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Want to Get “Back to the Land?” You’re Not Alone


Want to Get “Back to the Land?” You’re Not Alone

Nancy Matsumoto

Over the past century, generations of young people have turned their backs on city life to embrace small-scale farming and back-to-the-land ideals. The exact circumstances for each generation's return have varied: the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Vietnam War in the ’60s and ’70s, and, more recently, the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity to industrial agriculture and climate change.


If someone can get back to the land and actually make a living doing it, that is fine. But only a small minority will be able to do so and this for most, the it ends up being just a "live out in the country" variant of the suburban lifestyle with a far larger carbon footprint than living in an urban space.

And, if Ms. Matsumo would look around a bit beyond the affluent liberal boomer market of "Yes" Magazine she would find that if there is any back-turning among millennials going on, it is the "back to the land"-ism of their hippie-boomer parents. Millenials are flocking to the cities for their intellectual and cultural and left-political vibrancy, a car free lifestyle, and also the public access to locally produced food and goods that are rare in the suburbs and non-existent (unless you grow, slaughter or shoot it yourself) in rural areas.


The primary reason millenials are flocking to the cities is the economic trajectory for the past half century or more keeps being skewed more in favor of urban areas at the expense of rural economies.

Note that Yes magazine and other real news sources frequently have articles on urban food production which many millenials and others are embracing. Characterizing "back to the land" as being limited to rural areas is SOOO twentieth century.


So glad Scott Nearing is referenced. He was a giant from many perspectives, way ahead of his time - but not as widely known now days.


I grew up on a farm in Mississippi. I can promise you my grandfather wasn't making $100K per acre. My grandmother had at least three acres in "truck patch" vegetable gardens, but that grew enough to feed the family over a year. And who decided that farmers can take the summer off to go on some European boondoggle? Who's hoeing and weeding the crops? Or are you growing crops in winter?

My grandfather didn't need student loan relief. He never got beyond sixth grade. But he could engineer and build whatever his farm needed. He traded chickens or a ham for medical care.

Anyone who spends time on a real farm will recognize the facile arguments this article presents.


Sounds closer to the comment, " that is soooooo 1960s: :wink: larger scale commodity producing acreage, really organic ( manure ), annual crop rotating, livestock raising, abundant daily chores, equipment maintenance, etc. The whole nine yards. For maybe 20-30K???
Real 365 days and sunrise to sunset, hard work. To make about $10-12 an hour, for dad and, hopefully, mom. Again, lots of hard work, including paying for European summer vacations. ( Don't hide the egg money in the flour bin. ) Moms like that part best!