Anyone can farm. And everyone can learn a lesson or eight in farming.
From getting our hands and feet dirty, to producing our own food from our backyard gardens, to trying to provide sustainable systems and technologies for farmers, to creating and managing social programs for agricultural families and communities, farming teaches us lessons that are valuable in our day-to-day lives.
For many years now, AGREA has been doing work with the vision of uplifting the lives of local farming communities. Projects and programs include research in and implementation of organic farming and fertilizer production, sustainable systems of rice intensification, manageable environmental protection measures, rehabilitation of elementary school gardens, scholarships, capacity building, agri-entrepreneurship and leadership skills training of children of farming families, among others.
Here, the AGREA Team shares what farming has taught them in more than three years of working sustainably at the farm and with farm communities while at the same time making farming cool, smart, sexy, and humane.
1. Align Your Inner Compass
Farming can help us define who we really are, find out what motivates us, and why we do what we do. It teaches us to look back on our personal stories as well as the stories of the farmers and fishermen whom we have interacted with. These stories give us a sense of direction as we try to connect and make sense out of all those events.
Most of these events are drawn from hardships, challenges, and triumphs in life that make us want to make a difference and inspire others to pursue the same goal. What we are now is a combination of stories and experiences of the people we have shared our lives with. Together, these pieces of memories create a compass that directs us to our goals. And little do we know, as we pave directions for our own futures, we are also helping create others’ characters.
2. Learn the Value of Commitment
Farming teaches us that in every task, may it be big or small, once it has been started it should be given our best and not be left undone. Working around the farm requires us to give our 100% since we work around living things that require care and attention that in turn nurtures and sustains us.
Eating is an agricultural act. Farming is not about planting and then forgetting that we ever did. When we plant a seed, we commit ourselves to see to it that we get the fruits of our labors.
3. Stay Grounded and Humble However Big You Become
Touching the soil and witnessing life grow from it grounds and humbles us. We may already be successful individuals with shinier shoes and taller heels, but farming always reminds us to remove our shoes and be one with nature – the source of all life. There’s always that great feeling of humility when we touch the earth.
Farming also teaches us that nature and the people who live around it can teach us a lot of things. No matter what our background is, farming teaches us to listen to each other. Farming creates dialogues where agricultural experts, social workers, educator, scientists, farmers and fishermen interact.
4. Gratitude goes a long way
Farming revolves around the cycle of life. The work of farmers and fishermen helps in sustaining our communities by providing us with the food that we have on our tables. As we recognize the invaluable work of our farmers, we get to appreciate and be grateful for their hard work as well as the gifts that Nature can provide us.
Filipino farmers are most of the time the poorest and the hungriest in the world, but they are also the ones who are the most giving. It is true that we cannot give what we do not have, but farming teaches us that a simple act of gratitude, a small heartfelt “Thank you” perhaps, already goes a long way.
5. Great Things Take Time
As with all things about life, there are many circumstances that just seem to be beyond our control. Farming teaches us that there may be better things in store after the storm, after all, every season yields different results. But as we learn to accept little disappointments in life and be patient, we realize that there may be a bigger reason as to why the original plan did not work out and that maybe, a bigger outcome is in store for us.
Farming teaches us patience. Patience to accept what was, what is and what will be. And if we ever fail, patience also teaches us to start and wait all over again.
6. Working Hard and Having Fun Can Happen at the Same Time
It is true that farming can be laborious but hard work doesn’t necessarily equate to boring work.
Farming can actually be fun especially when you share work with people who also share the joy of cultivating good plants as much as they enjoy eating good food.
7. Pay it Forward with Generosity
Generosity is said to be an act of freely sharing what we have with others, be it money, help or time. As we interact closely with our farming communities, we see this act to be spontaneous for the farmers.
It is heartwarming to see that they find joy in giving and that inspires us to live a little bit below our means so we could give a bit more to others. Being generous is good for the giver as much as it is for the receiver.
8. Life Actually Is Sweet
Life in the farm is not easy but can sure be simple and sweet. Cultivated well, the farm can give us everything that we need to survive and an access to real and good food to be enjoyed with people who are important and close to us.
That, after all, is the true meaning of life.
written by Caroline da Silva and Rafael Seño