The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Agriculture instead of Apathy

A retrospective into the contemporary meaning of jobs and alternative careers
Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

What shape are carrots?” is a question that a primary school teacher in Italy asked her students to which she received the response “round and thin.” Because of this incorrect response that is so detached from reality, she began taking her students on educational trips to farms. Fifteen years ago, while teaching a class and receiving this answer, she realized the disconnect between city people and youth and the agricultural culture of Italy’s origins.

Marco Carbonara and Chiara Dragoni are the owners of Pulicaro, an agriturismo in Acquapendente, Italy, that firmly supports immersion in farming, agriculture, and where food comes from. An agriturismo is a rural guesthouse that is deeply connected to the farm it is on and the farming that takes place on it. It is also an immersive experience about food. The primary school teacher whose students believed carrots to be round and thin is actually Dragoni’s sister-in-law. The ideas that Carbonara and Dragoni hope to spread address exactly the problem Chiara’s sister-in-law was experiencing with her students: a disconnect between agricultural culture and where our food comes from.

On their agriturismo and in their lives, Carbonara and Dragoni hope to “coltiviamo un nuovo amore per la terra,” which is an Italian phrase that means “to cultivate a new love for the land.” They believe that the missing link between agricultural culture to Italian cities is the large distance from how many things are provided to society such as produce.

“The problem is that now you have a very large distance between people that live in the city from daily farm life,” Carbonara says. He adds that, “to most people in their thirties or forties it seems like the moon coming to Pulicaro where you don’t have a bar, you don’t have lamps at night on the streets, or where you don’t have what they call basic services.”

In addition to restoring the link between city life and farm life, Carbonara and Dragoni believe that farming is one of the most important jobs in this day and age and that the world needs more farmers. Carbonara says that farming is called the ‘sectore primare’ – the primary production and that everything is related to it. He believes that farming is at the base of life and that if farming is fixed, most parts of the pollution, greenhouse emissions, and drinkable water will be fixed. He also believes that exposure to farming fixes the problem of people not being conscious about their daily choices, which helps people with social and mental issues because people who live surrounded by animals and plants are healthier and happier.

Along with these solutions for our planet and health, farming provides Carbonara and Dragoni a happiness they don’t think other jobs would give them. “My priority was not living a life that I will not enjoy at all just for having enough money to enjoy a weekend,” Carbonara said. While he agrees that farmers do not earn as much as most corporate workers, he says that there are things that he prioritizes in life that farming exceeds in providing for him. “If your idea of the highest standard of life is living in a non-polluted area, having access to good quality water, excellent quality food, spending the most part of your day outdoors, and raising your kids in a huge garden, you can achieve this being a farmer quite easily,” he said. These are things many people don’t think about when considering a career to go into. “They [people] should take a piece of paper and a pen and write down their own priorities because people just stop at the word money because they think that with money you can buy everything,” Carbonara said, “and that is not true.”

While money can help you enjoy a weekend andpay for a fancy meal, a fancy car, or a fancy home, there are things that it can’t provide. “Money helps, for sure, but you cannot buy time, you cannot buy relationships, you cannot buy fatherhood or motherhood, you cannot buy a lot of things that I think are in the top priorities of every single human being,” Carbonara said. The idea that money doesn’t buy everything is true, but Marco and Chiara both agree that money does have to be a priority, but it just doesn’t need to be the biggest.

Parker senior Lyric Nelson is considering her financial stability as she is in her college process, and she believes it plays a big role in her decision making. While Nelson loves art and sees herself in an artistic career, she says that she’s “very paranoid about finances, especially because of how much harder it’s becoming to just buy food.” Because of this she wants to major in Chemistry and go into a pharmaceuticals career, but once she has saved up and bought a house, she plans to switch into an artistic career. Although art is what Nelson is most passionate about, her worries about financial barriers and instability pushed her to plan to take this path. She sees this as a theme among other Parker students as well. Nelson realizes the impact her prioritization of money and stability has on her plans and thinks she might regret her choice, but for now, she thinks that this plan is right for her. Nelson believes that “not everything has to be so instantaneous,” and that she can earn money and later pursue her passion in art.

Kimmy Lundberg, a recent graduate of California Polytechnic University’s Environmental Management and Protection undergraduate program, chose to go into this program for reasons outside of money. She started studying wine and viticulture (the cultivation of grapes) in her freshman year but soon switched over to her current program. Lundberg believes that there is a lot of information out there about climate change, the climate crisis, and our impact, but that it’s not properly communicated to the average person. She wanted to go into the realm of jobs which “makes the information more palatable to people.” 

Lundberg claims that she holds value in environmental spaces and kindness to our environmental world as well as in experiences. She works at a ski resort and recently participated in a workaway program in a small town in France. In addition to a love for the environment and experiencing the world, something that Lundberg really values is authenticity to herself.

Like Lundberg, Carbonara and Dragoni followed what they valued, even when family members expressed their worries, and while society may not hold what they do in very high manners. Carbonara’s mother was scared for her son’s choice of career, mainly because of the mindset around farmer’s incomes and the quality of life which they can sustain. “She thought that it was a downgrade from our standard as a family – a very classical way of thinking that being a farmer is something very low in terms of the scale of jobs and earnings,” Carbonara said. He attributes what he calls a classical way of thinking to how historically in Italy, the social situation of farmers was so low because of a social structure where farmers got 50% of the money, while the owners of the land they were farming on received the other half. This way of thinking is also present in the U.S., and as a society, we place a very low value on farming. Lundberg believes that “part of the problem with ‘we need more farmers, we need more teachers’ is that the incentives don’t reflect that we value those roles super highly.”

Lundberg hopes that people choose to study things whether or not society views them highly and by “just knowing it feels right to you despite what societal values might be on other types of roles.” Even if society holds a low value on something, that doesn’t determine its true value. Farming is one of the most important jobs in the world, especially now. Farmers provide food for everyone, and in the state of our world right now, a lot of what farmers do determines the state of the environment as well as the food systems that provide food to the entire world. “Being a farmer at the moment is very revolutionary. If there is someone who feels the need to change the world, being a farmer is an excellent strategy because there is nothing that can impact the world more than farming, producing good healthy food, protecting the landscape, and protecting natural environments and resources,” Carbonara said.

Lundberg believes that “there’s a huge push to do these high-paying corporate jobs,” and that regardless of passion and joy, many people fall into the pattern or mainstream choice. Carbonara sadly believes that “some people live less than 30 days per year like they want,” because of this idea of conformity or because they do not know that they have other options. Similarly, Dragoni encourages people to pursue things that they will enjoy doing every day. “When you are very young, you don’t have a real perspective on what your job will look like…your job looks like something abstract while it is something that you have to consider as a real part of your life,” Dragoni said, “it is a lot of time and has to be something you are really committed to, something that you have to feel you like and that makes you feel happy while working,” she added. 

Farming, sustainable approaches, and protecting the environment are all incredibly important in our world right now. Carbonara, Dragoni, and Lundberg are three of many people who work in these areas and are so important to the functioning of our planet. All of them had to follow their interests and passions, listen to themselves, and sometimes ignore the views of others or of our society. They also acknowledge how finances have an affect on the pursuit of passions which has affected Nelson’s plans for college and the future. Carbonara, Dragoni, and Lundberg also all believe that choosing to follow interests will help people live a fulfilling life, and encourage everyone to do so. How can you live a life where you enjoy more than 30 days a year3

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Lula Notz, Copy Editor
Lula Notz is so excited to start her second year on "The Weekly" as a copy editor. When she isn't trying to come up with an interesting lede or looking up synonyms for words to make them sound smarter, she can be found on the tennis court, sipping an iced beverage, or sending her friends cute photos of her cats.