Several years ago, I sat down for a cup of coffee around the kitchen table with a farmer and had the opportunity to ask him what he thought about organic. This man comes from a line of farmers, and as candidly as I asked him about going organic, he asked me what is wrong with the way we farm today. We were each having a hard time seeing the perspective of the other, but a conversation is a good place to realize that our end goal was the same; it was just how we were going to get there that differed.
At that time, I was starting the process of taking over the family farm, and his children were in middle school farming with their Dad and interested in staying in the agriculture industry. Both of us were thinking about what’s next and the legacy of our farms.
He shared that there are only so many hours in the day, and without the flexibility of being able to spray when you want to, how was he going to get it all done?
I asked where he thought the chemical sprays went afterward. How was the ground not getting contaminated?
He said the soil was like a filtering sponge and that it would just process, percolate, and be cleaned up by the time it got to the aquifer. My thoughts were that even at some point, a sponge, no matter how big it is, gets saturated.
The first of many…
Since the beginning of that conversation years ago, we have had many more even though not a lot until recently had changed on either of our positioning. The old saying that time is the true testament proved to be the case. Through both of our willingness to hear the other, we both became more aware of what was happening in our community, our land, and in turn, our decisions on how we farm.
For me, the desire to farm organically came from so many different directions. My Dad being diagnosed with and dying from cancer, witnessing my Mom’s concern and pursuit of ways to improve her health after continually being exposed to chemicals, wanting our land to be viable created awareness, the economics of increasing profitability, the health of a family friend who helps us steward over the land along with an internal knowingness this was the right decision for our family and our farm.
Investing in your future
For him, like all of us, farming is risky; changing something in one’s production system that appears literally on the surface to be working seems to be crazy. Watching his kids grow up, attend agronomy school, and return to the farm now more than ever, the viability of the farm has come in to play to be able to support the young adults as well as be the springboard for his next generation. Looking to collateralize possibly the farm ground and equipment to be able to help them all move forward, it became critical to have a strong, healthy bottom line to be eligible and considered attractive by the bank. This, along with our small town running out of water a couple of years ago, the cancer rate increasing in the local population and knowing we are by their side to help them with the transition process as well as marketing their crops. Whether mentioned or not, it feels better when we know we don’t have to run the race alone. The distance and the amount of change might not be any different, but going through the race with someone who has been through it and will unwaveringly be there for encouragement, questions, and as a sounding board, through community, we stand independently as business owners and together as farmers.
It is o.k. to change your mind about transitioning to organic production. Navigating what used to be and looking forward to making changes to allow the farmland to sustain multiple generations to come was our common thread. The land is everyone’s number one asset.
You are not alone
YieldOrganic is by your side to help you move forward. To remove the barriers to producing, marketing, and selling Non-GMO, Organic, and Regenerative Crops. We are here to help.
YieldOrganic, bringing people together.