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Keep It Simple and Sustainable

When you begin the work of building a garden or developing a farm, your success will be determined by your ability to overcome one vice: impatience.

The thought of having a beautiful farm filled with animals, or a peaceful garden filled with fruits and vegetables, can be difficult to contain. When we walk into a local hardware store or look at a farm and garden supply catalog, we will find an endless supply of products that offer us the opportunity to buy and install everything we desire. From chicken coops to raised garden beds, it’s all available immediately.

While this may be enticing, especially if you have plenty of money to work with, there are a number of reasons why this should be avoided.

1. Mistakes Will Be Costly

When learning to garden or farm, many mistakes will be made. When we make big purchases and try to develop projects quickly, mistakes become very expensive. Working slowly, without costly farm and garden purchases makes mistakes bearable and allows us to adjust our plans as we go, without suffering great losses.

2. Technology is Overrated

We often look at challenging jobs like clearing land and preparing gardens and imagine that buying a tractor or tiller or chainsaw will allow us to get this work done quickly and easily, but this is often not the case. We neglect the reality that equipment is made for profit and regularly breaks, leaving us with difficult repairs while work goes undone. Maintenance is also required for all motorized equipment and this is often work that gardeners and farmers aren’t interested in doing. I once built a large, beautiful garden with a tiller, which broke in the middle of the garden season.

You will learn that learning to use manual tools is beneficial in many ways. First, it makes gardening and farm work a source of healthy physical exercise. Second, manual work is slow and careful and prevents mistakes caused by machinery or haste. Third, manual tools are affordable and easy to maintain and replace, whereas machinery can be expensive to purchase, maintain and replace.

3. The Process is Important

We often look ahead to the finished products and give no respect to the process by which they are produced. Practical wisdom is gained by developing projects simply and sustainably. We learn how the natural world really works, how to do necessary tasks most efficiently, and so on. We learn important moral lessons as we work and can enjoy the companionship of our spouses and children as we enjoy the process of developing a farm, building gardens, etc.

4. Our Limits Reveal the Best Plans

As we work manually, we will learn how much can get done in different units of time and will gain a meaningful way to plan what’s done in the garden and on the farm. While magazine and videos may suggest doing something in a way that seems to good to be true (it is), our experience will reveal to us why one way is objectively better than another. Our physical strength, other responsibilities and available help will allow us to know what can be done responsibly on the farm and keep us from attempting too much.

5. Enjoying Farming & Gardening

Worst of all, we often make ourselves miserable trying to get things done as fast as possible, when there is no real reason to do so. Our work on the farm and in the gardens should be carried out in a way that is healthy, peaceful and enjoyable. This is when the benefits of farming and garden are obtained, and many ambitious families never enjoy them because they’re always thinking about what’s next.

God bless your families,
Mr. William C. Michael
Academy Farm & Gardens

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