“Hard, awful things happen in this broken world. Nothing we can do will change that fact. Bad things happen, and they will happen to good people we love, or to us.” [Forward Day by Day]
“Those who love us will miss us.” -Keanu Reeves
“Identification with suffering might just be non-dual thinking in its most active and proactive form and why nonviolence demands such a high level of transformation. Our resistance to suffering is an entire industry now, perhaps symbolized by the total power of the gun lobby and the permanent war economy in America, the fear of any profit sharing with the poor, or the need to be constantly entertained. Maybe that is why some have said that the foundational virtue underlying al others is courage (“cor-agere” = an action of the heart). It takes immense courage to walk in solidarity with the suffering of there’s, and even our own.” -Fr. Richard Rohr
As an inlet cannot close itself to the sea that shapes it, the heart can only wear itself open.
“One of the hardest blessings to accept about the heart is that in the image of life itself, it will not stop emerging through experience. No matter how we try to preserve or relieve what has already happened, the heart will not stop being shaped. It knows that the only way to truly remember or stay whole is to take the best and worst into its tissue.
Despite all our intentions not be hurt again, the heart keeps us going by moving us ever forward into health. Though we walk around thinking we can direct it, our heart is endlessly shaped like the land, often against our will.” -Mark Nepo
How an Oregon Rancher is Building Soil Health—and a Robust Regional Food System
Fourth-generation rancher Cory Carman holistically manages 5,000-acres which serve as a model for sustainable meat operations in the Pacific Northwest.
Carman Ranch began as a few hundred acres Carman’s great-great-grandfather Jacob Weinhard—nephew to the legendary Northwest beer brewer Henry Weinhard—bought for his son Fritz in the early 1900s. Under Carman’s watch, the operation now spans 5,000 acres of grasslands, timbered rangeland, and irrigated valley ground nestled against the dramatic peaks of the Wallowa Mountains. Hawks, eagles, and wildlife greatly outnumber people in this isolated northeastern corner of the state, originally home to the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of the Nez Perce tribe.
Distinct from most cattle operations in the U.S., Carman’s cattle are 100 percent grass-fed well as grass-finished. (The term “grass-fed” is not regulated, so it can mean that animals have only been briefly pastured before they’re sent to a factory feedlot to be finished.) The ranch primarily produces cattle and pigs, which it mostly markets to wholesale accounts, though it sells a lesser amount of meat as “cow shares”—or quarters of beef ranging from 120 to 180 pounds purchased directly by consumers.
Equally if not more important to Carman, however, is the focus on what she calls the “holistic management” of her land. This involves constantly moving the cattle and paying careful attention to the rate of growth of the animals and grasses. By this system, the steers select the forages they need to grow and gain weight, and the grasses get clipped, trampled down, and fertilized with manure, resulting in fields that are vibrant—they retain water, resist drought, contain abundant organic matter, which contributes nutrients and carbon, and are highly productive without the addition of fertilizer.
Mid-Sized Farms Are Disappearing. This Program Could Reverse the Trend.
A new ‘Ag of the Middle’ program helps small producers scale up so that they can compete in a food system designed to benefit larger farms.
“If we don’t invest in beginning farmers and the advancement of our family farms, and if we don’t put checks on increasing consolidation in agriculture, we’re going to be at risk of losing the ag of the middle entirely,” said Juli Obudzinski, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Interim Policy Director, in a recent statement. “Seventy-five percent of all agricultural sales are now coming from just 5 percent of operations.”
Over the years, a number of experts have written books and formed think tanks to address agriculture’s shrinking middle, but as many of the men and women running the remaining mid-sized farms are looking toward retirement, the most important question may be how to best help farmers like the Menchinis grow to take their place.
The Ag of the Middle Accelerator Program from Portland-based nonprofit Ecotrust aims to do just that. The two-year program helps smaller farms, ranches, and fishermen grow to gross between $100,000 to $3 million. And it hopes to build a model that can be borrowed and reproduced all around the country.
Expanding The Shrinking Middle
While there are no hard and fast rules dictating farm size, mid-size operations tend to be regional, somewhat diverse operations that negotiate prices with their customers in restaurant, retail, or at institutions, while large farms are typically less diverse, operate globally, and make millions selling to processors, brokers, or distributors for a price that is set by the market.