Farmer John’s Column, December

Becoming Jeffersons people.

Thank God its over. The political junkies among us probably have a hang over about now. Don’t worry the space between elections seems to be getting shorter. For those who live for this , just take a deep breath and dive right back in. I ,for one can’t wait for the ugly ads on radio and tv to be over. Its the vitriol and  the tribalism I don’t care for. The fact is we have to discuss it, hash it out and make decisions. How will we do that?

I didn’t vote in my early years. I admit it. I thought it was too corrupt for me to even participate. Nixon resigned while I was in High School. I saw one of my older brothers friends come back from Viet Nam with no legs and a drug habit. Then  I watched as my chosen career vanished before my eyes because of politics. I was training to be a solar builder. After the election of 1980 a major percentage of all solar industries went out of business . This was due to the big money behind the scenes from the oil industry influencing politics. I was forced to choose a different career , much to my chagrin. I just worked for money instead for values and money. That is ,until I came to to organic agriculture some years later.

I vote now. I have voted regularly since I first heard “ The Thomas Jefferson Hour” on the radio. This is a thought provoking, intelligent and sometimes inspirational show on 89.5 fm WHRV  public radio. It airs locally at 1:00 on tuesdays . Its worth planning your lunch around it.Clay Jenkinson is the brains behind the show. He often does the first half of the show portraying Thomas Jefferson. While in character he will answer questions about our time from the perspective of T.J. and his beliefs and opinions. Its as if he has time traveled to us from 1776 to answer our questions.  I was galvanized . I began to vote. I knew this democratic experiment was worth my time and thought. I realized I had an ally in politics, albeit one from another time. Please set aside for the moment his faults . Of course he had them. He was of his time . He was , none the less a genius, a practical visionary and essential to our countries founding.

You can guess why I like him. I am a farmer . Thomas Jefferson was struggling and arguing for this to be a nation built on a population of educated farmer citizens . Maybe they could even debate in greek or latin. Small government and whenever possible de -centralized decision making. And he wanted as little intervention in the affairs of other nations as possible. I am , of course , over simplifying this and his views. The point is we need to adapt some of his views for our time and we need it desperately . Especially the farming part. While we were arguing and shouting and sending accusatory posts ( often untrue )at each other, pro and con Pes. Trump, some big news came in. The United Nations just issued another report on the seriousness of climate change and how it is worse than previously thought. I am guessing most people did not pay much attention to that.

A nation committed to agriculture may have a chance of survival. Quote -Farmer John. And here I must be specific. I mean carbon catching, sustainable, regenerative farming. With this type of farming we can sequester as much as 40% of the co2 in the atmosphere, by most estimates.In the process of photosynthesis and good farm practices we put it back in the soil from whence it came. And many other benefits accrue from there. The carbon catching alone makes it worthy of being a major national goal. And if , in the process, we make our food system more local regional and decentralized  we are on the way to becoming Jeffersons people. Add to that our improvements from 1776 like having all races and genders in the halls of congress and we’ really have something.

Maybe we can start a new political party- The farm Party. It has a nice ring to it and it sounds fun. In the meantime go out of your way to support your local farmers. Do what you can to save water. Send a thank you note to your worms and soil microbes. Support politicians who support local and organic agriculture. Support initiatives which help us become more environmentally friendly. Take your own cloth bags to the farmers market and other stores. Be kind to people even when you dis agree on stuff.. Thomas Jefferson was always polite.  And grow a garden. I can help with that if you need it.

By John Wilson