Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rites of Passage on Our Farm

Wikipedia says, "a rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's transition from one status to another".

We have lost many of our traditional farming rites of passage as we have move from an agrarian society to an urban society. We see value in many of our agricultural traditions that mark a transition from a child on the farm to a full contributing member of the farming tribe.

Here are a few of these rites of passage...

  1. Farmers Market. Each of our children have joined the farmers market team when they were three years old. This was the age when they could interact with our customers and had the attention span to be there most of the morning.
  2. Driving. Our children started driving when they could reach the peddles on the garden tractor. They learned valuable hand to eye coordination. They then graduated to driving the Gator or four wheeler, the farm tractors, and then the farm pickups (off road of course). Each of my children learned to drive a stick shift pickup full of compost before they were teenagers When it came time for formal drivers training they were very competent and at ease with controlling a vehicle and graduated at the top of their Drivers Education class. We recently had the final driving milestone when they each took turns driving the farm pick-up truck and our farmers market trailer to the farmers market. They did excellent.
  3. Leading our farm work crews. When they are in their early teens each of our children of necessity had to lead the farm work crew. Andrea was giving instructions to college students working for us when she was 12 years old. Jenna and Reed followed suite. I had to laugh when Reed our high school freshmen was the work crew leader for two guys from our school who were Seniors that year. Normally this might be a little awkward, but he did a great job and that worked very well because they were dependent on his training and leadership. they were also hard workers and very nice young men.
  4. Developing specialized skills and becoming an expert. Reed is an expert in root crops like radishes, onions and leeks. Jenna is an expert in all types of herbs and cooking. Andrea is an expert in vegetable plants and annual flowers. She was known as the sunflower girl as our farmers market for many years and was the "go to girl" in the vegetable department at a summer job at a local garden center.
  5. Starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur. Andrea a college sophomore teaches music theory to groups of young children as an independent consultant. Jenna a high school senior applies her artistic skills to a photography business she has started. She has several photo shoots a week and her signature photographs are unique portraits composed in unusual settings. Reed a high school sophomore, buys and repairs electronics like iPhones, laptops and other mobile gear.  He is the king of Craig's list and wants to write a book on negotiating for teenagers.

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