Small Scale Farming
Farming is not a utopia for dreamers, but without small scale farms our American dream of independence, abundance, vibrant health and basic freedoms can’t continue to exist. If we rely on the increasing power of corporations to provide us something as basic as food or clean water, how can we consider ourselves free?
Some people say small scale farming can’t feed the world, but the film, HEART & SOIL makes a claim that it’s not wise or sustainable to depend on the outside world to feed us. These days most people in the U.S. grow up eating processed food in boxes, frozen /freezer bag foods or overcooked from a can. Some baby boomers and older crowd have fond memories of visiting farms in their childhood, but most of us are far removed from our food's original source.
Conventional and industrialized farming is about the bottom line, exclusive of the results of any actions. Everything in that system, most essentially, compassion and quality of food are mercilessly compromised to maximize profit. Animals and employees suffer and even in commercial organic farms, most livestock never see the light of day and are fed a diet their digestive systems weren’t designed to handle. The animals are deprived a reasonable life, and their systems stressed and health jeopardized to maximize productivity. These animals are not healthy and are often diseased, yet people eat their eggs, drink the milk, and bi-products and consume the meat. Mass production of any product, means a sacrifice of quality, nutrient loss, presents a health risk to the consumer and stresses the resources of our planet. Plants and animals, when grown in healthy conditions, produce a healthy, vibrant product and work with natural methods of recycling nutrients.
Industrialized animals and humans face health risks associated with scientific manipulation of nature, to the extent that, food resembles the original form of fruit, vegetable or animal, but there’s no comparison in it’s taste or nutrition. Genetically Modified foods put our health at risk. We may get the calories we need to survive, but the further we get away from eating foods grown with Nature’s key ingredients; nutrient rich soil, clean water and air, and unaltered DNA, the further we’ll get from being well nourished.
In small scale farming, care is taken for the health of the livestock, soil is restored using cover crops and plant rotation. Water, often scarce, is conserved through both innovative and ancient methods, and air is plentiful and fresh for the farmers, livestock and plants. Farming is physically hard work, bearing the burden of unreliable weather patterns, water and land shortages and a rise in pollutants.
Often the cost of land can make even an acre unaffordable to many who want to get started, and increasingly difficult for even those with inherited farm land. Many are forced to sell their land to developers. Back yard farming, pots on decks and sharing land is increasingly popular.
Most of North America has only a few months each year to grow food, but for hundreds of years, Native Americans, settlers and farmers lived off the land, trading only for a small portion of what they needed. In those days, everyone grew something, and often had root cellars to store food and trade with neighbors all winter long. Conservation of resources along with cultivation and preservation of food was a priority and value system of life --- until Industrialization and Technology.
Now, our densely populated planet has become a fast food nation that opts for low price and convenience, not for nourishment or concern for how this kind of diet or industrialized mass feeding system will effect our long term sustainability. It’s a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water, --the nutrient loss of our food system equates to the loss of our future.
There is growing concern world-wide, to reconnect with our food source, for parents to spend extra time and money, insuring their children are nourished from “life force” foods, instead of feeding them bland, processed, chemically altered foods. Grassroots movements are burgeoning, supporting people who want to get back to healthy food basics, be farmers, become part of community gardens, get involved with farm to school programs, shop at farmers markets, get education for organic and permaculture methods of gardening, develop solar technology and ways to extend the growing season and preserve food regionally.
It’s inspiring to see some families and communities take more responsibility for feeding themselves by growing and buying locally fresh food, instead of relying on the outside world to safely or consistently or in the long run, be able to provide the food we need to be healthy.
Small scale farming means many things, but most importantly, as presented by the farmers in HEART & Soil, it’s a step toward sustainability for the future health of ourselves, our children and our planet.