we rolled over toward them. “What are you up to?”
The two farmers stopped uprooting potatoes to say hello. They were standing in a mass of tangled, just-pulled weeds. One of them wiped his forehead, the day getting hotter.
“Oh, well, you know,” he said. “We’re at church.”