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Manual Labor, the Dignity Thereof

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I was brought up in the school of thought that getting a college degree is the foundation of financial security and fulfilling work. In many ways, that of course is still true. But what is omitted from this picture is the necessity and diversity of other kinds of work requiring no college degree, that are equally important to the healthy functioning of any economy. I did in fact get that college degree (two, actually), but my life has turned out much different than expected.

Through a convoluted path, I’ve ended up owning/developing/caring for a 25-acre farm, mainly because it had belonged to my grandmother, and I didn’t want it to pass out of the family when she left us. So here we are, 18 years later, and a great deal of sweat equity and financial commitment to build some land enterprises have become a small part of the local food movement.

It is not glamorous, and most of the work is solitary. But this constitutes the bare bones of doing something mostly on principle, and for very modest financial gain. At the end of the day, I am deeply satisfied to do work that truly matters, that does benefit others, even though confirmation of that fact comes infrequently with grateful visitors and customers. I am playing the long game.

My brother works for the Longshoreman’s Union in Long Beach, California. This has given me a great appreciation for the importance of manual labor, which tends to be looked down upon in our society. The same applies to farming, a very manual occupation. But let us stand up for all the people whose work is indispensable, keeping the foundation of our economy going strong.

Caroline McColloch
Chez Nous Farm

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