The Art of Coming Home
To a large extent, this book is a challenge to the universities to stop and think what they are doing with the young men and women they are supposed to be preparing for the future. The universities now offer only one serious major: upward mobility. Little attention is paid to educating the young to return home, or to go some other place, and dig in. There is no such thing as a “homecoming” major. But what if the university were to ask seriously what it would mean to have as our national goal becoming native in this place, this continent? We are unlikely to achieve anything close to sustainability in any area unless we work for the broader goal of becoming native in the modern world, and that means becoming native to our places in a coherent community that is in turn embedded in the ecological realities of its surrounding landscape.
“My mother was okay about it, but kind of didn’t like it,” he told me. “My friends thought it was very, very funny, and Grandma hated it because in Dallas there really aren’t any farms. It is suburban, and everyone thinks of the bad stuff that happens on farms. “Bad stuff happens on farms?Just because you work the demonstration farm doesn’t mean you’re out of touch. Jerome checks his messages. “You know, my Grandma is worried about safety,” he answered. “The phone service is poor so I can’t call her everyday and she hates that.”With this comment, both boys started to laugh and talked about how farms and small towns are always the setting for scary movies, and both agreed that the farm “looks like something from a scary movie” so maybe Jerome’s Grandma had a point.This set off a round of giggles during which Jerome added in all seriousness, “If you are Black and from the city, you’re not supposed to want to be farmer.”
Perhaps it’s an unexpected trend. Long hours, little free time and hard, dirty labor. It’s not exactly what most people say they want to come home to after a day at the office.
However, not only do more people seem to want to sample the rewards of farm life, but the number of small farms is also on the rise. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the most recent survey conducted, the number of farms with sales of less than $10,000 rose, while there was a decline in the number of higher grossing farms.
Even for many larger scale farm families, it is not unusual for one or both spouses to rely on off-farm employment. In 2009, the average family farm was forecast to receive only 8.7 percent of its household income from farm sources, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.