The word RICHNESS came to mind as I watched the film explore the vastness of the world of soil and, the complexity of its place in our ecosystem. The word DEVASTATION came to mind later as they clearly showed how we have decimated our planet.
The disregard we show our soil is reflected in the disregard we show in other areas of our collective lives. The separation and hoarding of mineral resources to the detriment of the whole soil biome is not dissimilar to the way we manage our economies and corporations, education systems and governments. Wealth derived for few, by extractions causing grave imbalance and breakdowns of natural systems, is not real wealth. There is a statement that circulates attributed to various individuals from different global first nations that goes something like this: when there is no food they will realize they can't eat money.
So, how do we build RICHNESS for ourselves, our families, our communities? I believe we need to begin by rebuilding the richness of our planet and that begins with the soil. Even though our access to soil is limited in urban settings, the work of urban farmers is as important as that done by stewards of larger pieces of land. If we can we must - in our own small way - create healthy soil, stabilize that soil with healthy plants and trees, engage with those plants as stewards and co-creators of small food producing ecosystems. These systems and our communities and economies need to be tended gently to grow stronger season by season, year by year. This is not a short game. This is a forever mission if it is truly our intention to live healthy, rich lives here in the Rocky Mountain region.
We - your team at Feed Denver: Urban Farms & Markets - build our RICHNESS by getting our hands dirty growing healthy and nutritious food. Creating markets to make that food available to you and our neighbors. We educate ourselves continually to find better, healthier ways to nurture our soil and plants. We share our knowledge hoping that it will be disseminated like pollen by the bees or seeds on the wind. We create forums where urban farmers and aspiring urban farmers and growers can cross-pollinate and fertilize one another with experiences and knowledge but most of all with support because it is a daunting task.
Farmers are a target for extraction from a society that does not recognize their value and role in stabilizing the very earth and environment we live in. They are the first link in the chain that includes our grocery stores, restaurants, school cafeterias, and all food, natural fuel, and fiber industries. If that chain is not stable, nothing is stable. Cheaper, quicker, more perfect vegetables and fruit is the mantra for that extraction. Food should be free, meals should be cheap, "if I buy more can I get it for less?' are all statements of extraction that devalue the farmer, the land, and the soil. Farmers are also targets for carpetbaggers purporting to offer the magical elixir of easy solutions for just a wee (wink) investment - equipment and amendments, pesticides and fertilizers to grow faster, cheaper.
Our culture here in the Denver/Boulder bubble places higher value and attention to the supply chain around the farmer although it is the farm that provides the most basic resources for those other organizations. But can we expect anything different as our larger over-culture shows so little respect to food workers and their compatriots in the caring and service industries - teachers, care workers, veterans, need I go on.
The RICHNESS of our community can be found in the support and respect shown to true farmers and their products, not the romantic idealism lip-service expressed in SuperBowl ads and green-washed marketing. The RICHNESS of our economy can be found in the attention to and support of restorative land-stewardship livelihoods. We need to build our RICHNESS from the soil up where we are and in our communities; in the decision-making we do at home and in our jobs; in seeing beyond the mind-numbing mantra of more, more, cheaper, cheaper (squirrel!) distractions.
We can build RICHNESS by learning about and engaging with our earth, in supporting and creating urban (and rural) soil regenerating farms and gardens here in our communities. And, as a community, by rethinking our policies and values, committing to them resources like land and time...as much time as we ourselves expect to be on this planet. RICHNESS doesn't come from separating and hoarding. It comes from opening our eyes to the state of our environment, taking responsibility to do something about it, and a dedication to creating a better world. Call it pie-eyed optimism but that's what the new farmers we work with are doing: building RICHNESS.
Join our upcoming events and classes, films and farm markets to build your own portfolio of RICHNESS.