April 24, 2020

The earth breaths a sigh of relief as a much needed slowdown of the economy takes place worldwide. Rivers are cleaner and air quality is up. For the first time in 30 years the Himalayan mountains are not obscured by pollution. The next step is to curb soil pollution by developing a healthy, local food system.

One good sign is the resurgence of gardening, so I am making extra biodynamic compost. With compost, lime, seeds and a few tools, gardens can sprout up just about anywhere. Staying home offers the chance to rediscover your backyard and have some fun in it.

Market gardeners and distributors are wondering how to move produce. Direct marketing may shift away from farmers markets and restaurant sales, but what will take its place? I’m reading a book on the cooperative marketing movement 100 years ago which gives many compelling reasons for farmers and distributors to develop local warehouses and processing plants themselves, and not rely on big centralized markets.

We’re lucky to have a dairy cow. A relaxation of legislation prohibiting raw milk sales could see more folks getting fresh dairy products. It could be easier to get meat from the farm to the table with more local butchers and meat lockers.

More profitable grazing could lure the corn, soy, CAFO farmers into the soil building enterprises rather than the soil depleting ones so common in Middle Tennessee. Regenerative ranching mimics nature’s way of restoring carbon into the soil from the over supply in the atmosphere. Following the ruminants with poultry further diversifies a farm and diversity is a sure sign of health and resilience.

We lost an old friend when Alfred Farris passed, but his foresight has enabled Windy Acres to be preserved for agricultural use only. May organic grains continue to flourish there for another forty years and far into the future. Local livestock producers rely on local grains, particularly those raising pork and poultry. Ensuring land access for young farmers is paramount.

A hard frost in full bloom this April may dampen fruit production, at least the fruit trees. I bet many folks are planting berries and fruit trees around their places. Underneath them is a good place to have small herb gardens.

My role planning gatherings remains unclear. What is clear is the need for a healthy, local food system. Whether we gather in person or in virtual reality, our network of friends, farmers, speakers and shakers is ready, willing and able. Middle Tennessee once fed itself, and it will again.

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