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“When people have a relationship to a farm, when they have a farm in their mind and in their heart, they’re engaged more as citizens of this planet,” Peterson said. “I can lament the declining sales and the struggles for farmers, but I really feel that the bigger issue is that the more people are cut off from the source of their food, the less able they are to deal with the issues of the world.” -‘Farmer John’ Peterson [Read more…]
The soil now gets a rumpling soft and damp,
And small regard to the future of any weed.
The final flat of the hoe’s approval stamp
Is reserved for the bed of a few selected seed.
There is seldom more than a man to a harrowed piece.
Men work alone, their lots plowed far apart,
One stringing a chain of seed in an open crease,
And another stumbling after a halting cart.
To the fresh and black of the squares of early mould
The leafless bloom of a plum is fresh and white;
Though there’s more than a doubt
if the weather is not too cold
For the bees to come and serve its beauty aright.
Wind goes from farm to farm in wave on wave,
But carries no cry of what is hoped to be.
There may be little or much beyond the grave,
But the strong are saying nothing until they see.
-Robert Frost, 1936
“Big Hugh” adopted theatrical antics of legend before congress while dramatizing America’s soil erosion crisis throughout Roosevelt’s era. Soil Conservation Service founder Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett spread a thick bath towel across one committee table over which he dumped a half-pitcher of water in demonstrating how well-covered, well-managed land could absorb heavy, washing rains. The chief then sloshed the remainder over a smooth tabletop, representing bare eroded land, [Read more…]
I did not set out forty-some years ago to be a hippy, organic or alternative farmer of any sort. Deeply disillusioned after a few years of striving to reform society’s miscreants in California’s prison and parole system, I ached to produce something of unquestioned value for myself and my community – growing food seemed to fit that bill. Though it’s been a jolly good ride, the journey proved to be not as simple as it looked either. Let me share a “thing or two about a thing or two” that I learned along the “way of the dirt farmer”. [Read more…]
My friend, Cecilia Sheeter, once described a moment of evening light when one feels as if its “thick golden sheen could be scooped out of the air.” To me, the spring air has that same feel, it is dense with all the promise of a new year. Bud break in grapes is my favorite week of this, my favorite season. A field of nascent green is suspended over the earth on a squat army of gnarled trunks. Years of past mistakes, misgivings, and missed opportunities are the wood of the vine, nourishing the tender young shoots. Their vigor holds so much enthusiasm; even our human losses seem diminished. This is Mr. Willey’s most stressful time of year. To him, all that spring potential is fraught with tension, danger and toil. With literally hundreds of tasks, for dozens of crops, to be completed in an ever-narrowing window of time and temperature, deciding each day’s priorities seems perilous. “Silty, sandy, muddy Earth, we savor God’s ardent endowment in you. Make us worthy stewards of your robust gifts, in wonderment and fright we witness life renew.” -denesse