My father often says that if it were easy everyone would do it. That has certainly been an interesting thought given the challenges Sheia and I have faced with farming.
There are so many variables that influence the outcome of a crop. I have seen the effects of increasing heat and a waxing moon cause a glut of lettuce on the Brisbane market with crops maturing at the same time despite one being planted two full weeks before the other. The unpredictability of weather has seen our garden 1.5m underwater, blown in Rutherglen bugs that decimated cut flowers in a matter of 72 hours and scorched newly planted seedlings in the heat of summer.
With so many weather variables it is no wonder Farmer’s have adapted to control what they can in the growing process. Many challenges such as pests and soil nutrient variations have long been dealt with in conventional growing by use of chemicals, fumigating the soil and adding nitrate based fertilisers to provide a water soluble food that plants have no choice but to take up.
The use of pre-emergent sprays such as glyphosate and the above mentioned practices are now being linked to ruptures in the human gut lining’s tight junctions ( see Dr Zach Bush’s fascinating work on the topic) and this is being linked to a plethora of modern health issues.
Having grown up in a family whose very livelihood and abundance has come from unsustainable farming practices and at times duplicitous produce trading it was an easy decision to leave the industry and take up the idealistic practice of organic farming. But in reality it has been anything but easy, despite its rewards.
Often mistakes are not realised for weeks after planting. Pests can ruin a bumper crop. Irrigation can burst or lines forgotten to be put on and crops lost, or hindered in growth. Organic farming is a steep learning curve and continues to offer more learning that any self development course I ever enrolled in.
This is where planning and being pro-active with systems comes in. By having consistent practices such as regular planting, compost tea spraying and systems that make bed rotation efficient we can create an opportunity to take advantage of whatever variables are thrown our way knowing we have done our best to control what we can in our desire to provide consistent produce that supports vibrant health for all who consume it.
Having faced so many challenges I understand why so many farmers use chemicals. But understanding the implications on the soil, on the produce, on the environment, on the water ways, and inevitably on human health, especially our children, I reject it as an inevitability and I remain committed to creating efficient farming practices and systems that foster the life of the earth I walk and all beings I share this earth with.
There may be a satisfaction and sense of achievement from planting seedlings in a living soil and taking them to harvest that is only matched in opposition by the despair felt when that crop is lost due to an unforeseen event or even more humbling still an unanticipated learning experience.
But as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in his first draft of In Memorium;
“I hold it true whate’er befall:
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
It is better to have grown and lost than to never have grown at all”.
Blessings from our garden,
Isaac and Sheia.