Last week was a special one. We had the opportunity to spend time with a really amazing scientific research team from the Ecdysis Foundation. Why were we excited to hang out with scientists studying bugs and soil? Let me share some of the backstory.
We first learned of Ecdysis’ founder, Dr. Jon Lundgren, about 10 years ago. He became famous in our regenerative farming world when the USDA tried to stifle his research on the effects of pesticides on honey bees and the environment. Months before, he had won a Presidential Award for outstanding scientific research and was awarded a medal by the President, but when he started presenting information that challenged Big Ag’s chemicals, he was suddenly the bad guy.
Jon knew his research was solid and he fought back. After a legal battle, he eventually left his job as an entomologist with the USDA and started his own farm and independent research lab in South Dakota.
I remember the first time I heard Jon speak at my favorite farming conference in 2018. I sat in the back and wept. His research about chemicals harming the environment, which was then silenced, made my heart sink. How was this really happening?
It’s been inspiring to watch Jon over the years and see where his research is going. Their current project is the 1,000 Farms Initiative. According to their website they understand that “modern industrial agriculture faces threats to production of nutritious and sufficient food for our nation and the world, made more acute in the face of a changing climate. Bold change is needed to save ourselves and our planet, and that change is needed now.”
We were honored for our farm to participate in the 1,000 Farms Initiative. At 2:00 pm on a 103 degree day, their team spent two hours in our fields measuring soil temperatures, water infiltration, insect counts, soil samples, and more.
Our son, Luke, even learned how to suck bugs through a straw into a vial!
While having scientists study our farm was special, the best part was getting to share meals with them. We laughed and talked and ate a lot of food.
Yes, their studies are important, but what is more important is building community. I cannot change Big Ag or a broken food system, but I can invite people into my home for meals and love those at my table.
Their visit was a good reminder of how everything is connected. We cannot just focus on studying or healing the soil. We need to heal the people and the community as well.
Healthy soil + healthy food + healthy people + healthy communities = healthy world.
What Can I Do?
It can feel overwhelming to be enlightened about the big hurdles our planet and food systems face. In all honestly, I spent several years feeling completely overwhelmed by it, often even a bit paralyzed. Our human nature is to do something. Here are a few options.
1. Vote with your money
Where we spend money matters. Buying food directly from farmers or supporting organizations like Ecdysis matters. Their 1,000 Farms Initiative is the most extensive research project ever conducted on regenerative farms. They anticipate a paradigm shift in the way food is produced in this country, and they want to have answers ready for farmers when they are ready to farm in nature’s image. You can support their project here.
2. Start where you can. Small steps matter.
When we’re facing a global problem, it’s hard to know where to start. The little steps do matter. Plant a tree. Compost your food waste instead of throwing it into the trash. Continue to inform yourself and those around you. It takes a TON of work to educate yourself about real food; it takes time and baby steps. Grow a garden. Put up a bird house. Every step makes a difference.
3. Build Community
Be intentional about building community. I truly believe this is the most important of all. Almost every living thing in nature needs a community. The trees talk to each other and rely on each other. The microbes in the soil talk to each other and rely on each other. We’ve forgotten that humans are part of nature and we need each other, too.
Invite people over for a meal. If a meal is too much work, invite the neighbors over for some cold watermelon on a hot afternoon. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Next time you’re in the middle of cooking a meal and you realize you’re out of something, ask if you can borrow it from the neighbor instead of making a special trip to the store. We need each other!
As we collectively experience these hot, hot days, I hope we take time to think about what the earth is saying to us, to take action where possible, and to connect with others.