5 reasons why I dropped everything to learn to farm
It was around September time 2020, I remember covid-19 being just a rumour, no masks, no lockdowns. Just the talk of this deadly virus being released from Wuhan.
My first reaction was quite abrupt and strong. I had spoken to a friend of mine in Switzerland about going to visit their biodynamic farm to learn more about biodynamics and this specific type of organic farming.
This is where the journey began, in this particular blog I will be going through 5 reasons why in 2020-21 I left everything, my job, my family and my city to go and live on multiple farms.
My last shift as a Specialist at Apple was January 4th. I was informed that unfortunately, I was going to be kept on past my 5-month contract. Covid was just creeping into all of our lives, I had a huge decision to make: do I find a job and embrace the lockdown or do I jump ship and follow my heart into nature and farming.
Through the first month or so of lockdown, I had been reading how in the UK we may have some fresh produce shortages because of Covid and because of the new Brexit deals. I started my journey here in farming. I was growing my own vegetables from my own little conservatory, peas, carrots, onions, radishes and many more, I soon began to realise the thing that was keeping me going through lockdown, was my vegetables.
I had always been close with nature, as my background was as a gardener, and I had helped others build their allotments and growing small-time vegetables but I had never experienced a full scale, organic producing farm.
So I started to do some research into how I could go about farming through such a difficult time. My friend Enrique Spacca had sent me a link to a website called WOOFING (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) I found my exit from the lockdown hell…
My first reason was to avoid lockdown and avoid being indoors for the next however many months without knowing when I would see normality.
“Just being surrounded by bountiful nature, rejuvenates and inspires us.”
My mental health was more important than a paycheck at the time. My priority through lockdown was to stay close to vegetables and close to the soil. For me, nature was something that kept me stable and mentally healthy. My connection with the soil was becoming deeper and deeper. My happiness was an internal equation that I wanted to solve with farming. For me, nature is my biggest inspiration, my best teacher and importantly my doctor. It saved me in my darkest of times.
The world is changing quickly. Biodiversity is legitimately being lost in the world. What does this mean in layman terms? You may have recently seen the forest fires in Greece, Turkey and many other places in hot countries. This is from climate change, climate change is an effect of the lack of biodiversity on our earth right now.
What is biodiversity?
It is the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and all its interactions.
Why are we losing it?
Monoculture farming is a form of agriculture that is based on growing only one type of crop at one time in a specific field.
What does this do to our soil?
It kills it. Biodiversity is really quite simple. It is about giving the earth, soil, a variety of different life forms to keep the soil healthy and varied. Instead, because of increased population and higher demand for one type of crop, we are abusing the soil. The current farming climate is the main reason we are losing so much biodiversity. Consumerism demands certain crops because of their profit margins. What does this lead to, well we see it today, forest fires, floods and extreme weather conditions.
So reason 2 is my fear of the global climate changing in front of our eyes. That fear set me on a journey to understand, what is biodiversity? what is organic farming? what is regenerative farming? and importantly what farming is causing a lack of biodiversity.
Becoming totally self-sustainable. I had visited one farm in France that was being run by a great guy called Dave Fawkes. It happened to be that David was part of a small community of survivalists in France, he had a large YouTube following talking mostly about being self-sustainable and preparing for the worst-case scenarios.
This was a big reason for leaving everything to go explore farms. Farmers are self-sustainable, they live their lives very much depending on their own produce and their own work. Whereas in a normal society you can pop to the supermarket to buy some cheese or some freshly baked bread, the mentality on farms is very much different. You want something, make it, bake it, grow it or create it. This mentality is something that I really wanted to get used to. Being totally self-sustainable without the need for external societal needs.
Imagine, up until Covid, I relied on 99% of the things I needed coming from a store or a corporation. My paycheck, clothes, food, my entertainment. So I stopped this. I wanted to be 99% self-sustainable and rely on society for the 1% which would be a job or a career.
Learning the skills my Grandpa always had. My Grandpa Arnie was a gardener, handyman, painter, gas worker and all-round gentleman. I had always said to my grandmother, my success as a human will be relative to how close I can be like my Grandfather. His old fashioned and traditional ways had always interested me. As much as I am in a technologically driven world, surrounded by social media, technology and futurist things. My values are quite old fashioned, learn to work the land with your hands, learn to build and create with your hands and importantly be respectful to the people and earth around you. This reason is not to be taken lightly, I truly believe our grandparents are a huge gateway to holding the traditional values our world was once built on. I wanted to make my grandfather proud of me and importantly I wanted myself to look at the things I was doing and feel accomplished in a totally physical and non-virtual way.
Habit. 95% of the habits I had in a consumer society are habits I do not want. From drinking alcohol to spending money on things I did not need. To wasting time competing with other people and chasing superficial things.
When you leave all that behind.
Do you know what you are left with? Your desires, your emotions and your own thoughts, nothing less nothing more.
For me this was important, changing my actual habits as a human to understand I can live a much simpler life than I have been tricked into believing I needed. When I started living on farms, I truly began to realise how little I needed in my day to day life. The more I had the less I was happy, the less I had the happier I was.
Thank you for reading my first blog post on the 5 reasons why I left to go farming, if you have any questions about my time out farming don’t hesitate to get in contact with me on Instagram at @nomad.josh