By Janet Gamble
Originally published in her weekly newsletter to CSA members, shared with permission.
In the early years of my journey, to this day, I believe that my quest to explore the endless universe of the soil has led me to farm by our current model: towards a life giving, life supporting, inclusive holistic system. Today we have coined this system as “regenerative organic”—since organic [by definitions for USDA certification] may not include soil-based systems or even hold a farm to the incorporation of animals and other species that are intricately woven into a biological system.
The closest model remotely resembling what seemed to make sense to me is biodynamic agriculture, which I was introduced to years ago. The biodynamic model includes mineral (soil), animal, plant, and outer spheres of the cosmos coupled with the inner life or spiritual development of the human being.
We are craving, physically and spiritually, for better. As humans we want the best to sustain our health and future resources. We as farmers, who devote our work beyond the annual cash crop, have invested in this notion of creating a sustainable system. We learn from our failures. We are researchers, collecting the data and experience from years of trial and error, exploring the variables that each unique season provides. We become part of the land we steward as it lives in our bones, minds, and hearts and realize we are not separate from this soil that feeds us.
Farming is a cultural act. We are creative beings that orchestrate the complexity of our plan and then execute it daily. In return, we benefit from the bounty that feeds us, communing around a meal or festival where we are bound by the food that symbolizes our cultural heritage and gives us the nourishment to live. Food inspires us through our sense experiences when we see a fruit on the vine, or taste and smell the meal that we have infused with our will to create it. Sharing this with others elevates us as both gift givers and those who receive with gratefulness.
We are empathizers, caring for the animals who are sacrificing their lives for ours, giving them the best life, environment, and conditions possible. Empathy extends itself to the non-sentient, to the health of the soil and plants. It is troubling to see the suffering and we proceed to correct it and heal. The soil is the womb in which life springs.
Janet Gamble is co-owner of Turtle Creek Gardens with Greg and Linda Wolf. As a farmer and educator, Janet comes to TCG with more than 30 years' experience in organic and biodynamic agriculture. Over the last 15 years, she developed and led a nationally recognized farmer training program, and she continues to provide learning and mentoring to farm interns each year.
All photos are from the BDA's 2018 Staff Retreat, which included a visit to Janet's farm.