Blame it on Laura Ingalls Wilder: Deep down, I always wanted to be a pioneer. I wasn’t raised on a farm, and when and if we did have a yard depending on where we moved, it was always pretty small. I remember reading one of the Little House books, perched by my window, where Laura and her sister Mary harvested potatoes and turnips to be stored for the winter. I looked out the window of where we lived then, a townhouse my parents were renting, just to see a long row of sidewalk and the window of the replica townhouse across the way. We didn’t have a yard then, but I fantasized about planting potatoes and turnips in the flower boxes down below.
Who am I, and why am I talking about this? For starters, I live and work as an organic farmer. I initially became interested in organic farming as I become interested in many things—wanting a tangible way to create some good in the world. I help plants grow and thrive, and I do it in the name of growing healthy food for people. We (my husband and I) get to take care and nourish of a bit of earth, using it to grow plants in the most natural way possible, saving it from being used to build a subdivision or parking lot. (Right now we actually rent land that is protected, but you get the idea.) Farmland and forested areas are hacked, clear-cut and smoothed over with layers of fog-colored concrete every day. Instead of vibrant trees and flowers, pale houses bloom right before our eyes to expand never-ending suburbia, as if keeping the oxygen-exhaling, chlorophyll-filed life forms around don’t matter. (They’re just a bunch of pesky weeds, taking up all that space! Really, the nerve!) Truthfully, our planet is sick. A major principle of permaculture is to “reforest the earth” in order to aid its healing. It doesn’t seem to be happening as urgently as it should, but, at the same time, there are positive things happening that give me hope.