This month, the theme we chose for media content was “Conscious Consumerism.” If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen advice on buying local, greener gifting, and giving experiences rather than things. The theme helps us focus our message and our creativity for the month, and ensures we’re bringing you the best and most timely content possible. We gather inspiration from big events, holidays, and national observance days (ie: Nov 15th is “America Recycles Day”). The upcoming holiday season was the inspiration for “Conscious Consumerism.”
During our brainstorming session, one observance that came up was that November is “World Vegan Month.” A slightly…fiery…discussion ensued. For the Food & Water Security team, food choices are the most important aspect of responsible consumption–not only because we grow food at our “day job,” but also because we are farmers, we support farmers, and we see food sovereignty as the foundation of regional resiliency. Deeply connected with food choices are environmental consequences.
Veganism can be a divisive subject; polite discourse is often impossible when there is so much misunderstanding. Yes, as a culture, Westerners eat too much meat. We should consume less meat overall, and use meat like a condiment to flavor and enhance our vegetables, grains, and legumes. However, from an ecosystem approach, agriculture with properly managed livestock is the most sustainable and environmentally restorative.
Now that we’ve had a few frosts, many think they can hang up their garden gloves. But think again. If you want a successful garden next year, start this fall. Your garden is still alive and the microbial livestock in your soil need to be fed.
First, stop! Shut off that tiller! I know you went for that to make your garden look clean and spiffy, but tilling your soil is bad for the bugs. Imagine a pile of bricks. It would be hard to walk through, right? Now build a house out of those bricks. It’s easy to go from room to room and move around your home. Soil structure, or aggregate, is the house for your soil livestock. Your tiller is a tornado that turns good soil aggregate to a pile of bricks, reducing water infiltration and microbial diversity.
Frost brings beauty and a sense of the change of time.
How can we have more birds, cleaner water, better food, and a healthier planet? That seems to be the questions a lot of people are asking now days. You can watch one documentary after another about all the environmental problems we face, many because of or food system. What’s harder to find is examples and stories on how agriculture can provide the food we need, for some nine billion people, and protect the natural world we so enjoy and need.
The good news in agriculture is out there, and you don’t need to go far. Self-reliant and self-educated farmers are implementing practices that build soil health, diversify the landscape, and protect their pocketbook. The farmers, ranchers and resource professionals implementing these restorative practices are new age pioneers, leading the way in conservation agriculture.
Gabe Brown, of Brown’s Ranch, farms 5400 acres in central North Dakota and has led the way in innovative cover cropping, livestock integration, and other soil building practices. In doing so he provides habitat for pollinators and predatory insects, game and songbirds, small mammals, and the microorganisms below ground that fuel the whole system. He protects water quality by increasing soil organic matter and water holding capacity, mitigating runoff and restoring hydrology. This type of agriculture functions as an ecosystem, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, further protecting water, soil, and our children that eat the food he grows. And Brown’s Farm generates greater profits, allowing him to bring his two sons and their families back to the farm, creating the rural economic development everyone wants to see. Continue reading