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Farmers, Foodies, Radical Homemakers: Time to Occupy Wall Street

Shannon Hayes: I’m usually content to live a life of protest, but the time has come to take my protest to the street.

Shannon Hayes at home

Shannon Hayes in the kitchen with her daughter, Saoirse.

Photo by Bob Hooper

As a rule, I don’t do protests. I don’t occupy anything, except my home and the farm. I am a country girl, and the key to living a happy agrarian existence lies in having a certain personality type: I’m a recluse at heart. I can stay home for weeks on end and never crave to see a soul. Living in the sticks, that’s a good thing. It is this personality trait that enables farmers to do what they do.

…Which is not to say that I disagree with protests, political uprisings, or the like. But rather than join demonstrations and marches, I usually choose to make my voice heard in a different way. I live my opposition. I don’t like the consumer culture, so I live a life that largely excludes it. I don’t like the rapacious nature of industrial agriculture, so I live and work to steward the land in a way that honors Mother Earth. Rather than protest for a day, a few weeks, or a few months, I protest with my life energy that there is a different and better way.

I hear that call not only as a third generation farmer, but also as a mother, a home cook, and rural citizen who’s life is tied to the flow of seasons, the health of the land, and the vitality and diversity of a locally sourced food supply.

But I do support protesting. In fact, I support it wholeheartedly, and I am grateful for those who have the courage to do it. But my personality type leaves me utterly petrified at the idea of joining a crowd and adding my physical presence to the masses. I am nervous in cities, skittish in crowds, wary of large organized gatherings. And that’s the reason I haven’t joined Occupy Wall Street. I have other excuses, too. I’ve got little kids at home, food to cook, sausages to make, turkeys to sell, farmers’ markets to attend…I am so busy living my life of protest that I really don’t have time to protest.

I agree with the movement. I am part of the 99% in two ways: First, I don’t share ranks with the wealthiest 1%, and second, I am part of the silent majority that agrees with the protesters but has not made my way to an occupation to show my support for those who are making our voices heard.

Food truck at Occupy Oakland, photo by Seth Schneider

A menu at a food cart at Occupy Oakland.

Photo by Seth Schneider

But those organizers have figured out that I’m hiding. And they’ve figured out my excuses. They are asking farmers, community gardeners, food activists, and food workers to come down and Occupy Wall Street on Sunday.  It’s last minute, but they figured out things are slowing down on the farm right about now. They’re not asking us to camp out or commit our lives; they only want 4 hours of our time, from 2pm to 6pm. I hear that call not only as a third generation farmer, but also as a mother, a home cook, and rural citizen whose life is tied to the flow of seasons, the health of the land, and the vitality and diversity of a locally sourced food supply. Mom and Dad are watching the kids, and Bob and I are heading down. We should be back home in time for bed.

I’m nervous as all hell. This is a huge step outside my comfort zone. But I’ll bet that, on Sunday, there will be others there like me. I must remember that I can live 99.9999% of my life in protest, but every once in a while, maybe just 0.0001% of the time, I must make my voice heard and actually show up to physically protest. I hope my fellow farmers, foodies, citizens activists and radical homemakers will join us. You can learn about the details here.

PS: Anyone in my geographical zone is welcome to drop me a line at feedback[at]shannonhayes[dot]info if you’d like to try to carpool.


Shannon Hayes

Shannon Hayes wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Shannon is the author of Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, The Grassfed Gourmet and The Farmer and the Grill. She is the host of Grassfedcooking.com and RadicalHomemakers.com. Hayes works with her family on Sap Bush Hollow Farm in Upstate New York. 

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