On August 23rd, 1785, in a letter to John Jay, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, & they are tied to their country & wedded to its liberty & interests by the most lasting bands.” (click here to see the complete letter)
Two hundred and thirty one years later, America suddenly agrees with this sentiment more than ever. Homesteading, the act of self-reliantly returning to the land, is experiencing a renaissance. Farmers markets are enjoying unprecedented popularity, and demand for local food currently exceeds supply. In short, the same values that Jefferson appreciated in his lifetime are -at long last- being celebrated by the rest of the world. Clearly, the man was ahead of his time, but two centuries of advance warning tips the scale of prescience.
On July 3rd, 2012, my family and I visited Jefferson’s home and farm, Monticello, a scenic two hour drive from my farm. Here’s a short photo essay that adds 21st century insight to 18th century Jeffersonian wisdom.
Forrest Pritchard is a professional farmer and writer, holding degrees in English and Geology from the College of William and Mary. His farm Smith Meadows was one of the first “grass finished” farms in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for more than fifteen years. His book Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm (Click HERE) was named a Top Read by The Washington Post and NPR.
Forrest’s new book The Farmer In Your Kitchen: A Celebration Of Extraordinary Farms And Local Flavors is slated for release in Fall 2015, from the award-winning press The Experiment.