Monday, September 19, 2011

When I Grow up....

Hanging around with children at our summer camp or during a field trip full of preschoolers, it is evident that few of them aspire to be white collar workers when they grow up. They naturally look for concrete, authentic roles to emulate....they want to be brown collar, they want to be farmers. The children who visit the farm connect most closely with our small assortment of livestock, sometimes more closely than with other people. And, I think it is safe to say, many adults still harbor a little of this brown collar aspiration as well. What holds people back from this dream, from any entrepreneurial dream for that matter? In our country, at this time, I think the answer to this question and the jobs crisis in general lies in affordable, accessible health care for all. 

As our interns prepare to move on to other ventures with the approaching cold weather, they are also approaching the age when they will be released from the roles of their parent's health care policies. This presents them with a myriad of challenges. At the age of 27, they are eager to consider farming as an occupation. However, they are drawn to institutional farming jobs that offer benefits, which are few and far between. Mom and Dad's encouragement to make certain they continue to maintain health insurance weighs heavily. Starting a farm business feels unattainable.
If access to non-employer based affordable health care is realized, I can only imagine that the number of small entrepreneurial businesses, like farms, will increase, allowing for the real possibility that agriculture can be looked upon as a legitimate career by the white collar parents of our young interns (not to mention our own parents when we where at that crossroads in life). As we continue our personal boycott of the insurance industry into another year (doesn't that sound so much more righteous than saying "we can't afford health insurance?") I look to Massachusett's Health Care Reform Law and The Vermont Health Bill, H202, as models for how states can take the lead, growing the potential for entrepreneurship, and allowing creative individuals to innovate without concern for leaving behind the security of a employer-based health benefits.
In the national discussion of job creation, rarely do you hear the mention of affordable, non-employer based health insurance access mentioned as a driver for new business. Our current model creates a paradigm in which workers are functioning as indentured servants to corporate America as a means to cover themselves in the event we have a personal health incident. If the employed individual in a family is the one to become ill and needs to leave work, the insurance only works as long as they are employed, and healthy, as many have come to find out the hard way.
If you followed along this far and you are still wondering why thoughtful folks like us don't have health insurance or maybe saying something about how foolish we are, let me say it is not without many hours of figuring, number crunching and discussion. It may not be for everybody but it works for our family. Health insurance companies have also spent countless hours number crunching and they seem to do quite well on their end, claiming profit year after year.
What I want to see is a society where parents and teachers and mentors espouse a sincere support to their children when they announce they want to be farmers. "That's nice, honey." Feed that love by planting school gardens, using sheep to mow and fertilize the playing fields, build greenhouses to allow for student research and learning about alternative heating methods and 4 season crop production, keep schoolyard chickens. Embrace the potential for a legion of brown collar workers that will grow our food, in our community, preserving open space as farmland and providing us with a secure food system as we move into the uncertainty of the future. 
When I grow up, I'm looking forward to retirement. But, in the meantime, I'm going to keep on being a farmer, with the insurance of good food on my table and a hope that Obamacare kicks in and saves us from some untimely health care incident that may be in our cards.
This week's harvest:
butternut squash
Edamame (fresh soy beans)

Blessings on the meal,

(Photos are from a wedding at Kinglsey Pines where our flowers and design graced the tables)


  1. Stacey,
    Good Morning. Your blog is such a breath of freshness, and realness and I want you to know that a daily practice of introspection, reflection and inner growth is like your personalized health care. Resting comfortably in the truth that your protection and security comes from you being you. I love your pictures and your beautiful flowers. I wish you the best in the new and shifting season. XO, jaime

  2. Randy and I are dealing with this very issue right now. My health care runs out in February, and I can't afford to have my own plan, or to be on his. I have always said I'd rather start my own heath savings account than pay for parents are not thrilled with the decision, despite our countless number of pros and cons lists. I will keep my fingers crossed for your interns and the rest of us fighting this battle.

  3. Well said and gorgeous flowers too!

  4. I totally agree. Love your ideas and your photos. You are an inspiration. xxoo

  5. Hmmm.... yes, heath care...
    Imagine how creativity, productivity and small businesses could blossom under different circumstances.
    STUNNING pictures.


  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and well said. It's my first visit here, but I'm thinking I'll stay here for a while! Beautiful flowers and pictures. Have a great day.

  7. Just hopped over here for the first time from SouleMama. Thanks for your words.

    My family is in a tricky time of transition right now. We have always dreamed of starting our own self-sufficient farm, and the flux in my husband's architectural career, and difficulty in finding a new job elsewhere, would seem to point a big green light on making the jump to farming. All except for healthcare. Our youngest son has a rare bleeding disorder, and going without insurance means thousands in medical bills on a regular basis. I hate feeling so tied to the system, but that is our reality.

    So now, we just wait and see what the future brings. For now, that's a dependece on employment with benefits. May it not always be so...

  8. I love your post. We were about to start a small farm on our land in NY and then my husband's job was transferred to PA. We had to move to keep good pay and good health insurance. We left 60 acres of beautiful land to keep this. We still plan to go back but when is the question. It's unfortunate that many of us have to make this decision. Hopefully someday it will be much easier for others.

  9. Dorothy and Cindy...good luck finding your way to your dream. And Jaime...your love never stops feeling good, sister. Thanks for the thoughts, ya'll.

  10. Yes! This post really speaks to me. I dream of my own little sheep farm, few chickens, tomatoes on the vine, but my primary reason for not moving forward with this dream is the health care issue. I have terrific health care now, and can't imagine giving it up.... Never thought of it in these terms until reading your post. Good food for thought. Much luck to you and your family. (also here from Soulemama) PS. Gorgeous flowers!

  11. While there is wisdom in planning for the future and not wasting away our time and resources now, we are not promised tomorrow. I am ready for doctors to return to a simpler system where they see it as a joy to provide their services at prices we can afford without the insurance giants assistance. I too feel hopeful that we are raising a new generation of kids who dream of growing life regardless of the lack of "secure employment benefits".

  12. Hi! We have been following your blog for a little over a year now. We always enjoy your posts but this one is one of our favorites!

    Your farm looks like a beautiful, wonderful place!

  13. Hi there! I've looked in on your blog before, and came over today on a link from SouleMama. Though we're building a life and a farm in Aroostook County, I'm from South Portland and my husband's from Gorham--we're thrilled to see what you're doing at Broadturn Farm. Your thoughts on health care and career aspirations really hit home. I hope that when my boys are grown, they will be able to choose to farm, and to still have access to affordable healthcare, and to retire. I've linked to you on my blog, and I'd love it if you stopped by!

  14. Fantastic floral work :) Hats off for you !!!

    Wedding Themes

  15. absolutely beautiful and adorable!!!!

  16. Boy does this hit home. We are fortunate that we have a farm in Western WA, and my husband has a job that he loves which does offer health ins. However, he still has to be in the office 3 days a week, and we haven't been able to move nearly as fast with developing our farm because he is at work. We have four children, one with lung damage from a vaccine reaction as a baby, and I have been paralyzed from the waist down. I walk now, but I have had eight spinal surgeries. Basically I average one major surgery ever two years. Our lives would improve greatly if we didn't have to worry about whether or not we are insured. I definately worry about my children and the choices they will have to make in order to afford medical treatment when they need it. Thank you for reminding all of us about the actual cost of the health care system. It is far more reaching than any deductable.

  17. It is not only farmers and 27 year old interns it affects. I am 63 and have to pay for my own insurance....$1200 a MONTH. At 63 you better have some type of insurance. Fortunately my pension plan pays 60% but I still pay $420 a month. Loved your blog.

  18. Thank you everyone for your insightful comments and for sharing your stories and for your love. It only further supports the need for better access to health care and non-employer based insurance models.