Something Like…

The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.

Frederick Buechner

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A Crock?

The farmer who lives nearest to us is a friend and a very good neighbor.  Our families have been neighbors and friends for generations.  He’s shared wisdom with me over the years and helped me out of several jams.

A couple of weeks ago we were commiserating, like farmers do.  I remarked that I was having trouble controlling the grass and weeds in my eggplant, due to all the rain.  He said I should get myself a backpack sprayer and some kind of herbicide (he mentioned it by name but I can’t recall it).  Because we grow organically, I replied, I can’t do that.

His next words:

“Organic is a crock.  If it worked then people wouldn’t have stopped doing it.”

I swallowed hard, suppressing a powerful urge to tell him everything that is wrong with that statement.  But instead I thought of all the times he’s been a good neighbor to me and just let it slide.

John Maynard Keynes once said, “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”

Even systems that behave rationally over a long timeline can (and do) behave mighty irrationally for shorter periods.

Humanity has a few thousand years of agricultural experience under its belt now,  the last 60 or so years of which have been dominated by extensive use of chemicals and fossil fuels.  I’m pretty confident that we’ll all look back someday, when the oil is no longer abundant and cheap and the chemicals and poisons have taken a great toll on us,  and wonder why we behaved so irrationally. Hopefully the irrationality won’t outlast our solvency.

Being Subversive

The small organic farm greatly discomforts the corporate/industrial mind because the small organic farm is one of the most relentlessly subversive forces on the planet. Over centuries both the communist and the capitalist systems have tried to destroy small farms because small farmers are a threat to the consolidation of absolute power. Thomas Jefferson said he didn’t think we could have democracy unless at least 20% of the population was self-supporting on small farms so they were independent enough to be able to tell an oppressive government to stuff it.

It is very difficult to control people who can create products without purchasing inputs from the system, who can market their products directly thus avoiding the involvement of mercenary middlemen, who can butcher animals and preserve foods without reliance on industrial conglomerates, and who can’t be bullied because they can feed their own faces.

Eliot Coleman

Trying to Stay Positive

Trying to put a field of spoiled hay to good use, we mulched our late tomatoes with some of it yesterday.

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Lydia, our summer intern, did a lot of the work.

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We’ve enjoyed having her on the farm this week and she’s fit right in.

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This has been a near disastrous year for growing vegetables around here.  Last year we couldn’t find markets for all of our produce.  This year we’re having to say no to people nearly every day.  We didn’t even go to the farmer’s market this week, as we are barely producing enough to fill our CSA shares.   It’s by far the worst year for gardening that I can recall.

But I’m trying to stay positive.  The okra is starting to come in.

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And the sweet corn will be ready next week.

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That is, if the the raccoons haven’t eaten it all by then.  Sigh.

Farm living…

The Rise of the Warrior Cop

We will soon return to our regular programming.

But first, I’m passing along a disturbing article in the July issue of the ABA Journal by Radley Balko, entitled “The Rise of the Warrior Cop.”  It is adapted from his just-released book of the same name.  I recommend taking a few minutes to read it (HERE).  It describes the militarization of American police forces that has occurred over the past few years, most notably with the rise of SWAT teams and the use of military equipment and tactics.  For example, in 1984 only about 25% of American cities with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 had SWAT teams.  By 2005 80% did, with a corresponding increase in the frequency of paramilitary-style raids.  The article describes, in troubling detail, some of the results of this militarization.

Here’s an excerpt, which is food for thought.

Most Americans still believe we live in a free society and revere its core values. These principles are pretty well-known: freedom of speech, religion and the press; the right to a fair trial; representative democracy; equality before the law; and so on. These aren’t principles we hold sacred because they’re enshrined in the Constitution, or because they were cherished by the founders. These principles were enshrined in the Constitution and cherished by the framers precisely because they’re indispensable to a free society. How did we get here? How did we evolve from a country whose founding statesmen were adamant about the dangers of armed, standing government forces—a country that enshrined the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights and revered and protected the age-old notion that the home is a place of privacy and sanctuary—to a country where it has become acceptable for armed government agents dressed in battle garb to storm private homes in the middle of the night—not to apprehend violent fugitives or thwart terrorist attacks, but to enforce laws against nonviolent, consensual activities?

How did a country pushed into a revolution by protest and political speech become one where protests are met with flash grenades, pepper spray and platoons of riot teams dressed like RoboCops? How did we go from a system in which laws were enforced by the citizens—often with noncoercive methods—to one in which order is preserved by armed government agents too often conditioned to see streets and neighborhoods as battlefields and the citizens they serve as the enemy?

If you have a few minutes, have a look at the rest of the article.