By Debbie Apple
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pigs-in-bee-habitat

Last week I went out to the Aveda school in Brentwood for a haircut and the woman getting her haircut next to me mentioned about how she was trying to eat organically but didn’t know where to go to find good, healthy food.  Of course I piped up and told her I was an organic farmer and let her know about the Franklin Farmers’ Market and the great abundance of healthy food options for her in the area.  Then she asked me “Is it harder to grow organically?” “No, it’s not” I answered.  The answer seemed to pop out so quickly that I didn’t have time to think about it, or so I thought.  For the next hour I pondered my answer. Is it really not harder? Is that what other organic farmers would say? Does that sound like our food is easier to raise and should therefore be cheaper? Have I let down all organic farmers everywhere?

The truth is that deep down I know with every fiber of my being that to farm against nature is a losing battle. It might seem easy to spray a bit of herbicide and kill everything “unwanted” but the damage done to the unseen is catastrophic and it will take years of toil to repair the damage. That “unseen” extends from the microbiology in the soil that I just plain can’t farm without to the “unseen” damage to my customer’s health.  If I truly believe that what I can’t see is just as important that what I do see then I have to admit that with everything taken into consideration and all the long term repairing that would need to take place, organic farming is definitely the “easier: choice”.

A good example is our new bee habitat.  The funding I received stated that I MUST apply a chemical burn to the ground at least twice before sowing the seed.  I get it, planting flowers in crab grass or Bermuda grass is a losing proposition. So here is what conventional farming would look like,

1. Spray Round Up on 1/4 acre
2. Spray Round Up on same 1/4 acre
3. Till
4.  Plant

Here’s is what it looks like for us;

1. Fight with the Government to allow us not to spray chemicals
2. Build a good fence around 1/4 acre
3. Put pigs onto the 1/4 acre
4. Remove pigs and till the ground
5. Leave ground idle
6. Put pigs back onto  1/4 acre
7. Remove pigs and till
8. Hand weed all crabgrass
9. Plant seeds by hand
10. Mulch to help with weed competition
11. Hand weed until plants are up and growing

Just listed like that you would think I was a fool to think organic farming was easier but now lets look at the things we can’t see.

Non Organic farming

1. chemicals in the soil that will take years (hopefully not longer) to leach from the soil
2. chemicals leached from the soil will end up in our creek and water supply
3. Most if not all of our microbiology in the soil will be dead and therefore all the actions and reaction from their presence will not be occurring
4. The bees that feed off the plants might be affected
5. Those who use our honey for it’s health benefits might not get the benefits they sought
6. Whoever had the horrible job of spraying the chemicals will surely be affected adversely

Organic farming

1. I still have nature on my side aiding me in my work because the life in the soil is untouched by chemicals
2. My soil is not impacted by the chemical so it will be more suitable for life and not death
3. Our waters will remain clean and without added chemicals
4. The teeming life in the soil is still present to consume the food in the soil making the minerals available to the plants for life
5. Our pigs got the benefit of healthy grass which will make the meat healthier for our customers
6. Our bees will be bringing clean, healthy pollen to the hive which will help our customers to achieve better health
7. With our bees healthier we will have more fruit and flowers on the farm
8. All the weeds that are hand picked will be burned and the remaining minerals will be added to the soil

pollinator-conservation-mix

As Vandava Shiva says, you can only grow poisons with poisons and since I intend to grow food just the thought of growing something unintended seems like a really hard job. I’m happy that this conviction is so deep and so strong in me that even without thinking the process of properly identifying “easy” is settled in my heart and I don’t have to think about all the points above to know that the hardest thing to do in life is to work against Nature. She wins every time.

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One Comment
 
  1. Patti Moore / October 25, 2016 at 8:02 pm /Reply

    You are a gift ! Was so nice to meet you at the Gratidude Farm to Table! I just printed that maple rosemary chicken recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

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