The #9 reason why we need to overhaul our agricultural system is to maintain and hopefully ameliorate the strength of the family.  Now I don’t mean to say that in order to thrive we need to rely on a traditional family model, but what I will argue is that no matter what direction “family” takes in the future, the core values among them will need to be similar if society is to continue to function, and hopefully progress.

Children need multiple parents, and parents need all the help they can get.  The family is integral to the child’s development and the child’s development is paramount to society’s functioning.   There’s ample research to suggest that the dissolution of the family in the West and in particular in the U.S., has been a primary factor in our country’s high crime rates.  Children without the safety net of family don’t often make very good citizens.

The family is the disseminator of culture/tradition, teaches communication, life skills, supports religion/spirituality, community, instills honesty/integrity/other basics of social morality, and provides moral/financial/educational support.  Just like any other successful business, a successful family farm keeps generations together and has the added bonus of keeping young blood in rural areas.

We simply cannot ignore the fact that urban and rural communities rely on one another, but we have been trying to ignore this for decades.  Growing up in the suburbs we were isolated from both city and country and there seemed to be no effort in schools or among most households to bridge these gaps.  There was little less cool than country, and country folk was synonymous with redneck.  I was a teenager before I ever visited a farm, and that was in France.  In the most mobile and connected nation in the world how is it that the disconnect between the rural and urban has become so stark?  This disconnect causes stereotypes, creates resentment, and encourages young people to leave the countryside.

Simply gardening as a hobby in the city, suburbs or countryside can be a great way to keep a family working together, with each family member contributing, fostering mutual respect and strengthening group bonds.  As I mentioned last week, the CSA (community-supported agriculture) is providing a great working model.  Support it if you can!

http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

A few family farms worth emulating:

http://sustainablesettings.org/

Diamond B Ranch

http://www.polyfacefarms.com/