Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mennonite Dairy Farm

                    I arrived at my good friend's dairy farm around 6:30 am and found morning chores going strong.  I asked Calvin if I could interview him and post a blog about his Organic Dairy Farm, he seemed happy to oblige.  I started out with the obvious, "So, Calvin, organic farming means no herbicides or pesticides?"  He shook his head yes, but added, "No toxic fertilizers either."
          Calvin opened my eyes to a whole new level of understanding.  He started by explaining, "It's not just what we don't do... but what we do."

          I was glad to be there while morning milking was being done.  I love the smell of a dairy parlor, the sight of cows calmly being milked, and the continual pulsing sound.  He continued milking cows while he explained, "Our goal is to promote life and not destroy it."  He looked over at me for a moment as if to be sure I knew how serious he takes that  life principle.  "We rotate our crops and use natural fertilizers."
He told me, "I went to a meeting in 1977 about organic farming and learned that one good handful of healthy farm soil has 3-4 billion living organisms in it, approximately the amount of people living on earth at that time." 

          Obviously that meeting struck a cord within Calvin because he  has been committed to organic farming ever since.  "The way I see it, God knew what he was doing when he put all that life in the soil... it has a purpose.  We are interested in the dynamics of our soil, healthy micro-organisms, fungi, natural bacteria and earthworms.  Earthworms are probably the most important life in the soil."  He explained how keeping the soil healthy is his goal, I perceived he believes it is his moral duty.  He communicated to me that a foundation of healthy soil produces healthy crops, resulting in healthy livestock, and healthy food for humans.

           He reminded me, "the Bible says, 'You reap what you sow.'  If you put toxins in the ground what do you expect to get in return."   He quoted another verse, "... Overcome evil with good."  implying that he doesn't want to use poisons to battle the pests and weeds that all farmers struggle with.

          Calvin's philosophy of life encompasses every aspect of what he does.  I felt healthier just walking on his farm.  Drinking that healthy milk, produced by cows that have been eating hay and grain raised on healthy soil, filled with life, seems rich.  When you drink that milk you are drinking in all that commitment to a healthy cycle of farming.  

          Echo Dell farm is part of Organic Valley, Family of Farms.  Iowa City, New Pioneer Co-op sells their milk and other organically produced products.

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