My family has taken to calling me a farmer. It’s not a term I dislike, but I don’t think it really suits what I’m doing in my backyard. I think of myself as a gardener. But the words farmer and gardener have become interchangable, especially when it comes to casual conversation.
Here’s my take on the differences.
Farmers are businesspeople. They’re not digging in the garden because they want to, although most probably enjoy it enough to make a career out of it. Unlike a gardener, the livelihood of a farmer depends on how their crops turn out. They are truly at the mercy of the weather. Efficiency is paramount because their business depends on their ability to sell their crops: farmers are salespeople, statisticians and scientists. They even need to do damage control outside their fields–fighting lobbyists and organizations that question their methods in growing our food.
Gardeners, on the other hand, might take some risks, but anything that fails to happen in the garden will cause little more than some lost hours and heartbreak. If it doesn’t grow, we as gardeners have the luxury of being able to try over and over without experiencing any real consequence. Gardeners can experiment with new plants, new locations and new methods. We can do whatever we want out there because there’s no one depending on us. It’s all pleasure.
I have so much respect for farmers. They do what I can’t do. Gardening is too fun for me, and I certainly don’t have enough diligence to be as serious as farmers are. I am serious about my garden, in the sense that it’s my outlet from work and everyday stress. I never want it to feel like a job, and that’s why I’m a gardener–not a farmer. Save that title for those who worked to earn it!