As I get ready to teach Sustainable Agriculture again this fall at UMass, I’ve been thinking once again about what agriculture means to me. In preparation, I re-read an essay I wrote years ago called “Agriculture is a business, a lifestyle and a conversation with the universe.”
I think when I wrote this essay I was reluctant to use the word “divine”, but that is what I meant by “conversation with the universe.” Today, I find it easier talk about my relationship with the divine (whether that be God, the Buddha, the Tao, some “power greater than ourselves”, or whatever way we choose to think about the non-material). Of course, agriculture has its very important “material” aspects, but it is the spiritual connection that I’m thinking about today.
In the essay I refer to Wendel Berry’s quote “eating is an agricultural act.” Berry presents a few ideas on how we may each connect with the universe or the divine through food and farming.
He suggests that we:
participate in growing food to the extent that we can,
prepare our own food,
learn the origins of the food we buy,
deal directly with a local farmer, and;
learn more about the biology, ecology and sociology of our food.
I would add to the list, composting all usable kitchen and garden “wastes”, as a necessary means of reconnecting with the non-human part of the universe.
I wonder if you agree? Can you think of other ways in which we might renew and sustain our connection with “something bigger than ourselves” through food and farming?