Managing the 5 Elements on the Farm



While a lot can be said for well researched books, fine-tuned ideologies, and gurus, some of the most important lessons I’ve learned about growing food and raising livestock have come from mistakes, observation, and my continually developing relationship to living systems.  With so many authors, activists, and agriculturalists touting their own (sometimes dogmatic) approach to growing food as the solution to all crises in our changing climate, I can’t help but think, “Yes, more of all of it, please.”   

Whether you’re raising livestock on grassland ecosystems, growing crops utilizing no-till principles, streamlining organic production for economic viability, or planting out elaborate orchards with dynamic biological relationships, it’s all necessary, needed, and your own particular spin on things is the absolute epitome of co-creation with the Universe. 

As a woman in agriculture, I’ve been forced to confront endless suspicions that my own choices on a particular landscape are wrong or misguided.  In this new age of internet trolling, I’ve been encouraged time and time again to seek out the prominent theories of men, usually white (always?), dead and alive, holding all of the answers to the absolute correct methods for deriving nourishment from land.  I have swallowed all of my gut reactions about the stymying of diverse voices in this realm and done my best to let my work speak for itself. 

I’ve decided that I like to think of myself less as an expert, practitioner, or guide and more as a poet.  It is safer this way on these internet streets and helps keep me out of trouble. I’m just a human, out here interacting with the land, literally learning something new everyday.  My success doesn’t come from a set of rules that I’ve come to follow, but more from a dedication to adaptation, to intimacy with my natural spaces, and from a deep curiosity and reverence that tunes me to the flow of my landscape.  It doesn’t always rhyme, but sometimes, lordy, does it sing. 

For someone who is just beginning their journey getting to know the land they intend to grow with, I suggest taking some time for the wide lens approach.  Many books will delve deeply into the specific details that brought success to the author and this is very important inspiration. It can give you added tools for achieving your own goals with the land and may even become something you riff on and make better within your own operation.  What a book can’t give you is a sense of place. Getting to know the ecological resonance of your own little piece of heaven is a challenging journey you must face on your own.   

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