Bill WittmanI guess you could say I was a fortunate child, though at the time I had no idea. I was raised on a half acre of land in a suburb of a major city near the water. I didn't even know the city was there until I was almost in my 20s, though.

Every year my dad would plant six beds of vegetables as would my grandfather, less than a half mile away. In addition, we worked with one of the local waterman – fishing, crabbing and oystering. Composting, wood heat, hanging clothes and weeding were just regular chores, which you never got paid for because "there was a roof over your head and food on the table." Of course there was 'cause I worked to help put it there! Yes, my dad wasn't fond of my sarcasm. But the thing was, he was right. Yes, Dad I admit it! We wanted for nothing. Ever.

Our little half acre and surroundings supplied us with everything. Fresh vegetables, fish, crabs, oysters and activity – we were never bored. In addition, my dad had building projects and would experiment with raising different animals from time to time – ducks, chickens, rabbits, and I think there was even a goat for a short time. And as a youngster I hated it.

I didn't like weeding, cutting the grass, freezing on cold mornings, walking through duck muck, or any of the other chores or projects that came along. My goal was set early – do well in school and then make a million dollars and buy whatever I wanted. Yup, that was the whole plan, and it never really got more detailed than that.

What I didn't realize – for a very long time – was that there was something in my blood. I first noticed it after I had moved out on my own and into an apartment. I missed mowing the grass. What?!? How could this be? But sure enough, I would ask people if I could mow their grass just to have that smell and sense of accomplishment. You should have seen some of the looks I got with that.

That wasn't enough to make it click though. I went through my 20s, 30s, and into my 40s chasing the money dream. The problem was it wasn't my dream, it was what I was told should be my goal, my dream. After I started making money, I realized it wasn't making me happy or satisfied, nor were any of the things that came with it. But there was something that kept pulling at me all the while, a call back to the land.

2/8/2015 2:17:44 PM

Bill, welcome to the GRIT blogging community. I started life on the farm; left for college; and never looked back. After a 41 year corporate career in telecommunications, I retired and the farm ancestral genes rose up and now I proclaim to be an Urban Farmer with gardens in my back yard and two other vacant city lots. It's hard to deny your roots, don't you think? I'm looking forward to more posts. ***** Have a great Maryland day.

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