Carrots and Farm Work on a Blustery Day

Fresh Carrots

Fresh Carrots

RURAL SOLON— It was a blustery day at the two acre farm where work took me yesterday. Carrots to harvest, tomato cages to deconstruct and roll up, and irrigation line to find and remove to the roads for later pickup. It was cold to the bone.

My time in the military prepared me for days like this. The key is to focus on the work and the cold will take care of itself, falling neatly into the background. Once one accepts there is no place to go to get warm, and nothing to do but the work, life doesn’t seem so bad and neither does the cold.

September HeatIt was recently reported that September was the 343rd consecutive month of above average global temperatures. No surprise there, and October will be the 344th. What I would rather see is a tally of the actions people take, on a daily basis, to reduce their carbon footprint. That and a measurement of the aggregate impact it has on global warming. We would do better to collect our progress and see how we are doing than tick off the number of months of doom.

Working in a sustainable agriculture operation is said to help solve the climate crisis. According to Wikipedia, sustainable agriculture is the act of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. A couple of things seem most important. Sustainable agriculture is site-specific. What one farmer does on his/her land may last over the long term to satisfy human food and fiber needs, sustain the economic viability of farm operations, and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole. It is hard to find fault with this, and the connection to the climate crisis is clear.

Where it gets sticky is that as the environment changes, so too do the organisms encountered on a parcel of land. This suggests that the work of adaptation is never really complete in sustainable agriculture. Most farmers I know are engaged in a process of constant experimentation to determine what does and doesn’t work to solve ecological problems. What is worrisome is they seldom, if ever, talk in terms of adaptation to climate change, even if that is what sustainable agriculture represents at its core. Note to self: initiate this conversation.

After noon, the two of us harvesting carrots and working in the field were called to the barn for lunch. Grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetable soup and sweet carrot bread for desert. Much better than restaurant fare, and an unexpected perquisite to break the cold. Not to mention the conversation about the fall share, and our hopes, dreams and experiences. Brief and pleasant interval in another day’s work in our ever changing environment.

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