"I don't wanta hear all your word descriptions of words words words you made up all winter, man I wanta be enlightened by actions."
- Japhy Ryder, The Dharma Bums
Like Japhy, I prefer actions over words. On the farm, there are always more projects than hours in the day. Who has time to sit around and talk about things? Actions speak louder than...
But hang on just a second. Let's examine some facts.
Collectively, our actions have led to:
- Soil loss
- Suffering of billions of animals
- Destruction of habitat and biodiversity
- Rapid climate change that threatens our very existence on this planet
But words do have their time and place. Here are 3 reasons I've decided to start "using my words" in the form of this Hungry Hollow Farm blog:
1. Farmers aren't the most social bunch, and that needs to change.
In many ways I don't fit the farmer stereotype. I studied English Literature and Philosophy in college, I don't drive a truck, and as of the writing I don't own a single pair of Carhartts. But if you asked me if I'd rather be hanging out with humans or chickens, the answer would be, more often than not, chickens.
And while I firmly believe chickens have great therapeutic qualities, I also recognize that foregoing human interaction for the avian variety may ultimately lead to some unfortunate downstream consequences. It's my hope that by forcing thoughts out of my head (and the chicken pasture) and putting them in front of humans, I'll be able to counteract these anti-social tendencies (and, you know, grow as a human.)
But we do - thankfully - have some outspoken farmers. Farmers like Joel Salatin, who through pioneering and publishing his pasture-based methods has done more for the "regenerative agriculture" movement than perhaps any other. And we have farmers like Wendell Berry, whose analysis of the changes wrought by industrial agriculture illustrate the deep cultural costs and ecological debt we have incurred over the past 50+ years. But despite these voices, our world is more confused about food and farming than ever. And for good reason. Food is at the intersection of culture, climate, health, ecology, anthropology, biology, and much more. We need to hear voices from all of these fields, but make no mistake, we need to hear from farmers too.
2. I'll get to answer lots of fun questions.
I get lots of questions, like:
- Do chickens need a rooster to lay eggs?
- But, do you really want to be a farmer?
- Doesn't your kind of farming take up too much land?
- Can pasture-based farming feed the world?
- Don't you think you'll get bored?
- Don't you want to make money?
- Aren't cows causing climate change?
- Why would I spend more for your meat when the stuff at the grocery store is so much cheaper?
- What is 'carbon sequestration,' and isn't that kind of a long word for a farmer?
- Don't you miss living in the city?
- Why do you care so much about soil?
- I've got my own job to worry about. Isn't all this environmental stuff someone else's job?
Many of these topics require more words than what I can fit into a Facebook or Instagram post.
3. I'll get to share my values.
We've all heard that you should "Know your farmer." Or as Michael Pollan said, "Shake the hand that feeds you." But why? I think Joel Salatin says it best:
"Don't you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?"
What happens when we as a society aren't on a first name basis with our farmers? Our farming loses all integrity, and we end up with agricultural practices that destroy our soils, degrade our animals, disrespect our farmers, and cause unprecedented ecological destruction.
So here we go. While my preference is still to roll up my sleeves and get things done, I do very much hope you'll enjoy these words.