Who me?

Who me? A Farmgirl?
I guess it’s about time we talk about this again. Head on. About me calling myself a “Farmgirl.”
Well, I am. And you can be one too. Or “Farmguy” for that matter if you’re a guy. (I try to be gender-neutral, but for ease here, I’m mainly going to be referring to “Farmgirls.” Just know I’m including “Farmguys” too.)
MaryJane Butters founded this Movement some years ago. It is an important one. And it is one that can positively impact everyone.
This movement is all encompassing. There are no requirements for membership. There is no oath or creed. It does not discriminate against those who are farm-poor. Or farm-rich. It does not discriminate if you live in the city or in the country or anywhere in between. All are invited…

The term “Farmgirl” or “Farmdude” (hey, I like that…maybe even better than “Farmguy”) no longer has only a literal meaning: as in, a girl (or guy) from/on/with a farm. It’s taken on a meaning much deeper than that. More than anything, to me it’s a philosophy. A way of thinking about things.
But let’s start with the “farm” part of the word, which to me, sets the tone for how we think about things. “Farm” is a word and concept I adore. Do you get “warm fuzzies” when you think about “farm”? I do. Big time. What images come to your mind when you hear that word?
I think first about my father’s family farm; the one that I’ve loved so much my whole life. The one where I’ve spent so many holidays with aunts and uncles and cousins. I also think about my own little vacation farm, which I love madly.
I think about typical farm out-buildings. A chicken house. A red barn. A car house with an old green pick-up truck and a tractor inside. A well house. An outhouse, with a crescent moon cut-out.
I think about an old white farmhouse, drafty but cozy. A piano in the front room. A fire in the fireplace. A crackly radio. Laughter coming from the family and friends gathered at a large rectangle table.
I think about cows standing under the ancient locust tree in the pasture.
I think about a field of corn and green beans. A meadow of sunflowers.
A swing on the front porch. Drinking sweet tea from a jar.
That’s what I think about. Thinking about them makes me feel good. It makes me feel homey. It brings to my mind a time of simplicity. It makes me smile. I become more focused on land and family and home and the environment and food. I become less focused on stuff.
And that’s what’s key. The Farmgirl/Farmguy Movement is wide open to all. I realize I’m missing the mark in making that point when I get emails that focus on the Farmgirl thing being for those with farms or those who want farms. Yes, I’m lucky to have a hobby/vacation farm, but whether I do or not wouldn’t really matter. I could live happily in an apartment in Manhattan with no farm in my future and no desire for one and still be a part of this.
And so can you. Whoever you are; wherever you live. No matter your religious leanings or political affiliations. No matter your skill set. No matter your career choice. No matter your skin-tone. No matter anything.
If you’ve hung out at this website for any length of time, you realize that preconceived molds or notions don’t apply to this movement. Being a “Farmgirl” is not dependent on where you are or what you look like or what you have or don’t have. It’s what’s inside. It’s a state of mind, rather than a state of the place.
Oprah, yes…powerful, rich, fancy Oprah herself could be a Farmgirl. And I do hope one day she discovers us and joins us.
There was an article by Brain Hiatt on James Taylor in Rolling Stone a while back. When I read it, I thought, well, there you go; James could be a Farmgirl too. (I mean “Farmguy.”) He spoke of wanting to do more of his work at home to stay near his children. He spoke about a concern for the future with dwindling oil reserves. His focus, he said, was becoming more local.
And Michelle Obama with a Victory Garden. Farmgirl.
And Sheryl Crow telling us to think about how many squares of toilet paper we use. Farmgirl.
No matter who you are you can bring something to this movement and enrich it. You can also take something away from this movement and find yourself enriched.
“Being a Farmgirl is a condition of the heart,” says MaryJane.
So what is it about the condition of one’s heart that makes one a Farmgirl or Farmguy?
Here are my thoughts on it.
I say, Strength, Love, Kindness.
When I think of the Farmgirl/Farmguy Movement the first thing I think of is caring for each other. A lack of self-centeredness. A neighborly attitude that shows. A support for each other. Doing thoughtful things because you care about the other person. Carrying chicken soup to a sick friend. Stopping to speak to someone. Taking care of a hungry dog passing by.
I also think about strength and courage. Seeing what needs to be done and doing it. Even if it is out of your comfort zone. Maybe especially because it is out of your comfort zone.
Another is self-sufficiency. Being able to take care of yourself. Or learning to.
A love of the land and the earth, exhibited in a special kindness to the earth and its resources.
It might mean being more in tune with the seasons and weather. Appreciating and enjoying nature.
I also think that “family” is high on the priority list of a Farmgirl/Farmguy.
As I mentioned in my first article in the MaryJanesFarm magazine, when I discovered MaryJane Butters and this movement I knew right away that I was a Farmgirl. I then declared it to my husband. He looked at me and laughed out loud. So, believe me, I understand the confusion over the term and the movement. But, stick around…
Do you define yourself by something other than what you own? Do you like to look up at the stars? Do you care about someone other than yourself? Do you like to wiggle your toes in the grass? Do you want to get your kids out in nature? Do you have an herb plant in a pot on your terrace? Do you like to hold your grandbaby close to your heart? Do you “wear” your baby? Do you like to repurpose things? Do you read labels? Are you trying to ingest fewer chemicals from your food? Do you like fresh air? And fresh flowers? Do you carry a cloth bag to the market? Do you look for the good in others? Do you appreciate the sky? Do you have a garden? Do you like home-spun? Do you look for wildflowers? Do you seek wholeness? Do you strive to eat more organically? And more locally? Do you like old-fashioned things? Are you part of a community garden? Have you shopped or sold at a Farmer’s Market? Do you volunteer? Are you becoming more aware of the earth’s resources? Are you starting to “think” before you “do”? Do you dream and visualize a better world?
Well, any of those things might make you part of this Farmgirl Movement. Or not. I say again, there’s no creed here. You get to forge your own path, to take from this what you care to, what helps you along.
MaryJane’s writings, the Farmgirl Sisterhood, the Farmgirl Connection Forum, and these blogs are all here to, hopefully, support and inspire you.
Alrighty then. That’s my take on it. Now tell us what this movement has meant and means to you.
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

  1. Jenny says:

    I am a farmgirl at heart, too. It’s in how I see things and how I think about things and what things make my heart go pitter-patter. It’s in finding apple trees in the middle of a city of millions to harvest to make applesauce. It’s in knowing where the grapes grow in the alleys to harvest for raisins. It’s in my garden growing goodness to share with my neighbors and family. Farmheart is wherever you are…city, country, desert, mountains. Farmheart is a place of the heart filled with values, and friendship, and kindness, and thrift. Love your blog Rebekah. You are a neat lady.

  2. Debbie says:

    You go girl! I so hear what you are about. I no longer live on my own land but I am still there in my heart. It’s not just a place it’s a feeling and once you find it…bliss! May we all be farmgals and guys!

  3. Gary says:

    Well spoken/said/written Rebekah…!
    "a condition of the Heart"… Yes indeedy it is.
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

  4. chantel alfrey says:

    Rebekah, Wow I am so inspired by your words. Being a Bank Manager a single mother a United Way vice president a christian that ministers to others I love the way you encourage all of us to be humane and loving in all we do and say. I live in Moscow Idaho and have had the rare opportunity to go to Mary Jane’s Farm once and was so at peace and felt the inner farm girl in me. We can experience this through anything that inspires us to live with our heart us as the guide. Thanks for the blog and God Bless You and your family. Chantel Alfrey

  5. Ginnie says:

    I grew up on homegrown and homemade food. In the country. So, to me being a farmgirl is this- fresh vegetables from the garden that taste like vegetables, sitting on the front porch shelling beans or peas and then having them for dinner, sitting on that same porch in the evening with a glass of tea, rocking in your rocking chair. Making things, rather than buying everything. My mom made everything I wore, but undergarments, till I was 18. Being a farmgirl means it is okay to sit and look at the field and enjoy a quiet moment, and not have every single moment scheduled. I think, ultimately, it means not being defined by stuff.(I struggle with that, honestly.) But rather being defined by who you are, and how you live your life.

  6. Linda says:

    I have always known I was a farmgirl. It showed in me since I can remember, in too many ways to mention. Before moving from the city to my official farm house I found Mary Jane’s book and finally felt like there were others out there like me! (my city friends think I’m a bit strange) Thank you to all the other farmgirls out there!

  7. Carol in NC says:

    Bravo Rebekah! You nailed it.

  8. Reba says:

    I have had the privilege of having a true blue farmgirl for my mentor, my Mom. She lived as a way of life everything "farmgirl." She taught me how to make-do, refurbish, and re-use all during my life, and especially after I married. I took her to a dress shop once to show her a dress that I would like to have. She went home, made a pattern on newspaper, then made the dress. When teaching me how to sew, she saved every little piece of scap fabric. These would be pieces for a quilt later. While camping one summer, she canned green beans over an open fire in a washtub while we swam in the lake. The garden "was coming in" and we could not let it waste while we were on vacation. She learned how to cook while she was a young girl, standing in a chair to make "homemade" biscuits. Once a gentleman from Florida was visiting his daughter in Germany. He heard of my Mom’s biscuits, came to our home in Georgia, knocked on the door, and introduced himself. My Mom got up and made a fresh pan of biscuits for him and his wife. She was always so hospitable. She taught me how to endure through tough times, such as when my brother was captured in Viet Nam. She held her peace and quietly prayed, as she continued to provide for her family. She instintively knew flowers or anything that grew. Roses would root when she would lay a brick on a shoot, then transplant it for a new bush. There was not anything that I can think of that she could not do. I have been most blessed, living and learning about life as a farmgirl, and by having been raised by the best farmgirl!!

  9. JoEllen says:

    Oh, how I needed to hear that again! I have gotten so that I was wishin’ so much to have my own little plot of land in the country, away from city life. But your blog made me realize that I already have that in the midst of town; I have a yard, flowers, pots with tomato plants and a cute house that I make things for. I am blessed! Why waste time dreaming about something you don’t, and probably won’t, have when you can rejoice over what you do! Thanks for your reminders on what a farmgirl really is.

  10. Jami says:

    Is there anything about being a Farmgirl that isn’t appealing? From gazing out through a rusty window screen at the Colorado prairie to the smell of begonias on the back porch to listening to the hens clucking away contentedly before they fall asleep at night… the whole way of life lends a happy *sigh* to every single day.

  11. Diana says:


    I had always lived in cities – 30 years in Chicago and like you, had a wonderful career. I was raised hearing stories about my Mother’s experience growing up on a farm in PA during the depression. She claims she hated it, but to hear her talk about how my grandmother raised her and her 4 brothers on nothing but what they raised on the farm – it was miraculous. The canning of everything it seemed, but the family cat, was so bountiful. My grandmother only had the use of one arm, but made 14 loaves of bread twice a week in a coal burning oven. My uncles would come home from school on those days and their snack would be warm bread with fresh cream, directly from the cow! Well, the stories are endless and all so very rich.

    Finally, in 2002, I made my break and bought a beautiful farmstead in Door County WI. It has 5 acres and a friend gardens about one acre of it. I do my gardening in raised beds adjacent to her "spread." Last year we added chickens and we now have 10 chickens that roam freely and give us more eggs than I could have imagined. I get cream from a local dairy and make my own butter for special occassions, but intend to do more and more for our everyday use. Although I dont make all my bread, I’m getting closer to that goal (no bread machine).

    As much as I loved the corporate life, I am so glad it is behind me – no more high heels, deadlines, unhappy bosses or employees. We’ve learned to live quite happily on about 20% of what we used to make. Not always easy, but definitely the right thing for us. And the traffic, well – I have to travel 28 miles to see the first stop light.


  12. Sharon Stout says:

    Farmgirl: The ability to breathe; the desire to simplify; the love of nature and animals; finding joy in simple things such as a baby bird–spring flowers–a warm sunshiny day.

  13. Amy says:

    I am SO right with you! We used to have a two acre farm and decided to live the neighborhood life for our kids…not exactly sure why because they are always asking when we are going to move back to a farm. Anyway, to me…it is a simple, happy life, that protects history, and teaches the future; I live only an hour outside of Seattle, so I relish in my ruralness…I wish there was a little more!

  14. carol branum says:

    hi rebecca, very well said.Last week my daddy took me to the local REA meeting, i got to hear Duke Mason sing and they served chichen annies chicken,it was a nice evening,but…everyone was so so old,over 200 old people,well i am not no spring chicken, but…it was a very nice evening, we prayed we said the pledge of alegience to the USA flag…we watched a short film of the war,and sang God bless Amercia….the boy scout color gard was there…i thought in ten years will this happen, in twenty years will this happen…just a thought, and i believe it will,hopefully with the return of the farmgirl…blessed be,The Mo.Farmers Daughter,Carol Branum,Lamar Mo.

  15. Patti says:

    I needed this post! I am a new Farmgirl. I don’t live on a farm or have a farm. I am a busy, working mom who lives in suburbia and have kids that play socceer. I planted tomatoes in the yard and basil in a pot this year. We are eating more organic. I made your yeast rolls(easy and yummy). I use less gasoline because I’m thinking about it now. We recycle. I’m a Farmgirl. Thank you for the inspiration, Patti.

  16. ren says:

    Great commentary! And the Farmgirl identity is so much a journey, as we dig deeper in the soil and our mindsets and plant stronger roots in our own communities and form relationships with others doing the same. There’s not like one instant where all of a sudden, hey, you’re a Farmgirl now! It’s the process of simplifying and getting closer to real dirt and real food and real people and real work and real meaning in what you do and make that counts in this movement and the good it brings to your life and those around you. Plus, it’s just fun!

  17. Kimberly D says:

    I grew up living in town, but right across the street was a field, that grew sugar beats, corn, navy beans or wheat. And it was in the village limits! I grew up working in my mother’s garden and on the weekends I was over at my best friends house I helped out in that garden. In the fall I would help my mother and my Aunt with canning and again my friends mother out too. I can hold a warm tomato and peel it with out burning my hand. All three of these people lived in town. And I consider myself a FARMGIRL. As an adult I do live in the country.

  18. Maureen says:

    I can always count on an interesting and entertaining post from you. I especially like this one! Because I feel the same way!

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