Imagine a Venn Diagram with one circle containing the word “Farmer”, the other “Crazy”. The overlapping middle section would be “Beekeeper”. I feel that this is a fairly accurate representation of my occupation. It also makes me realize that, yes, indeed I am a farmer, and I always knew I was crazy, but the farmer realization has come a bit slower.
The reason for this delayed realization is that growing up in rural southwestern Indiana, I knew “real” farmers – families that dedicated their lives to the growing, harvesting, culturing, and nurturing of some 500+ acres of land, animals, or both. To compare myself to those families seems overwhelming, especially growing up during the wake of the small farmer crisis of the 80s and 90s, where farm foreclosures were commonplace and the sight of combines with “4 Sale” signs in front of the barn were omnipresent.
Although my families were not farmers, we knew the families and their struggles. With all the difficulties that farmers face on a day-to-day basis, to be burdened with additional financial hardships seems unfathomable.
However, in the last 30 years it seems that the general population has awakened to the importance of farmers. The backing of the small-scale farmer has been strengthened by local farmers markets and the “Buy local, support Local” movement. There is progress being made and we can all be a part of it.
I manage over 100 colonies of bees in and around the city of Chicago. I wake up, get in my 2005 Honda Civic, drive to a bee yard and hope that with my management they stay happy and healthy. My daily activities are firmly planted in agricultural stewardship. Upon the back bumper of my work Civic is one bumper sticker, and it reads “No Farms, No Food”. I need another reading, “No Bees, No Food, No Farmers”.
Support your farmers. Support those crazy beekeepers, too.
Come see us at Farm Aid Saturday, 9/19/15 in the Homegrown Village!