As you may know, I’ve been reading a ton lately on farming and one of the fun things about educating oneself on a relatively new subject is simply getting acquainted with names. It’s like a circle of friends I’m just joining; Wendell Berry, Sir Albert Howard (organic agriculture), Allan Savory (holistic management), Allan Nation (The Stockman Grass Farmer), Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms), Wes Jackson (The Land Institute), Barbara Damrosch, Thoreau (of course I’ve been quite familiar with his work for years), Deborah Madison, Michael Pollan, Weston A. Price (coolest dentist ever), Justus von Liebig (father of fertilizer-eek), Jan Smuts (introduced holism), and the list goes on and on. One of the most important people I have recently become familiar with is Charles Walters, creator of Acres USA; A Voice for Eco-Agriculture, the magazine for sustainable farming (and oh so much more). I’m actually currently reading his classic, Eco-Farm; An Acres U.S.A. Primer. It’s a tough and very scientific book, but an incredible wealth of information; truly and obviously, a very important primer to farming, in every sense. I feel like I know a crap load about all these people have done, and yet so little about simple facts like, heck, whether they’re still around or not. Anyhow, Chuck passed away on January 14th and I thank him immensely for his lifetime of work and the wealth of knowledge he has left for those of us wanting to absorb it. I hope I can continue working the land in the harmonious ways you have, and encourage others to live sustainably as well.
Because Eco-Farm is anything but a light, easy read, and because I’ve become quite hysterically excited about the subject, I’m continuing the habit of reading multiple books at once. On yet another blizzardy day this past week I read Eco-Farm, some bits of Five Acres and Independence; A Handbook for Small Farm Management (a random surprise book in a seriously over-stuffed holiday package from the states, M.G Kains is a bit of a hoot), then finally brought myself to finish YOU CAN FARM (one of those books I’m sad to end, and the moment I did, I went back and reread the first few chapters anyhow), and just for kicks began In Defense of Food; An Eaters Manifesto by Michael Pollan. Refusing to leave the warmth of my bed for two days except to pee, and grab things to much on, I spent a lot of time with Pollan’s and Walter’s words. I couldn’t help myself and finished Pollan’s book in less than two days, and it was great! I honestly didn’t have too high of hopes-I LOVED The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and was afraid it would be redundant, or even inapplicable. Since it was supposed to be about how everyday Americans could eat in ways more sustainable, well heck, I live in Morocco, and then want to farm. Well how very wrong I was. It was jam packed with all kinds of new information and ideas I’d not yet thought of. Only adding to my list of “why I wanna.” Much like preparing for some big paper, I’ve begun note-taking, idea scribbling, and quoting in a journal just for farming. Rather than a big paper, these are notes prepping for the life I aim to live. At the behest of many writers on any subject, but also farming, I’m slowly developing my own vision and philosophy, and often break in my notes for a “why I wanna” remark. Anyhow, In Defense of Food was yet another informative, if not more than a little righteous and always intriguing title by Michael Pollan and I highly recommend it.
Also, how was the inauguration? I was plopped on a ponj reading and not-socializing the historic day away. I hope it was splendid, the only direction is forward, and it’s been such a horribly long 8 years… I am not so happy, I’ll admit, at our fine new presidents poor decision for Secretary of Agriculture, but time will tell, as it always does.