In 2007-2008, as we were selling Laura’s Lean Beef and I was recovering from a horseback riding smash-up, a Donella Meadows Fellowship focused my attention on climate change.
I had entered the program thinking the biggest environmental problems confronting agriculture had to do with the use of chemicals in farming, and, in economics, externalities, and, related to this, industry concentration.
What I learned changed my mind. The facts are there – climate change is an existential threat. So, my husband and I gathered up our possessions, sold our retirement place, and moved back to our farm in Kentucky. It took several more years and several iterations of our plan to get started. We are 62 (me) and 71 (Bill), so no spring chickens, but we have a young team of leaders capable of working with us to pull this off.
In the decade since the fellowship, my strategy crystallized. Most climate activists are intent on limiting the burning of fossil fuels…shutting down the carbon pumps…and we are doing this too. We have installed solar panels and are increasing our commitment to the local food system, starting a farm-to-table restaurant and a craft distillery, growing green employment while decreasing food miles. Simultaneously, we are developing our land as a carbon sink. The Rodale Institute and others say that it is possible to sequester all…let me say that again…all 52 gigatons of CO2 and CO2 equivalents emitted annually… by switching to farming practices which maximize carbon fixation while minimizing the loss of carbon returned to the soil.