The great divide between the well-marketed image of Vermont dairy farming and its stark and toxic realities is becoming harder and harder to ignore. The marketing shows healthy cows grazing on lush pastures. But the reality is cows on concrete, being fed a diet of GMO-corn and the toxic residues from the hundreds of thousands of pounds of herbicides sprayed annually on the corn and hay fields.
Four books that I am enjoying and that have lots of information to get us started can have you reaping the benefits on even small areas. Biodiverse & companion planting can have very high yield in small spaces. The book “Homegrown Whole Grains” by Sara Pitzer can have you grinding corn meal & flour next season! Small farms or backyard growers don’t need the machinery & equipment that larger farms do; with some ingenuity & common sense the work doesn’t have to be back breaking. “The Contrary Farmer” by Gene Logsdon and “The Backyard Homestead” walk you through “producing all the food you need on 1/4 acre” or working with what you’ve got. Changing a lawn to grains or nut or berry producing trees & shrubs can be done. Work with natives & you have less work managing plants. An old old friend “The Basic Book of Organic Gardening” Robert Rodale shows that even back in the 30’s, people had concerns about human impact on the environment. This book printed in 1971 states: the idea of conservation & natural living is on the verge of being a vital necessity … In fact, the unpleasant conditions of pollution & degradation which so many people are experiencing today were predicted almost 40 years ago by founders of the organic method. … anyway he goes into the history of organic gardening starting with Sir Albert Howard in the Indian state of Indore. The area he worked was too poor to buy imported fertilizers so he had to device ways to recycle the natural nutrients available locally like the manure of animals & waste plant materials. The native farmers didn’t understand their value. He invented the Indore method of composting. Lacking machinery & power, the native farmers had no means to deal with those wastes. By composting, they created a valuable soil conditioner & fertilizer to replace the nutrients & humus lost by growing of the crops. Well, it’s interesting to note that now 40 years after that, we are still concerned about the impact of our methods on the soil, but we have the added problem of GMO, GE and nano contamination to deal with also. Back then, organic just needed to mean grown without synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Now it also means non-GMO. It’s the ONLY way we have in this country, of knowing that this is food originally from Mother Nature herself. So – whatever you have in mind – however small ; even container gardens on a patio; Grow something to eat from heritage seeds or ones that are being brought back from the brink. Your body will thank you!