Tag: farming

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Hard Fought Success in the High Country – Fields to Plate Produce

The drive to the Old Fort Farm in Hesperus, Colorado is deceptively steep. From downtown Durango I rose steadily, almost imperceptibly, and gained a thousand feet within minutes. From afar I had seen snow on this mesa just days before – not anymore. Pulling in, I found a large, aging, post-harvest farm; brushed with deep golden hues of well-watered land in a Colorado autumn.

With a bit of navigating, I located the Fields to Plate farmers. The small crew was harvesting a thousand-pound beet sunset: red, gold, pink, purple. The bounty seemed unlikely for such a dry, high altitude location; so, I set forth to learn how they did it…


READ THE STORY

Read my first article on Artisan Situation!

My good friend Zach Kaiser runs the site with some old chums from my college days with the Idea Fund. The story covers the recent history of Fields to Plate Produce, the farm David and I got our CSA from this summer.

cowspiracy: a lesson in naivety.

The newest calf! - Photo Cred: David

I’ve always struggled with vegetarianism.

In college I tried to stop eating meat, several times. As an environmental science undergrad, the more I learned about food systems, the more I felt compelled to convert. I had a burning desire to succeed, almost as if my morality depended on it, but I never found the resolve.

So I tried, failed, tried again, failed again, etc.

Over time, I’ve come across three main arguments for renouncing animal protein:

  1. Humans were meant to be herbivores
  2. Eating other living things is ethically deplorable
  3. Factory farms are terrible

I’m not an anthropologist, but I simply don’t buy the herbivore argument. I seriously struggle with the carnivore sin idea. I love animals, I’ve raised them, and I’ve slaughtered them – maybe some people think it’s insensitive, but I still (very much) like to eat them. The factory farm angle I can get behind 100%… but on just that foundation, it’s very, very difficult to refuse a juicy, grass-fed burger and fatty, free-range bacon.

No argument has successfully managed to turn me off the omnivore path, despite my noble aspirations – until now (sort of).

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Welcome!

150152_10152698852070371_244688347_nSustainability is not synonymous with sacrifice. 

Living an eco-concious life does not have to mean spending lots of money and it does not need to imply a life void of happiness and comfort. Rather, I believe, by becoming a more sustainable citizen of this world you can actually improve your life. Getting outside, eating real food, taking time for yourself, and paying attention to how your actions affect the world around you – these are activities that are proven to improve health and increase happiness. And they don’t have to break the bank. They are the building blocks for a great life. 

I’m 20-something. I’m broke. I care about the world around me and I know I can do something about it. I’m learning to live a sustainable, meaningful, great life – one step at a time… and sharing with you stories and tips on how you can do the same!

START HERE for “great life” definition and tips on how to achieve one.

I hope you enjoy my writings and, please, leave comments! I love a good conversation.

best, e.

hoeing through history.

I was assigned to weed the squash field with my coworker Ana. The rest of the crew had gone to another of the farm’s properties. Once the roar of the rototiller died down it was near silent. No machinery, no cars, no people talking. We hoed in silence as we listened to the wind, the birds and the river flowing nearby.

We weeded for three hours. A repetitive motion like that leaves space for the mind to wander. I found myself thinking about hoeing (and not the selling my body kind, stop that). First I noticed how my body seemed to be built for the motion – the bend of my knees, the strength of my back, the continuous fluid movement of my arms.

Then, after a few hours, my upper back muscles started to protest softly, irritated with the strain. It occurred to me that this pain, the soreness of my muscles from tending the soil, is an ancient pain. It is a soreness that people from pasts forgotten, cultures I have never heard of, felt too. Centuries of people cultivated food using the same motion I use every day at my job. Centuries of people went to bed with the same sore bodies. And centuries of people consumed the harvests their labor sowed.

The hoe is an ancient technology mentioned in documents that go back to 18th century BC, such as the Code of Hammurabi (a Babylonian law code). They were probably preceded only by the digging stick and originally made from flinted stones and simple metal work.

I am fascinated by the realization that despite centuries of innovation here I am, still hoeing, every day. It’s a humbling realization, and a humanizing one. Through the simple motion of breaking the ground I can relate to the centuries of people who inhabited this planet before I did. I am reminded that future generations will most likely do the same. And despite any differences between people then, now and in the future – food is the inescapable thread that binds us.

 

tick tock.

I work in a supermarket deli.
I was bagging the daily bread delivery. It was early in the morning on a Sunday, few people were in the store. The scale beeped away and spit out tags at me. I slapped them on the bread bags while I chatted amiably with my morning coworkers, one of my favorite crews to work with. I glanced up at the clock, 9:00 am. I’ve really only been here an hour?

I work on a farm.
I was kneeling in the fields. My un-sunscreened shoulders protested in the glare. Three of us labored away, fighting a small war with the weeds that threatened to overtake the lettuce. We had been weeding since after we finished transplanting the tomato plants, whenever that was. One of us asked if anyone had a watch, complaining of hunger. We looked around and each shook our heads. The we joked, looking at the sun and determining it was oh, probably 11:15?  Just as we put our heads back down to the task at hand the others drove up in the truck. “Hey!” they yelled from the vehicle, “You guys gonna work through lunch?” Jeesh, 12pm came fast. 

There is one major difference between my two jobs. It isn’t the location, or the kind of work, or the people I work with. It is the presence of a clock.

Time is everywhere. It is on our wrists, in our cars, in our phones, on our microwaves and walls. We watch time with anxiety. No matter where we are or what we are doing we almost always want it to go faster. We impatiently watch the seconds pass as we work, as we hang out with friends, as we do errands, as we work out, as we go to events and do hobbies. We constantly live in the future. It doesn’t matter what we are doing or how much we enjoy it, we are always anxious to get on to the next thing. A day’s success is based  on how much stuff we get done in the hours we are given. The quality of the activity done in those hours rarely matters more than the quantity; and it definitely doesn’t matter whether or not we enjoyed what we did. Its only output, output, output.

I love both my jobs. There is rarely a day when I leave complaining that I wish I hadn’t come in. Yet, at the supermarket, just like most places, there is a clock in my face the whole day. Do I look at it? Of course I do. How could I not? Regardless of how well a shift is going, how content I am to be there, the presence of the clock always makes me feel like I should be somewhere else, like I should be anxious for the shift to end so I can get on to the next thing. In contrast, the farm fields are one of the few places I have found that provide refuge from time. I get to work at 8. I leave my phone in the car. My boss finds me when it’s lunch time. It is a comfort realizing that when I am done I will be done, how much time has passed and how much time remain are irrelevant. Instead of watching the clock I watch the landscape. I feel sunlight move, I watch the sky change, I feel the moisture in the soil change with the heat of the day.

Be where you are when you’re there – you’ll enjoy it more, no matter what it is. Get rid of daily expectations. When we let go of time, when we let go of productivity, we can relax, be present and allow ourselves to indulge in the moment.

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