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A philosophy of farming

A year ago in February I began publishing a farming newsletter

A philosophy of farming

Practice curiosity.

A year ago in February I began publishing a farming newsletter. There were several reasons for beginning this publication: (1) a dearth of local agricultural information, (2) much of the agricultural info from organisations devoted to beef, dairy, grain or forage production ignores agricultural communities living on the fringes and/or small- to medium-sized operations, (3) I thought that a stewardly approach might help inform and unite many local people who are very concerned about food, land use and agriculture.

I have not (yet) succeeded in inspiring readers to form a local community agricultural organisation. As an information channel, however, Just Farmers does seem to reach its goals. We presently have 120 subscribers. Some of these are relatives (naturally!) living in Wisconsin; a few live elsewhere in B.C. or other parts of Canada; most are from the central interior region of B.C. Some are Christian, some are not, but almost all the subscribers generally agree with the principles of the newsletter.

In connection with other articles on the environment in this issue of CC, I thought you might appreciate seeing the document called Just Farmers: Principles, printed below. You will probably notice that there is nothing explicit about a Christian approach to farming. On the other hand, the intentional and confessional approach to these principles may just tip off anyone in the know that the publisher (moi) comes from a philosophically-Reformed background.

Just Farmers: Principles
Foundation: We are stewards, not owners, of the land we farm. We are accountable for the way our land use affects the environment which includes land, water, air, plants, animals and human beings.

We affirm and attempt to:
      1. Use practices that treat the earth gently. We try to use appropriately-sized machinery.

      2. Use inputs that approach the principles of regenerative farming. We avoid the routine use of industrial chemical pesticides.
            • Conventional farming routinely uses chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides.
            • Sustainable farming usually reduces such uses and may use integrated approaches (chemical and organic) to reduce chemical applications.
            • Organic farming, as regulated, uses natural fertilizers, rock powders and biological controls: no industrial chemicals (or acidulated fertilizers) at all.
            • Regenerative farming seeks to improve the fertility of land, aims at ecosystem health and environmental diversity.

      3. Foster an appreciation for natural plant propagation. We reject any use of genetically-modified seeds or organisms.

      4. Practice good soil-care. We think of the soil as an organism and work to feed our soil as a complex web of life, not as a mine for crops.

      5. Practice curiosity. We consider research, discussion, learning from our neighbours and regular walks through our property as essential to our vocation.

      6. We participate actively in public, communal institutions to bring about change.

      7. Maintain high ethical standards for treatment of domesticated animals. We try to mimic animals’ inherited lifestyles by allowing cattle and sheep to graze, providing rangeland or vegetated outdoor pens for poultry, room for hogs to root, etc., weather permitting.

Goals:
      • To encourage and support the agricultural community. This includes sponsoring educational activities, local farm tours, and so on.
      • To provide healthy, locally-produced food for human and animals.
      • To provide a voice for those often ignored by agribusiness.
      • To participate in discussion of local community plans.

More Just Farmers
For archives of the newsletter, type www.justfarmers.wordpress.com in the top ribbon (not through Google). I’d appreciate any comments you may have at cgesch63@gmail.com If you wish to subscribe, please contact me at that email address; the newsletter is free and available on email only (pdf and docx).

About the Author
A philosophy of farming

Curt Gesch, Columnist

Curt Gesch is a farmer and writer living in Quick, B.C. He is a writer on environmental and agricultural topics. He and his wife Betsey attend the Anglican Church in Quick, which has a wood stove, no electricity, no bathroom, and which seats 33 people.

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