When we first moved to the place that has become the Genuine Faux Farm, the first neighbor to approach us was an older woman who “only lived a half-mile or so away.” She brought cookies and invited us over for dinner when we were ready. It was a kind offer that we were, honestly, a bit startled, but still grateful, to receive. You see, in all of our other places of residence, we had not been welcomed by a neighbor – so we did not expect anything different this time around.
While we did not spend a great deal of time over the years with Ruth and her husband, Loren, we did do our best to be good neighbors to them, even when the farm and jobs made it difficult to carve out the time. This is the model we would like to be reality in rural Iowa all of the time. Neighbors welcoming and helping neighbors.
Today, Ruth’s grandson lives in the house down the road and we’re pleased to say that we also get along just fine. He recently gave us the “no spray” sign shown above that belonged to a mutual acquaintance named Sparky. Sparky approached us during our first year of farming when they learned we intended to follow organic practices and encouraged us to be strong advocates.
You might notice that it does all sorts of things to be “loud.” Exclamation points!! Capital letters! Underlining the word “NO!” Bright colors and even a neat little trick with a pair of eyes.
Sometimes, those of us who wish to raise food or work with the land in a way that is not reliant on chemicals find ourselves needing to be loud, even if we don’t like being loud. Otherwise, it feels like too many folks seem to believe it is okay if they infringe on the practices of growing that we are dedicating ourselves to following. In fact, we can sometimes become downright unpleasant if we find ourselves having to try to defend the small parcels of land we steward over and over and over again, with no discernible changes in behavior that might indicate we’ve been heard at all.
Sparky and his friend, Kent, were vocal and, sometimes, bitter, about pesticide drift and misapplication. Kent spoke passionately against the “aerial terrorists” that were becoming far more common in Iowa in the years just prior to his premature death in 2010. He and Sparky both encouraged us to hold our ground and do what we needed to do.
In the present day, we find ourselves with two legacies that we have agreed to follow. We believe in doing our best to be good, and considerate, neighbors. And, while we are not the same kind of loud as those before us, we still do what we can to get people to listen and consider better alternatives to chemical-based food production systems.
If you would like to learn about ways we are “being loud” at PAN, read on!
Thank you for being willing to consider my thoughts and words. Be well,
PAN’s Communications Manager
Owner/Operator, Genuine Faux Farm, Tripoli, IA
PAN is looking for a new Executive Director
If you haven’t already heard the news, Pesticide Action Network is in search of our next Executive Director. We are looking for an inspiring, collaborative, and thoughtful leader to work with a staff team of passionate advocates with a wide array of skills, strengths and backgrounds. Together, we will shape the next chapter of our nearly 40 year history. We wanted to share this opportunity with you because you might know someone who would be perfect for the job, or maybe you’re that person?
PAN is seeking an Executive Director with a deep commitment to transformational social change, who is skilled at engaging with diverse communities, exhibits cultural competency, and is open to ongoing learning. Sound like you or someone you know? Find the full job posting here, and please note the July 21 application deadline.
PAN’s website has a new look
If you haven’t visited our website recently, I would like to invite you to do so. The Communications Team at PAN, which includes yours truly, are pleased with the results. The resources that people value are easier to find and we will use the new design to provide more dynamic content that we can all use to make a difference as we do our best to “be loud” when it comes to our stand for agroecology and against chemical-based, corporate farming and food production.
We appreciate your feedback, including if you identify a problem with our website. Please feel free to contact us through the various access points you can find while you visit.
Perhaps you have already noticed if you are on some of the various social media platforms, but PAN has been producing more original content that combines excellent artwork by Mikhaila Markham with writing support by the Communications Team. One of our recent efforts has a specific relevance to Iowa.
We would like to encourage you to like and share these images to reach a wider audience so we can be louder when we speak about things that matter to us all. We can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Other things on my mind
It is still also possible to “be loud” with the written word. Even though this year’s Pollinator Week is in the rear-view mirror, pollinators have been very much on my mind recently. I thoroughly enjoyed doing an exploration of different pollinators that we often fail to appreciate. I didn’t stop there, also considering the role lawn diversity could have in supporting these pollinator populations in our world.
If we truly want to support pollinators in Iowa, we need to reconsider the use of seed treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. At the very least, the loophole that allows these treatments to remain unregulated needs to be closed. Perhaps we can take some ideas from recent legislation in Minnesota to inform future work here as we seek to be a bit louder about the possibilities of a better, and healthier, future in our state.