The day a new breed of urban farmer came to my turf

October 18, 2012

Historians like to say that we can’t undo globalization and “go back” to the happy days when life was easier and less stressful – that is certainly true in a general sort of way. But as a matter of fact, in farming circles, we are always “going back” one way or another.

In every generation there are always people who decide that “going back” is a way to escape what they consider to be fundamentally wrong and distressing about the present and there are a whole lot of people, now who are just doing precisely that – they are voting with their slippers. In many cases even leaving Singapore for a less stressful life where they hope that things will be better for their loved ones.

Today, our politicians refer to this class of “go back” people as “quitters.” But I am reminded they do so, only because these people are not dumb enough to impersonate brain damaged hamsters running around in a wheel that goes nowhere – I would much prefer to believe and say that those who choose to “go back,” are going forward to a new land of opportunity that holds out a better promise of what Singapore can actually offer to the average worker – and this new attitude seems to be showing of late with the increasing new breed of farmers who are now coming to the countryside to turn the wheel of life.

Throughout the world, we are now witnessing a monumental shift in how people are increasingly aware that they no longer want to live in a hermetically sealed bubble warped Truman’s word – where governments control everything from the right to own a car to even the how long one should work in the office – call it what you want. An awakening, revolution or new consciousness – but one thing is certain, the tide has begun and in this new world order and its irreversible.

Amid this sea of change – I am slowly realizing that as more and more young professionals grow increasingly disenchanted with urban modern life and choose instead to turn the wheel of life as farmers – many of these “go back” newbies are coming to me and in some cases even treating me as a sort of de facto leader.

It seems that I have my new role cut out for me – I simply have to step up to the plate and play this role the best, I can. What else after all is there to do?

Darkness 2012

“Plantation life has always been the last refuge against the chastening passage of change – if you spend some time in a plantation. You will gather what I mean by this whole idea of linking plantation life to the word “refuge” and “sanctuary.” As that is really what plantation life is all about – it’s slow. And this slowness permeates the human spirit, it colors the hours and minutes in your day – this slowness that seems almost to stand like some statute against the chastening passage of ceaseless change – all around it everything is moving at a break neck speed, everyone is either running around like headless chickens or trying to get more done in the course of an eight hour day – but in plantation life – life just goes right on at the speed, cadence and pace that it has always proceeded, it can never be hurried or rushed.

That’s why I have always seen myself as a planter. This to me is heaven. For me this is the way every human being should at least experience once in their lifetime – those who don’t know this have simply never lived before or worse still maybe all they have is the illusion that they a living, when in fact, all they are really doing is existing – as what they all probably never experienced before is deliberately slowing down. Slowing down the mind, taking all the time in the world to look at a problem and to work it out slowly and carefully – they have never really spent a week or even a few days in a plantation. But if you are lucky enough to know a farmer and can facilitate you to make that quantum leap into that other world where the chastening passage of time has no dominion – then I think everything will be very clear….very clear indeed.

You will reach a point when you will begin to realize. THIS IS MY LIFE. I am not here to be a tool or just to generate tax dollars to keep a couple of delusional leaders living in style.

Once you lead the plantation life – you may even draw the logical conclusion that this people are really optional to the whole idea of your happiness and well being. As what you have really done as a man is to draw a line on the sand and say to the world,

“This is where my world belongs, and over that side of the line is their world.”

That is to say the man is slowly awakening from his slumber – he is beginning to discover that he has the power to assert control over his life. 

Am I surprised these days that even city folk in Singapore are thinking seriously about farming now. No! After all thousands of Singaporeans migrate every year – and these people are not idiots or for that matter quitters – they represent the most educated lot in our community, the most mobile, those who probably have the highest human potential. So why have all these people decided to call it quits? Are you telling me that they all don’t have story to share? Are you saying to me that they are all misled and delusional?

I think this is something that you would all do well to think deeper about.

Not in the least surprised at all…as what you need to understand is the relationship between land and man is a very powerful pull. A sort of attraction that slowly grows on a man till he finds that this is really the only place where he really belongs….I think if you sit down with any farmer and ask him why he loves the land as passionately as he does – you will find that what I shared with you will not be so different from what he has to say. I wish you all the best of luck. And if there is anything that I can do to render in any shape or form assistance, help or just the opportunity to fellowship – please feel free to drop me a line.”


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