Anna welcomes the loving tongue of one of her postpartum mother cows.

Anna explains the importance of compressing silo to feed her cows.

The comfort of urban-suburban life has definitely spoiled me and left me ignorant towards the importance of rural life. From this perspective of mine, I had an eye-opening experience on this excursion. Visiting the dairy farm, I could not help but be inspired by Anna’s transition from urban to rural life. Initially residing in Barcelona, she was a journalist and her husband an economist. She spontaneously decided to visit her grandfather’s dairy farm out in Campllong, a village in the Gironès region of Catalonia. There, in her words, she “fell in love with the cows.” It is genuinely admirable that Anna was able to revisit nature after already being immersed in the demanding urban lifestyle of Barcelona. Back at home in the suburbs the closest nature release accessible to me is the Arthur L. Janura Forest Preserve in Hoffman Estates, Illinois where I would occasionally spend summer mornings with my brother biking through the 8.9-mile paved trail loops. Even then I would need my brother as an external motivator to drag me out of bed and convince me to actively embrace the forest preserve. However, in Anna’s case she was the motivator; she was the one who established her lifestyle change and encouraged her husband to follow her into rural life. Anna’s initiative is a trait I hope to take away with me, so to become a woman as powerful as her.

In this photo taken by Kelly, Ramon proudly showcases the honeycomb creations of the bees.

At the apiculture site, Ramon also experienced a shift in lifestyle in a different lens. As a humble farmer from the Sant Pere de Torelló municipality in the Osona region of Catalonia, Ramon never thought that he would become an educator. But one day his son’s class came to the farm to see what his career entailed, and the children were fascinated with the bees; it was a hit. From that day on, class after class visited Ramon’s farm to learn about the bees’ creation of honey and beekeepers’ role. In fact, the apiculture site now hosts a class nearly once a day every weekday, and through Ramon’s enthusiasm and storytelling I could tell that he wholly enjoys these sessions. I, too, never expected to become a teacher. I was persuaded by a roommate to join Peer Health Educator as a health educator. Just like Ramon, I quickly realized the value of instilling knowledge into today’s youth, and now my teaching skills and passion for education have only excelled since. In this way, I definitely connected with Ramon. From humble beginnings, he adapted his lifestyle to fit education for children. This honorable act displays his character and generosity. Going forth I hope to incorporate Ramon’s adaptability, because the best experiences may come spontaneously as it did for us.

Bees pollinated many different kinds of flowers to achieve the honey in this particular jar.

Just like many other urban-suburban folk I used to lay in my nice, little ball of ignorance when it came to rural life. However, this particular excursion to Anna’s dairy farm and Ramon’s apiculture site opened my eyes to the importance of a lifestyle that I had previously never paid attention to. What specifically caught my attention was the passion and expertise that these farmers demonstrated, which inclines me to carry a more conscious mind regarding the sourcing of the products I give my body. Walking through grocery stores back in the states, I immediately scan prices and grab the best values; rarely do I think about where these products come from. However, after this excursion I am more aware of the behind-the-scenes that occurs in food production. Both Anna and Ramon are examples of small, fresh, and local sources. They treat their animals with respect and abstain from the use of herbicides and pesticides. Back home, we could learn a thing or two about local sourcing, respecting livestock, and taking care of the earth.

In full protective gear, I pose by the landscape of Sant Pere de Torelló where bees are free to roam.