Monday, 6 February 2012
Where Did Everyone Go?
We went to an auction last week and while we didn't find anything to purchase I took this photo along the way. These old falling down houses are everywhere around here and are such a picture of sadness and neglect. I often wonder what happened to the residents. Where did they go? Is there still some family around? Why did they leave?
I spoke to one of the residents in my area about it one day and here is what she told me. When she was a little girl the town near her farm was a busy and bustling place. It had three gas stations, two grocery stores and numerous other businesses along with a few hundred residents. Every quarter of land (160 acres) surrounding the town had a family on it. Most people were fairly poor but grew all their own food and sold grain or animals or something off the farm for money. Slowly, as it became more difficult to make money farming they moved away and those who were doing better with farming bought them out. Farms had to become bigger and bigger to survive. Eventually the town died. Today there is nothing there but a post office and a rural governmental office which manages the farm area around it. The rest of the town is abandoned and empty. It has become a ghost town.
This story is not unique around here. My mind has a hard time wrapping itself around it. Why couldn't they make a living? The answer came to me in a round about way while listening to other farmers chatting about their harvests and next years crops. It seems that each of these farmers has multiple sections of land (a section is one mile long and one mile wide) but are still considered to have fairly small farms and are having a hard time making a go of it. This baffled me! But as their conversation continued it became fairly clear.
Everyone of these farmers pays exorbitant amounts of money to the seed company. They are not allowed to save seeds from their plantings for the next year as farmers used to do but due to one company (Monsanto) owning about 40% of the worlds seed they must purchase it from them every year. As this company owns the patent on the seed! How can someone own a patent on seed? How could we have allowed this to happen? I still shake my head at it. Not only that but this same company also owns the patent on the chemicals (Round up etc.) used by the farmers. When I think about it, these farmers aren't really working for themselves they are working for Monsanto!
This whole thing blows me away and I wonder where it will all end. I do know that as long as I am able I will only use heritage seeds in my garden. I also found a wonderful site where people from around the world share and swap heritage seeds. It's not much, but its what I can do.