Title Edit: I am Not Saving the Earth!


This may seem like a strange disclaimer coming from a self-professed tree-hugging dirt worshipper and grower of fresh, local produce using organic and sustainable methods. So, let me explain…

I got a message from a Sioux Falls Argus Leader reporter yesterday indicating that for Earth Day, the paper is profiling a number of folks throughout the state who are doing things to help save the environment, and that Flying Tomato Farms and I as its owner/operator had been chosen for one of these profiles.

I thought, “Hey, free advertising!”

I did not think, “Hey, a chance to be an example to the huddled environment-degrading masses!”

So, I called her back and we did the basic interview about what I do and what I do not do when growing vegetables for my CSA members, farmers market customers, and my family.

Then came that final question.

“So, in your own words, what are you doing to save the environment?”

I kind of laughed a little. I was thinking, You know, you called me. I didn’t call you and say, ‘you should write about me because I’m helping to save the planet.’

I was thinking, ‘Um, I’m not trying to save the planet; I’m trying to grow some vegetables in the best way I know how.’

What I said in the end was that I grow all these vegetables because I like to eat them. I didn’t start a business to save the planet.

I started a farm business because a) I am incapable of keeping my hands out of the dirt, b) because I wanted to make a little money doing what I’d be doing anyway, c) because I like to eat great food, and d) because I like to feed other people great food–especially if I grew it myself.

Growing food, to me, is an act of love. Feeding people is an act of love.

It just so happens that fresh, local, sustainably-grown food is almost always the best food, and when you can feed people the very best food that you grew with your own hands, that seems like the ultimate act of love.

Feeding someone a Twinkie or a Coke or a Big Mac is not an act of love.

So, while I told the reporter some stuff about how I sell locally and how I use water conservation measures and reduce outside inputs, and don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, those are really the happy side effects of trying to grow the best food for my family and my community.

I don’t want to be an example. Those are too easy to dismiss. I do what I can though I’m under no impression that I do all I can–I try to drive less, recycle here and there, reuse stuff–little things.

But it seems to me that holding something or someone up is the first step in getting let down.

I guess if I am going to be made an example of, I would prefer to be one of many examples of what it is possible for a person to do rather than who or what a person should be.

I hope that’s how it comes across in the paper on Earth Day.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. As someone who is an environmentalist, I have to say, what you’ve written (and what you must be living) is quite beautiful. Farming as an act of love…I’ll have to think about that a bit.

    Thank you! And good luck with your farm.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on April 18, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for the comment!

    I edited the title on this because it’s not so much that I’m not an environmentalist, it’s that I don’t want to be held up as an example–to be either followed or reviled.

    Well, I’d better get back to transplanting…

    –re.

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