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Labour Day Musings from Katrina

posted on

September 6, 2018

Dear Friends and customers,

           Two weeks ago I gave a short talk at an Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario dinner. As I prepared for the talk it got me thinking about how essential our work is as organic and ecological farmers. Food is the underpinning of society. Unless food is produced in a manner that maintains the ecological health of the land and water it depends on for its productivity it will fail and society with it. When I was in University 45 years ago there were studies that showed that “modern industrial agriculture” was using 10 calories of energy as inputs of machinery, fertilizer, pesticides and in the industrial food system to put 1 calorie of food energy on a plate. Our modern agriculture is a remarkable inefficient way to turn fossil fuels into food.  “Pre-industrial food systems” had a range of energy returned for energy invested that went from 5 to 50 – that is for every calorie invested in human and animal labour, saved seeds and equipment somewhere between 5 and 50 calories of food were produced. As we respond to climate change we need to develop an agriculture that turns sunlight into food using a lot less oil.

            One of the hopeful and exciting things for me is that an ecological/regenerative agriculture offers us so much. If you are concerned about climate change an agriculture that builds soil organic matter is actively sequestering carbon while at the same time building a soil that is more effective at dealing with both drought and deluge. If species diversity is your interest a small diversified farm provides far more habitat and food for a myriad of plants and animals above ground and soil micro-organisms below. If you want food quality and nutrient density a biologically active soil is the place to start producing healthy plants and animals.  I am proud of the work we’ve done and know there is still much to learn and do to create a regenerative agriculture. I want to thank you for your support of our efforts as customers and friends. I am pleased that Katrina is interested in carrying on this work. At times it is hard physically and mentally. At times it is worrying as climate disruption makes our weather less reliable. But it is important work and gratifying to see both the changes on our farm and the growing awareness in our society. I’m glad to share the journey with you.

Be well,

Tony McQuail

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