Speech about farming choices, like too many other things in our culture, is being toxified by forces that really don’t want enlightened discourse. Organic advocates, including J.I. and Robert Rodale, suffered through decades of being dismissed for their claims about the obvious connections between healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people.
Instead of becoming combative and bitter, however, Robert Rodale shaped his outreach to farmers by emphasizing what worked for farmers who were willing to try their version of agriculture that cooperated with natural systems where they were. Through The New Farm magazine, he built up a print-based virtual community of hardy souls who were often scorned in their communities, at first, but who found incredible hope and support through stories of other innovators around the country.
With two decades of science informed by an agroecological worldview and multi-disciplinary research, practices within the regenerative organic fold now have an academic legitimacy that can’t be dismissed. So how should organic advocates deal with detractors who use public speech to defame the truly good things about good farming?
Katie Olender’s experience dealing with young vandals at her school garden has some lessons for us, I believe. She was able-just able-to overcome her anger at the kids who uprooted plants, inviting them to help her protect the horticultural space so many other kids were loving. They came, they experienced something real that touched them despite themselves, and they became joyful participants. Read more >>
Who knows why good things aggravate some people, young ones in challenging neighborhoods and older ones running disinformation campaigns against agricultural options that are healing the land, bringing greater health to people, improving humane treatment for livestock and forming the basis for renewing local economies?
Check out scrutiny being given to farm-based carbon credits, rewarded as offsets for greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere, for pre-existing agricultural practices. Read more>>
The impact on U.S. farmers who visit the Mexican homes and communities of migrant workers working in their area. Read more>>
Government proposal to water down the clarity of labels on most irradiated food products. Read more>>
And a song in the reggae style protesting the human impact of spiking food costs partially attributable to processing food crops for ethanol. Read more>>
So think boldly about inviting the organic and sustainable adversaries you know to see hope in action at a farm, community garden or farmers’ market near you. Stuff an heirloom tomato in their mouth, gently, and wait for change to happen.
Greg Bowman and the
Rodale Institute editorial team