Well, Rebecca and I just returned from our 20 day float down the Grand Canyon, and it’s hard to believe the growing season and fall CSA just ended a month ago. Floating the Colorado River for that long was wonderful. It was peaceful, at times challenging, but mostly it was restorative. It’s tough to beat sleeping under the stars at night in the desert. A lot of people have talked about the fact that a Grand Canyon trip can be life changing; however, for me, it was more life affirming. I have always felt most at ease outdoors in the natural world, and conservation has been a big part of my adult life, whether as a wildlife biologist or a farmer. And there is no better place to contemplate one’s life, agriculture, and values than when sitting below the granary at Nankoweap (photo above).
Rebecca and I are passionate about farming. Growing nutrient dense food for ourselves and our community without the use of harmful chemicals. Being good soil and land stewards to ensure we are farming with nature, rather than in an extractive manner. And trying to educate people about our food system, and how important seeking out food from good sources is for our health and our landscape. But at the same time, we’ve been building a business from scratch, and it’s easy to get caught up in that growth trajectory that comes with success. The past couple of seasons, we have been giving a lot of thought as to what the farm has become, what our personal goals are, and how to sustain the effort required without burning ourselves out physically or mentally.
One thing that stands out for me is being able to farm with intention and care amidst the frenzied pace of the farm season. To make the time to do the parts of farming we enjoy, and to take the time to do them right. When I look at the corporate industrial model that dominates today’s agriculture, and society in general, I don’t see much “care” in the system. As author Wendell Berry states in his book “It All Turns on Affection”, the push for profit maximization has squeezed all the other values out of our system, and we see it through the exploitation of the land, water, people, and our communities. Ultimately, the health of the land is inseparable from the health of people, and so an economic system that works to better things for people while harming the land makes no sense. It’s time for a re-imagining of our economic system. A system that is more mutualistic, rather than exploitive, in nature.
On that note, if you all haven’t watched the movie “The Little Big Farm”, you should. Not simply because of how well it shows the visceral ups and downs of farming, nor due to the dog having such an excellent name, but because it’s an inspiring example of everything I’ve just talked about….how to do the right thing, how to take the time to put “care” and “affection” into your work, to take the time to create beauty rather than taking shortcuts or efficiencies, and how to run a successful business in a non-extractive way.
As we enter the holiday season and the new year, it’s good to think about these things. I know personally, my list of New Year’s resolutions is already quite long 🙂 Thank you all again for supporting our farm and our community food system. We hope you all make time to show affection towards yourselves, your families, friends, and neighbors this holiday season and beyond. And that you get outside to enjoy nature. Happy Holidays!!