Late in the week to be sending the newsletter out, but this running a business stuff never ends. Whether it is gathering forms from the IRS, paying Colorado Taxes, communicating with the Farm Service Agency, getting certified in produce safety, or planting crops the work is never done.
I have been reflecting on how life comes from soil. Every living thing. You, me, dogs, trees, birds, all come from the soil and in the soil they finally rest. The Earth we walk on is truly everything, the foundation of life as we know it.
It is startling to learn that the nutritional content of our food has decreased sharply over the past 100 years. When you compare an orange from the 1920s to one today they are different crops. To get the same nutrition from one orange in the 20s you need to eat 8 today. How has this happened?
When we grow crops and do not return organic material (leaves, roots, ect) to the soil there is a net loss of nutrients. Successional withdraws from our soil bank leaves the ground taxed and starved for nutrients. Chemical fertilizers have fought this problem and provided short term fertility solutions. However, these fossil-fuel based fertilizers neglect to add essential vitamins and minerals back to our ground.
Most of my peers are taking daily doses of supplements or medications. Our bodies no longer have access to these essential building blocks of life and we must take an industrial route of “healing”. Fertilizing our bodies with pills to keep them running as we continue to tax them, just like the crops we consume.
If we are soil, and our soil is depleted, leaving us lacking nutrients to thrive, what can we do? The amazing thing about nature is its capability to heal. I remember the early days of pandemic lockdown when fewer cars were driving. The skies shone a tremendous blue free of smog! We can practice the same to rehabilitate the ground.
We spent time this week planting a cover crop on an acre of the farm. A cover crop is a selection of plants intended to be given to the earth. A five course meal for all manner of soil biota. Sowing legumes, grasses, and flowers we hope to establish a diverse stand of biomass to be incorporated into our soil. The timing of the planting could not have been better for a few reasons:
The soil was dry enough to be lightly turned and support the weight of a tractor
Constant freezing and thawing of winter left the surface cracked and ready to accept seeds
Rain and snow in the forecast means we won’t need to use irrigation water to grow this crop
Friday is a full moon meaning there is strong cosmic energy aiding in germination
We have 2 months before we can irrigate this section of the farm. Now instead of bare dirt and weeds, we will hopefully have a diverse pasture
Plants perform this amazing function where they collect energy from the sun and exchange that energy with microorganisms in the soil through their roots. The greater diversity of roots, the greater diversity of microorganisms. These microscopic critters provide access to minerals and nutrients previously locked in the soil. Cover crops build an ecosystem of exchange and activate life in our soil. As more nutrients are available to the plants they become transferred to those who eat the plants. The cover crop we planted will be alchemized in our fall crops including lettuce, greens, bok choi, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, and more. These crops will be charged with nutrients as we continue to enjoy them up to a year from now!
Our world is complex and it feels like we have to make compromises to live. It isn’t possible for everyone to access a locally-sourced diet of nutrient charged food. I know our food is not cheap, not as convenient as the grocery store. Hopefully though by changing a few minds, and bellies, at a time we can elevate our well-being and reverberate outward to others in our ecosystem.
I got into farming because I wanted to save the world. I now realize the world and our bodies are the same. By providing healthy food and space for community I believe we can heal not only ourselves, but others in our world.