|Illustration from Nourish Water.|
By Noah Bogdonoff
What does it mean to be organic? To shoppers, the word guarantees the freshness and safety of their food. To the USDA, it is a strict set of rules by which the organization can direct consumers to the most healthily raised food products. To farmers, its meaning is much more complex. Better Farm's interns on Thursday came face-to-face with some of the most inspiring and complex issues surrounding the world of organics at Cross IslandFarms on Wellesley Island.
Dani Baker and David Belding own Cross Island Farms. Though the land has been in use since the mid-1800s, the Bakers bought it seven seasons ago with no inclination to become full-time farmers. Since then, their “farming habit” has turned into a CSA, dozens of animals including goats, cows, pigs, ducks, and chickens, and a burgeoning foray into eco-tourism through guided tours of the land and “primitive” campsites.
Of course, these efforts feed into one another. As David explains, every animal has a job on the farm that extends beyond producing eggs, milk, or meat. The Bakers practice rotational grazing, meaning that they constantly shift their animals’ pastures in an order that promotes fertile land and high levels of biodiversity. In addition to creating prime land for vegetable gardening, this type of farming shelters the Bakers’ livelihood from typical blights such as the previously blogged-about armyworm. By breeding a diverse and hearty selection of plants and animals, they’ve eliminated the risk of one disaster ruining an entire crop or killing an entire herd.
Beyond the practical, however, Dani and David’s farming methods exemplify an extremely important attitude towards life. Their 100+ acres, which include many areas of Class 2 protected wetlands, grow more fertile and more diverse with each new season. The Bakers are not just living off of the land—the land is living off of them. The goal? To not just maintain the integrity of the earth they live on, but to improve it.
At Better Farm, that is what organic means—not just a certification, but rather a philosophy and methodology that ensures our presence as a boon to the land, the wildlife, and the people that surround it.