Enriching the Diversity of Our Communities
Diversity. Certainly a hot topic when it comes to people living together. But it also has to do with the kind of jobs we do. Some are scientists, some business people, some work in health care… and some are farmers.
I’m a farmer. I live in a rural community.
If you’re a farmer, you’re going to have to work either for yourself, or for a big farm that is growing commodity crops…often big corporations not tied into the local community or the local land.
It’s true that more people now live in large urban areas than rural areas like me. So, why should we put focus on the rural community? The answer is simple but perhaps a bit surprising:
Whatever we do for the rural community—for our local farmers—benefits not only future generations in the rural community but people in the nearby urban communities who become more connected to where their food comes from.
During the Great Depression in America, in an edition of the Literary Digest, June 18, 1932, Henry Ford made this statement: “The farther we get away from the land, the greater our insecurity. From the land comes everything that supports life, everything we use for the service of physical life. The land has not collapsed or shrunk in either extent or productivity. It is there waiting to honor all the labor we are willing to invest in it, and able to tide us across any dislocation of economic conditions.”
We have a tremendous resource in the land and the farms that produce our crops. The farm is where our food comes from. It is a direct link to our natural environment and if we pause for a moment to reflect, we know that, in the end, the living earth sustains all of us. If we degrade it, it will be detrimental to our own survival, to our own health, to our own well-being.
Topsoil is actually where we all live. All of humanity lives on 6 inches of topsoil…all around the world. We can support and create more topsoil through biological activities. That’s what local farmers do, especially organic farmers. But you can’t do that through commodity crops—the 1,000s of acre farms that grow soy and corn.
Organic farmers, for example, don’t put pesticides on their land. They grow their crops without the fertilizers…without the chemicals…without the pesticides. The organic farmer can do this because he or she knows the best time to plant…and that’s critical to their weed control. They cultivate to get rid of weeds before planting…and then plant, because if the crop can get ahead of the weeds, it dominates.
So by caring for the soil, by stewarding its use and health, we create a greater opportunity for our rural communities to thrive through farms that continue to produce fresh, healthy food. And, of course, these foods are then delivered to the supermarkets in the cities but can be traced back to the local farmers and their farms.
Large corporate farms are not going away. But maintaining diversity by keeping small farms part of the mix makes a better rural community, a better city, a better planet. The important thing is keeping people on the land…and bringing families back to the land…and hopefully localizing production as much as you can. That’s what we’re helping to do at Grazing Fields. Try some of our products and see if diversity doesn’t taste really good.