I hardly know where to begin. I am so far behind on all the wildly magical things going on in our life that this Summer has somehow morphed into Fall. I can hardly recall a year that has gone so quickly in my adult life.
I’ve always said I could be a professional student if only I was independently wealthy. Well, We’re still not independently wealthy, but we have somehow begun building a life that is allowing me to explore my passions and get paid. I pinch myself occasionally. Is this really me, getting to do this?
Pharmacy has been good to me ya’ll, but it’s no walk in the park. There is a reason it’s listed among the Top 10 Professions most likely to commit suicide. It’s a high stress job with long hours and demands 100% perfection. No surprise that the burnout rate is also remarkable. I am tremendously blessed with a husband who enjoys his job and has encouraged me to pursue what pulls at my heart. It is a gift he has given me this year… and a timely one at that!
At the end of September, I was fortunate enough to attend The 2017 Farm & Food Leadership Conference. Blessedly, this national event was held in nearby McKinney, Texas.
FARFA…. Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance is a national organization supporting independent family farmers. It works to protect a healthy and productive food supply for American consumers. FARFA is an advocate for independent farmers, ranchers, livestock owners, and homesteaders, as well as the consumers who support them.
Ya’ll, you’d hardly think this organization would be necessary. We all need food and farmers. Shouldn’t it be easy to farm enough nutritious food to feed our huddled masses? Let these statistics sink in:
- The average age of a farmer in the United States is 65 (in Texas it’s 58)
- Soil depletion (of minerals) and hybridization of seeds has decreased the nutritional value of commercial fruits and vegetables by 50-70%.
- The GDP spent on healthcare used to be 2.5%. It is now a whopping 18%, due largely to quality of food.
- Farmers too rank in the Top 10 Professions most likely to commit suicide.
- Non-sustainable farming practices expose farmers and farm families to a tremendous amount of chemicals including (but not limited to) pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Farmers have an elevated risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma and soft tissue sarcoma. They also have higher rates of brain cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and various Auto Immune Disorders.
This AMAZING Conference covered so many facets of Farm to Table Education. There were so many education opportunities, but not nearly enough time to attend each session. I settled on those that pertained directly to our farm and the direction we are headed.
- Q&A Session on Cooperatives
- Growing sustainable grains (not surprisingly, Einkorn Wheat was a large part of this discussion… one of the reasons Young Living remains committed to producing healthy grain options for its members)
- Activating your Microbiota for Health (So excited to see this topic offered at a farm conference!!) This is truly one of the most important things we can do to be healthy, and it is the reason I offer monthly Gut Health Classes .
- Opportunities for Military Veterans and Young Farmers. Did you know that there are really some amazing opportunities offered to those who want to farm but have no idea how or where to start? There are even opportunities (in the form of grants, education, low interest loans, and equipment for disabled farmers) available thru various programs. Healing (both emotional and physical) occurs when you connect with the earth. This is not some new age mumbo jumbo…. this is real scientific fact.
- Fermentation techniques taught by the incredible Nancy Falster of Falster Farms. Gut health again!!! I LOVE IT! Fermented foods were incorporated into the food supply for thousands of years in every single culture. Modern culture had nearly eliminated it, to the detriment of our gut health… I hope it’s making a comeback!
- Alternative revenue streams for small farmers. This falls right into our vision for our farm. It’s too early to reveal what is in my heart, but this topic was so interesting and helpful. City folk are simply craving connection with their food and with nature. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had people come thru our gates and tell us they experience a type of peace (on our farm) they don’t normally feel in their day to day lives.
- Sustainable home gardening. I felt like we are ahead of the curveball on this topic. We are the king and queen of composting, and are figuring out what works for organic pest control around here.
- 20 other topics ranging from Legislative policy to Home Brewing and Distilling.
I almost forgot… the most amazing Farm to Table dinner too. This was our first, but it won’t be our last. Dinner for about 150 people at Pure Land Organic Farm , catered by the incredible sustainably (and locally) sourced ingredient restaurant in McKinney: Harvest .
Connecting people with a common bond. Farmers, Ranchers, Nutritionists, Chefs, Sociologists and Anthropologists, Beekeepers, Backyard gardeners with a vision, Inner City gardeners with a plan for their community. This event paid no heed to political affiliation, ethnicity, age, or religious beliefs. Our goal is the same. To learn. To provide sustainable nutritious food for the body, mind, and soul to all walks of life. Breaking bread together never tasted so good.