I participated in the PlacerGROWN farm conference today at Lincoln High School. This annual gathering of small farmers is sponsored by our local small farm marketing organization, and it features workshops on a variety of topics. This year's key note speaker was Lynn Miller, editor and publisher of the Small Farmer's Journal, a quarterly publication dedicated to sustainable, and mostly animal-powered, farming. I feel fortunate to count Lynn as a friend. During his presentation, Lynn said something that will stick with me for a long time:
"The only stunningly original idea we've had as a species is to grow our own food."
I've been thinking about it all day. In many ways, the idea that we could cultivate the soil and husband livestock was (and is) revolutionary. Our ability to grow food for others makes everything else we think of as "culture" possible.
As Lynn and I were talking after the conference, it's hard to be pessimistic after such a gathering of small-scale growers. I think farmers, by nature, are optimists - you can't put a seed in the ground or turn a ram in with a bunch of ewes and be anything but optimistic. I always come away from this gathering energized and ready to face the new growing season. I feel so fortunate to be part of a community of farmers!