Although it wasn’t a big surprise on touring the inspiring Restoration Farm in Old Bethpage (Nassau County), it was satisfying to see the essential message of Wendell Berry in precisely five words on a sign in a farm building where CSA (community supported agriculture) farm shares are picked up by the fortunate Long Islanders, who are a part of Restoration Farm’s community of mindful eaters: Eating is an agricultural act.
The husband and wife team of Daniel Holmes and Caroline Fanning founded Restoration Farm twelve years ago in 2007. Their seven-acre farm is leased from Nassau County at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a living history museum that recreates 19th century life on Long Island. The village consists of 36 houses, barns and buildings dating from 1660 through 1875.
This Long Island farm doesn’t use herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. Instead, the farm relies on the time-honored methods of crop rotation, cover cropping, and composting to maintain soil fertility and to combat weeds and disease. These time-honored methods have been recognized of late as one major answer to combatting global warming.
Dr. Laura Lengnick’s Resilient Agriculture, Cultivating Food Systems For A Changing Climate conveys a message of hope, rooted in ecologically sound sustainable agriculture. Restoration Farm on Long Island is part of the solution to the unprecedented challenges of climate change.
In contrast, polluting industrial farms have externalized the cost of their practices for far too long according to Dr. Catherine Kling, an environmental economist at Cornell University. In Polluting Farmers Should Pay (New York Times, 8/25/19) she spotlights a dead zone, about the size of New Jersey, in the Gulf of Mexico. The cause? Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, the bulk of which comes from agricultural fertilizer and manure runoff, has resulted in harmful algal blooms in all 50 states according to the United States Environmental Agency’s analysis of Harmful Algal Blooms, cited by Dr. Kling.
Mindful eating is also the answer to reversing the extraordinary statistic that nearly 60 percent of all adults in the United States suffer from one or more chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Sarah Reinhardt, the lead analyst for food systems and health in the Union of Concerned Scientist’s Food and Environment Program, in Preserving the Science in Our Dietary Guidelines (Catalyst, Summer 2019), notes succinctly:
Research shows that many of these diseases are caused at least in part by poor diet. Most people fall far short of consuming the daily recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They also eat too much sugar, refined grains, sodium, and processed meats.
Simply stated, another positive result of Restoration Farm’s praiseworthy agricultural practices is a pathway to good health for Long Islanders, who by participating in the farm’s CSA can maintain a diet of fresh foods carefully grown.
Restoration Farm is currently offering a fall Farm Share, eight weeks of fresh and hardy fall vegetables, Sept 3-Oct 26, with half shares available and pick-you-own flowers and herbs included. Even in the heart of suburban Long Island, where organic farmland is in short supply, a delicious way to better health and to take personal action to combat global warming is awaiting more mindful eaters.
(Frank W. Barrie, 8/30/19)