In my first post about Mo Moutoux of Moutoux Orchard, I reported that my first visit to the farm was magical. (You can read the second post here.) I felt like I was in Farm Heaven, like I had landed at the four-way intersection of Right Life, Purpose, Meaning, and Happiness, and warm thoughts like “I wonder if they’d let me come live here” ran through my head.
So I was really surprised and a little deflated by something Mo said to me as she set out her luscious produce for that day’s CSA pickup.
She said, “I have no illusions that we are changing the world.”
Say what? I wanted to argue the point, to defend the productive, beautiful farm she and Rob ran, to remind her of what a difference she was making in the lives of her customers, of the young children getting to experience the farm and grow up on her food.
But she knows that. She loves her customers and her community and finds meaning and satisfaction in doing the work she does. She also acknowledges that the people she feeds are an affluent group of folks who can afford what the farm has to offer. Most people can’t.
Mo maintains that we still need the big farms to feed the world, and that those big farms get a bad rap. She thinks that small-scale local farms can feed their surrounding communities, “but there aren’t enough of us, and I don’t think we are moving in a direction to be enough of us.”
Traditionally people lived among agricultural areas, but now the heavy concentration of people is in the cities, and there is “no way—zero—that the amount of small organic farms can feed all those people.” She doesn’t see that situation getting better, in fact, Mo thinks it’s actually getting worse.
“There are less people who want to farm, that know how to farm, that know how to farm well. There’s less good land and it’s way too expensive. All those issues compounded… I think everyone can do their part to grow the movement, but where we are right now, we need big farms—conventional or organic. No question about it.”
If Mo and Rob were to expand the farm so that it could feed more people, they’d need to increase staff and infrastructure, and that’s not something they can afford. And it might tip the work/life balance that they work so hard to maintain.
So they continue to do what they do—honestly, exquisitely—for their own fortunate community.
And I get it. Their farm may not be changing the world, only their corner of it. But what a satisfying way to spend one’s life.
To close, here’s my favorite photo bomb, as promised last week.