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  • Beth Hoffman

When are you going to Iowa?


We started this blog more than a year ago, in order to be more active about our world and to be part of the change we wanted to see happen. Eating less meat, we thought, seemed like the “low hanging fruit” in reducing our impact on climate change. So we started posting about “why less meat” and even put up a few recipes for people to follow.


Yet increasingly, this blog has become about our anticipated move to Iowa. And therein lies the rub - the move to Iowa has become very complicated indeed. So emotionally, financially and socially complicated in fact, that it is amazingly hard to write about. To summarize what is going on, our thoughts and emotions - it feels like a lot of whiny details the world doesn't need to hear about.

But a weird thing has also happened to me over the course of all these months and years of talking about this move. I realize now, it has become part of my make up, my persona. I am, to many I know now, “the-woman-moving-to-Iowa.” Old friends ask me about it all the time. People I hardly know see me in the halls and ask immediately "When are you leaving for Iowa?"

By now a lot of time has passed, and we are still talking about this move, without actually doing it. We don’t even know when we might move. And I am realizing this part of who I am is getting old, like a joke that isn't getting to the punch line.

It feels like it is time to, as one of my favorite Jersey friends liked to say, “shit or get off the pot.”

But so many things still stand in our way. Some of them good challenges - like what to do about the fact that I love my job? Others - that John’s dad is still not convinced any of this is a good idea - are challenges we are ready to be done with.

So many doubts swirl around my head too. John hasn’t farmed since he was a teenager - will he really know what he is doing? Will my body hold out for another 20 years of farming? What will it be like to be old and on the farm? Will I have any friends?


And then there is the simple fact that this is not just a move of our stuff, or even of our social lives - farming is a business. This farm - what we plant, how we manage it - needs to be economically viable. This is the part of the equation virtually every coastal agricultural journalist seems to forget. Yes, it would be great if we grew more vegetables in the US, if there were less cows in feedlots, if everyone grew organically - but, if farmers can’t make a living, there is no way these things can actually happen.

In other words, it feels a lot like I am running on a treadmill, getting nowhere and whining about it - a lot.

But that is only part of the story. We have also learned a ton. We have put in an orchard. John has become a carpenter over the course of these years and is building our tiny house. We have gone to field days on farms, attended talks at Iowa State, interviewed farmers and met people we like. We've walked and walked and walked around the farm. We even have working spreadsheets now, on which it actually looks like we might be able to make a living at this someday, at least on paper.

So maybe we are not stuck in the sand, doing nothing. Maybe we have actually been busy. Yes, I think, we are going to be moving someday. Just not sure when.

#farming #economicviabilityoffarms #tinyhouse