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Vernal Permaculture

This morning, the season of Spring 2017, commenced into being. At virtually the exact moment that Spring began, I witnessed a glorious morning rainbow. What a meaningful way to herald in the most exciting and promising season of the year!

I live on the Darby Plains – a beautiful agricultural area populated by small family farms. It’s flat topography allows for uncluttered views of the horizon. I can clearly see both ends of a rainbow and it always invokes an appreciation for the perfect balance of Mother Nature.

My home is centered on an organic family farm that primarily raises corn and soybeans. This farm is surrounded by other ‘traditional’ family farms. I put ‘traditional ‘ in quote marks rather than the word organic – which is how you will usually see it.  The organic farming practices this farm employs were once the traditional and only farming practices employed.

My father, who grew up during the 1930s, was raised on a working farm. His family farm was organic. The use of cover crops and manure were the only fertilizers. Chickens ate insect pests. Roundup and Miracle Gro had not been invented yet. Small homestead farms were the way of life. Nowadays, homesteading, is a trending topic. Magazines and books are dedicated to informing us how to live sustainably and responsibly. My father just called it, surviving. He grew up during the Great Depression and he was proud of the fact his family was resourceful enough to make it through to the other side. Unfortunately, not all families were resilient or lucky enough to survive.

One story that has always stayed with me is how his mother baked all of the bread, rolls, cookies and other bakery items from scratch. His mother proofed the dough in large wooden barrels so she would have enough to feed 11 children, the parents, various other drifters, teachers (from the one room schoolhouse) and farm hands. The wheat was grown on their farm, driven to the Mill by horse and buggy and brought back home to use. Today’s homesteaders would be envious of their tenacity and resourcefulness.

The advent of easily acquired and applied weed and pest killers seemed like a grand idea at the time of their arrival on the family farm. What could be bad about controlling weeds and pests that threatened the family’s livelihood?

We all know hindsight is 20/20 , and looking back it is easy to see agricultural mistakes. The Dust Bowl years should also serve as a blatant reminder of agricultural practices gone monstrously wrong.

On this first day of Spring I am reminded that our Earth makes a faithful effort to renew and repair herself annually- without fail.

I am making a pledge to incorporate all the permaculture techniques and organic farming practices that I learn into my small farm.

Please join me.

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