Oak Center, Minnesota. You might say organic farmer Steven Schwen plows a different path through life; one built of a strong connection to the land, without many of the trappings we normally would associate as necessities of modern living.
It was a deliberate choice that he made. Schwen believes that we, as a society, have been lured down the path of consumerism, and profit, at the expense of the environment and of our souls. “I think it’s important for people to understand that we are all connected to land and labor… When I started out, I thought I’m going to change the world. And all of those people who went back to the land who are still doing this, we are going to do something to change this world. And you know, we are helping shape people’s thinking but I think there has been a lot of resistance because of the comfort levels that material security has been providing people. People have been saying, yeah, I want to do that someday. But circumstances are becoming such that people will not have those choices anymore, and people realize that.”
Steven Schwen was not born into farming, and in fact, first went to medical school before realizing it was living a more sustainable existence that he needed to pursue.
…”I guess I grew up in the country, and my family lived a mile and a half out of town. I spent my childhood looking under logs to see what lived there and running around in the woods, and just animals and nature were my life.”
His parents recognized his early love of nature, especially of bugs, and suggested it could lead to a career in science, and so they encouraged him to become a doctor. But Schwen later discovered that the concept of general practitioner that he had growing up, the country doctor that paid house visits, was quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Upon graduating college in the early 1970’s, Schwen developed a vision of a sustainable world based upon the model of an agrarian society: small towns, local economies, and more people on the land. It was the only vision he could imagine that presented a lifestyle without the need for oil. During our interview, Schwen asks, “You know what one family can do with a team of horses, or with their own labor”?
As you can see in this, and the other related videos, Schwen shows us his answer— a lot!
[where: Sustainable Food, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota]