Health Per Acre

By Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm, courtesy of Capay Valley Farm Shop

Despite heavy rain, a surprisingly large group of people turned out for the Full Belly Open Farm Day. While we couldn’t sample the strawberries as in years past, we were able to walk around and enjoy the muddy farm. Several families showed up with three generations present. Our group also included a young birthday boy and several overnight campers, including one young girl who had never camped before, and who seemed to enjoy every minute of her visit, and who was up early enough to be granted her wish of watching the cow being milked. Several prospective interns were also visiting over the weekend, enjoying an opportunity to learn more about Full Belly.

A visiting family from India included grandparents, only just off the plane, here to see their son’s graduation and visit with their young grandchildren. The patriarch of the family, a member of the Indian Parliament, was knowledgeable about agriculture in India and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see a farm in the United States, regardless of jet lag.

Conversations turned to the health and nutrition offered by various farming models. A June 2nd article in the New York Times discusses organic farming in India, and an organization called Navdanya (associated with Dr. Vandana Shiva) that has been training farmers in sustainable agricultural techniques since 1987. Our visitors said that there are many farmers in India that can’t afford the use of chemical inputs – farms that were never touched by the high-input agricultural  model of the green revolution. “Agricultural output should be measured in terms of ”˜health per acre’ and ”˜nutrition per acre’ instead of ”˜yield per acre,’” according to a report from Navdanya.

”˜Health Per Acre’ is a very different spin that we usually hear in discussions about “feeding a future of nine billion people.” But even authorities in high places are starting to think outside of the box. A recent report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food said, “Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agro-ecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live – especially in unfavorable environments.”

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