Sunday, October 14, 2012

Farming for Happiness

Dangling Carrot Farm

When I picture the typical American farmer my mind conjures images of a rugged, sun-wrinkled, straw hat toting middle-aged man spending long hours toiling in his fields. Then I met 30-year-old English Literature and Sociology major Becky Barnes outside of her 4.5 acre Dangling Carrot Farm in Williamsport, Ohio. While Becky may adhere to the adage of long hours in her fields, the daily pursuit of happiness replaces the straw hat and wrinkles stereotypes.

As we began our conversation, Becky casually pointed out her aunt, cousin, and brother homes all within eyesight. Becky comes from a family of local grain farmers, and while earning her undergraduate degree she had early goals of produce farming. After college and period where she called Montana and Wyoming home, Becky returned to Ohio and reluctantly worked a 9-5 office job while saving money and longing to get her hands in the dirt. Her family suggested she grow sweet corn because of its high yield and profit. She disagreed. Becky likes setting herself apart by experimenting with crops that no one in the area is planting.

In fact, at Dangling Carrot things on the farm are a little unorthodox. To begin, Becky doesn’t surround herself with strapping young men as her part time help, instead, choosing to hire only women. She laughs that the men she has hired were “just terrible” and having female employees lightens the mood with gossip filled stories and other interesting conversation. Next, despite suggestions from her friends and family, she isn’t growing the typical crops found in the area. Her farm is anything but a monoculture. As we walked around the land rented from her parents, Becky pointed out a few of her plants including 35 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, a rainbow of different carrots, sweet peppers, eggplant, and numerous varieties of greens. Becky’s attention to detail is clearly displayed in the well thought out runs of colorful produce and her selection of seeds is based off of a few criteria; One –it must be something that she enjoys harvesting and of course consuming and Two – an unusually beautiful species, such as her deep rich purple gumball-like cherry tomatoes certainly doesn’t hurt! Naming her farm was also an atypical feat - instead of the characteristic “Surname – Farm”, Becky credited her name to Slavoj Žižek, a Slovenian post modern philosopher who believes happiness is found in the pursuit of a goal. Žižek thinks only by overcoming obstacles you get what you truly desire, hence the dangling carrot.

Dangling Carrot Farm is certainly an anomaly in comparison to most. It has been six years since Becky attended her first farmers market and she hasn’t looked back. Today she not only sells a bulk of her produce to the Green Grocer for their weekly Market Bag, but several Columbus restaurants such as Skillet and Northstar also use her delicious and beautiful crops. When I asked Becky where she sees her farm in the coming years, she puzzled me with her answer. Normally, I hear stories of growth and expansion, but for her, the farm is “just the right size”. She exclaimed that she is happy to be in control of her own farm and grow what she wants. There is nothing wrong with desiring more, but it was refreshing to meet someone who is content with what she has and seems at peace with her life. After visiting Dangling Carrot, I realized that Becky is not only growing beautiful crops, but has a beautiful outlook on what it means to be happy.

Sweet Potato

The Dangling Carrot Farm sweet potatoes (pictured left) traveled 34 miles to Columbus, while the sweet potatoes (pictured right) traveled roughly 2,435 miles to Columbus.

Swapping out your regular spuds for sweet potatoes will bring you amazing health benefits. This root vegetable contains the antioxidant enzymes copper and zinc, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. They are low in calories and high in vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. So get your hands on one of the over 400 varieties of this tuber and enjoy!


Why Be Happy When You Can Be Interesting?
Jen Reviews

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Nothing says fall like sweet potato biscuits with homemade apple butter!

Click on the recipe cards to print your copy:


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