Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sustainability is a Relationship


To me sustainability is a relationship and any working, thriving relationship relies on communication.  Whether it's a friend, girlfriend, tree, family member, carrot, employer etc the strength and vitality of that relationship will rely on some form of communication.   To clarify, this does not necessarily mean verbal communication.  Taking from the old saying, "it's not what you say it's how you say it,"  I can remember visiting Venezuela, as an insecure 6 or 7 year old that felt so confused and disconnected because I did not speak a word of Spanish, but yet found friends and laughed harder than ever.  There was something outside of the language and it doesn't seem to be any different than the communication we need to have with our land and food, in order to have a strong sustainable relationship.  I think it has become very obvious that our nation's agricultural system has dismissed this idea of communication.  Instead we've replaced a continuous, complex, conversation with "we know best" and stopped listening.  This concept of definitive and exact understanding of something as dynamic and fickle as nature is becoming counterintuitive, the more I learn about farming.  I've heard a lot of people associate sustainability with having to give up something in order to have a more sustainable relationship with our food i.e. lower yields, more pest problems, more people without access to affordable food, but I think it's just the opposite because when you really love and want something to work for the long term, we don't give anything up, we are actually gaining something much more valuable and long lasting.  A few months ago I posted a TED talk from Dan Barber, Executive Chef and Co-owner of Blue Hill restaurant which is located on the property of Stone Barns, the farm I currently work on.  His talk was about a sustainable fish farm in Spain.  A great storyteller, this time he uses another interesting and unique example from his personal experience to show the incentives and beauty of sustainability.  


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