Fresh & Local
The Fringe Benefits of Farming, Part 3
Column #54, Published Sept 28th, 2012

There is currently a food revolution going on. Locally grown food is making permanent inroads into the food we eat, and the way we think about food.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that farming has some significant fringe benefits, and that I have come to the conclusion that whether farming is a good way to make a living or not depends on how you value those fringe benefits. I have been running through my list of the bennies, in descending order of importance.

The first benefit is that we eat really well. Two weeks ago I quoted Theodore Dalrymple that treating meals as important social occasions is indicative of an entire attitude towards life.

Last week, I wrote about eating what we grow, and taking the time to sit down together at the table every night. If you really enjoy food, then local market farming gives you the opportunity to do it.

The second benefit is that we get lots of exercise. Last week I mentioned that since I started farming full-time I have lost 30 pounds.

I also wrote about a study in the medical journal The Lancet that concluded that inactivity kills as many people world-wide every year as smoking does.

Here are the rest of the bennies.

No. 3: We get to work outside. For years when I worked in an office, I used to look out the window and wish I was outside. Now I get to be outside every day.

Admittedly, this is only a benefit about two-thirds of the time. It is not a lot of fun to be outside when it is raining. January usually isn’t much fun either, along with June, July and August. But the rest of the time is usually pretty nice, and these last two weeks have been just about perfect.

A few years back, a routine physical discovered I had a vitamin D deficiency. It is an occupational hazard of working indoors. I don’t have that problem anymore.

No. 4: It is an easy commute. We have to travel about 100 yards.

No. 5: We get to work in an exciting, expanding, vibrant sector of the economy.

I have already written about the explosive growth in farmers’ markets, wholesalers and retailers.

As further evidence of its growth and importance, local market produce farming now has its own TV reality show. I’m not kidding. It is a new GAC (Great American Country) network show called Farm Kings. It is about a family named King with nine brothers, a sister and their mom.

The show’s web site invites everyone to, “Join the King Family of Freedom Farms as they battle the elements - and each other - to provide the Pittsburgh region with the very freshest produce possible.”

The web site continues, “From overnight bakery shifts and early-morning picking, to stripping down and selling their wares until sunset, the Kings will lay it all on the line each week to bring their customers fresh, local food - done right. But when you're in business with your family things are bound to get personal, so these Farm Kings will have to find a way to overcome their differences and balance the business and their family, or see it all come crashing down.”

You just know that local market produce farming has really arrived when we have our own TV reality show. Too cool.

Bryant Osborn and his wife Terry own Corvallis Farms in Culpeper County. His column on fresh and locally grown food runs every Friday. He can be reached at