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Farmer John: Searching for balance in our world, systems that produce our food

BY J.D. WILSON

SIGMA — We experienced the fall equinox on Monday, Sept. 23. The Earth was poised between light and dark, day and night. Now, on our side of the planet, we are heading more toward night, toward dark. 

We spin on our axis in a bit of a wobble. We also spin around our star. Oh, I feel almost dizzy, spinning and circling like that. 

Monty Python has a great tune, “The Galaxy Song,” a kind of science lesson wrapped in a funny song. “Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving / And revolving … ”

So we are revolving around the center of our galaxy. At this point, we are way past my science pay grade, but we are only one galaxy in a cluster of other galaxies. A scientist friend once told me that there is a point after which the size of the universe can only be understood symbolically. What all this means is that we are in a spinning, spiraling movement through an incomprehensibly large universe, heading toward an unknown destination, never in the same spot in space twice. 

But for two days a year, on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, we achieve our own balance inside of our bubble of protective atmosphere on our little planet. And I felt kind of settled there for a minute.

It’s good to focus here on the planet, enjoy the equinox and do what I can to make a positive impact here. While this also feels bigger than me, it is where I live. I like the idea of leaving it livable for my children and grandchildren.

We are at a crossroads. Some say we are past the tipping point, but I don’t know the answer to that either. I know the need to support practices that sustain our lives is nothing to ignore. I assure you, that even ostriches die in extinction events. 

Some researchers, citing wildlife population losses, have theorized that we may be in the sixth mass extinction event in the history of life on Earth, according to a 2017 report in The Guardian. And this one is being caused largely by human activities, including population growth that leads to habitat loss. It is estimated that our current biosystem and ecological balance is 10,000 years old, plus or minus a little. That is not very old by universe or space time. Whenever we get to that unknown destination somewhere in the universe, it would be nice for the planet to be alive. With us on it.

Our assumptions about unlimited growth, unlimited resources and unlimited productive soil are fading as wishful thinking in light of our extractive and aggressive use of those same resources. There could be a miraculous new energy source created for our benefit any day, but I don’t think we should count on it. There is a big, promising power source already available: the sun. We should make better use of it.

As I have written here many times before, we need to be concerned about the soil. We have let so much of it wash down the river that our food system, its nutritional value greatly reduced, has to be propped up by so many chemicals and GMO crops. There is just nothing like good rich deep topsoil which is biologically active to feed us. Those soils are also resilient in the face of a changing climate.

We can see and feel the change. On the day I wrote this column, Wednesday, Oct. 2nd, 2019, we set a new heat record – 93 degrees – according to WAVY-TV. I was hot and sweaty.

We have all the solutions we need right now to solve these problems we face in terms of climate and natural resources. We just need the resolve to enact them. In agriculture we call it regenerative, organic farming. It’s in our hands, but it is moving forward ever so slowly. 

Will we achieve our own human and ecosystem balance similar, in its way, to how the Earth balanced light and dark on Sept. 23?

The answer is unknown. It is up to us to write the rest of the story by making the choice and commitment to our environment and the food systems it sustains. 

We can’t just go to the grocery store and hope it all works out.

I will end with a quote by Rob Vollmer, who wrote an article in the recent issue of Acres USA, a magazine for eco farmers and anyone else interested: 

“How best that humanity might live: closer to the land, eating food drawn from healthy soil, in communion with our neighbor, in a real relationship with the cycles of nature. With meaning.”


Reach Wilson, a farmer and consultant, via farmerjohnnewearth@yahoo.com.


© 2019 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News

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