I recently was asked to speak at “Local APX Market,” in Appomattox, on the subject of “What is sustainable agriculture and why should we care about it?”. This is a great topic, and I thought I would share some of what I shared with them.
To start, we need to define the word “sustainable”.
Sustainable basically means that something is able to continue on year after year.
In my opinion, there are 4 main areas that come into play when we apply this to farming and food.
First, the one we associate most with this term is environmental sustainability. In order for us to keep farming year after year we need to be able to, at minimum, maintain the quality of the land, plants, air, water etc. Ideally they should be getting better year after year, so that our children, grandchildren, and so on, may continue to live in a healthy world.
Second, it must be sustainable lifestyle wise. If I as a farmer am wearing myself thin just trying to keep things afloat, then it will not be able to continue. If farmers like myself want to have farms that continue on year after year, then we need to make sure it is structured in such a way that allows us to not be burned out to the point we are unable to keep going on.
Third, it must be economically sustainable. If it does not make a profit, it is not sustainable long term. Honestly I couldn’t care less about money. I wish I could grow food and give it all away for free. But like it or not, money is what makes the world go around, and if you run out of it you can’t continue, and therefore the farm is not sustainable.
Lastly, it must be sustainable nutrition wise. If food is making us more sick, that can only continue for so long. Instead, it must be making us well. As you all know, just because we have a full belly doesn’t mean the food is healthy! We need to be eating food that is rich in nutrients, not just food that fills us up. So if the food is not making people better and better, then it won’t be able to continue year after year.
So, to sum all of that up, I believe that a sustainable farm is one where the land and animals improve year after year, the people involved are able to live a generally good life, and it results in high quality nutrient dense food that brings health to our bodies.
But, one of the most important things for making a farm sustainable is amazing customers! If it were not for wonderful folks like you I would not be able to continue.
Some days, when things are tough, I feel like giving up. But remembering that I have wonderful people like you who depend on me for wholesome food, helps keep me going another day!
Thank you so much for supporting me!