Over the past few years my colleagues and I have drawn from our own experiences, research materials, knowledge of other colleagues/acquaintances – as well as life and farming intuition – to develop what we first titled ‘ A Handbook for Agro-ecological Practices on Specialty Farms’.
In a larger context (over the past 20 years) we’ve worked with colleagues, farmers, scientist, economist, etc. to provide tools and methods to evaluate land and land use. Those methods and tools, primarily scientific and technical, have been designed to allow a more conscious and comprehensive ethic for land use decisions.
The interest in our work has been narrow and limited…..and I think there are numerous cultural conditions which explain the limited interest.
Since July of this year, I see our past work in a much different light. Recent political, economic, and personal events have changed my perception. Those events have also given the work a more compelling validity.
As a young person, my father had a printing and small publishing business. His typesetter, Joseph Dickson, spent a good bit of his life working on a volume based upon his belief that the Book of Revelations was – at its heart – a farmer’s almanac.
Ever since that experience I have often interpreted the Gospels as metaphors for nature (and the workings of nature).
I have come to see our agro-ecological work as a very particular ‘order of existence’.
Our work is an ethical set of behaviors and practices within a specific societal situation (our community).
We have worked diligently toward defined, justified beliefs – rather than opinion.
The knowledge we derive cannot be generalized. It is location specific.
The methods for deriving the behaviors and practices, however, could be used in any location. The resulting ‘order of existence’ will vary dramatically based upon local conditions. There will also be certain practice truths that will remain relevant to diverse locations.
Our work is both agricultural and religious. It respects Berry’s Solving for Pattern in Agriculture. It holds possibilities for rural communities.