Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lifestyle Change

So I have told you about the blog and so now, I suppose, I should tell you about the farm.

Shalmeno Farms sits on our quarter-acre lot of which one-eighth has been designated for farm usage.  Actually it might be a little larger than that if you count the workshop and shed, chicken coop and fruit trees.  The primary use of the lot is as shelter for my family.  Shalmeno Farms is what you would call an Urban Farm.  With the city as a back drop I am learning to create nurturing fruits and vegetables that in the end will be the life source for my family.

When we moved into the house the idea of farming had already started to germinate in my mind and within months the entire thing had taken full bloom.  I am now not only working my land as part of the farm but I am also writing a business plan to farm other yards, lots, etc within the city in order to sell fresh produce to the public.

To answer the first obvious question that people might as I say, "no".  No, I have never worked on a farm.  I am, you might say, a part of "generation organic".  A movement in this country of first generation farmers.  Thousands of men and women wishing to change their lifestyles have moved to the farm.  I'm not sure how I became a "member" of the movement but I am.

My motivation for turning to farming was a gradual shift of wanting to be rich to wanting to be content.  I determined the best way for me to do that was to be involved in a daily activity that I could tie directly to my need to survive in this world.  As a chef I increasingly began to question the importance of what I did.  Serving up large buffets of food didn't seem to be helping the worlds problem.  Working for multimillion dollar companies who spoke the rhetoric of community but in reality were business as usual was starting to weigh on my psyche.

So I want to farm.  But farming is a lifestyle not a career (or I guess it is both)  I have got to begin to change my life (and the lives of my family) so that the money I need is in keeping with the money that I make.  Which is different than my current model where I continually try to make enough money to keep up with what I "need".  Welcome to my journey.

The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor."

The businessman scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?" To which the businessman replied, "15-20 years." "But what then, señor?" The businessman laughed and said, "That's the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions." "Millions, señor? Then what?" The businessman said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, "Isn't that what I'm doing right now?"

-Author Unknown

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fat and Happy

The first thing I must do is explain the title of this blog.  Fat and Happy Farmer does not refer to my physical appearance nor my emotional state.  It is what they call in my wife's family a "Virgilism".  Virgil is the nickname of my father-in-law who often has sayings that we all chuckle at really he's the Orthodox Mormon version of Justin Halpern's Dad.

Often after a meal Virgil will say that he's "Fat and Happy".  I've always taken this to be a show of gratitude for a culinary gift or blessing.  He doesn't say it after every meal it's after a "feast".  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Baby Blessings, etc.  You know, some sort of special occasion.  He's taken in his fill and maybe just a little bit more. Life is good and he is blessed.

I have also come to think of Fat and Happy Farmer as being short for Living off of the Fat of the Land, Being Happy with what I have today, and pursuing joy through the lifestyle of a farmer.

So that then is what I hope this blog will come to be about.  A place to share my gratitude for this life and its blessings.  A collection of stories about my attempt to live off of the Fat of the land a little more each day as a husband, father, and a farmer at Shalmeno Farms.

Welcome to my journey.