Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Pain in My Heart

The new picture in the title pane of this blog is land on the farm that I grew up on. Over the holidays, paperwork was signed that solidifies the sale of this land. I was successful in putting thoughts on this to the back of my mind over the holidays, in order to not shoot my mouth off around family, but this picture brings it all back.

By this time next year, that land is likely to be no longer in my family's name, tho my parents may get to keep using it for a few years. This causes me more personal conflict than anything in my life so far. I know that my parents need the money that the sale will bring them. I know we can do a lot with the quarter section that remains, thanks to the money from the sale, but...

I feel that overall and in the longterm, we are losing out desperately. The land that is being sold, is some of the best kept farmland in this part of the province. It's soil has not tasted petroleum based fertilizer or modern herbicide methods in over 30 years. It is my pride in this land as family land that keeps me a supporter of private land ownership (albeit within limits). I could go on and on about its merits, but I also cannot. It's too hard.

I could really only see two ways that I could keep this land in the family. The first would be to assume operation in its traditional family farm setup. This has never been a reasonable option to me, as I have said in previous posts. I do not believe it to be a sustainable endeavor, in the single family paradigm. As well, it is clear that it is nearly impossible to exist at a reasonable standard of living on a family farm nowadays, certainly as a single person. Our systems are set up to stifle local farming, and to support corporate agriculture. So yeah, this was never a reasonable option, unfortunately.

The second option was to find an alternate business plan, which would focus on sustainable operation of the land and also provide a reasonable amount of income to those members of the family now in their retirement years. While I have all sorts of ideas that I believe will eventually be successful, without stumbling into a million dollars I just did not have enough time to achieve this option.

All is not lost. Land remains in the possession of the immediate family and I can still pursue the business ideas with that land. But it still pains me to know that I will no longer be able to walk anywhere on that beautiful land, whenever I want to. To build what I want, or grow what I want. I would have been happy to share it in many ways, but to lose it completely....

Instead, it will likely become an expansion of the adjacent landfill operation. About the best I can do is get involved with the land that remains, becoming a member of the County, thereby allowing me to go to meetings and try to see that something positive happens to the land. It is ideally located for wildlife preservation status, for example, other than that damn landfill.

Anyway, there it is. Best I not dwell on this pain but use it to re-focus my efforts on what remains. The more success I can achieve with that, the more I will be able to influence the future of that which is no longer family land, and beyond.

Peace to us all.

Update: Since it is likely that I will change the photo in the title pane, I have now attached the photo to the post itself.


Theresa said...

I am both sad that your family has had to relinquish so much land, but a bit jealous that you still have a quarter section :) I'm glad that the land is still in the extended family and I hope you do still get to enjoy it. And I really hope it doesn't get annexed by the landfill, that would be truly unfortunate.

That is a beautiful picture, by the way.

SoapBoxTech said...

Thank you Theresa. I know, sometimes I forget just how much we have, and how much we will still have after the sale is complete...when so many have so very little. But I will not feel guilty either. We have it, and in the shape it is, at least partially because my immediate family has lived very very frugally.

What is being sold is being sold to the county, so I am afraid the landfill extension may be unavoidable. The family has been kind of pushed to the sale, which I did not mention in the post. I am the only one left with any will to have kept fighting for it, so it is gone.

And thankfully, what is left is in the immediate family so there is more flexibility for my ideas.

Anyway, thank you again!

Liz said...

That was hard to read - I'm sorry your family has had to do this. Keep the memories and enjoy the land you still have.

How do I order a picture of that barn? ;o)

SoapBoxTech said...

Thank you Liz. I had so hoped I had the time to try to build a hemp production business and then a little agrarian community.

As for the picture, thanks for the compliment of asking how to order one!! I haven't the foggiest how to set that up but I thought you might want to see the two public albums I have up:

MoonRaven said...

I'm so sorry to hear this--and especially that you will be losing good farmland to a landfill.

I am glad you are making the best of it and good luck with your work with the county. I wish you had more support around you.

And, yes, that picture is lovely.

SoapBoxTech said...

Thank you Moonraven. I suspect the support is here somewhere, it is just my task to find it.

nika said...

I am so very sorry!

I totally understand how you are feeling - its like losing a very important part of the family and for it to become landfill would truly piss me off to no end!

EJ said...

So sad. Have you discussed options with a land trust?
Land that has not been chemically farmed is too good to loose!

SoapBoxTech said...

Thank you Nika and everyone. It is indeed a frustrating situation, on so many levels.

EJ, I did look into land trusts but the key factor here is that it was not just an immediate family decision. It is a much more complicated situation, but out of the respect for the privacy of others, I am uncomfortable saying much more. What I will say is that there was a desire by some, and a need by others, to see some immediate $$ from the land. That means selling, not land trusts.

What I had really wanted to pursue was some kind of partnership with the local college, where a significant portion of the farmland could have been put to research into sustainable techniques, agrarian community operation, equipment development, that sort of thing. However I just didn't have the time to research it long enough or the right to discuss the idea with the college without consent of the family members involved. Thanks for the support and input tho! It is all much appreciated.