One of my favorite things about small-scale farming has been meeting other small-scale farmers. In short, you’ve got to be a bit of a character to decide to spend your days playing in the dirt while also trying to squeeze a living out of it. Gallows humor is a typical characteristic, as is a certain joie de vivre, at least when the the stress level isn’t too high.
One of the best and funniest farmers I’ve ever met is John Soehner, who runs Eco Farm with his wife Cindy near Chapel Hill. I was delighted to find a brief profile of John and his response to last year’s drought on NC Public Radio recently.
Reporter Jenny Gold aptly describes John as “a towering barn of a man in overalls, with a thick red beard and a tangle of curls on his forehead.” A man of infinite jest, he sometimes runs his popular Carrboro Farmers Market stand like a comedy club. One one busy Saturday morning last year, I was queued up with a dozen other folks clamoring to lay hands on some of John’s produce. “Everyone’s thrustin’ dollas at me,” he said in his thick Long Island brogue. “I feel like a danca.”
That was good stuff — and so is the radio show. It demonstrates the ingenious ways organic farmers deal with disasters like drought, and how they use animals to build their soil. Check it out.