By John Mesko • SFA Executive Director
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on the current state of affairs in Sustainable Agriculture. By some measures, the modern movement is about 25-30 years old. Adulthood by all respects. We’ve come a long way to get to this point. Of course there has always been those farmers who practice sustainability and have been organic since organic was the only way to farm. However, the term “sustainable” and along with it, “sustainable agriculture” have become a part of most people’s every day language. To many, those terms are only slightly more specific in meaning than they were at the outset of our movement.
However, I think most of us can say we “know it when we see it.” Sustainable agriculture is a mindset, its an approach. Admittedly, true sustainability is a near-impossibility to achieve. We all want to see the environment, farm businesses, farm families and our rural communities become more resilient, more productive, and in general, improve over time. By focusing on the principles of sustainability, we can move all of these forward.
SFA, through its members, chapters and collective work has been able to make such an impact in agriculture and in rural communities over the years. We’ve all seen the rapid expansion of farmer’s markets over the last 10 – 15 years. Do more farmer’s markets mean we’ve achieved sustainability? No, not really, but they are an exciting piece to the picture of the future. 25 years ago, no-till corn and soybean production models were in their infancy. In part, through SFA’s Farmer to Farmer Network® organization of educational events, no-till agriculture has become commonplace; and improvements to the environment can be evaluated.
Now, we are in the midst of another mass migration “back to the land.” The jury is still out on the relative merits of this latest move. However, with more new and beginning farmers starting sustainably-minded farms, the future bodes well for sustainable agriculture.
In the coming weeks, I hope to explore more aspects of the state of sustainable agriculture. If you have any thoughts, let me know. I’d like to hear lots of perspectives. You can reach me at email@example.com.