Starting the Adventure: Farming and Nurturing the Earth’s Balance
My grandpa was over the moon when he bought a parcel of farmland in the countryside. One sunny morning, we drove in to look around the farm. It was a wild wonderland of colorful plants, rocks scattered around, and tall trees. In the distance, pigeons cooed in an abandoned barn, while playful squirrels chased each other through the trees. I felt as if I was in paradise.
While we were all standing on the farm, Grandpa looked around happily and said, “You know, I’ve always had a dream of building a cozy home right here.”
My grandma smiled and nodded, “Yes, a little place where we can enjoy the quiet and the beauty of the land. But we don’t need to wait for a mansion. Perhaps we can start with just a small wooden cottage in that corner.”
Karamat, our friendly farmhand excitedly chimed in, “Hey grandma I can bring in the gravel tomorrow and dump it there as foundation for your cottage.”
But Grandpa shook his head and said, “Hold on now, we’ve got to be careful. We shouldn’t just cover this land with concrete right away.”
I looked at him, puzzled. “Why not Grandpa?”
He grinned and knelt down, picking up a handful of soil. “Because, my dear, this soil is special. It takes a crazy long time – like 500 to 1,000 years – for just one inch of topsoil to form.”
I blinked. “Wait, seriously? That’s like forever!”
He chuckled. “Well, not forever, but a really long time. You see, topsoil is this upper layer of soil that’s packed with important stuff like nutrients and tiny living things. It’s formed by a mix of things like rocks, weather, and all the living creatures that call this place home.”
I was amazed! “So, what you’re saying is, it’s like the skin of the Earth?”
Grandpa laughed, ruffling my hair. “Exactly, Daria! And just like we take care of our skin, we need to take care of this land too.”
We all nodded, understanding. It was more than just a piece of land – it was a living thing that needed our care and respect. As we stood there, looking at the fields and the open space, I felt a new sense of responsibility for the farm, just like my grandparents had.
And so, with hearts full of excitement, we dove headfirst into a whirlwind of joy and adventure on our enchanting countryside farm.
Grandpa’s Path to Farming and Rewilding
Grandpa and grandma cherished the land and sought a way to construct their house without causing harm to the environment they held dear. They constantly educated themselves on the best ways to restore the natural vegetation and regenerate the land, while living in the countryside that they loved.
In their quest for a flourishing farm, they remained mindful of nature’s gifts. My grandparents believed that “rewilding and farming can be combined to build a better food system.” Even as they cultivated the land for food crops and planted a lush kitchen garden, they went about it without disrupting what was already there. As grandma remarked, “You can’t grow back a 100-year-old tree.” She forbade the farmhands from cutting any large tree.
Over the years, Dada, our grandpa, planted dozens of species which fostered natural regrowth, but with an emphasis on trees that provide fruit.
He planted cherry trees, apple and chestnuts together with blueberry and raspberry bushes. To keep costs down, instead of buying expensive trees from the nurseries, he would germinate the seeds and grow saplings in his conservatory that he would then transplant. He especially selected seed varieties that had been proven to survive and bear delicious fruits in the harsh northern climate.
Dada ditched the usual green sod and planted white and red clover around the farmhouse. As the clover thrived, it not only added a burst of colors to the farm, but also worked its magic on the soil, enriching it with nitrogen and other vital nutrients.
Unlike the vast majority of growers who start by cutting and hacking, Dada pursued a very thoughtful approach to growing crops which did not center around cutting down trees to clear the land. He planted crops such as beets, carrots, and potatoes that grow well in partial shade near the trees. Leafy greens such as lettuce, arugula, kale, bok choy, and chard are happy with just a few hours of sunshine each day and he had abundant harvest every year of these crops.
Grandpa’s farm looks like a paradise in the middle of a “desert”. The trees act as natural windbreakers, provide shade, and it is all so much more beautiful. It feels refreshing with the fresh air filtering in through the emerald, green woodlands around the farm fields.
A born naturalist, Dada loves biodiversity, and his grand-kids enjoy the wildlife which has come back with all the rewilding. The squirrels scampering in among the plants and the racoons hunting for sweet-corn certainly make growing more difficult. At the same time, the birds and animals and trees and plants bubble up peace that is unachievable by any other means. “You just need to learn how to live and farm with animals,” Dada says.
Dada knew his efforts might seem small, but he likened them to lighting a candle in the darkness. Grandpa, a man of action, showed that true change begins at home, as he walked the talk of sustainability instead of just preaching it. His actions inspired those around him, spreading the spark of hope for a greener future.
With every tree that whispered in the breeze, every berry bush that offered its sweet treats, and every critter that scampered through the fields, grandpa and grandma’s farm became a playground of nature’s joy and endless adventure.
Grandpa’s Farm Stories: Cultivating Wonder and Kindness in Us
Dada spoiled us. We simply wouldn’t eat unless the lunch or dinner was accompanied by a little story. Dada’s stories were about living in harmony with nature and cherishing moral values such as truthfulness. He was a deeply religious man who punctiliously observed the core tenets of the faith. His faith was strengthened with deeply moral values. The green wilderness provided a tranquil sanctuary for him to meditate in peace.
Grandpa nurtured a sense of wonder in all of us through tales of nature. “Grandpa’s Farm Stories” were stories that helped to connect us to our roots and keep us grounded in our culture and beliefs. When grandpa would tell these stories, then not only us kids but the whole household would gather around him and listen to him retell ancient fables that celebrate living in harmony with kindness and peace.
“Listen,” grandpa would say, “a naturalist doesn’t poke sticks into tree trunks to bother insects, catch tadpoles in nets, or take eggs from bird nests.” “Someone who really loves nature isn’t just into it because it’s good for the planet or because of clinical curiosity, but because their heart is kind and caring to all the living things around us.”
A caring person would hesitate before replacing their front yard grass with fake turf just to avoid mowing it a few times in the summer. Real grass is important for insects, which birds and animals rely on for food. When I see birds searching for food in the grass or a skunk digging for grub, I feel a connection to the Creator who made our wonderful world.
The comic books and movies have twisted so many concepts in our minds just so the writers and producers can make money. We have so many children who grow up frightened of raccoons, skunks and spiders. When we see a spider we run to get a vacuum cleaner. When we see a skunk we start shrieking as if its a man eating lion. “Just let them be and they won’t trouble you,” grandpa used to say.
Many memories are so vivid in my mind… such as when our gentle grandpa joined us during our meals with stories such as Hazrat Suleiman’s conversations with birds and animals, and his care that even little creatures such as the ants should not be uprooted from their homes. Grandpa’s Farm Stories wove a tapestry of wisdom, connecting us to the beauty of nature, reminding us that kindness for all living things is the true heartbeat of our world.
The Science – and Magic – of How Nature Is Healing
Spending time among the lush embrace of nature on the farm – with its towering trees and vibrant plants – offers such a profound sense of well-being. It’s more than just science; it’s like a magical healing potion, even though I can’t always put my finger on why it feels so good.
Imagine wandering through a forest, the sun dappling through leaves, as you take in the fresh, earthy scent. That’s forest bathing, and it’s like getting a dose of nature’s medicine. Trees shower us with life-giving oxygen, and their natural oils, called phytoncides, act like defenders against disease. It’s a science-backed therapy, but there’s something even deeper at play.
Farm-work is even more immersive than forest bathing. Working on a farm connects us deeply with nature. It’s like being wrapped up in nature’s powerful hug, going way beyond just watching from the sidelines.
Consider plastic flowers – they may mimic the real thing, but there’s a part of us that knows they’re fake. Now, imagine being in a conservatory, surrounded by living trees, shrubs, and flowers. I love spending hours there, lost in the sea of green, reading or savoring a cup of coffee. It’s a tranquil oasis that fills my heart with happiness.
The tranquility I find in nature is worlds apart from my friend Jacob’s house. He’s filled it with artificial plants, explaining, “I hate watering.” Little did he know, this aversion to nature’s rhythm might lead to unexpected consequences.
Take Jacob’s daughter, Tina. She’s hyper-active, screaming and tossing things all day long. I can’t help but wonder if their synthetic, high-stress lifestyle played a role in her hyperactivity. At school, she can’t sit still for a moment, allowed to stand or fidget. I empathize with Jacob, and I believe there’s more to Tina’s behavior than meets the eye. Yet, deep down, I know that immersing Tina in the calming embrace of nature could be a game-changer.
I yearn to help Jacob see the light. An escape from the hustle of car-filled streets and cold concrete mansions might be just what Tina needs. A nature sabbatical, where they can tune out the noisy world and tune into the soothing whispers of the natural world, could bring the solace and balance they both crave.
I wish that all parents could teach their kids to cherish the beauty and simplicity of nature, rather than being enthralled by mansions and malls. When we get tricked by all the ads we see every day, our minds can get trapped. It’s really hard to break free and start thinking that having a tree in our backyard is amazing, even more amazing than a fancy designer bag, but it’s worth trying to see if little things can bring us greater joy.
We’re truly free when we don’t rely on the empty promises of big companies and can see through the sneaky reasons behind projects they say are good.
Dana and Daria’s Wonderful Little Homestead
So many of us grow up aspiring to be a cog in the blind machinery of other people, exchanging so much toil for so much money. Constantly stressing about looking all super capable can really mess up our health and minds over time. On the other hand, Grandpa embraced a simpler, contented life, and that made him genuinely happy every day.
So even though everyone around them was all about climbing the career ladder, Grandpa’s unique dream really spoke to Dana and Daria. They learned to escape the ordinary and learn about being self-sufficient and content.
Grandpa gifted Dana a small parcel of land in his farm and taught him how to cultivate the fields and build a mini-homestead. When Dana saw his little plantation grow and prosper beneath his hands, every hour repaid with nature’s abundance, he began to feel the elation that a man finds in independence.
Little Daria would sit on a log and watch her brother with wonder as he swung his ax to cut dead branches and then till and plant his garden. As Dana and Daria were growing they played hide-seek in the tall grass instead of finding it itchy. They learned to distinguish the friendly bumblebees that pollinate the garden, from the prickly honeybees that produce nature’s elixir and are yet so easily annoyed.
Dana noticed how his Dada was incredibly caring, even towards the tiny insects on his farm. He would always place sticks in the buckets so that if bees accidentally fell in while getting a drink, they could use the sticks to climb out. One day, Dana’s heart sank when he went outside after rain and found bumblebees drowned in the water buckets because he had forgotten to put the sticks in the buckets.
“Rewilding doesn’t need to conflict with farming,” Dada used to say. Nature has sufficient for all of us. When farmers are unsuccessful they blame rodents, weather and economy. “Success in farming doesn’t come from mercilessly spraying pesticides that poisons the land, or expensive seeds that can drain your wallet. Success comes from hard work mixed with intelligent thinking,” Dada would say.
Every fall Dada would clean all the weeds scrupulously by hands and with his tractors. He would make his own fertilizer with stinging nettle compost. Daria said, “We all knew when Dada was applying fertilizer from the stink of the liquid compost. But as a reward we would get giant garlic and kohlrabis and many other fruits and vegetables.”
In the spring his lush cornfields and vegetable gardens would become the envy of neighboring farmers who continued to fret about their bad luck. “Grandpa’s farm has better soil,” they would exclaim. Grandpa laughed and said, “Yes, but that’s because my sweat has dripped into it.”
Dada cheered on Dana and Daria, telling them to find joy in hard work rather than just seeing it as a boring task. As Dana’s small farm started doing well, he got a cow, then a horse, and some chickens. He set up a wire fence to protect the chickens from coyotes. Dana’s excitement started to rub off on little Daria, and she got into it too.
Whenever the work felt too hard, grandpa was there with hot chocolates and a warm smile. But the real treasures? His stories! Grandpa’s farm stories were creative retellings of ancient legends, mixing morals with nature, wilderness, and the wonder of wide open spaces.
Farm Work: Just as Fun as Playing Organized Sports
Dana and Daria came to see farming as a super fun game. Imagine a game where they both had important roles to play, and they were really excited about it. It felt like they were winning rewards and having a blast all the time. In this game, the land they worked on was like the game board, and every plant and tree were like special game pieces.
While the big sporting gear companies have over-hyped sports to the exclusion of everyday work, Dada encouraged Dana to cherish meaningful accomplishments. He encouraged his grandkids to view farm work as an enjoyable pursuit with real prizes. Clearing ten square meters of garden in a day takes as much work as running a quarter marathon. And yet it is so much more rewarding. That same ten square meters could be used for planting cabbage that could earn real money in the farmers market instead of a metal cup on a washboard.
“You know, you could make more money by building a fancy golf course on this land instead of growing cabbage,” someone once suggested. But Dada, Dana, and Daria didn’t like that idea at all. Dada used to say that turning the land into something like that would be like brutally assaulting and ravaging nature. Instead of solely focusing on making money, they developed a fierce determination to safeguard the environment. They were absolutely resolute in their refusal to let the land be transformed into a mundane concrete wasteland.
While for many, slaving in the dark to root out garlic or being bitten by mosquitoes while turning the soil may seem like a frugal, thrifty and laborious life, Dana and Daria were delirious in their peaceful existence on Dada’s farm. The plants, and trees, and shrubs, their cow, and their chickens all felt like a refreshing escape from the everyday routine of a big city where they used to live before coming to the farm.
When the sun set, their favorite thing was to hold hands and walk through the paths of their small farm. They felt like two poetic young farmers, who cared a lot about each other and felt incredibly happy. Their bond as brother and sister grew strong with these shared experiences.
Grandpa’s Awesome Mix: Farming, Rewilding, and School Work, All in One Fun Ride
Every afternoon, after a long day of working on the farm, Grandpa would gather Dana and Daria around the kitchen table. With a warm smile, he’d take off his dusty boots and sit down with them.
“Alright, you two,” he’d say, his eyes twinkling, “it’s time for our special hour.”
Even though he was tired from the farm work, Grandpa made sure that Dana and Daria had his full attention. They’d spread out their schoolbooks and homework, and Grandpa would patiently go through each problem with them. Whether it was math, science, or reading, he was always there to explain, encourage, and make learning fun.
But Grandpa’s lessons weren’t just about school subjects. He’d tell them stories about the land, the plants, and the animals. He’d weave in lessons about hard work, patience, and the importance of taking care of the earth. Dana and Daria listened with wide eyes, captivated by his words.
After their study session, it was time for games. Grandpa would challenge them to board games or outdoor activities. Despite his age, he played with unmatched enthusiasm. He’d teach them strategy, teamwork, and the joy of friendly competition. Through laughter and cheers, they learned valuable life lessons that textbooks couldn’t teach.
As time went on, Dana and Daria noticed something incredible. Their school grades were improving, and they were excelling in games too. They were learning not only from their textbooks but from Grandpa’s wisdom and guidance.
One day, as they sat under the shade of a big tree, Daria looked at Grandpa with gratitude. “Grandpa, how do you know so much about everything?”
He chuckled, ruffling her hair. “Years of hard work on the farm and a lifelong love of learning, my dear. But most importantly, I want you both to have the best opportunities in life, just like these fields we tend to. So, I do my best to help you grow strong, just like these crops.”
Dana chimed in, “You make learning and playing so much fun, Grandpa!”
He winked. “Well, life’s like a farm – it’s about finding joy in every little thing you do.”
And so, with Grandpa’s patient guidance, Dana and Daria discovered that learning and playing were two sides of the same coin. They not only excelled in their studies and games but also grew up with a deep sense of appreciation for the land, hard work, and the boundless wisdom of their beloved Grandpa.
Over time, those afternoons with Grandpa became our treasured memories.
The old kitchen table held stories, while his boots left imprints of wisdom. We’d sit under our big tree, feeling his spirit in the leaves. The rusty tools in the barn whispered tales of hard work and growth. As the sun set, Grandpa’s lessons stayed with us, woven into our lives like a warm hug.
The farm was more than fields – it was a journey of love, laughter, and learning, all thanks to Grandpa.