I am noticing more small family and cooperative farms in this area which rely on organic production methods, permaculture, and pastured livestock. Interestingly, a number of these farms in this area are explicitly Christian, which is remarkable given the liberal and secular bent of this part of the state (things tend to get more conservative and religious in Michigan as you head north and west).
I don’t know financially how they make it work; maybe they can live really frugally and earn a living from these little farms or (more likely) one or both spouses work outside the home. In our case, even if we started turning our little homestead into a business, we’d still need outside income. My husband would still have to keep his job although we could probably replace my job with the fruits of my home labor; my husband is strongly encouraging me to move in that direction, but I am a worrier who lacks confidence in this area, so I’l probably keep my paid job for now.
Here are three little farms not far from where I live that have caught my attention; two of the three are run by Christian families.
C & C Micro-Farm in Gregory doesn’t have a website yet, but you can find them on Facebook.
Growing By Faith Farm in Stockbridge offers classes in the sorts of skills that farm folks might have had 100 years or so ago. Examples include things like butter-making, how to start a fire with a bow drill, raising and processesing (i.e. killing and prepping) pastured poultry, how to weave a basket out of cattails and the like.
Robin Hills Farm here in Chelsea offers classes, farm tours, and CSA shares of organic produce.
The reason I find these little farms to be a hopeful sign is because even in places like Greece that have been experiencing a fairly length financial collapse, we don’t see total mayhem. People still have basic sustenance and it is not total anarchy. I think, barring unforseen catastrophe (EMPs, for example, or having Iran someday drop nuclear bombs on us courtesy of the Obama administration’s foolishness), what we’re really in for here is a long, protracted, economic decline in which our collective standard of living is significantly reduced over a period of time. As that happens, people will naturally return to older methods of food production, with each family finding ways to keep small livestock (chickens, rabbits) and eke out a small garden. It sounds scary to moderns but it was only three generations ago that this was the normal state of affairs, and it is nice to know that there are already a number of people, a small but growing minority, who are rediscovering old skills and melding them with new ideas from permaculture.
This kind of small-scale agrarianism is a hopeful sign for the immediate future. When I look at this, I don’t mind the idea of “the decline”; in fact, I rather welcome it. Why? Because it is as Herrick Kimball wrote in Light in Our Dwellings ten years ago:
The plain truth, like it or not, is that, in order to succeed in this modern world, on its terms, you must sacrifice your family on the altar of Industrialism.
Yes, I know that is a harsh thing to say. Many people will disagree with me because the industrial model of family life is seen by the masses as normal and, therefore, good. But it is neither normal nor good. It is the spawn of 19th century Industrialism and a historical aberration. It weakens and destroys families. That is the truth and the truth can hurt. Believe me, I know.
The saddest aspect of this situation is that so many professing Christian families willingly buy into the materialistic hubris of our industrial culture.
…I’m convinced that if God’s people are going to be an effective witness to those in the dying industrial culture around us, we must do more than believe in a personal savior, and we must do more than proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. It is imperative that we also live our lives set apart to God. That does not mean that we can simply Christianize the ungodly industrial model and, in so doing, somehow become immune to its pernicious evils. It means we must separate ourselves and our families from the ungodly culture of industrialism.
The only way I know for Christians to effectively separate from the culture of industrialism is to embrace Christian-Agrarian life and culture. Christian-Agrarianism (sometimes called Biblical-Agrarianism) is Christianity lived within an agrarian paradigm. It is trusting God, His word, and His promises more than the false promises of materialistic industrialism in all its manifestations.
Let the decline of materialistic industrialism come, then.