All of a sudden the green realm around these parts is popping. This sphere of dirt and air and light and water humming with the mysterious sparking spirit that beckons life from the depths of winter. The budding trees and upward pushing perennials send out a kinetic quaking that creates a similar quickening in me. In one week gone is the laid back farmer. All of a sudden, it’s time to work this thing.
I spent a pleasant few hours dancing “the circular track of the plow ever knowing” (1), preparing the dirt for our early spring veggies and the forty-five pounds of potato seeds I ordered – we will not run out this year: so mote it be! I am in love with my Troy-Bilt tiller and in love with the act of turning ground. Meditation.
We are finishing the installation of a cedar post and black vinyl coated chicken wire fence. I have learned how to use a post-hole digger and as we are sinking the fence at the bottom to keep out the rabbits, I’ve also shouldered a Pulaski forester’s axe and can dig a pretty mean fire line. Phew! Hard work. Satisfying.
Indoors I started my first ever seedling nursery. Cool stuff – tomatoes and broccoli are already up and so freaking cute. I used cardboard egg cartons so I’m hoping to simply plant them straight in the ground.
All of these activities beg future discussion, but they aren’t what wants telling this week. So here goes.
I happened upon the blog of the Libertarian Alliance, interested in a Keith Preston article (2) they were discussing. Fascinating article and I decided, what the hell, I’d muck around in the land of comment boxes and thank them for posting. Long story short, this led to learning I am part of a social movement called “neo-pastoralism” (or “the joss-stick people,” whichever you prefer).
Always a trip to be stereotyped (particularly following an article that finds great cause for alarm in the government classification of citizens into “official victim” groups – such as by gender, race or sexual orientation), but again, that’s not what wants telling this week.
I usually go about my own business. I follow the voices in my head, not the latest trends. I am always pleasantly surprised to learn that my choices are in line with a larger group. So when I heard the term neo-pastoralism, I was cheered. Me thinks we are on to something . . ..
So what is neo-pastoralism? As best I can figure out, the gentleman at the Libertarian Alliance wasn’t saying I’m a shepherd. I think, rather, that he intends by the term those among us who apply pastoralist principles in a modern agricultural context. At essence, pastoralism is the art of utilizing resources efficiently and sustainably in concert with your local biosphere. That we do this in modern times means we may do so increasingly in an urban or non-traditional agricultural setting. Certainly we are working with the resources not wanted by industrial agriculture.
Then again, perhaps he simply meant that I am a lover of the land and that I write about Nature and the lessons found there. It matters not to me which we go with as I suspect both will net the same positive outcome.
What matters, as I said earlier, is that this means I’m not alone. And in the week when the news came down from the Manhattan Federal District Court that Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed the case of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto (3), I want to feel our numbers.
Yes, there will be an appeal. But in truth, this fight won’t be won in the courtroom. Its battleground is instead any scrap of earth (or rooftop terrace modified to stand in as that scrap of earth) that will bear non-Monsanto fruit. So till away my fellow neo-pastoralists! The green realm calls for you – let this year’s skirmish begin! I’m heartened to know that we might be further along in winning this war than I’d previously thought.
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2012.