Tools for the new cool: hoes and tractors

News to warm my heart: Apparently, the hip, new thing is farming. CNN ran a short piece about educated young people who are turning in their Wall Street jobs and Ivy League credentials for the agrarian life.   

Roy Skeen, a 28-year old Yale graduate from Baltimore is one such example. A history major who also worked in finance, he’s now growing his own produce and selling it at a city farmers’ market:

“The story that’s told about Yale,” he says, “is you’re an intelligent person if you go to Yale. But I graduated and I didn’t know how to do anything useful. I could go make green pieces of paper with dead presidents on them, but I couldn’t do anything practical.”

Skeen tried to “do something practical.” He headed to New York to work in investment banking, but he found that life stifling. After a trip to the Caribbean, he found his calling: farming.

“It exposed me to culture that grows food and lives in one place. It was pretty simple, but it was nice and I liked it.” Skeen moved back to his hometown, Baltimore and is now working the land on an urban farm. He finds the work hard, but satisfying, in an almost spiritual way.

The CNN report says for the first time in its long history, the National Future Farmers of America has seen its membership grow to 520,000 members.

My prediction is this trend will continue for a while. Some of these new farmers will eventually return to other professions — farming is hard work, and not always profitable. But a number of them will survive and thrive and help build more sustainable and healthy local economies. 

By

Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

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