Some things happen in plain sight long before they suddenly make
a big difference—things like ethanol production boosting the
price of corn. There’s also the years of farmer innovation
leading up to the reporting of no-till roller research from seven
states appearing in this issue. While this is the fifth year we’ve
been trying to roll down cover crops at The Rodale Institute, for
most of our research partners it was Year 1, with lots of learning
going on and things to figure out.
It’s truly our privilege to bring words from some young people
thinking deeply about agriculture. We bid farewell to one of our
research interns, but not before he posits some challenging goals
for organics, including this: It’s time to progress to a definition
of organic that goes beyond what it’s not, and expresses more
clearly what it is. We welcome the insights of a farming couple
after their first year leasing land at The Rodale Institute farm.
They share three unusual but very farmer-oriented ways of measuring
high levels of soil health.
Thanks to all of you who write to share your praises and disagreements
with what you see here. There’s some spirited dialogue this
week about on-farm goat slaughter and why it’s forbidden in
some states even with running water and ice, while hunters’
casual field dressing is not. There’s also dissenting words
on whether organic seed companies should be supported even if they
aren’t yet providing the regionally adapted seeds that organic
farmers really want.
This year-end issue is packed with other farmer angles as well,
from sustainably taming hemi-parasitic weeds in Mali, West Africa,
to nurturing ancient wheat in Israel-Palestine, to learning how
Iowa farmers are trying to use online information, food distributors
and sustainable contracts to strengthen direct marketing. Take time
as December ends to share yourself with those who make your life
rich and full, and share a few words with us about farming life
and times where you are.