This week on the farm a haze of smoke from the fires burning out west filled the air on Tuesday and Wednesday making it hard to breathe and reminding us that while everything seems hunky-dory here there are tragedies and hardships happening elsewhere.
As our consciousness expands to encompass the happenings of a global community facing many challenges right now the feeling of hardship and suffering can feel overwhelming at times.
Jeff and I both came to the work we do, despite a lack of a cultural narrative that this was a viable future path, from a place of searching for a way to live in the world that we felt made sense to us . Ten years later, it has been a bumpy road and much of our idealism toward the work has faded away. However, the sense that what we are doing makes sense remains--as well as the gratitude for being privileged to do this work.
Agriculture has a huge impact on our landscape and the health of our soil and water(I would also argue our human population). Much of the food produced in this country is grown using extractive and destructive techniques and strategies that kill the life in the soil and contaminate the waterways and poison the creatures that live therein. Grimm picture, right? We have had the opportunity to take over several conventionally managed corn fields--the soil is brittle and mineralized, almost powdery. The soil in this state can no longer support the healthy growth of plants of its own accord. It becomes dependent on a system of inputs in order to make things grow. The inputs, many of which are carcinogenic, are applied year after year. They wash away into our ground water, streams and rivers.
At Three Sisters we are passionate about developing regenerative practices to bring a healing impact to the land we are managing as well as a higher nutritional value to the food we produce. We have found that compost is the solution to pretty much all the problems mentioned above. It can supply a crop with the needed macro and micro nutrients, builds soil life, is not toxic in the least and is stable and so doesn't leach anything nasty into our waterways. Additionally it increases a plant's disease and pest resistance making the use of toxic pesticides and fungicides unnecessary. It also imparts quality to the food we grow, helping it store longer. Our main challenge now as we see it, is how to sustainably produce as much compost as possible on our farm.
The fact that there is unprecedented support for the work we do right now is a hopeful sign that awareness of the importance of shifting the paradigm of agriculture in this country is increasing.
-Have a good weekend,
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.