Farms, Food, Climate, and Our Will to Change


Jean-Paul Courtens courtesy of Roxbury Farm

The way we tend the land that produces our food, and the way we eat, are the key factors in our physical, moral, and spiritual survival and evolution.

My recognition of this fundamental fact is, of course, shared by many people. Among those who see this reality, and who can give the situation eloquent expression, is Jean-Paul Courtens of Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook, NY.

As it happens, farmer Courtens has recently become a grandfather. He mentioned that happy fact publicly in March when he spoke at Dartmouth College as part of the Real Organic Project’s symposium. A video of his 15-minute talk is available at this link. I highly recommend watching and learning.

Courtens said that becoming a grandfather had brought his attention to the future for his family: “What’s Earth going to look like in in 2100?” he asked. Scientists say that in addition to all the other disruptive changes resulting from climate chaos, by 2100 sea levels may rise by almost two feet.

Agriculture has a crucial role in this. Estimates of the negative impact of industrial, chemical agriculture on climate change vary – but virtually all responsible estimate agree that harmful agricultural impact is massive.

Organic, biodynamic and other soil-building agroecological farming systems, on the other hand, have a significant positive impact. As is well known, the soil built by agroecological farms captures and stores tons of climate-aggravating CO2. These systems help to stabilize the climate. Courtens’ video makes that plain in a way everyone can – and should – come to understand.

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