: to restore to friendship or harmony
: to make consistent or congruous
It was becoming my routine, loading up my podcast list for the long day of piloting the tractor across the monotonous fields to be planted in corn. Several years into our return to the family farm, the romance long since faded and hopes to continue the farm into the next century also fading, my mind was on what’s next. By now I had realized that the model of agriculture we were following could not be sustained. My interest had turned to theology, and my wife and I had begun conversations about moving to a city where I could enroll in seminary. Thus, my podcast playlist consisted of about eight hours of various sermons or lectures from theologians. Encased in a glass cab for 15 hour days with air conditioning and a relatively comfortable seat is not too bad of an environment in which to learn.
This day would be different however. On my list was a sermon called “Can Faith Be Green?,” and it changed the way I looked at the farm from which my family had eked out a living for the past hundred years. It reformed the way I looked at everything we did on the farm. It drove a wedge, really, between what I believed in my core to be right and what we felt we had to do in order to farm. Now I had an ethical conviction to go along with that realization that our model was financially unsustainable. There was no hope here.
The reason I could find no hope on the farm was simply a lack of knowledge. At the time, I believed the only realistic way to have a chance of making a living was to follow the model presented to us by the “experts.” One of the problems with this model, and there are many, is that it pits the farmer against the farm. Or rather, it was us against nature.
Over the course of the next few years, we were blessed to befriend a number of wonderful people in this excellent movement we now call regenerative agriculture. They taught us to learn to farm in the rhythms of nature. This is not something that can simply be learned only from a book or by hearing. It, much like dancing with your spouse, is an art perfected by years of practice and learning your partner (your land), with some stumbles and bruised toes along the way.
At the same time that we were learning how to restore the relationship with our land, we were realizing the broken relationship between the health of our bodies and the food that we eat. For all of our lives, we had never made the connection between healthy soil and healthy bodies.
Now, I believe we are in the business of reconciliation:
Farmer with Soil
Soil with Food
Food with Consumer
Consumer with Health
Health with Nature
Above: cattle grazing perennial pastures on land that was once row cropped on Jonathan's family farm in Rogers Texas.
This is not an easy business. I believe these are some of the most challenging issues facing our world. How do we restore harmony? What steps can we actively take, both as producers of food and consumers of food, toward reconciliation? These are big questions as we head into the future. Our team here at Green Fields Farm is looking forward to the opportunity to learn together with some of the greatest minds actively working toward solutions at the upcoming Grassfed Exchange in Albany.