By Lindsay Mower, Layout Editor
While walking to class the other day (taking my normal route: the classic short-cut through Emery Community Arts Center) something caught my eye and brought my frantic late-to-class morning to a hault. “A New Generation of UMF Farmers” read a poster on the wall advertising a few upcoming events in Lincoln Auditorium.
I have a passion for agriculture that’s stemmed from growing up on a dairy farm. Aside from this, my recent discovery of the Greenhorns movement; a non-traditional grassroots non-profit organization made up of young farmers and collaborators supporting the new generation of young farmers, made this particular advertisement catch my attention. YES. Somebody else on this campus is interested in farming!
The ad informed me that a screening of the film “Growing Local” was going to be held, starting directly after the class I was headed to. Sounded like something I was into. I wasn’t going to miss it.
Waiting for the film to start I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout of student and faculty members alike who were there for agricultural enlightenment. The documentary started at Rocky Ridge Organic Dairy farm introducing two father and son dairy farmers struggling with the realities of upholding their business and keeping their farm in the family. This scenario, sounding very much like the situation my dairy farming family is in right now, sent me flying back to a specific day in my past and brought a tear (or two) to my eye.
It was the hottest day of summer that I can remember as a child. I was three years old and my family had decided to move and take over the family business. My grandfather, feeble in his old age, no longer held the strength to manage the land. Sunnydale Farms, in the quiet town of St. Albans, Maine, was my new home. It featured a dainty, white ranch style house perched on a hill overlooking Little Indian Lake. As a young girl with an incredibly vivid imagination, this was paradise.
My brother and I, teeming with sweat, were aching to play in the small frog pond in the backyard. We spent the entire afternoon splashing and exploring the algae infested water, touching the slimy frogs and smelling the sweet smell of fresh cut grass. Our cheeks rosied and noses freckled from the hot summer sun when my mother called to us that supper would be ready soon. We were blissfully unaware that it was nearly sunset. We were so happy.
The ideal contentedness of growing up on a farm cannot really be conveyed or understood unless experienced firsthand. By me, these memories can only be described and reminisced through the story of a sister and brother spending the afternoon merrily playing in a frog pond.
It may seem silly to some people, but living on a farm changed who I grew up to be. I gained a unique perspective on life. The farm helped me grow to become a better person today than I would have been otherwise. Amongst the most significant of lessons was learning to value the simple pleasures of life.
This is why I feel it’s so important that agriculture be kept prevalent in our culture. It’s more than just food, farming is a sort of lifestyle that gives so much in return that it’s sure to breed driven, intelligent, problem solving people. Just ask my dad.
Snapping back to reality, I realized how cool it was that I was sitting in a room full of young people also interested in taking action.
I love that I have ended up at a school that understands the importance in educating our generation; the future of this agricultural movement, about the importance of growing what we eat. From the wider selection of local foods in the dining hall to the introduction of the Good Food Co-Lab, it’s obvious that UMF has made this topic a priority, and judging from the attendance at this screening, I think it’s safe to say that UMF is actively getting the message across. We are making a difference, and it’s so important that we all take a step back and acknowledge that. Go UMF!