Thursday, November 17, 2016

Doing The Right Thing

By Farmer Richard

     “Donald Trump just got a temp job. The rest of us, with all our passions and ideals, have permanent appointments. We’ll always disagree over the political candidates. The trick is to keep moving forward in spite of it: to exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens, while remaining together as family and community.”—Shannon Hayes (An excerpt from her blog, The Radical Homemaker, posted on 11/15/2016)
     We at Harmony Valley Farm have mostly opted out of the political mainstream. We have chosen to “do the right thing” according to our beliefs and understanding, even when the establishment’s point of view may differ. For example, many years ago county extension agents told me I wouldn’t be able to make a living farming organically. Nonetheless, we pursued our belief that we would farm in the way we thought was best for our land, our employees, our customers, our planet and the economics would work out. It has not always been an easy road and we’ve learned a lot along the way, but over 40 years later it has worked! So as we reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re going, with a heart of gratitude we remember we are not alone, and the journey is worth it.
     We have chosen to make our life’s work to produce the most nutritious, wholesome food possible and are thankful for you, our many customers who appreciate the tasty, nutritious vegetables we produce for you. We have watched our long term members raise beautiful children who grew up eating our vegetables. They are now growing into adulthood and are healthy, smart young men and women with healthy brains who are going out into the world and doing “the right thing” to contribute to their communities and professions in positive ways. They are making wise and thoughtful decisions and we’re thankful to have had the opportunity to have been and continue to be part of their lives.
José Ramon spreading compost
     It’s important to remember that not one of us alone can change the entire world; however, when we work together collectively, even small individual changes or changes in a community can add up to make a difference. Shannon’s statement reminds us that we each have a responsibility to take care of and contribute in positive ways to change our own little corner of this world. We are by no means perfect, but we try to do our part. We continue to plant extensive cover crops and apply compost to our soil. This system helps to trap large amounts of carbon dioxide and helps mitigate atmospheric greenhouse gases. If done worldwide, the impact would be huge! We try to make the best use of our land by farming the portions that are appropriate for raising crops, grazing the hillside pastures that are prone to erosion, and managing our wooded areas by responsibly removing trees as needed and putting this resource to good use. We know not everyone in our membership chooses to eat meat or even supports our choice to raise animals for food, but regardless of our differences we continue to choose to raise our animals with respect and consider them to be an important part of our entire farm. We appreciate the opportunity to introduce children and members to our animals and allow them to see a healthy animal system. Can we ever have too many examples of respect and kindness to share with our children and each other?
Photo Borrowed from UCS website
     Nationwide there are examples of positive changes happening within communities and regions. In the Fall 2016 publication by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), they published an article about the positive impact climate legislation has had in California over the past 10 years. Since passing the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, there has been a 7.3% cut in global warming emissions and petroleum consumption has dropped by more than 14% in the state. At the same time, they have seen economic growth with a 12.4% increase in gross domestic product and their population and employment have increased by more than 7%.
     In the same UCS publication, we read a story about GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that is working to bring solar energy to low and moderate income families, an example of social equity as well as environmental change. Solar installations can be costly and the initial investment as well as the fact that many people don’t own their own land or homes can be barriers to using solar energy. Through the work of GRID Alternatives, they have been able to support over 6,000 solar installations including many in neighborhoods where residents have lower incomes or much more fixed budgets. The impacts have been great, both at the individual level as well as the community level. Not only are they using a cleaner source of energy, they are also seeing lower monthly expenses for utilities which has helped decrease their financial stress.
     We find these stories encouraging. We will always have differences of opinions, political and otherwise. Nonetheless we need to move forward and know that our daily choices and involvement in our communities do matter and can produce positive change. What is your passion? Is it related to the environment? Is it related to social equity? Are you in a position to contribute to scientific research or policy change? Are you an educator? Whatever your place may be, thank you for doing your part.

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