Food as Revolution

I keep a sticker on my laptop that reads “Eat like you give a Damn.”  That sticker sums it all up succinctly for me: if you are willing to put it in your mouth, you better give it some thought.  We are, literally, what we eat after all.   Course yesterday at the table my 5 year old and I had this exchange: “Daddy?”  “Yes Dear?” “What does *damn* mean?”  As we don’t believe in Hell that was a fun conversation, but it ended well.

Today was the kickoff for the farming season for me.  I pulled the Grillo out of the storage center, was pleased it fired on the third pull, loaded it up in the trailer behind the Golf and headed North to the market garden with some hand tools and an ounce of Spinach seed from Fed-Co.   The weather was perfect – about 37 degrees, but bright and clear enough that I would be shedding my sweatshirt as soon as I got moving in the field.  I had the stereo on as I drove.  Music is important to me – I use it to mold, augment, or stifle my emotional state at most times; unless I am in for a Big Think I am typically listening to something.  One would think that heading into such a bucolic scene I would be listening to George Winston’s Spring or at least something introspective or calm like the Shins, Ben Harper or the Be Good Tanyas.  Nope.  I was deep into Rage Against the Machine and Rise Against with some FloBots thrown in for good measure.  I was Calm Like a Bomb and itching for a Fight.

Rather than melding my spirit with the rhythms of the Earth I had the very real feeling like I was preparing for a Revolution – the Carharts, boots and gloves I had donned were my uniform as a frontline insurgent in the Fight for the Future; my Grillo and DeWitt hoe the weapons of the New War.  This was not a communion – it was battle.  

Of course I was not at odds with Nature -She’s my greatest Ally and raison pour l’existence.  But each of the 2000 seeds I sowed this morning were a statement that I want tomorrow to be different than today.  With those seeds I palpably stated that I want to bring into existence 50#’s of sustainably grown food that would not have been there without my labors.  I planted those seeds because I Give a Damn, to sell and barter to people that Give a Damn.  

And it is a routine that I and thousands of others will repeat every weekend for keep-fightingthe next 24 weeks.  I will break it up with tours and workshops to help the Movement gain more momentum.  I will blog about it to help others learn and to keep the discussion going.  I will learn from others and refine my techniques so that we can reliably produce surpluses of food with little to no non local inputs and support local markets sustainably.  Together we will win.

As made famous in the Battle of Seattle:

Your fist is the size of your heart – keep loving, keep fighting.


Be the Change.


5 Responses

  1. It was too damp here in Carolina for me to use my rototiller- this weekend I tilled 1500 square feet of garden beds with a hoe. No pain, all endorphins.

  2. I lust after a rototiller, even though I wouldn’t use it after the first year.

    I want a bumper sticker like that! I am something of a celebrity (as in tin foil hat celebrity) at work, talking about where our food comes from and why I don’t eat meat that comes from work, why I think the salad bar is a poor imitation of a real salad, etc. I sell my eggs from my 4 little chickens at work and have a waiting list even!

    People get it, they just don’t think they have time to make changes. My response is always, you make time for the things that are important to you, it just depends on what you think is important. One of my former charge nurses used to give me a hard time about baking bread, saying she could never have time for that. I gave her the No Knead NYT recipe. Still no bread for her though.

    I want a bumper sticker like that!!

  3. Tillers are nice. I have yet to make it to no till (mostly due to quack grass – I’ve seen it go through 36″ of mulch – I am not kidding), but in my market beds I am down to 1.5″ of tilling to prepare seed beds which leaves most of the soil critters alone.

    Great job on the eggs and evangelizing!

    Here is the link for the stickers:
    Herbivore Clothing

  4. I have no doubt that quack grass can penetrate three feet of mulch- bermuda grass does it in this warm climate.

    Winter cover crops don’t help much with bermuda grass- it is dormant in winter.

    What do you do to allow you to till so shallowly? I can do that in beds that I hand weed regularly, but it sounds like your market garden beds are fairly low maintenance.

  5. My Grillo Tiller has depth settings -the shortest depth is about 1.5″. This works for beds that are quack free and is used primarily to make a sed bed for my Earthway seeder to plant into. In the beds with quack I usually go through with a U-Bar digger first to loosen the soil and then literally hand pull the rhizomes. If I am transplanting I will transplant right into the loosened soil. If I am seeding I will hit it lightly with the tiller again.

    The Market Garden is low maintenance when I keep up with the weeding using wheel hoes, etc. When I don’t it is a nightmare -the soil is so fertile that the weeds grow about an inch a day in June/July if I let them.

    I am hoping to have good luck this year with Sudan Grass as a smother crop in Summer, and Crimson Clover in the Spring/Fall. It seems like 3 years of intense management can break quack from the soils.


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