enismirdal: (main draggy)
[personal profile] enismirdal
I was at a conference a few months back and talking to someone (American/Greek nationality, I think) who was ruing the disconnect between people today and the source of their food. She asked a group of us how many generations removed we all are from our last family member in farming. This was an international group, and most people seemed to be 2-3 generations away. The lady who asked, having Greek family, is much closer - I think only a generation or so. Greece still has a strong culture of family smallholdings, even if that's not the main income stream.

I realised I was unaware of anyone in my family who had been a farmer in the last 100 years. Although I've had fishermen more recently, on my mother's side. Apparently that counts. I think that's probably about 3 generations (great grandparents) perhaps.

So...scientific LJ poll. To the best of your knowledge, how far away is your closest relative/ancestor in a primary industry? Farming, fishing and forestry all count, plus anything else reasonably of that ilk (not urban beekeeping, that's cheating!).

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:09 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] keiliss.livejournal.com

My uncle and my maternal grandfather both farmed sugar cane, my cousins still do though we've lost contact. And I had an uncle who was a stock farmer up in Zimbabwe years ago, but I don't pretend I knew him well and only visited the farm once.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:22 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Cool! Is this quite common in South Africa? I guess the rest of Africa is still very farming-centric (I've heard it said that EVERYONE in Ghana has some relative who is a cocoa farmer to some degree), but South Africa is a bit of a special case, and Zimbabwe has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. But I guess SA still has a huge amount of rural area going on!

I am betting that South Africa beats USA beats UK, but it'll be interesting to see!

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:39 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] keiliss.livejournal.com
I think the majority of black South Africans are either working their own rural patch of land or have a relative who at the least has a few cows, some chickens and grows maize and pumpkins. For the rest of us, you'd likely find the strongest connection to the land in the Afrikaans community because they were always farmers (some have relocated up to Zambia or the DRC or whatever). The rest of us I'd say was 50/50. but that's a flat out guess just based on my own circle of acquaintances.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:51 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Wow. Afrikaans farmers now work in DRC? That must be...risky...and...interesting... Why the relocations? Is it because the changes in how things are run since the end of apartheid means it's now administratively easier for Afrikaans farmers to work successfully outside SA?

Date: 8 Aug 2015 21:13 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] keiliss.livejournal.com
Farm murders have become a motivator to go elsewhere, and they worry about where government is going with redistribution of land (things like one man not owning several farms or not owning land that's allowed to lie fallow etc usually sounds quite fair to me). Plus several countries offer big incentives for them to come in and tame the land. I believe there's a bit of a community in Mozambique too, which is convenient to come down for visits, I guess.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 21:30 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Ouch, yes, if you're actually at person risk of physical violence that's a valid reason to get out indeed!

I can see the value in a more equitable distribution of land and making sure people aren't just sitting on it as an investment, yes.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:43 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] keiliss.livejournal.com
Oh, and there are regular warnings about stray cattle/sheep/goats on the national roads around the cities - just because someone is living in an informal settlement on the edge of a big city doesn't mean he's going to leave the country life completely behind :D

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:53 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Ah, yes, that makes sense. I suppose I hadn't thought of the way more rural societies just have goats, chickens and so on kind of hanging out in the shared spaces, and how that would probably continue if people moved to the city too if it was remotely possible. I suppose that's common throughout the world - even in relatively OK bits of Kingston, Jamaica it's not uncommon to see cows and goats grazing on the central reservation of the road.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:15 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wellinghall.livejournal.com
My father, and his father, were both gamekeepers.

When he was younger, my grandfather was a farmhand.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:22 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Awesome! I hadn't thought of gamekeepers.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:40 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilanin.livejournal.com
My grandfather on my mother's side was a farm manager until he retired, so that definitely counts. My father was an agriculture student and so he worked on farms for several years during his degree, then he went to work for a manufacturer of tractors and other farm equipment. Similarly, my mother, being a farmer's daughter, helped out with grain drying and threshing at harvest time while she was growing up. Do those count?

Date: 8 Aug 2015 20:47 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
I think actually having worked on a farm for more than a WWOOFing holiday counts, so on that basis both of your parents probably count! I didn't know they'd both done actual farm work, though I knew your father was in sort of equipment/technical gear to farms supplying.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 21:00 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] luin77.livejournal.com
Hmmm, my great-grandparents, I think. I keep two canary birds... does that count?! O:)

Date: 8 Aug 2015 21:58 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
I think the canaries might be pushing the definition a bit! ;) (Unless you intended to sell the eggs for food... Tiny omelettes... Although hipsters might go for that.)

Date: 8 Aug 2015 21:05 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] requiem-17-23.livejournal.com
On my mother's side there are landed nobility and sugar magnates, who are technically 'in' primary industry. My grandmother bred gundogs for a living, after my grandfather's death, but I suspect that really counts as tertiary sector. My father's side, not for some generations I believe.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 21:56 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Ooh...so a connection there, but all the recent-ish ones are more...managerial than hands-on? Yes, not sure whether gundogs really counts, but the variety is interesting!

Date: 9 Aug 2015 07:26 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wellinghall.livejournal.com
My grandfather bred, worked and showed flat coated retrievers for many years - in connection with his work as a gamekeeper, but it was his chief pastime, too.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 21:39 (UTC)
ext_29926: (Default)
From: [identity profile] joyful-molly.livejournal.com
Two of my uncles were farmers, and my grandfather grew up on a farm. (I think most Swiss have a farmer in the family. Small country.)

Date: 8 Aug 2015 21:57 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
That's interesting. Does Switzerland still have a lot of relatively small farms as opposed to massive companies that own hundreds of fields?

Date: 8 Aug 2015 22:31 (UTC)
ext_29926: (Default)
From: [identity profile] joyful-molly.livejournal.com
That's a bit difficult to answer, as our "small farms" (run by one family and supposed to feed one family) which, unfortunately, disappear at a rate of four per day, would probably barely register sizewise if you compare them to farms in the UK, and medium/large farm would very like be regarded as smallish/medium. For one that's due to the size of Switzerland, and for the other than some types of farming aren't allowed (for example factory farming of chicken), so we don't have "mega farms"; they don't exist. The big companies, f.e. Coop or Migros (think Safeways of sorts) subcontract farmers, they usually don't own the farms themselves.

Small(er) farms that are on the up are organic farms, because there is a massive demand for their products. I think they account for over 10% of all farms at the moment, percentage on the increase. :)

Date: 8 Aug 2015 22:24 (UTC)
ext_3375: Banded Tussock (Banded Tussock)
From: [identity profile] hairyears.livejournal.com
My father grew up working on the family farm in County Kildare.

Date: 8 Aug 2015 22:39 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beckyc.livejournal.com
I worked on a farm for 7 summers, does that count? ;-).

My great grandfather's family were miners but not him (asthma). Since then nobody that I know of was in a primary industry.
Edited Date: 8 Aug 2015 22:41 (UTC)

Date: 8 Aug 2015 22:42 (UTC)
ext_8103: (penguin)
From: [identity profile] ewx.livejournal.com
I had a great uncle Henry (who would be my mother's mother's brother) who had a farm in (I think) Zimbabwe. I never met him.
What sort of disconnect did they have in mind?

Date: 9 Aug 2015 07:09 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com
My biological Dad's an agronomist (sells pesticides, mostly) does that count? I think it ought to, he's spent most of his life walking across fields and I have lots of memories of riding in combines and potato pickers when I was a kid.

On my mum's side, my grandmother was a dairymaid for a bit. And my Dad's dad was a gardener at Tatton Hall, although I don't know if that involved growing any food.

Date: 9 Aug 2015 07:26 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wellinghall.livejournal.com
Oh, and my cousin and her husband ran a smallholding, and a fruit and veg round.

Date: 9 Aug 2015 13:42 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lauand.livejournal.com
On my mother's side, it was my great-grandparents. On my father's side, it was my grandparents, although one of my uncles had a flour factory, if that counts.

Date: 9 Aug 2015 23:11 (UTC)
cjwatson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cjwatson
My maternal grandparents had a farm in Tyrone, which my mum grew up on. My aunt still owns a farm in Derry, although she's no longer able to work on it herself and lets out the actual farming work.

Date: 10 Aug 2015 07:55 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rjw76
I get to cheat here. Initially, "not for at least three generations" but my uncle sold up his motorbike parts business when it had made him a big pile of money and used it to buy a small farm, which he worked as a middle-age/retirement project. And since then, one of his sons has said at least a temporary goodbye to his high flying graduate career and gone back to college to study land management...

Date: 11 Aug 2015 08:54 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sildil.livejournal.com
On my husband's side (Scottish), I think there were fishermen back on his grandfather's side. On my side, I think there were farmers in my great grandfather's generation (Lithuanian).

Date: 11 Aug 2015 16:42 (UTC)
chess: (something)
From: [personal profile] chess
I think my maternal grandmother did agricultural work sometimes (in between house-cleaning jobs) - I've definitely heard anecdotes about my mother's older sister getting away from her over the fields when she was trying to work and watch her at the same time while pregnant.

Date: 19 Aug 2015 11:59 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cobalt-skye.livejournal.com
My father's grandparents on his father's side and my mother's grandparents on her mother's side would be the most direct, but my father's aunt's family still farm (Orkney?).

Oh, and my maternal grandfather worked on an agricultural research station, plus my maternal grandmother was a Land Girl in WWII (which I suspect may apply to quite a few Brits?).
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