Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

HOMEGROWN Life: A Trip to Remember

Thursday, July 9th, 2015


Vacation is something that I have a hard time coming to terms with, something that creates a great deal of confusion.

I recently returned from a road and camping trip that began here in West Missouri and ended up visiting my wife’s sister’s family in the Puget Sound of Washington. It was in most ways awe-inspiring and life-changing. I suppose in some ways it was depressing. Whatever it was, in the end, I’m still working out. But let me say a few things regarding the perspective of a place-based farmer that cares about the complicated nature of balance between people trying to feed ourselves while leaving room for the non-human creatures with whom we share the surface of our ever-evolving home.


I haven’t had a bona fide vacation since the summer of 2011 (a trip with my family and parents to Yellowstone National Park), so this was a big deal. This is not really a complaint, more of a data point. My wife and two sons and I had been saving pennies and quarters and random dollars in a “trip jar” for about two years so we could make the trip happen. We pitched our tent and made most of our own food, traveling light though covering many miles.

As an overview, we saw the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Mesa Verde National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Crater Lake National Park, the Oregon Dunes, and more. My wife, my hero, planned most of it and made the trip possible. If there’s an award out there for someone who inspires and takes care of what the family needs to ease tensions and feed the soul some nature-based nourishment, please let me know. I’d like to nominate her.

Anyway, back to the trip itself. Traveling through a dryer-than-seems-possible place to practice agriculture always provides interesting fodder for the farmer-minded. Colorado and Utah and Nevada, though mountainous, were full of agricultural activity. There were crops and cattle and sheep, seemingly larger than life attempts to make hay to last what have to be long and brutal mountain winters.

Mostly, I was shocked by Mesa Verde and the history of humans inhabiting and making a living in the cliff dwellings that dot the region. Before we visited, I had assumed wrongly that the agricultural practices would have occurred in the bottoms near creeks or streams. Instead, the farmers lived in the cliffs and climbed directly up to the blufftops (the “Mesa”) to tend their crops. They dryland farmed using innovative practices that certainly conserved water and directed it to the corn, beans, and squash the farm families depended on. This in an environment where trees can’t survive, other than some scrubby cedars and shrubs with limited height. To be honest, it was the desert. And while farming has long-occurred in the desert, it always boggles my Midwest/Upland Southern mind.


Couple that shock at lack of moisture with an “infrastructure” of vertical rock-climbing to go too and from the field, and it becomes obvious why we humans can collaborate and figure out how to occupy any ecological niche within the planet. We’ve got a toolbox, including farming, that helps us to engineer ways to make a living in almost any climate. While it might be a tenuous and fragile living (subject to changes in rainfall patterns and climate), we humans can figure out a diversity of strategies for hammering out communities. I say it again: Amazing, mind-blowing, inspiring, etc.

Now I’m back home, experiencing historical June/July rains and flooding. I’m still trying to sort out the details of how the travels have reinvigorated and changed me. Had to get back to work, write grants, sheer sheep, sort cattle. And all I can think about is how blessed we are to live in a society where we value special places enough to preserve them as shrines to visit.

So get out there, fellow citizens. Pitch your tents somewhere interesting. Look at the stars, smell the air somewhere. Watch the fireflies. Visit the places our ancestors have set aside for us to enjoy. We helped to invent the National Park system a few generations ago, and we need to keep them as sacred and protected places. They are our own domestic temples of inspiration. Farmer or non-farmer, country person or city person, get out there and see something new. It might change your life. If nothing else, it might confuse you in a very positive way.


HOMEGROWN-bryce-oates-150x150Bryce Oates is a farmer, a father, a writer, and a conservationist in western Missouri. He lives and works on his family’s multi-generational farm, tending cattle, sheep, goats, and organic vegetables. His goals in life are simple: wake up before the sun, catch a couple of fish, turn the compost pile, dig potatoes, and sit by the fire in the evening, watching the fireflies mimic the stars.


HOMEGROWN Life: Farmer Steve’s Wholesome Post-season Family Vacation

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010






Well, it’s the first Wednesday of the month again. Time once again for the most anticipated event on the internet: my monthly blog!
Before I get going with this months nonsensical rant, can someone tell me who the fuck decided to call these online articles a blog?
Anyway, my veggie season pretty much rapped up last Monday when the Central Square, Cambridge Farmers Market closed for the year. Now I have moved on to firewood production and sales. However, I did manage to get away for a few days, leaving last Tuesday morning for Disneyworld with my 5 year old son, Stephen Jr., plus my sister, her husband and their 3 kids, as well as my mother and father.


Now, I want to assure you that Disneyworld is not exactly my kind of place, and I thought about turning this months rambling into an anti-Disney tirade, but, well, I had a pretty good time. Mainly because my son had so much fun. It was a lot of work for me, and, by the time I got back, I was pretty worn out. But, again, seeing it through my son’s eyes made it more than worth it to me. Especially after months of  months of our relationship consisting of time spent together at farmers markets or csa drop offs – no time for “normal” parent child activities like swimming, fishing, book burnings, etc. It was nice to break away from it all and to do my best to help him have a little fun. He deserved it – after he helped me at the farmers markets (and he did help – his job was helping to unload the truck. I was shocked at the last Union Square Farmers Market when he was carrying bushels of sugar pumpkins – approx. 40 lbs – the 75 feet from my truck to my tent – and also loading the empty produce bins back into the truck). It was also nice for he and I to spend some time with my family, as our farm schedule rarely allows for that.
Amongst the highlights of my trip:

  • As the plane took off, my son turned to me and asked “are we leaving the planet now?”
  • At the monorail, he asked why it was called a monorail – so I explained to him that it only has one rail, and mono means one. “Is that Spanish?” he asked, amid the coincidentally mainly-Hispanic co-riders, all of whom erupted in laughter.
  • At Chef Mickey’s place (insert finger in throat if you feel the need to vomit), where the highlight is “character dining” (Google search that for full explanation), I tried to get him to ask Minnie Mouse for a lap dance. He refused.
  • At the Biergarten in the Epcot Center – getting him a “beer” (rootbeer, of course), his watching the band and saying “they’re not as good as Doc Watson“.
  • Loading his plate at the buffet table and saying: “I got a really good buffet” – as if the buffet was the entree rather than the style of dining.

Anyway, enough of my human side. I know that’s not why my millions and millions of simple-minded readers tune in to me every month!
I don’t know… I was going to write a bit about my own horrible time farming in Florida, which started with my old Coonhound,  Joad, getting killed by an alligator, then my getting ripped off by the broker I was dealing with, and finally ending with a night of whiskey, guns and a woman (True story. Buy me a few drinks and you can hear it). But I think I will just call it quits for the evening and leave you with the words I exclaimed as I left Disneyland, to the horror of my co-travelers, as I raised my hand in the infamous salute: HEIL DISNEYRIECH!!!!


Steve Parker, Parker Farm
I grow vegetables on 35-acres in Lunenberg, MA. My farm – Parker Farm – has been operating for 19 years and, if it doesn’t kill me, I’m planning to farm this land for many years to come.

Agritourism – vacation on a farm!

Friday, November 20th, 2009
photo courtesy of Liberty Hill Farm

photo courtesy of Liberty Hill Farm

A friend emailed this morning with the query: “Do you know of a farm where we can go for a vacation? We really want to experience life on the farm, but we’re not ready to get our own yet!”

Agritourism is a way that farmers are adding to their on-farm income. There are farms where one can stay for a week, pitch in with chores, work with animals, and truly learn the work of farming. There are other farms where you can simply hear the rooster crowing from the comfort of your bed – no milking, hauling, plowing, weeding, picking, or feeding necessary!

A few resources for finding a farm vacation: Agritourism World – Worldwide database of farms. Search by location, farm type, activity and more.

New York Times article about the trend: Down on the Farm With Your Sleeves Rolled Up

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) provides valuable business guidance to farmers interested in creating an agritourism experience on their farm. ATTRA is one of Farm Aid’s national partners for our Farm Resource Network – a web-based database of local and national farm groups.

**update** I just learned that my favorite shepherdess (a REAL one) offers farm stays on her Juniper Moon Farm near Charlottesville, VA. Susan founded the first fiber CSA in the country and her blog is absolutely irresistible.

If you liked it, share it!  Share/Save/Bookmark