December 7th, 2017

Wise Farmer

by Doug Enas


“To preserve our places and to be at home in them, it is necessary to fill them with imagination. To imagine as well as see what is in them. Not to fill them with the junk of fantasy and unconsciousness, for that is no more than the industrial economy would do, but to see them first clearly with the eyes, and then to see them with the imagination in their sanctity, as belonging to the Creation.”  -Wendell Berry

In the spring of 2016 I packed my Toyota Camry with my belongings and drove across the country to the city of Greeley, Colorado, where I took a job as a farmhand on one of the largest dairy farms in the country. Over the course of six months I ate, drank, and smelled dairy life. I had zero previous knowledge of agriculture. 

Over a year later, I now find myself intrigued and inspired by agrarian ideals and lifestyle. A realistic example of this is urban farming. Urban farming takes the life of the farmer and channels it into an urban context. Many urban farms work in conjunction with community to help solve problems, such as providing easy access to produce for those who don’t live near a grocery store. These are heartfelt acts of goodness that help contribute to a better, fruitful society. In order to generate a response to this reality, I have been writing songs for the urban farms of Indianapolis. They are my attempt at getting those who don’t know or care about urban farming to use their imagination in order to see its value and purpose. 

These values are represented in this song, “Wise Farmer”, where the lyrics are taken from the 1st Century poet, Virgil. In his poem Gregorics, Virgil documents a farmer who sees the potential of a plot of unused land. He writes,

I saw a man

An old Cicilian, who occupied

An acre or two of land that no one wanted

A patch not worth the ploughing, unrewarding

For flocks, unfit for vineyards; he however

By planting here and there among the scrub

Cabbages and white lillies and verbena

And flimsy poppies, fancied himself a king in wealth

He loaded his board with unbought delicacies

I wanted to use these words for my first song in order to set the stage for the other songs I have written. Every urban farm, before it is established, is an “acre or two of land that no one wanted”. It takes hard, dedicated work to make an urban farm grow and flourish. It takes someone to see the potential in a plot of dirt to someday be a bountiful garden. This is what I appreciate and respect about urban farmers, that they have the ingenuity to turn “dead” land into land that lives within the community.