Just like with anything else in life homesteaders and small scale farmers are up against some entertaining stereotypes. Some of them are humorous and others are aggravating. When someone asks you what you are/do and you answer with “farmer” or “homesteader”, you brace yourself because you never really know what kind of response your gonna get. You come across many people who think it’s neat and then an equal amount of other people who just don’t get it…”Why go through the trouble of growing all that food when you can just go to the store?”, or “So your one of those crazy preppers?”, and my personal favorite, “Well, Miss you sure don’t look like a farmer”.
It’s easy to laugh off the funny reactions but there’s a couple of stereotypes they stick ya with that I just cannot accept or wrap my head around. Allow me to address those.
They must be poor:
One common reputation amongst small farmers and homesteaders is that we are all poor and have no choice but to live “simple” and without luxuries.
I don’t really care if people think I’m poor personally , but I do find it concerning for future generations of farmers/homesteaders. If we lose respect and gratitude for this trade and many others , we might possibly turn future generations away from important skill trade positions. Our society already puts too much emphasis on college and not enough on trade skills. I fear that if we ostracize everyone who has a knack and passion for physical labor, and in this case farming, we might be dooming the future of sustainability.
There’s such a big misconception about farming, especially farming on a smaller scale. I know of lots of small scale farmers that make a good living off of as little as a couple of acres. I also know homesteaders who use their own backyards to grow ALL of their families food!
We NEED kids to WANT to grow food! We really need them to know that farming and homesteading is admirable and another possibility in the long list of careers they can choose from. Otherwise, we might miss out on some exceptionally bright and passionate growers/producers!
Whose to blame?
I’d say this stereotype as well as others is brought on a lot by the media and the recent popularity of self reliance reality shows. They often portray participants as being low income, but many of them had thriving careers beforehand, paid off debt, and then decided to live off the land. Some retire and take up small scale farming afterwards or picked up homesteading as a hobby. Some of them, like myself, started farming young without inheriting a family farm and are fighting their way to success! They aren’t forced into a simple life without common amenities and luxuries, they CHOOSE one. We aren’t required to perform back breaking work for a living, we WANT to!
Another contributing factor to the “poor” stereotype might be the fact that many people associate dirty clothes and rough appearance to being poor. Most of our clothes do indeed stay pretty dirty…I mean, we do quite literally work the dirt. Our pants are stained, we have scuffs on our boots, and holes in our jackets from brushing up against barbed wire fences.
What most people don’t realize is good work clothes are pricey, boots are expensive, and tractors and farming equipment is outrageous! Homesteaders and farmers spend their hard earned money on good equipment and reliable gear.
Homestead not “GLAM”stead:
Homesteading is all about sustainable living and using the resources around you to the fullest extent in effort to cut down on waste. For example, when building a structure like a chicken tractor on our small farm, we try to use leftover material that we already have. We don’t just rush out to the nearest store and buy one. Nine times out of ten it’s not because homesteaders can’t afford one, but we truly care about using leftover resources to the best of our ability. We believe in cutting down on waste and being more of a producer and less of a consumer.
The structures we build might not look as shiny and pretty as the ones at the store, but they are functional, charming, and saved a load of material from going to the dump!
NOT AS CLEAN:
This one seriously bothers me the most and makes me turn 50 shades of red. I was in complete shock when I first learned that there are many people out there that believe our homegrown food is not as safe to eat as food from the grocery store.
First if all, I’ve never heard of anything crazier than that! Cleanliness and health is the very reason I started growing and raising my own families food!
How anyone can trust factory farming and large grocery store chains over small scale farms is beyond me! Small farmers and homesteaders like myself go wwwaaaayyyyyy out of our way to ensure our food is the cleanest, healthiest, most wholesome food around!
We spend extra time and money creating natural habitats for our animals. Many of us raise chickens, pigs, and cows on pasture where they belong! Some of us even spend more money on natural non-gmo feed, and when the day comes, we again go out of our way to give our livestock an ethical end to life.
I’ve come to know so many wonderful homesteaders and small farmers that care deeply about animal husbandry, regenerative farming, and sustainable living. We want to do what’s best for the animals and the land, so the fact that others assume our food isn’t up to par is incredibly bothersome.
Sadly, I’ve witnessed people turn up their nose at homegrown, pastured chicken that was processed at the same farm it was raised on, but then turn around and buy chicken from the grocery store. This just shows that there’s an enormous disconnect from our food in today’s society. This desperately needs to change!
Many people think in order for their food to be considered safe to eat it has to come in a pretty package from the store. What they don’t always realize is how that food was grown or raised, how it was processed, where it was packaged, and how far it traveled to the grocery store shelf!
Much of the meat you buy at the store is from feed lots, grain fed with many unnatural fillers and bi-products, unethically butchered, and processed by MANY hands. Some of the meat your eating, especially fish, is grown in China!! That means it travels across the world before it’s on your plate.
Fight the stigma:
When you purchase food from a small scale farmer or grow your own food on a homestead, your doing the world a service! As a steward of the land I believe it’s my duty to do right by my animals, do right by the land, and educate others about the concepts of sustainable living.
Let’s work together against the stereotypes and make a true impact in the slow food movement! Stand tall and proud in your dirty farm clothes, next to your up-cycled chicken tractor, and remember the work we’re doing is important and it is bigger than ourselves!