How do you incorporate sustainability into your business? Your personal life?
In order for a business to be sustainable, I believe everyone involved must be successful. That means everyone should receive fair compensation for the effort that goes into increasing the quality of the final product. In our case, this starts with the farmer who grows the seed in the first place, then extends to the processor who mills the grain or presses the oil seeds and finally to the manufacturer who makes the finished product which ultimately ends up in the hands of the buyers and their families.
If this vision of quality and compensation throughout the entire chain is in proper focus and balance, everyone wins and all those involved are sustained by the success of the whole process. In my personal life, I am trying to demonstrate that we can be more sustainable by shortening our food chain. I am trying to grow all the food I eat. At this point 70% of everything I eat while I am home is raised on my farm. I support other regenerative Organic farmers by trying to buy Organic food and products whenever and wherever I can find them. At this time about 90% of the food I eat or personal care items I use are Organic.
Could you give your top 3 tips to make farms more sustainable?
1. Make sure you have a good crop rotation in place for at least 4 to 8 years(the crop rotation on our farm is 9 years). This should include a very robust soil building program.
2. Make sure you keep learning - keep good records of what is happening on your farm so you can identify causes of problems so you can address them and not just treat symptoms of problems, continue to try new crops, new rotations and new systems - continue to read, watch and listen to expert speakers on Organic ag and participate in regenerative Organic conferences and local organizations supporting these ideals.
3. Make sure you are fair and honest in your dealings with neighbors, customers and suppliers - to expect loyalty and fairness you should be first a giver of the same.
Can you explain why supporting local, Organic farmers is so important?
As we saw this past year when some store shelves went empty during the pandemic, there is no real security in faraway markets and extremely long food chains. By supporting local, Organic farmers, we shorten the food chain. We are supporting first of all local farmers with an opportunity to receive fair compensation for what they produce, in turn they are then better able to support their local communities. If we add supporting small local processors, we are strengthening both the farmer and the community. We put the money spent on fuel and other transportation costs into the local community. If you add this to the resultant growth of local Organic agriculture you see a reduction in the use and abuse of poison ag chemicals in agriculture which will reduce the chemical pollution in our environment, locally, regionally and nationally.
On the international stage Organic ag holds vital keys for the mitigation of climate change (or climate chaos as I like to refer to it). There are two main keys, actually: the first is the elimination of chemically produced nitrogen fertilizers which are responsible for 60% of the greenhouse gases attributed to agriculture and the second is the sequestration of the excess carbon now in our atmosphere by increasing the Organic matter of the soil when Organic systems are introduced. So if you want to change the world for the better, buy Organic products whenever you can. It is a good investment for our health and the health of our families, the health of our community, the health of our planet and, finally, the health of our people.