“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
More than 30 years ago a small “tribe” of visionary, hardworking, courageous, spiritual, fun, vibrant people gathered here on the West Coast to help kick-start the organic farming movement. Today’s annual Ecological Farming Conference is an offspring from these early reunions and has evolved into one of the largest gatherings of people involved in today’s sustainable food and agriculture movement. When I first attended in 1994, it was a catalyst that ignited my passion for organic farming and helped me start Live Earth Farm. Last week we hosted the conference’s farm tour, and as I welcomed the 160 or so visitors I vividly remembered how “only” 20 years ago I was an attendee myself – a city-kid on a mission to start farming.
Ever since that first conference, it’s been a tradition for me to make the pilgrimage to “Ecofarm”, held every year at Asilomar, a beautiful Conference Center located right on the beach in Pacific Grove. It’s a wonderful place to meet fellow farmer friends, build new relationships, and just soak up the atmosphere together with some new information and bits of farming wisdom bestowed on us by the elders in the movement. Organic Farming, once considered a fringe, “back to the land”, hippie movement is today the fastest growing sector in agriculture.
You and me, we are all stakeholders. We all eat and sit at the same table to figure out this important challenge, maybe the most important – healing our current unsustainable relationship with nature. Our food decisions are meaningful ways to make a difference, whether joining a local farm’s CSA, shopping at the farmer’s market, making locally sourced menu choices at a restaurant, or simply cooking and sharing a meal at home, these are simple but interconnected food solutions that contribute to a healthier local and regional food web.
I feel inspired from the Conference but, most importantly, I feel the early signs of the land stirring, waking up, preparing to spring to life. Yesterday I watched my favorite wild plum tree here on the farm starting to show signs of flowering. In the Celtic tradition, now is the midway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox known as Imbolc, the land is awakening and the power of the sun is growing.
Once again it’s time to engage in nature’s fertile embrace, to follow her seasonal dance, paying attention to the unique conditions each season offers. The timing of this dance is always tricky, especially with today’s increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. The soils should be saturated from winter rains right now, instead, they are dry. Let’s pray for some rain to release the soil’s nourishment for life on the surface to grow.