“‘I’ll keep farming until the money runs out.’”
Remember Ellen Knapp, the resilient farmer who spoke to me about Ithaca’s drought?
Well, I met her husband, Jason, at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market. Speaking to him gave me an even greater insight into the work ethic that’s demanded of farmers, and the reality of farming:
“Have you heard the story of the farmer who won a million dollars?”
I shook my head no.
“There was a farmer who won a million dollars, and he was asked, ‘What are you going to do with the million dollars?
The farmer said, ‘I’ll keep farming until the money runs out.’”
Farmers don’t have the luxury of getting too comfortable. There are numerous factors that their livelihood, depends on. And our, – the city’s, the country’s, the world’s –, food source depends on farmers. “I wish the public knew about the difficulties of producing an agricultural product. They don’t take into consideration the machinery – parts of machines cost a lot, and especially the weather.”
Knapp Farm’s main crop is blueberries, and due to Ithaca’s drought, this year’s crop yielded less than 25% of their normal output. In addition to Ithaca’s summer drought, last March was extremely warm, but April brought sub-zero freezing, causing all the crops to die. “The weather really impacts the agriculture”, Jason nodded. “You have to be diverse in what you’re doing. If one crop fails, you need to have other crops.” Regardless of the circumstances, “you keep going.”
We, the consumers, take food for granted.
We have a false sense of security; we think that grocery store shelves are always going to be fully stocked when we walk in, but in reality, the guarantee is in the hands of the weather.
The pressures don’t stop with the weather, though – for example, Ithaca’s Farmer’s Market has much tighter regulations than other farmer’s markets. It’s not enough to simply produce food. Farmers are businessmen and women, and they have to get their products to the markets and customers.
One of Ithaca’s Farmer’s Market’s rules is that everything must be produced within a 30 mile radius.
“It makes it harder, but it’s important, because”, he gestured to a sign that read “homeland security”.
To learn more or to support Knapp Farm, visit their website: http://knappfarm.net/