I have been watching, on and off throughout the last few weeks, as one of our neighbors methodically removes all of the bushes and small trees that populate a fence line between their field and another neighbor’s field.
The need for local food resources is a topic I find myself writing about frequently. As a farmer who maintains a small-scale, diversified operation, I often share my fear that farms like mine cannot be successful without community support.
I was invited to the celebration and I wanted to participate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had just announced that “it will stop the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food to better protect human health…” This is what PAN and many partnering organizations have been working on for years. Getting here has not been easy, and people are understandably ready to give a sigh of relief and enjoy the feeling of a job well done.
A self-sustaining and resilient farm is one that welcomes diversity. Diversity in the products it offers and the enterprises it undertakes. Diversity in the soil. Diversity in the plant and animal life. Diversity in the people that work to keep living farms living.
Fields in our area have seen passes for the application of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, some of which occurred on days where wind conditions exceeded levels for safe application and temperatures were conducive to vapor drift. Now, we are entering the application timeframe for insecticides and fungicides and the planes, helicopters, and ground rigs will be conspicuous for most of Iowa’s rural population.
I farm, and I am acutely aware of the role soil plays in my life as a grower of food. Healthy soils provide my farm with pasture areas for our laying hens so they can forage, enjoying some clover and chasing various insects in a plant-diverse landscape. I rely on these same soils to provide the foundation necessary for the green beans, cucumbers, and other vegetables we grow each season.
The challenges and the promise of Spring
Spring in Iowa seems to like sneaking in and out of the room when we’re not looking. Veterans of several Iowa Aprils weren’t fooled by the early warmth, even if they were like me — beginning to feel hopeful that we wouldn’t have to worry about the poultry water freezing. However, things will warm up again and those apple trees will soon be in bloom.
Since our last Iowa News, we have had to manage our way through some very cold weather, and I suspect many of you would agree with me that we’ve had enough of it for now! I am not terribly unhappy to see the snow melt, even if it means the beginning of “mud season” on the farm.
'Tis the season that small farms in the Midwest, such as ours, begin to feel the pressure that is building for the coming year.
The Iowa Legislative Session is underway, and PAN’s Iowa team is working to assess how we can best participate in the process. With the ongoing pandemic, there are adjustments to be made to navigate contact with lawmakers.