Forty Acres and a Mule
February 24, 2006 2:55 AM   Subscribe

Twilight for Black Farms. An interesting topic at NPR. Photos. Audio. Essay.
posted by dgaicun (6 comments total)
Beautiful — and fascinating. Thanks.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:31 AM on February 24, 2006

I honestly don't understand the desire to have a family farm. I mean I suppose it would be nice to be totally independent from the rest of the world (since you are able to produce your own food, 'n' stuff) but really, is there any benefit to society to have individual land-owning farmers?
posted by delmoi at 7:20 AM on February 24, 2006

The benefits to producing food locally are that it generates real wealth for the farmers and produces healthier, less processed food for you. Small businesses like farms are the real source of wealth in the world, not the blind and unengineered quantitative resource-allocators we call corporations. When small businesses prosper, that is what drives the economy.

Rant: A corporation is essentially a locus of free-energy minimization, i.e. an entropy machine. (What isn't, you ask.) It is designed to efficiently allocate resources as defined by its limited parameters, the highly abstract measures of business time and fiat money, which may or may not accurately reflect the physical wealth ostensibly dealt with by the corporation.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:36 AM on February 24, 2006

Delmoi: No benefit that I can see, but the romanticization of the small farmer is a powerful current in the United States, going back at least to Thomas Jefferson. He believed that "yeomen," small independent farmers, were inherently virtuous and the bulwark of republican government. 200+ years later we still talk about the "crisis" of family farms going under.

Two summers ago I took a long trip across a lot of back roads through the Dakotas. Dying towns and abandoned farm houses were about the only points of interest on the featureless landscape. At first my thoughts, conditioned by Hollywood pabulum, were along the lines of "Oh, these poor people, forced to leave their farms by cold capitalism." But after a week of the dreary emptiness, and especially when I considered what it might be like in the winter, I began seeing the empty farm houses in a different light. "Good for you! You escaped! I hope you like California," I would think.
posted by LarryC at 7:46 AM on February 24, 2006

LarryC, sonofsamiam's comment has a lot to do with what you saw--Jefferson's beliefs aside (which are hardly limited to him--Henry Wallace made a similar argument as FDR's VP), family farms simply can't compete with the agri-businesses which benefit wildly from Federal subsidies. Further, given the health problems of Americans re: obesity, it's a shame that more people don't know what a piece of fresh fruit or a vegetable looks like, or even where it came from.

The idea that "they" just picked up one day and moved to California is pretty assinine.

Interesting post.
posted by bardic at 8:59 AM on February 24, 2006

The American fabric is many-layered and thick. These farms tie us back to a different time that, though fading, still exists today. I hate to seem blah-zay (sp?), but time -- she does march on. That doesn't mean it isn't a shame.
posted by davekmv at 3:24 PM on February 24, 2006

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