Yes, it’s alive! The soil that is…. When a person practices sustainable farming the person becomes a steward of the land. I don’t necessarily care for the word “practice” because it seems as if all efforts are just a trial run rather than the real deal of work. Sorry back to the soil: My first question a few years ago was “what is the difference between organic and sustainable?”
Organic requires certification through the USDA whereas being sustainable is more of a philosophical or ethical approach to farming efforts. For example practicing water conservation, keeping the antibiotics away from livestock, and allowing your livestock to pasture over the winter in what was the chili field the previous summer – that’s being a good steward. Nada mas (nothing more) is required when you are being sustainable. I’m sure my grandfather and Pop are shrugging their heavenly shoulders with the “well yeah” gesture.
So is the food healthier? My kiddo used to run around the farm chasing (take your pick here) chickens, ducks, or puppies. In her signature move she would plop herself onto the ground and sneak into the rows of squash and emerge with a lemon squash between her little hands just munching away. So how cool is that? Would you allow your little one to just grab produce from the grocery store aisle and partake of the chemicals? I think it’s cool to think I’m helping the earth (okay I’m reaching far beyond my neighborhood with that statement) and someday that carrot I pull from the earth will be just as nutritious as the carrots pulled a century ago.
I’m going to leave you with this short article from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa (it’s short and sweet):
May your week be amazing!!
The brisk early morning air was so refreshing against my face. I wore a jacket so I kinda avoided the “rest of the body” experience. Fed the chickens and rabbits – instinctively I looked up expecting to see sandhill crane above……none to be found: yet. No daily crops to be harvested at the homefront since the farm is covered with alfalfa (for the exception of my box garden.) The alfalfa did well this year and the monsoon rains were extremely helpful this summer: which seldom is the situation.
Said my daily prayer and gave thanks for farmers and our warriors. How blessed am I to have both in my life. But today I thought about the farmer’s challenge of transporting produce – not just produce but produce that is at the peak of nutrition. We care about that beautifully ripe tomato that smells and tastes: like a tomato. I so dislike the mass chain grocery store tomato (say that in one breath) that looks like a tomato and has the texture of a tomato AND that’s it, no more because there is absolutely no flavor. For the mass chain grocery, in the words of Bruce Hornsby: “that’s just the way it is, somethings ‘ll never change” (not the entire song – okay sorry) but for a farmer that’s not acceptable – we want what’s best for that cute gramita making her perfect bologna sandwich, that sweet 2 year old in the car being buckled in the car seat, the chef wanting the perfect veggie for a discerning customer, and for the German Shepherd sneaking treats in the garden.
I’ve just begun this journey of the farmer’s plight or at least this farmer’s plight…..
I’m going to take you on a itty bitty journey and give you a tiny glimpse of my world which may give you insight to my future ramblings: A little girl of 4 “going to be 5” and I’m wearing a dark blue sweater, jeans, and a hat – embarking on the daunting task of pulling weeds……..and having my Pop gently stop me with the words and chuckle “Mija, those aren’t weeds” I don’t know if I said anything to him but I mean after all I’m 4 and darn if I didn’t know a thing or two by then. He smiled and squeezed my shoulder and showed me the difference between the chili plants and the weeds. His loving guidance: I knew I was loved, I wasn’t very smart but I was loved.
His kindness and care for the land/animals was my introduction to farming and my primary influence AND where else could I play in dirt and not get into trouble for it….? So at the mature age of 4 my world was perfect: listening to my Pop’s dichos (Spanish sayings); singing to Hank Williams; Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline; pulling weeds; playing in the dirt and mud; eating bologna and green chili on homemade tortillas (OMG, this is a great meal); drinking cool water from a canvas bag that my Pop had hanging from the gas cap on the truck and feeling the freshness of the water spilling off the sides of my lips; and being in the sun. Looking back – yes, it was perfect.
I’m just sitting at my office desk and as usual thinking about being outside. Don’t get me wrong, I love paperwork as much as the next person…. Frankly, I’m just a farmer at heart. My Pop taught his children to respect farming and sharing the land. I just seemed to love it a bit more than my brother and sisters.
Growing up I wanted to be a pirate – yes, a pirate. What was cool in my mind was being outdoors, wearing amazingly cool boots, and having a monkey sit on my shoulder. Really! Ahem, almost took you on a tangent… Back to farming: Touching the earth and knowing what secrets the soil has that could transform the land into FOOD! Do the masses care where the food comes from? I don’t know anymore. When I go to the grocery store and see the aisles filled with endless products with empty calories waiting for the population. This is when I can’t help but wonder if the population knows if there is anything nutritious in the family meal.
This is my rambling for the moment…. Any feedback is welcome!