A Harmony of Old and New

I heard on the radio that the average 30-year-old spends five hours a day on their smart phone. As I turned 30 this year, this fact gave me pause. How does this technology fit into my daily life as a farmer? And what is my relationship between farming and technology?

As a modern farmer, I have a smart phone that I use for daily tasks at work: GPS, pest ID, timekeeping. But I realized I got into farming to move backwards, technology-wise. I have never been an early adopter — I have been much more of a historic adopter. A lover of things old, sustainable, and tried and true. A perfect fit for growing organic vegetables.

Though I appreciate all the ways that technology makes my life easier, the more I considered it, the more I realized I am attracted to farming because it forces me to disconnect from the world wide web. In the soil, I am present with another invisible underground network. Farming for me is a way to look up from the blue light and into the sunlight, and to be my own weather service — in the weather of the moment, so that there is no way to miss out on the drought, the tornado, and the frost. Offline, things can seem difficult, and the need to Google seems urgent. But I’ve found my way, even without GPS.

Volunteers feel this, too. As everyone who comes to the farm soon discovers, it is difficult to do a task with a phone in your hands. Volunteers get offline time, too. And together we are put in touch with something that humans have been connected to for much longer. And
I think this is the reason why a lot of people come back. Because this is a connection that many of us are craving. And this is why farms that work with all ages and abilities are so important, because farms are shrinking and computers are growing, and those opportunities to connect with the land are hard to find.

After this season of trying heat, I look forward to the Netflix distractions of the winter months. But I have to say, after a bit of time, I start to crave getting my hands off the keyboard and into the soil, and to start another offline season.

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