How does a poignant moment between a horse breeder and trainer with one of his livestock in a beer commercial turn into a comment on farmers? Some of the resulting generalizations bring to mind the gulf of understanding between food producers and consumers. There are as many variations in farmers and what they produce as there are in people in any society. A farmer I know loves to talk about chemicals, seed genetics, and equipment. I on the other hand find heirlooms, biological synergy and sustainability more interesting (We talk about basketball). The value of a farmer is in what he contributes to his community. This must be what all the attention is indicating. We revere those who work so we may live and enjoy life.
The generalizations that group all farmers together has me reluctant to identify with them. Maybe an example from the other day will show why. I was at the township office dropping off a tax payment. A grain farmer was bending the ear of the treasurer about his ag well. It had tested with heavy metals. A few old dumps had taken industrial waste and polluted select local groundwater. The farmer was trying to explain that it was okay to pump this well since the metals wouldn’t end up in the corn he sold. Of course I was aghast that anyone would try to justify using polluted water for irrigation. The contamination of the soil, runoff and subsequent crops is likely illegal. The mentality of many conventional farmers of squeezing money out of land regardless of impact is offensive.
On another occasion I set up a table at a health fair. I went around to the other vendors and introduced myself and the CSA I was promoting. One person from a dentist office was pleasantly offensive. She said she was raised on a farm and knew all about it. Went on to explain that her father worked the winter in Brazil raising seed corn and the summers here doing the same. I asked if she ate from the crops he raised. “No,” she said. “We buy our food from the store like everyone else. My father has an important role to play in feeding the world.” I let the conversation end since I find it hard to respond to illogical talking points.
So I clearly state that I am a small CSA farmer. I use organic methods, with ultra-low levels of carbon inputs. I build the fertility in the soil so that the crops I offer have the highest nutrient values. I foster biological diversity on the farm. I intensively farm enough land to supply the vegetables for up to 100 families for the full growing season. I use the latest and most advanced methods of producing natural foods. Those who follow will be able to do the same! This means I don’t have use for $500M boom sprayer, I don’t need HAZMAT procedures for our farm supplies, and the community I grow for recognizes the face of their farmer!
Posted by Farmer Pete @ 10:15 AM EST