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Farming & Sustainability

Sustainability is an idea.. It’s principles reinforce the idea that everything you do has consequences, even when they’re hidden from view. Its worldview imbues you, as either a consumer or producer, with a clear, undeniable sense of responsibility. It gives you a role — to change how you think, what you make, and what you buy — and confirms that your actions matter. Finally, it reinforces that we’re both the case of all that ails us as a society, and the solution. Only you can decide which path to follow. — Douglas Gayeton

Let’s begin with defining sustainability. As a word so commonly overused and misunderstood, what is the root of the word? What does it stand for?

Sustainability relates the past, present, and future. In the context of agriculture, which as been blamed for so many of our climate challenges, can farmers save the planet? As stewards of the land, farmers can look beyond organic to build a healthy vision of the farm. This incorporates agroecology, biodiversity, soil building, and place based foods.

This is all very achievable. Our diverse landscapes across this great country allow for farmers to adapt and apply sustainable concepts, both old and new. Explore how you can encourage and promote sustainable farming practices and principles.

This week's terms

Stewardship

Stewardship is an ethic to protect, preserve and manage land, the ecosystems within it, and our natural resources, all the while thinking not only about the present, but also about the past and future. Environmental stewards have strong land ethics, conservation skills, and a profound understanding of the working environment and sustainable practices.

Beyond Organic

There is a fundamental difference between the organic movement and the more recent organic industry. We need to dig deeper and look beyond narrow legal definitions to find a philosophy that truly addresses a system of agriculture that is incredibly complex and multidimensional.

Agrobiodiversity

Agriculture biodiversity (or agrobiodiversity) is a subset of biodiversity which includes the genetic variation of all life relating to agriculture, from crop varieties, livestock breeds, fish species, edible wild plants and animals, to soil micro-biota, pollinators and beneficial insects and other non-harvested species that support food production. Over the course of the last centruy, there has been an incredible decrease in agrobiodiveristy - around 75% of today's food is produced from just twelve plant and five animal species. Its a basic ecological principle that biodiveristy builds resillience, and the same holds true for agriculture. Agriculture which favors diversity has proved to be more resisent and resilient in the face of extreme weather conditions - which we can only expect more of in the coming years - and disease. 

Sustainability

"To respect Mother Earth. Respect the land. Learn from the animals. When foraging, always leave something behind for whoever comes next. In this way, you're sure to find something when you come back."

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