The Vagaries of Farming

By: Ron Pitt

Across the country and the world, uncertainty and randomness in food production are rising. Farming has always been a risky proposition, but the risks are growing with climate change and the associated extreme weather events, inflation and economic uncertainty, wars, the pandemic, income and wealth inequality, and disruption in our social fabric. It is not only food production that’s affected, but also food producers. The mental health of farmers is a crisis of our time.

At the Barrington Farm School, we are fortunate to be supported by a community that values the farm’s educational mission. Our product is not only food; it is human capital, the knowledge and skills of youth and adults to engage in local, healthy food production. Still, we need income from our farm stand sales to support our mission, and therefore the factors that impact farming worldwide are felt here at the Barrington Farm School, on a small but significant scale.

Take, for example, last winter’s coldest day, Feb. 4, 2023. On that windy morning the air temperature at the farm was –9 degrees. We irrigate our crops using groundwater pumped by a well pump housed in an insulated and heated well house. The pump survived the winter of 2021-22, but that single day in February was too much, and the pump froze and cracked.

Fortunately, we had a savior – Bobby Vendituoli, who grew up working the farm when it was owned by his uncle Billy. Bobby does plumbing and construction for his livelihood, but he donates his time and expertise to the farm as a volunteer. Bobby found and installed a new pump, and we were back in business. Thank you, Bobby, and thank you to all of our donors and supporters who help us sustain our operation despite the vagaries of farming.

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