There have been some major shifts in the production of food in the last 40 years. Conventional farming with pesticides, GMOs, and long rows of veggies that strip the soil of life are no longer the only means of farming. There is a new slant to farming that encourages the grower to use their intuitive knowing in order to be the best farmer they can be.
According to Tasha Miles from the Grow Network, “In humans, a ‘feeling’ that helps us see beyond present circumstance to some future outcome is called intuition. It is the intersection between what we consciously know, unconscious details we may not even be aware we have noticed, and our resulting formulations on how to use that information.” If we apply this intuitive ability to gardening, then more and more ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions for solving new and different gardening problems will be discovered. These intuitively inspired changes can transform the way gardening is done and change the way food is grown. A farmer’s ability to tune into the needs of the plants, soil, insects and environment can make a difference in sustaining a positive balance in the world rather than depleting the earth’s resources.
Still curious to know more about what I’d researched, I sat down with my son Joel, who has a green thumb and a degree in horticulture, as well as years of experience working on many different organic, local and permaculture farms. I asked Joel if permaculture is the best system of gardening, and he answered by saying that, although permaculture is a viable method of farming, it is not really meant to feed a lot of people. He explained that the idea behind permaculture is to harmonize with the land and its terrain, and at the same time, to have as low an impact as possible. With this in mind permaculture farms often can feed the people who live and work on those farms, though they are not designed for high crop yield.
The man who first devised the idea of permaculture, Bill Mollison probably had an intuitive flash in 1978, when he envisioned this holistic form of farming. He wanted to sustain the earth’s resources rather than deplete them.
Another method of growing crops is organic farming. When I talked to Joel about this he shook his head and went on to teach me that although food can be labeled “organic” by the FDA, it may not really be completely organic. He explained that as long as no chemicals or GMOs are used in the growing of the crops, then that farm can be certified organic. However, these crops can also be labeled organic if they have been treated with natural fertilizer which contains the bones of cows that were not organic or GMO free. While intuitively this just feels wrong to trick the consumer, the farm industry is counting on the ignorance of the shopper to overlook this important detail. Joel said it takes a lot of integrity and a very high ethical standard to grow crops completely organically on all levels. He suggested it is beneficial to get to know your farmer. If you instinctively don’t feel good about the farmer and their practices, then I suggest you shop elsewhere.
Perhaps another option may be that each of us plant organic food in our backyards and not have to deal with farmers at all. However, after my experience with building a garden with my daughter where we spent hundreds of dollars to terrace the land, prepare and enrich the soil, plant the plants, install irrigation, put up trellises and water and compost the garden only to have a tiny yield, I was left feeling like it was a waste of time and money. But again, I am not a gardener. I will humbly leave it to the experts. I was not able to develop an intuitive connection to the plants and soil. Instead, I was mechanically following a gardening book’s take on building a backyard garden. I developed a much deeper appreciation of the insight and skill it takes to plant and harvest a healthy and fruitful garden or farm.
Since I rely on farmers to grow my food, it is important that I educate myself on the integrity of different farming practices and choose to buy my veggies and fruits from a reliable source. Although there is not one right way to grow food, the farming practices that work with sustaining the environment and not polluting the earth are the most intuitively positive approaches to growing food. Hopefully over time, more and more people will be guided to tune into the needs of the land and find complimentary ways of farming that can sustain us all in a healthy way, for ultimately each of us is responsible for the planet and for our ecosystem.