The Pastor of Pasture

When Joel Salatin talks to an audience of farming enthusiasts, he inspires them to want to farm with ecological integrity, purpose and a higher level of management than most would consider necessary. Joel was recently on Saltspring Island and gave a terrific workshop on managing pasture for livestock. I was able to sneak away from the Weed Patch to attend and induldge in a solstice camping trip and edu-vacation. He was preaching to the (mostly) converted, and I left with more ideas between my ears than I could process on the ferry rides home.

Joel Salatin’s classroom on Saltspring Island was a lovely barn swallow habitat.

His lovely Virginian drawl and animated bright blue eyes captivated us for hours as he explained the fundamental necessities of rotational grazing; grass farming and manure management. I’m eyeing up our mulch mountain as a potential site for a Joel inspired ‘pigerator’. His new book, “Folks, this ain’t normal” is a must read for anyone who eats food. A visiting reporter for a local paper asked him ‘How can we encourage more local growers’ and he answered with a reply he’s no doubt shared thousands of times:

“It’s very simple: patronize them. We don’t need government tax incentives, agencies, or pamphlets. We need every eater to realize that whatever we have today is the cumulative result of millions of everyday choices being exercised in the marketplace. If everyone quit purchasing junk food tomorrow, it would cease to exist. We have the power. We vote three times a day; we create tomorrow’s food system and landscape with every bite we eat. Plenty of time and money exist to make this change. We don’t need soda, cigarettes, alcohol, $100 designer jeans with holes already in the knees or Hollywood. If you took the time and money devoted to vapid values and spent them instead on things that will heal your body, your community, and your natural resources, we’d have a different culture. Maybe it would be one that other cultures could respect. Maybe we could lead the world into a new era of happiness. How’s that for a goal? Maybe our children could inherit a planet with more soil, more nutrition, better health, and a brighter outlook. Awesome.”

Joel Salatin sharing his ideas for how to use a hoop house for high value protein production in the winter before it nutrifies and houses tomatoes and peppers in the spring.

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