Have Courage to Be the Real You

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. —E.E. Cummings

by Rachael Dupree

I grew up in the suburbs of a growing Midwestern city. My parents kept a perfectly manicured lawn with a few flowers and shrubs, but we lived a lifestyle far from the farming life my great-grandparents knew. While we spent plenty of time outdoors, swimming at the pool or camping or riding bikes, my brother and I never had the experience of growing our own vegetables from seed. I didn’t know it at the time, but there was something drastically missing from my life—something I longed for but couldn’t quite put my finger on.

As I went off to college, I learned about this thing called “local food.” The concept of eating fruits, vegetables mushrooms and cheese, all from a farm down the road, grown only that season of the year, was fascinating to me—something special to be savored. At the time, I didn’t know what to do with this information, so I accepted it, kept it in my mind and continued on with my journey.

After graduation, I spent some time overseas in a developing country. While I wasn’t there to do ag work, I couldn’t help but become immersed in the country’s farm culture. Roosters crowed, even in the city, at the break of dawn. When I’d sneak to the countryside on weekends, I’d see children walking their water buffalo down dirt roads and families working together in rice paddies. Fish were served up grilled and whole—head, bones and fins intact—and you could get any variety of meat cut (not just the “civilized” kinds) by simply strolling the local open-air marketplace. (Nose-to-tail dining at its finest!)

It seems that throughout my life food and farming has been following me, standing by patiently, waiting for me to notice it. As I began to work here at Hobby Farms nearly five years ago, I became immersed in the knowledge some of you might take for granted. And let me tell you, I fell deeply and passionately in love!

It wasn’t long until I planted my first edible garden, a container garden that boasted cherry tomatoes, habanero peppers and Meyer lemons, and began wishing for a flock of hens to call my own. Eventually, I outgrew containers, and put in raised beds in the yard. Then I outgrew those and dug up the yard! I’m still waiting on the chickens, but it seems like it won’t be long until I kiss the city goodbye for good and find a plot of land in the country.

While many of you are likely lifelong farmers, there are likely others who have stories similar to mine. For us, getting back to the land is new and exciting, but we don’t have the benefit of passed down family knowledge to draw on. We’re the first in several generations to be farming again—it’s fun, but it’s hard and even scary at times. It involves commitment and sacrifice. We have to be brave and rise to the challenge—become the people we never knew we could be. But when you fall into your calling like this, it’s clear that you are where you’re supposed to be.

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Whatever it is you find makes you tick, I hope that you have the courage to embrace it. Maybe your friends and family don’t get it, but that’s OK—if it’s your passion, have the courage to stand up to the naysayers. Maybe you’re itching to go organic or scale down to a smaller piece of land that’s more diversified. Farmers are like flowers in a prairie—we come in so many shapes, sizes and colors, all embellishing the world in our unique ways. By becoming who you really are, you bring more beauty to the landscape, so keep on trudging through the hard stuff. You have so much to offer!

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