January was farm meeting month. I’ve attended hours of Zoom meetings and virtual farmer meet-ups. (1) Now, I turn to summarizing the information for our farm team and our customers.
The main theme of our discussions was how to use biology to solve our environmental and health problems. From the gut microbiome to carbon sequestration in agricultural soils, this perspective signals a departure from the reductive and industrial models of health, management and change.
Rather than building a machine to suck carbon out of the atmosphere at a cost of $600/ton, why not pay farmers to do it for $40/ton? Rather than shooting aerosols into space to block the sun’s rays, why not plant trees and use photosynthesis to take carbon out of the atmosphere? The probable consequences of geoengineering solutions to climate change are (by definition) unintended and too numerous to count. We understand trees; we love trees; and unless one falls on you trees won’t kill us.
Befriending nature dovetails with what we’ve been doing at Mt. Folly since 1982, though the name of the type of farming has evolved…from odd-ball farming to natural farming, to sustainable, then organic farming. Now what we are doing is called real organic farming and regenerative farming…and our knowledge has increased almost exponentially.
I was barely an adult when I made it my mission to get antibiotics out of animal feed. Decades later, I have a team and we raise plants to benefit our customers, including Hemp for Homestead Alternatives CBD products. We operate an AirBnb so that customers can come see the farm and learn (and get some time away), operate a distillery to use the small grains so important to organic farming systems, run a farm-to-table restaurant to showcase our pastured beef and poultry, and local fruits and vegetables. Now, we aim to complete the circular system by restoring local buildings and recruiting young people to our small rural town, so it will thrive.
In sum, our job as regenerative farmers is to enhance the medicinal virtue and nutritional integrity of what we grow. Imitating nature is the one big lesson. The balance of the numerous January meetings was a discussion of how best to do this. All land is different, so it’s a project of continuous improvement, which will take lifetimes.
We thank you for being a part of this. To learn more about our work, see the Mt. Folly website and follow us on social media. Email me directly with questions and comments, and as COVID recedes, come visit the farm and see for yourself.
1 The Real Organic Project; Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK); Indigo Ag; Ecosystems Services Markets, University of Minnesota; American Farmland Trust; Rodale Institute; Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems, University of Wisconsin