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Every Day is Earth Day for Farmers

Every Day is Earth Day for Farmers

As somebody who writes about farming, I find the negative view that many people have of farmers and farming disheartening. Sadly, that view often comes from things that others have written in both the mainstream media and the blogosphere. And, as Earth Day approaches, I have been thinking of ways to counter that. The only thing I came up with is to write about the positive things that farmers are doing for our environment and our health.


I have already done this a little bit here on but I think it’s something that needs be done on a continuous basis. For example, as I posted about in January, Certified Naturally Grown, is a non-profit group formed by farmers as an option for small scale, direct-market farmers who can’t afford to get certified organic, but who do use USDA organic standards. The difference is that unlike the USDA program, Certified Naturally Grown doesn’t require set fees, only what a farmer can afford. So far, almost 500 farmers from 47 states have enrolled in the Certified Naturally Grown label.


I also wrote about the Wild Farm Alliance formed by another group of farmers that is preserving open space for wildlife and species by promoting healthy, viable agriculture that helps protect and restore wild nature.


These two groups are just a small sample of all of the efforts that farmers are taking to preserve our environment. Farmers are the largest stewards of our land, and work to protect our environment every day of the year, yet most things we read about them don’t mention this at all. Think about it, if they did not protect the land, they couldn’t produce the food and fiber we all need.


Many farmers use Best Management Practices (BMPs) to address water quality and quantity issues using things like conservation tillage, conservation or riparian buffers, and erosion and sediment control. Still others are working to find ways to produce more food on less land so they will have less impact on soil and water resources.


This is not unique; most farmers have a genuine love for the land they work, and not just for the practical need of keeping their soil rich for production. So, if there are those with practices you don’t like, rather than attack all farmers or paint them all with the same brush, write to them, don’t buy their products, make them accountable for what they are putting in the ground and in our bodies. If we stop supporting things that don’t sustain us, or our planet, and there’s no profit in it for them, they will be forced to change the way they do business.


Conversely, do support those who’s values, practices, growing methods, and philosophies you support and tell your friends and family to do the same. One of the greatest gifts of shopping at a farmers’ market or directly from a farm is the relationship that we develop with the people who grow our food. Use your consumer power to make change by supporting only sustainable farmers and farming.


Sustainability is the key for both our earth and our farmers. So to celebrate Earth Day try to support local producers and farmers to make sure they can earn a profit and sustain themselves and keep farming. These local farmers live in your community and buying locally produced food from them also helps to feed that local economy. The increase in the number of farmers’ markets and CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) has made it easier to support our local farmers.




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8:17PM PDT on Apr 30, 2009

Well-written, Judi,

I think much of the dialogue I see in the media, and reflected here at Care2 in some folks opinions, is that all "farmer's" are enormous businesses. Many people within the "environmental" community would rather group all farmers in with the big guys.

Ironic, since this leads to a disconnect from people's own local food providers, which only ends up empowering the kind of massive agribusiness people claim to be against.

If more people were willing to get directly involved in their food, by growing a bit of it themselves as well as taking the time to meet their farmers, we would all enjoy a much healthier self, economy, and ecology.

Toni, interesting point. I was unaware that "Sustainable" was being co-opted much in the same way "organic" has been. Thanks for that link.

Also, 18% percent of people voted "No!"?


Go meet your farmer's, people.

3:34PM PDT on Apr 25, 2009

Thank you for putting out the truth. To farmers and ranchers the earth IS our business, our life and oru responsibility to our children's children. while a few "get in and get out" farmers and ranchers have been in the headlines; many of us generational ranchers and farmers go about our business creating a product we are proud to feed our families. WE CARE!.
Labeling is such a mis-used advertising that consumers, with good reason, distrust it; or so they should.
Buy local, know your farmers and get involved in teh county rules and regulations that are KEEPING YOU FROM BUYING LOCAL. We are tryign to convince our county supervisors that selling eggs off the farm, or wheat or ? should be allowed. Right now, in CA it is illegal to GIVE milk to our neighbors for their pig. I can go to jail for that. Raw milk has more restrictions than pharmeceuticlas!

1:49PM PDT on Apr 23, 2009

This is the way I feel everyday should be Earth Day because if we don't respect the Earth it will not be around much longer and that is a fact.

9:14PM PDT on Apr 22, 2009

Me and my mom are going to get a farmers share asap, that way we're supporting our local economy, and being environmentally friendly-- since our food won't have to travel/ be out of season. It will also be fresh! We're heading to the farmers market this week as well :)
Happy Earth Day

3:03PM PDT on Apr 22, 2009

The only reason I don't support local farmers is that I'm not in control over my food supply. But I will be next year, and I will probably always buy locally.

I don't really think anyone has a negative view of farmers. If anything, I think most people have an idealized view of industrialized farming. People don't really think local farming is harmful or wrong; they just can't be bothered with the extra effort or money it takes to buy sustainable food. They don't see it as a big deal, and that's the problem. What we need to do, besides changing our own habits, is raise awareness of the problems with current farming methods, as well as how to support sustainable agriculture.

I don't know, it'll be a challenge...

8:10AM PDT on Apr 22, 2009

Although I realize its almost impossible to do these days, I feel its important for farmers to use non-GMO seed and keep "real" seed available. A couple companies, that own everything from the seed patents to the processing, seem to own about 99% of the seed and I feel that farmers should take back the seed and NOT promote this (I own the world by owning the food supply) action. As an agricultural professional I understand that much of the mainstream seed comes from one or two companies, but farmers do need to take back their rights as farmers to have good quality viable seed that in't GMO and isn't owned by one or two companies. Larger fruit does not compute to better quality or feeding more - its merely more water with the same amount of nurients (proven in some US based research) as the fruit half its size; piggee size has been proven time and time again to NOT be better. Go natural!!! Go old time farmers who own their own seed!!! Go the little guy!!!

7:39AM PDT on Apr 22, 2009

Thanks for all you are doing to teach us about farmers and how to support them. I would like to inform you however that the term "sustainable" is being co-opted by bio-tech agribusinesses to describe their vision for worldwide GM crops to address global warming and drought:
This is meant to confuse the public and our legislators and take this description away from our ecological and health promoting farmers such as those you just described in this article. We need to address this propaganda.

7:38AM PDT on Apr 22, 2009

Thanks for all you are doing to teach us about farmers and how to support them. I would like to inform you however that the term "sustainable" is being co-opted by bio-tech agribusinesses to describe their vision for worldwide GM crops to address global warming and drought:
This is meant to confuse the public and our legislators and take this description away from our ecological and health promoting farmers such as those you just described in this article. We need to address this propaganda.

7:16AM PDT on Apr 22, 2009

Great article...I'm posting it to my FB page in honor of Earth Day! Rock on Farmers and God bless you for caring for our Earth!

4:32AM PDT on Apr 22, 2009

I have the utmost respect for farmers everywhere. I have a great fear of giant corporations such as Monsanto, that are creating huge problems in their quest for profits, by manipulating farmers with their genetically modified seeds and horrible "weed killers", such as RoundUp. I personally live on a very small Caribbean island that has little farming due to poor soil and arid conditions, we import most food. But I do buy locally when possible.Thank you for this informative thread, have a good Earth Day.

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