Saturday, July 09, 2016


Meet "Little Charles" --A really smart and modern farmer in Northern Louisiana.

He farms 5000 acres of corn and soy beans.

With the aid of this super duper, electronically responsive, self driving equipment

and his strapling, equally bright son on the left. (the lady is my sister--the guy in red won the lottery 20 years ago and just amuses himself)

Now meet Tom Dixon--a retired contractor, who got "seized with the miracle of things growing."

and bought this 3 acre farm south of Santa Fe, New Mexico and started a COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE project. Dozens of his neighbors pay $25 for a share of the vegetables grown here.  Each receives a heaping basket  every two weeks. The surplus is taken to a farmers market and sold.
One interesting feature is that people are given the option to work for their share of food or be paid to work.  He hires teenagers at a fair wage.

That's my longtime friend Bushrod leading me to the tomato greenhouse.  I was complaining that I'd not tasted a delicious tomato since Mexico.  Just at that moment a hand reached me a tomato from inside the doorway.  I ate!  It was delicious.  Tom then introduced himself and explained that these were a very special hybrid species from Monsanto and each seed cost about 30 cents.

We walked the 3 acres, marveling at the variety being grown.  There were 2 ladies pulling carrots.
Notice the drip irrigation system. Water is precious here and treated with respect.

I turned to the south and was "smitten" by this magnificent tree.  Something akin to love and wonder swelled up in me.  I hope you've had a similar experience.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Bushrod is so enamored of this tiny farm, the taste and quality of the organic vegetables it produces, the intelligent use of water, the non use of pesticides or fertilizers, (uses composts)  using garden debris for chicken fodder, eggs as a by-product, Farmers market sales of the surplus etc---that he gave me a $100 to tell you about it.  He suggested that I contrast the high productivity of this tiny farm with that of my Nephew's 5000 acres--providing little or no direct food for people---except indirectly as meat.  He believes that America and the world needs to reassess how much meat we eat and what it costs the environment to produce it.

Tom Dixon and his three acre farm are an inspiration and could turn out to be a model for the future if  the environment begins to rebel against our excesses.  We all may be compelled to resurrect our "victory gardens".  I come away convinced that a small garden can feed a family.

And I caught a glimpse of the wonder of growing things that inspired this artist-of-the-earth.

I do not mean to disparage my nephew's farm.  Until the Tom Dixons' of the world persuade us to catch the grow-your-own spirit---my nephew and his kind are feeding the world--and we would starve without them.

One final thing--Tom did not seem to fear genetically modified food.  And if he doesn't--neither will I.


Anonymous said...

OK by me. A good interesting comparison.
All people who can want to eat Tom's way; the rest of us consume stuff off large, pesticide, fertilized, industrialized farms that is expensive in equipment, chemicals, and in degrading our ecology...the runoff in waterways, estuaries, and dead gulf zones. This kind of massive grain production also allow "finishing" feedlots for industrial meat packing plants that cause even more noxious runoff.
Thanks for considering the subject.

Karen Pidcock said...

Good job, Bushman...yet could you not do all this without using GMO seeds from Monsanto?!

Stuart said...

Thanks, Randy for your very thoughtful article. Farming is perhaps the most important industry of all. It is so tiresome to hear rank amateurs pontificating on things they really know nothing about. I have the highest respect for your nephew. He has at great financial risk to himself produced an enormous amount of food. The corn and soybeans go to feed cattle. The rice might be for direct human consumption. If you just try for a second to imagine feeding cows just on grass, you can see there is a very good reason for cattle feedlots, just as there are reasons for GMO crops: you get a maximum yield from the least amount of land. I have great respect for Tom, too. I belong to a CSA myself and enjoy spending many hours helping there. The vegetables are delicious. But if we tried to feed the world that way, we would be in big trouble. With world population approaching 9 billion by the year 2050 and 12 billion by 2100, we ain't gonna feed them organically. Factors like global warming and anti-science hysteria are working against us. We need smart heads in science and agriculture to create a new Green Revolution to feed all those new people. Monsanto, as this article shows, has a big non-GMO seed business too.

Mark said...

Another great read, Randy.
We have had a small garden for about 7 yrs. The taste of the veggies is far better than store bought. We still must have commercial farming though.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Terri Reed said...

CSA's and local farmers' markets need more customers, but unfortunately, there's lots of city customers who just don't know how to slice, prepare, chop or shred a vegetable or fruit! May seem crazy, but we need folks at the produce stand to demonstrate how to roll/slice a head of greens, or chop an apple, or peel a persimmon, etc.

Randy said...

Terri: Thank you for an excellent suggestion. I'm going to pass it on to Bushrod and Tom.
Do you know of a youtube that demonstrates those techniques--I could suggest to Tom that he tell his customers about it.

Anonymous said...

Mary, wife of Tom, sometimes used to include a recipe list for the vegetables in that week. She's slacked off now that we are all old CSA clients. It was very helpful to bachelors.

Anonymous said...

From the United Nations: "In rain-fed systems, organic agriculture has demonstrated to outperform conventional agricultural systems under environmental stress conditions."

Anyone interested in a comparison of agricultural systems and/or concerned about the future of the world should read the UN's report:

Small-scale organic mixed farming on properly managed soils performs just as well as our current chemically-enhanced monoculture farming. It's less likely to succumb to blights and insects, and it does not pollute the environment.

phonesam said...

What a great experiment. I like this kinds of experiment. I like agricultural activity. Thanks for sharing this post.

bretcohen said...

Sure could. And that would be my preference. .