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Resilience is a River {Week 16 CSA}

"Here’s the tragedy of agriculture in our time. In the middle of the last century, Aldo Leopold was writing and publishing on the “land community” and ecological land husbandry. Sir Albert Howard and J. Russell Smith had written of natural principles as the necessary basis of agriculture. This was work that was scientifically reputable. At the end of the Second World War, ignoring that work, the politicians, the agricultural bureaucracies, the colleges of agriculture, and the agri-business corporations went all-out to industrialize agriculture and to get first the people and then the animals off the land and into the factories. This was a mistake, involving colossal offenses against both land and people. The costs have not been fully reckoned, let alone fully paid."

That was the conclusion of an interview with author (and farming legend), Wendell Berry in 2012. Ten years later and the costs of his assessment continue to add up, with the most vulnerable among us paying first. There are many angles one could take to view the agricultural crisis we face: ecological pollution and decimation, soil erosion and desertification, climate change acceleration, inhumane animal husbandry, unethical employment and modern fuedal systems, and the cascading effects on health and malnourishment that result in the bodies and lands downstream. Couple any one of those facets with the labor intensiveness and razor-thin margins of farming, and we clearly see why a dire shortage of farmers is upon us. As the media continues to write about the current and looming food shortages, it begs the bigger question of how will the world eat as these problems continue to mount? The poorest people of the world are often paying the greatest costs, either as indentured "employees" to this system or as the first line of exposure to its detriment. But the fallout is adding up for all of us to feel. While the cause of the rising food prices we're seeing today appears to be multifaceted and unique to each crop or industry, it's also a taste of things to come as the instability of our agricultural system continues to reveal itself.

So where do we go from here? This has been asked for decades and there have been clear answers offered, including one partially penned by Wendell Berry himself, yet none of them have been able to overcome the corporate quagmire that is the U.S. government. Everything either stops or gets mangled by the USDA, passing as a new Farm Bill every 5 years with crumbs for ecological salvation and bounties for the owners of the largest operations and holdings.

Meanwhile, small farmers are looking for their own solutions. Researchers and farmers alike are seeking out climate resilient practices to fortify farms and, by consequence, the earth in this time of unpredictable and extreme weather conditions. Scientists have reached out to indigenous peoples around the world to understand how they've weathered previous climactic shifts and to further understand climate-specific farming adaptations. Open source farming resources (like this one) are increasing online for people around the world to discover better ways to manage the challenges of small-scale farming. And while armchair pundits continue to debate about which system of agriculture will be able to feed the world, earnest individuals are picking up broad forks and buckets of compost in an effort to salvage what policy won't. Because resilience is unwavering in its search for the path forward. It moves like a river, unattached to what it once believed, unhindered by new obstacles, and steadfast and swift when the problems pour down. It's easy to be trampled by the tragedies at our fingertips, or just out our windows on the smokey, apocalyptic horizon. It's a downpour that overwhelms before it motivates.

But like any challenge we face in our own lives, we have the choice to deny it until it hurts too bad to look away, or to face it straight on, understand it better, and take decisive action. For the great nature of what we're collectively facing, we need these storms. We need the motivation they fuel us with, lest we forget, submit, and pretend our children's children will be just fine. It's that fuel that will allow us to create the solutions that will stand when the false foundations of industry crumble.

It's what will allow us to continue on without it.

“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.“ - Jim Watkins


Inside Your Box This Week

Green Zebra Tomatoes

Green Butter Lettuce

Mixed Peppers










Recipes Worth Trying...

{click images to go to recipe}


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