© 2014, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm
The Larger World Around Us
When I was younger and not interested in finishing my vegetables at supper, my mother would sometimes encourage me to think of those in Africa who were starving and had not access to such meals. I ought to be grateful and finish my meal. It was a hard concept to grasp, but certainly seemed a compelling enough argument to try to finish, while thinking of others. It was a bit of a generalization, and it was an attempt to have me look beyond my own life and begin to put myself in someone else’s shoes, so to speak. Working on an organic vegetable farm and providing vegetables to my daughters, I might consider a similar argument when they are not inclined to finish their vegetables. The main goal though for any statement of global awareness or understanding the world around us is about perspective.
When listening to the news or reading the newspaper, I cannot help but try to understand perspective. There is extreme drought in California. Vegetables, fruits and California grown products and crops are deeply affected by the lack of rain and dried up wells. The large bread and fruit basket that is California will now doubt be impacted and alter the access to healthy, organic produce for most of the country. Extreme examples of change in the climate are evident in the midwest of the United States, the excessive rains in England, the melting ice caps and the deep freeze that paralyzes the Southern US. The warming, changing earth we inhabit is undergoing stress and feeling the impact of many millions of people driving, breathing and living. What is one to do, if not feel a bit overwhelmed by what is happening in our backyards, across the country and around the world? Often these examples of dramatic weather seem very far away.
At Holly Hill Farm, our ability to save and order organically grown seeds is not currently an issue. Our efforts to gather manure, leaves and food scraps in order to make compost is likely to continue. Cultivating seedlings, nurturing plants and collecting water in a rain barrel from the gutter and drain pipe will still help in small ways to the growing of kale, peas and root crops. And this growing season will find the farm teachers educating folks about how to grow your own food, learn about organic farming and engage in these simple practices that support sustainable agriculture. However, where and when do the connections occur? If a third grader successfully grows corn, beans and squash from saved seed, then will the yield be so great that he or she can feed his or her family for a day? Will that same result make a difference to the changing climate? Most likely the teaching and learning will only barely impact the struggling grower in a struggling environment in other parts of the world. But maybe, if someone asks that third grader, who actively took part in the food production, to finish his or her vegetables, it might be easier to understand why. Learning about the many acts of cultivation might also help anyone understand the difficulty and perspective of access to food, water and a new-found appreciation of the environment and this fragile earth.