Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Feed Yourself First

Somewhere along the line farming became less about the land and more about
making money.

To me a lot of this happened during the thirties and forties when more and more
books began to talk about making farming more "businesslike".  Today most of our
Ag schools teach a curriculum simply about the business end of farming. The land
itself becomes a means to an end. Similar to the way that college has become a
means to an end. Rather than learning for the sake of learning, our children are
now taught to learn for a future income.

To me farming must start with the very simple maxim of "Feed yourself first".
The growth of the chemical age and the attitudes of business agriculture has
allowed farmers to become as distanced from the source of their food as the
consumers to whom they sell their chemical laden food. Most farmers, including
those in my family buy their food at the grocery store.

The distance from the farmer to his food allows the farmer to more easily ignore
what he applies to both his own food, and the consumers he caters to. Secondly,
the distance created by chemical agriculture also keeps the farmer from
observing in his own crops the results of his use of chemicals. In my orchard, I
walk out everyday, and just look at my trees during the growing season. I
observe the health of the foliage cover, the presence of pests, the reaction of
my trees to drought and wet weather, etc.. I do this, because I can most easily
stop trouble before it starts.

However chemical farmers have the magic spray schedule. Rather than seeing their
crops, they spray on a schedule. They are unable to see the reasons they have
problems. For instance in a sprayed orchard it is likely that bee activity will
be greatly reduced. This results in crops becoming smaller and smaller over the
years. My grandfather 's orchards have become so denuded of bees, that he
arranges to have bee-men bring bees to him. Never mind that in a healthy organic
orchard, bees will naturally come (assuming that others in the area aren't
killing them).

 When we moved onto our place a little over a year ago, it was winter. When
spring came I was appalled at how few bees were here. I had lousy crops last
year! However, after a year of organic culture, this year I had loads of bees.
Of course I didn't spray any poison this last year (I suspect it was used here
before) I am also planting a lot wider array of plants with lots of flowers to
encourage bee activity, including seeding the orchard with wildflowers this

I pray Frank is right about returning to a more agrarian culture, however, I'm
not holding my breath. Nevertheless, it is my belief that in the final analysis,
change happens one person at a time. So I do everything I can to make my little
corner of the world as healthy as I can. I figure with farmers like me and each
and everyone of you chipping away at the granite face of chemical farming and
gardening, then eventually through sheer tenacity we're bound to make headway. I
think that there is ample evidence it is already happening. People are becoming
more and more concerned about what goes into their mouths. A very good thing!
The biggest thing I know is that when I reach my hand under a little hen for a
fresh egg, or drink a glass of our fresh goats milk, or brush a little bee away
from the fruit I am about to pick, life is really good! I love to grow things!
Little bit Farm

Author:   "Dee Ann Guzman"