I’ve decided to interrupt the story of our farm acquisition for the reasons behind our move. While my sweet husband (SH) and I each have our own individual reasons for moving to another state and starting a sustainable farm and educational outreach program, I think most of our reasons are the same.
My decision to become a public school teacher was based largely on my belief that a public system of education is the single greatest insurer of equality in our democracy. I was further influenced to teach by my belief that all people deserve equality of opportunity. All people deserve to be treated with dignity. All people deserve to live their lives to their fullest potential. I believe as a teacher I have contributed to the overall quality of my students’ lives and to their development as fully enfranchised citizens of our democracy. As a teacher I’ve had the opportunity to literally travel all over the world. Each place I’ve visited, from Mexico, to India, to South Africa, has reaffirmed my desire to use my life to help promote and uphold the dignity of my fellow citizens of the globe. And, my travels have reaffirmed for me the interconnectedness of my everyday actions and decisions and the lives of people I may never meet on the other side of the globe. What I choose to build my house out of, the food I choose to eat, the clothes I choose to wear, the way I choose to invest my money all impact the economies, environment, and lives of every other person living on the globe. I now realize that no matter what good I contribute to my local, or to the global, community through my work as a teacher, if I am not a conscious consumer in every single aspect of my life, then I am doing harm to both others and myself.
The first part of my desire to live more sustainably comes from having seen first hand the scarcity of resources and freedom in some regions of the world and the quantity of resources and freedom that I as an American have access to. The second part of my desire to live more sustainably comes from the fact that I believe the problems that we are currently facing throughout the world due to the economic crisis are the direct result of unchecked greed and a deliberate assault on the basic human dignity of people everywhere. It is our goal as we move out to the farm to live within our means, live sustainably, and to provide others with the opportunity to do the same.
The farm will have two major components. First, sustainably raised, grass fed, heritage animals who live out their lives enjoying fresh air and sunshine, dining on a healthy variety of grasses that their bodies are naturally programmed to digest, and when it comes time for those animals to give up their lives for the consumption of humans, dying with dignity as a contribution to a local, sustainable food chain. Our chickens will live glorious chicken lives, our sheep will live as sheep were meant to live, our pigs will have the opportunity to fully explore the talents that are genetically imbedded within them. Thus they will contribute to a slow food chain where both consumer and consumed are treated respectfully and with dignity. Genetically modified, hormone fed, confined, and inhumanely slaughtered food products undermine the health of those who consume them in addition to taking a tremendous toll on the environment. And yet large corporations have been successfully selling the idea of better living through chemistry and Franken-foods to the point that Americans eat more and consume less overall nutrients than ever before. Our goal is to provide healthful, nutritious, conscientiously raised and consumed foods to our local community. Whenever we can we also hope to be able to bring healthful food to populations of people who might not normally have access to it.
The second component of our farm will be an interactive immersion experience designed to help students of all ages understand the living conditions and levels of poverty around the world and how our decisions as consumers can affect in very direct ways the lives of people we may never get a chance to meet.
Today is the holiday set aside to honor the life and pioneering work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today I am particularly cognizant of the fact that my every action and decision can either promote peace in my community and the world, or it can be a part of larger institutional systems that oppress and subjugate. I choose to attempt to honor the dignity and equality of all people by making decisions that consider more than just their effect on my own personal well being