News From the Farm | January 27, 2020

A group of us were at the Ecological Farming Conference last week and many were involved in presentations on quite a range of subjects — Hannah and Dru Muller were facilitators of a day-long session on Women/Womxn in Food and Agriculture; Paul Muller participated in a series of workshops exploring reduced and targeted tillage as a way to minimize soil disturbance; Hannah Muller described her use of social media to tell the story of her love of flowers and floral arranging; Jenna Muller talked with attendees about the Environmental Mediation Center; and Judith Redmond moderated a panel on issues in national organic policy. Full Belly’s Harvest Manager, Jan Velilla, presented at a workshop posing the somewhat leading question:  “Biodiversity or Sterility: Which Ensures Safe Food?”  Reflections on the past, present and future of organic farming continued throughout, as well as deep discussions about challenges to the integrity of the organic label. African American, American Indian and a Quecha farmer shared their stories. All the Full Belly kids got to enjoy EcoFarm, as well. 

Bob Quinn, a grain grower from Montana outlined three big challenges for the Organic Farming movement:  1: We need to increase the conversion to organic agriculture. 2) We need to address chemical contamination of our food and the environment. 3) We need to avoid the transfer of the industrial model of cheap food to organic.  In terms of the last challenge he said that the population in his rural home town has decreased by 40% since he graduated from high school.  “Build communities and forget commodities” he said, extolling the virtues of cottage industries, local processing, root cellars and good diet as an avenue to health.  As the cost of food in the United States has gone down, the cost of health care has skyrocketed.  “Doctors should prescribe organic food to their patients!”  

We are thankful for the stay-at-home crew that kept our farming systems on go while so many of us were away. 

—Judith Redmond

Just before their panel: Dave Runsten (Policy Director Community Alliance with Family Farmers), Ken Kimes (New Natives Farm), Judith Redmond (Full Belly), Mark McAfee (Organic Pastures Dairy) and Kate Mendenhall (Executive Director of the Organic Farmers Alliance)