It was discovering the imminent arrival of Peak Oil that really got me interested in growing food about eight years ago. Because conventional, chemical farming allied to the globalised distribution system is so dependent on cheap oil, it seemed a pretty safe bet that food was going to get increasingly expensive as cheap oil disappears, and much of what we get now in our supermarkets may well become a rare sight as flying in products from overseas becomes less and less viable economically. Consequently, I decided that growing organic food for my family would ensure that we could get highly nutritious food without depending on oil inputs and without having to worry about the food miles associated with it. Thus we would be improving our diet, safeguarding our food supply should the time come when food becomes exorbitantly expensive, and reducing our carbon emissions at the same time.
This all fits in neatly with what many people in Transition groups around the world are doing. However, I’ve now decided to manage the farm full time once I finish my current teaching contract in August. This year we have started to sell our produce, and the level of interest and demand makes me confident that we can make a success of it. I have an excellent farmer – Bhola – working for me, and our sales are getting steadily higher as each month passes.
The prospect of leaving a job that I have become less and less enamoured of – teaching – and switching to an activity that I find totally absorbing and fulfilling – organic farming – is truly exciting. It means that I will finally be doing a job that is exactly what I want to be doing. I could bemoan the fact that I’m now 61 and I should have been brave enough to make the move long ago, but that doesn’t matter anymore. What is important is that I’ve made the decision to get out of a job that is increasingly stressful, frustrating and unfulfilling in order to do something that fills me with joy. What could possibly be better? And why is it so few of us are doing jobs that we really enjoy?
The important steps for me were, first of all, educating myself about peak oil and climate change and then starting to grow organic food as a way of responding to these crises. The formation of Transition South Lantau was a further step along the path of trying to build local resilience, although I can’t claim much success on that front. However, sending out a newsletter each week has helped to keep me informed of what’s really happening in the world and what I need to be doing to try to build a better society. Throughout this process the dissatisfaction with a teaching profession which teaches next to nothing about the major issues confronting us has intensified to the point where going to school feels like stepping through the looking-glass into an Alice-like world totally divorced from reality. Stepping out of the classroom to make tracks to the farm is going to help me get properly grounded again, and to engage in something that is without doubt, in my mind, of benefit to the community.
Nevertheless, I don’t intend putting all my eggs in one basket. One of my other consuming interests is, as I’ve indicated, keeping informed about energy, climate, and how to transition to a truly sustainable economy which will give all of us a much better, much freer way of harmonising with the rest of the planet. I shall be working with a friend, Philippe Couture, to collate and disseminate information on these and related issues. This we’ll start on in earnest later in the year.
Finally, to ensure that I can pay the bills, I shall be training to be an IELTS examiner so that I have a different source of income to the farm.
It feels good to have a completely new career opening up before me, and I can’t wait to launch into it full-time. Should my nerve fail at any time I can always look to the example of Jenny Quinton of Ark Eden, who also gave up a teaching career to set up her own environmental education business which has gone from strength to strength:
I also go back to Chris Johnstone’s excellent book Find Your Power which is an ideal guide to getting you on the right path to create the sort of life you really want.
As for my farm, which I’ve called Dragontail Farm after the uncommon butterfly the White Dragontail which we have seen there, you can find out more from the Facebook page which I recently created: