“Why Do You Farm?” Spoon Story One: Mericos Rhodes

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I came to farming during one of the most difficult times in my life. 

The hit happened on a summer afternoon when I was 22, and I was suddenly unable to do the two things that I loved doing the most, the two things that got me up out of bed in the morning. The hit took away lacrosse and left my neck too tight and painful to work on a computer. I was concussed.

Quickly I became depressed. What was I supposed to do with myself? What use was I? Time felt like walking into the wind, and getting nowhere. 

Due to its computer work, I had to quit my job working at a clean energy finance company. I drove out to the country, to a little farm near my college. There were cows lounging out on the green pasture, and I sat beside them in the warm sun. They were happy in their small community, breathing, ruminating, focused entirely on eating grass. 

I felt their peace as my own. 

Inside the farm store was a book called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” The cover was pretty. I bought it. I read a little every night, until my head and neck pain forced me to stop. As the words sank in, I felt it all: grief, anger, shame, fear, hope, joy, hunger. 

There are so many problems growing in our food systems, all of which threaten our earth’s ecosystems and our human societies. Some changes have to be grown, I thought, and those changes had to grow from the ground up, on thousands of farms all over the world. On the face of it, the solution seemed relatively simple.

After all, the health of our food system should bring us together, because food is universal: everybody eats, and everybody wants their families to be healthy. But I quickly realized that agriculture, like any culture with an ancient lineage, is infinitely complex. In fact, it’s the most complex process that I’ve ever encountered. 

My first farm job was at a grass-fed cattle farm in Oregon. 

Working there, I came alive again. More alive than ever. I ate local garden produce and pasture meat, I worked outside with my body all day, and that work actively served the purpose of building soil biology, which could help trap carbon out of the air and keep this planet habitable for my (someday) children.

My head and neck healed, and soon I could work on a computer again. But I was not going back to a finance job. I had discovered the joy of growing and sharing great food, and the amazing health and happiness that comes from eating great food. 

I realized that the health of our whole earth starts with the health of my own body, and your body, and the soil that grows our food. Healthy food grows from healthy soil. 

Living closer to nature healed me. Farming closer to nature will heal our food systems, our public health, and this glorious, vibrant earth that is our only home. I am alive to help people and nature thrive together, with great food. 

Mericos Rhodes is a “Spoon” at Spoon Full Farm. He is involved with cattle, the young orchard, social media, marketing, and (to one degree or another) everything else. Learn more about him and the rest of the Spoons here: https://www.spoonfullfarm.com/about-1/

Mericos Rhodes