The Man Born to Farming – by Wendell Berry
The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming, whose hands reach into the ground and sprout, to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn. His thought passes along the row ends like a mole. What miraculous seed has he swallowed that the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water descending in the dark.
Good news! Many are so committed (addicted) to the “divine drug” as Mr. Berry tells that we will always be out there growing, and doing all we can to do it sustainable. In fact we are so ‘addicted’ to this drug that we tend to invest all we have & are, and in so doing become unsustainable.
There never has been any question that local, fresh, organic foods are the very best things for a healthy life, community, society, and culture. We each know this empirically and intuitively. Many have come to know that the ‘culture’ of agriculture was co-oped by corporate powers several decades ago, and much can be said about the disaster it has been, but here today a growing number are seeking to return to what is right for themselves, the land, the culture, and this very small & challenged planet. We live in a most exciting time, literally at no time has a species had the opportunity to change it’s behavior and by so doing save itself.
So what does “SUSTAINABLE” mean, from the perspective of a farmer:
1 – Environmental
2 – Economical
3 – Emotional
4 – Equitable – socially equitable with farmer & consumer
For most farmers the challenge is how to market and receive a return commensurate with the production costs, education, knowledge, and effort in relation to the cultural norms. Another words; how to make a “living” at this most ancient of occupations.
Today you meet to tackle some of this challenge, for that we are most thankful. When we are asked what will it take to achieve a “local sustainable food system” the answers are many, but boils down to:
1 – Local market place or places convenient for customers. Open as much as feasible. Not unlike Nature’s Touch.
2 – Local warehouse, processing, pickup and delivery system.
3 – “Local” restaurants, meaning a publicly identifiable rating system to certify the degree (% of local) to which each adheres to a “buy local” pledge.
4 – Marketing, processing, and grower’s consultant to seek, find, and develop needed crops, & processors. For example; hard winter wheat for breads, pastas, etc. , barley for malt, feed, etc.
As we identify the many “needs” of a local sustainable food system (L.S.F.S.) several potential paths will evolve, for me it seams a somewhat large non-profit might be best. Utilize some of the aspects of the old “CO-OP” models, also a banking aspect is needed, as you may know “farming” as a occupation is not recognized or honored in the world of BANKING. Go figure!
For those addicted to that “divine drug” we honor and thank those who’s concerns become intrinsic with ours, for a real community must come from each of us as we answer these many challenges.
Yours Farmer’s Bill & Barbara of Windrose Farm
Some Suggested Books:
The Unsettling of America Culture & Agriculture by Wendell Berry, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawkan