Farming by hand

I suspect one of the images of Ukraine I’ll remember will be the view through a train window of huge, finely checkered fields with a single individual farming by hand. I’d see a lone babushka bent over in an enormous field planting on the little square which I assume was hers. I’ve seen a man pulling a hand plow, stepping and pushing hard to drag it over the loose earth. It looked like a giant comb with widely spaced teeth.

On one hand, growing your own food, self reliance, being in touch with the source of your nutrition is beautiful. On the other hand, farming by hand is grossly inefficient. Specialization and trade leads to prosperity.

A friend of mine told me he wanted to eventually move to his wife’s village and farm. I suggest it was good if one enjoys farming in itself and also self-reliance and nature, but that it’d be a mistake for him, who has no experience, to do it for financial reasons. I referred him to this funny story about a businessman turned farmer, turned farming-resort-manger.

Of course, there is also increasing investment in large-scale farming:


  1. Paul Vahur

    Same thing happened in Estonia during soviet era. My family would grow our own potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables. Then when independence and capitalism came my parents kept going out of habit until one moment we realized that it is cheaper to buy the stuff we wanted (as it was now on sale unlike before) from supermarket. For me it was one of the first economic realizations I had (I was about 17-19), it was puzzling for a while what exactly had changed, I was aware that we had capitalism but did not right away saw the direct reason…

  2. andriy

    one of my grandmothers still has a habit of planting a large garden: potatoes, beetroots, carrots, wheat etc. She also keeps a cow, two pigs and 15 chiсken. Grandfather helps her, but he worked as a teacher for many years, so now he is pretty tired of this farming. Now grandmother is 67 years old and she really don’t have any reason to work as hard as she do. But as many old soviet peasants she just can’t change herself. She simply can’t live withot that big household.
    My second grandmother is totally different. She lives in village also, but keeps 10 chiken only. No cows, pigsor rabbits. And she has a very small garden with some tomatoes, strawberry and beans there. But her son (my unkle) is a big land-owner.
    The land-problem is one of the biggest in Ukrainian society. It was 90 % agrarian, rustic for a long time. So now, when youth choose city-life, old-people perceive it as a tragedy (but at the same time they tries hard to give their children a good education in city-college).


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