An organic farm is a NOISY farm. Yeah, sometimes that noise comes from a tractor or people talking and singing, but mostly, it’s the crickets and birds. I almost think the easiest way to do an organic audit would just be to walk out in the field and listen.
We have people here regularly on farm tours, but since we also distribute our fruit to grocery stores all over North America, their agents like to see where the fruit comes from as well, so we take them around the bustling packing house with its stainless steel, concrete, and gizmos, then we go out to the farm where I will find a patch that’s about ripe, talk about the farm and farming and answer their questions.
**It’s amazing how myopic even people who earn their living trading produce have become—to the point where a guy from Milwaukee who’s sourced peaches for some years will have no more idea what it takes to get a peach grown than someone from a totally unrelated trade. You just have to get off the cube farm and out to the peach farm to have a sense of it.
Anyway, on these tours with whomever, we always stop and listen. “Listen to what?!” they’ll say. And then, like magic (every time) you’ll see a big smile and occasionally a tear as people’s senses adjust to nature’s orchestra.
I have a theory that there is a farm shaped hole in everyone’s heart that needs to be filled. I’m pretty sure it isn’t a missing hoe handle shaped blister, or a missing sweat ring on everyone’s hat, but there is a missing connection from our very soul, a connection back to the soil that produced the food I’m going to eat. It may not be the need to personally travail against weather, weeds, plague, and pests, but I’m positive from watching the hundreds of farm visitors each year that there is a primal need to experience the balanced imperfection of an organic farm; especially the farm from which my food comes.
And you know how sometimes you’ll experience a piece of music that just somehow moves you emotionally, especially if you’re in the presence of the performing artist? I think that’s what the crickets and birds are doing on our farms. Through their artistic musicality, they are filling that farm shaped hole; that balanced imperfection.
You’d think I’d get accustomed to it or tired of it but so far, walking organic fields with all my senses and teaching others how to do it is the best and most important job I’ve got. The old saying that a farmer’s footprints are the best fertilizer is still quite importantly accurate.
An organic farm is a COMMUNITY. While a conventional farm can be the sum of its parts, an organic farm cannot thrive that way. Each part is interconnected and doesn’t add to the others, it multiplies them geometrically.
Water and weeds, microbes and manure, sun and soil synergistically multiply each other’s efforts into golden apricot alchemy.
In a community, it’s multiplication not addition, it’s noisy organic abundance.