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Go Ahead, Be Hard On Your Beliefs

FarmOn Einstein Quote

 

“We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat. Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.” – Tim Minchin

What we believe is important – really important, for that matter. Because our beliefs naturally guide us to make decisions and take actions that carve our path and influence the direction we take. And while our beliefs play a big role in shaping us, it’s critical that we take the time to truly examine our beliefs and reconsider some of our assumptions. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

In the agriculture industry, there are many different beliefs about the “right” way to do things. We operate on information overload, as each side of a heated topic bombards us with staunch proof and steadfast statistics to back up their unwavering beliefs. Often, people passionately argue their belief from habit or defense of their livelihood, rather than taking a step back to actually examine if their beliefs still hold truth when all of the information is carefully weighed.

But here is the awesome thing about truth: it can handle questioning. It isn’t offended by poking and prodding. I think, at times, we are afraid of questioning because we fear that it will damage all that we have built to be true based on our belief. However, that’s the beautiful thing about questioning, it pushes us towards answers. Because questions can’t change what is true, but they can inspire understanding that leads to either a confirmation or a change in our beliefs based on logic and fact.

As farmers, we must be careful not to segregate ourselves based on belief. The way you choose to farm is NOT the only thing that defines you. You don’t have to follow traditional practices to prove you honour agriculture’s past. You don’t need to farm organically to care about the Earth and understand the need for sustainability. You can love and respect animals while still raising them for food. Too often we become so entrenched in our beliefs that we can’t see the big picture: that when it comes to food, we’re all in this together!

If we are honest with ourselves, and truly question our beliefs based on the quest for truth, we must admit that there are sustainability issues with some of the ways we produce food and that every type of farming will play an important role in the solution. Sparking change that will ensure the health and future of our planet for generations to come will require a new way of doing things and the ability to set aside pride, fear, and the need to be “right”. Instead, we must move forward with great intention based on what we now know, rather than what we have always believed. The need for innovative collaboration and unity within the brotherhood of farming has never been greater. Each of you will play an important role in that which will be a defining moment, a “tipping point” for food production as we know it. So be brave in questioning your beliefs. Understand that just wanting something to be true cannot make it so. Be comfortable knowing that it’s okay to change course if need be. What you do as a farmer is essential, how you do it is ever evolving based on new knowledge. And that, friends, is as it should be.

The Principles of Organic Farming

Article by the Organic Farming Blog

Since the 90s, marketing organic produce has been growing so fast. It averages 20 to 25 percent each year, reaching $33 Billion (American) in 2005. The demand to manage farmlands is also increasing in percentage. Now, there is about 30.6 million hectares around the globe which are farmed organically—that’s 2% of all the farmland in the world. Why is this so? It is because of the many benefits a farmer can get from organic farming. Here are some of them:

  • Organic farming supports higher level of wildlife. Animals can freely roam around. Actually, it’s not only the wildlife that is being supported but also the whole ecosystems.
  • Organic farming methods can reduce production cost by more than 25%. It is because these methods shun the use of pesticides and fertilizers—these minimize soil erosion by over 50%.
  • Soils in organic farms are rich in micro nutrients which can last for decades and grow crops for a long time.
  • The products of organic farms are better than conventional foods because they are healthier and they taste so good.
  • Organic foods promote healthy living. These reduce the risk of having strokes, heart attacks or cancer.
  • More and more consumers are shifting to organic diets and year after year their numbers are growing. Thus, the profit in this business is huge.

However, to sustain these benefits, you need to follow some principles and ideas. Here are some of them:

  • Produce food of soaring nutritional quality in adequate quantity
  • Interact with natural systems in a constructive and developmental way
  • Encourage and develop biological cycles in the farm, always involve micro organisms, plants and animals, soil flora and fauna
  • Conserve the soil and water
  • Improve the soil quality and amplify soil fertility
  • Promote the proper care and the good use of water, water resources and everything in it
  • Use nutrient elements and organic matter
  • Work with substances and materials that can be recycled and reused
  • Let the livestock such the fishes, poultry, fishes, and other farm animals to perform the normal aspects of their natural behavior
  • Maintain genetic diversity of agricultural system which includes the protection and guarding of wildlife habitats and plant
  • Minimize forms of pollution which can lead to chaos
  • Promote the human rights of all involve in the organic production and processing
  • Foster ecological and indigenous production systems which will make sufficient, safe and healthy food for your local communities

 

Link photo by Suzie’s Farm

Now that you know the principles of organic, do you think organic farming can become mainstream? Read “Can Organic Farming Become Mainstream?” to find out more.

Do you have any other principles of organic farming that you think should be included in the above list?
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DIY: Powdered Laundry Soap

Article by Christine Hennessey

Making my own laundry detergent is one of those things I always say I’m going to do, until I run out of my current bottle of detergent. Then it’s right back to the store for a new one. Well, not this time. This time, I planned ahead. I researched different “recipes” online, found an easy one that only called for three ingredients and didn’t require any complicated steps like boiling, and yesterday, I got to work.

DIY POWDERED laundry soap 2

 

Borax, washing soda, and a bar of soap. Nothing more, nothing less. I was able to find all of these things at the grocery store (not Whole Foods – while you can shop for groceries
and keep your bill pretty low, their cleaning supplies are way overpriced). I chose Yardley because it was the least offensive when it came to ingredients – mostly all natural stuff, mostly things I could pronounce, 100% recyclable and, most important to me, not tested on animals. Also, it smells like lavender, which is just dreamy.

diy powdered laundry soap 3

To make this soap, all you need it is a measuring cup, a cheese grater, something to catch the grated soap (I used a cutting board), and a clean, dry container in which to store
your detergent.

Begin by grating the soap. (This is when I really began to appreciate that lavender scent). This was by far the most difficult part of the process, and I say that only because everything else was so ridiculously easy.

diy powdered laundry soap 4

Once the soap is grated, throw it in your container. Then, add one cup each of borax and
washing soda. Mix thoroughly. And then… you’re done. No, really. That’s it. You just made your own laundry soap. It’s actually that easy.

diy powdered laundry soap 5png

But, you may be asking, how does it work? I decided to try it out on some towels still sandy
and wet from the beach, along with the quilt on our bed which, thanks to the dogs, always needs a washing. Directions say one to two tablespoons should suffice, and I went with one heaping tablespoon. When I wash loads of clothing (including our sweaty workout gear and
Nathan’s work clothes) I’ll probably use closer to two tablespoons. We get pretty dirty and smelly, especially in these hot and humid summers.

For a load of towels and a quilt, though, this seemed to work fine! My laundry came out smelling faintly of lavender, feeling soft, and looking clean. Also free of dog hair, which is always my main concern. I’m so glad this experiment worked. Not only because I can cross a goal off my list, but because making your own laundry soap is so much cheaper than buying it at the store.

Interested in reading more from Christine Hennessey? Check out her blog The New Me.

Link Photo by: Horia Varlan