Go Wisely & Slowly

There are two pieces of advice I have heard over and over in my interviews with farmers: you can start where you are and start small.

First, starting where you are. A standard question I ask is how people who live in urban or suburban environments can get closer to nature. The answers range from as simplistic as walking outside in the fresh air or observing out the window as you drive to slightly more complicated like plant something in those pots you have hanging around or replace part of your lawn with a vegetable garden or get some chickens.

The answer is never, “It can’t be done, you can only do these things in the country.” This is inspiring because I grew up on 640 acres of forested mountains, and now I live in a 1,300 square foot condo with a minuscule backyard which is half concrete. It seems impossible to do anything in the perpetually shady, filled with alder roots, tiny, rocky patch of land that I technically don’t even own. But there are things I can do! I don’t have to have acreage to start experimenting and learning.

Image by Andre Lergier on Unsplash

Which leads us to the second piece of advice: start small. I often hear variations on the theme of “don’t bite off more than you can chew.” I hear that the people who are in over their head financially or workload-wise are the ones who are stressed out and tired and sometimes throw in the towel. I’ve learned that successful poultry operations can start with five chickens in a backyard and abundant gardens can be grown on ¾ of an acre.

Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.

— Shakespeare

Image by Charlie Seaman on Unsplash
Julie Conrad, at Blooming Joy Farm, talks about remembering that you can’t do everything and be a rockstar at all of it. Resilient and satisfying farming can take place when you put blinders on and focus just on what you want to learn, do, and implement for the upcoming year. Then, if you really want to be involved in something else, find other farmers who do it and support them rather than putting it all on your shoulders. “Do one thing well, then bring in something new and do that well, then reevaluate, ‘Can I do a third thing and do it well and still have some semblance of balance and harmony with where I’m at and what I’m doing?’” Julie advises.


Do one thing well, then bring in something new and do that well. 

Inspired to start now in the smallest ways, I’ve been taking baby steps toward nature, farming, and gardening. In honor of Earth Day, I put together a PDF of ten easy activities I have enjoyed over the past few months that have brought me a little closer to nature.

10 Activities for Earth Day


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