Donald Glover recently bought a farm in Ojai, California, and he’s turning it into the headquarters for his new production company, Gilga. Earlier this year, Boston Celtics power forward Blake Griffin, along with a consortium of fellow athletes, teamed up to buy an Iowa farm.

And just two years ago, “Entourage” actor Adrian Grenier moved onto the farm he owns outside of Austin with plans to develop the property and plant a “fruit forest” and “wildlife sanctuary.”  

Are more people becoming farmers?

These stars are certainly not the only ones to go country and enjoy the idyllic pleasures of agrarian life and/or turn a profit off of farmland, but a distinction should be made between farming as a trend and farming as a livelihood. Most everyday people don’t actually have the means or the will to quit their jobs, buy land and teach themselves all about the sylvan life. Though it’s not unheard of — there are certainly folks who have done just that, and written about the experience.

Most people though, perhaps those who grew up playing Farmville, are really just yearning for a little taste of country life, something just a skosh outside their quotidian existence. When they post “I want to live on a farm,” they’re just expressing a yearning for something more fulfilling in their lives than grind culture.

It’s not just celebrities and influencer types who are obsessed with farming. Everyday people are becoming more interested in farm life and going off the grid, too. And while technically, the broader trend of survivalism and the back-to-the-land movement has been sporadically popular in the United States since the 1930s, it can’t be denied that the simple life — whatever that means to the beholder — holds a strong cultural appeal right now.

It’s an interesting moment to see pro athletes and TV stars getting into agriculture, an industry going through a fair amount of struggle, perhaps facing “more challenges at one time than ever before,” according to NPR. The major difference between farmers who work their own land and/or manage workers for a living, however, and wealthy celebrities and hobbyists who buy land and big hats and cosplay as down-home country is that the latter group can afford to dabble in rustic life for the gram.

Why do farmers suffer from depression?

Meanwhile, the people who rely on farming to pay their bills are struggling to make ends meet. Their reality is not glamorous, and they can’t just take a day off or change their mind as the rich and famous can do if they grow tired of their adopted lifestyle.

Again, it’s no secret that farming as a livelihood is a very difficult path at present, and has been for some time. In 2019, Time reported that farm debt, at $416 billion (at that time) was at an all-time high. According to an American Farm Bureau poll, two-thirds of farmers said the pandemic negatively impacted their mental health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that farmers and ranchers are nearly two times more likely to die by suicide in the U.S., compared to other occupations.

Farming is a dangerous job, and most farmers need to take on second jobs to make ends meet.

With all of those perils in mind, who could really blame anyone for not wanting to go whole hog, but rather, take up the more aesthetic, periphery aspects of “farm” life, like planting a backyard garden, raising chickens and keeping honeybees?  

Why do celebrities buy farms?

The reasons both celebrities and everyday people have for yearning to get their hands in the dirt are surely varied, but I’d gander that it has something to do with the high levels of stress and burnout workers are facing, and the increasing distance humans find from things in their lives that are “real.”

If you can afford to, the more time you spend in nature, with animals, and away from work and screens, the better off you’ll probably be. Saying you want to run away and live on a farm is often just a way of expressing a desire to unplug and reconnect with the world and earth around you. 

For most, visiting local farms for a glimpse of agriculture production in action, and spending more time at the park, getting involved with community gardens and finding other ways to connect with animals and our food systems, ought to provide the right dose of farm fantasy. 

But those who are serious about their farm dreams can look to seasoned farmers like Isabella Rossellini to guide them. As the great actress and model turned gardener, innkeeper and chicken mama says, “Family and farm — that’s what home means to me.”