Landship Foods is inspired by the conviction that growing and eating healthy food is one of the most important things we can do for both ourselves and the broader communities of which we are a part. The name comes from the language of pre-industrial Europe. Before the enclosure movement and the associated rise in notions of private property swept England, the suffix “-ship” (as in "relationship," or "friendship") referred to an object or an abstraction with collective duties and mutual rights. Thus, the term “landship” suggests that land was an entity through which humans were joined to each other by a set of rights and responsibilities. I advocate for a revival of this awareness.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Swine Flu Blues
Admittedly, spending hours crouched over in the sun can be an uncomfortable task. But, for me, that is generally outweighed by the immediate and delayed rewards of germinating radishes and savory carrots. Fieldwork also provides time for reflection. Witness my buddy Josh, at right. When I took this photo, he was marinating on the merits of soil carbon cycling as an indicator of ecosystem health. The other day, I was reminded of a story I heard on NPR shortly before moving out here. The reporter was explaining the effect that a swine flu-inspired border closing would have on the labor supply (and, hence, economic bottom-line) for many large American farms. He suggested that crops could rot in the fields due to restrictions on migrants traveling north from Mexico. The story concluded on this note of unsettling concern. While the report recognized the tenuous nature of a global agricultural system, it failed to notice the irony of lamenting a shortage of immigrant labor in the midst of a national unemployment crisis. Although unemployment levels had dominated news reports, congressional concerns, and the national psyche for months, the reporter apparently didn't connect the two stories. It seems that, for many Americans, agricultural labor is not even an option, not viable work. This is not all that surprising, considering most Americans have (a) never planted a seed, and (b) never worked under conditions like those of the large farms to which this reporter was alluding. I hope the demand for local and sustainable food will continue to rise, and will thus support farms that serve as models of how agricultural labor can be rewarding and viable, instead of de-humanizing. In the meantime, I hope some people who need work heard that NPR story and knocked on the nearest farmer's door to ask if they were hiring.