Farm to Phone 4: Emergency Member Drive, My New Website, Sheep Power, Eat Local (Again), Holy Chicken...
May 02, 2020 8:01 pm
Hello friends and farmers,
I have an announcement I'm excited about, but first have one quick ask that is crucial for the future of food, and our planet. I'm part of an amazing community of Regenerating Members who support the mission critical efforts of the Savory Institute. They are having an Emergency Member Drive and could really use some extra support right now as they brace for trying times ahead as a nonprofit.
The Savory Institute, and the inspiring work they do, is one of the main reasons I moved to White Oak Pastures in Georgia - we are a Savory Hub, practicing and teaching regenerative, holistic principles. Moving here from NYC and SF was a big adjustment, and I cut a lot of costs in preparation for my new life here. One of the few that I kept was this membership, because no matter what happens in my life personally and professionally, I want to ensure there is a viable food future for generations to come. They, and all the farmers taking up the torch, are doing truly world-changing work in the most fundamental way. They are revolutionizing how we grow our food and transforming agriculture into a solution for rather than a contributor to climate change.
I still can't fully grasp how much strain this pandemic has put on certain businesses and families, and I know I'm incredibly fortunate to be in a relatively isolated place right now with a reliable source of food. To me, this outbreak and its ensuing challenges have only emphasized how flawed and delicate our global food web has become. And at least one silver lining through all this is that it might help catalyze a shift towards building more resilient local food systems, and restore a sense of community around our sources of food.
If you are at all able, please consider becoming a Regenerating Member to help convert more land to regenerative. Technically, this Emergency Member Drive ended Thursday, with the goal of bringing in 100 new members by the end of April, but don't let that stop you! They are always looking for new members. I donate at the Changemaker level of $50 a month, but you can donate more or less depending on your ability. Every $30 helps regenerate 100 acres, so every bit counts.
Now my fun announcement before getting to the rest of the update: I just put together my first website since Eat Tribal (RIP) as a place to publish my writing. There's only two essays posted now, but many more to come. I'll give you all early looks via this newsletter. Check it out here: Edlin Bets the Farm.
🐑⚡️ Last month, we had a pretty momentous day on the farm. We released a flock of sheep onto a solar farm as part of a partnership with Silicon Ranch. They provide solar power to companies like Facebook, and our sheep will graze their Georgia solar farm to control foliage. Oftentimes, solar farms use mechanical means or herbicides to prevent foliage from growing and shading solar arrays, which seems counterproductive for "green" energy. This partnership goes beyond renewable or sustainable to produce regenerative energy. Check out the Instagram highlight we put together recapping the day - pretty proud of this one, it's like a mini film.
And here's a good overview on the partnership, surprisingly coming from Shell. Most surprising is they, an oil company, submit that "energy production and use is the largest single source of greenhouse gases," which even ardent climate activists often forget or ignore.
🐑🎥 Speaking of the power of sheep, they're being use more and more to graze vineyards, especially as wildfire prevention. And now even for therapeutic benefit, like this 6+ hour video of sheep grazing in a vineyard has gotten some attention. I tried something like this on an Instagram livestream and got a pretty good response. Being remote as we are, we don't have the internet bandwidth to upload a massive file like that, but really glad someone did. From experiencing the calming effect in real life, I definitely think it can be therapeutic. Here's a direct link to the sheep video if you need some sheep therapy or just a springtime yule log.
🥩 Forbes published this article yesterday that heavily features White Oak Pastures and quotes Will Harris. I obviously love the nod to "bet[ting] the farm," but the story offers some important context on how we can be facing a possible supply shortage while at the same time euthanizing livestock. It's not just the consolidation of processing plants but also the way we raise the animals. "Pumped with antibiotics and grain-based feed, the animals are likely to die of obesity and related problems if they aren’t slaughtered soon, or become too fat to fit in the slaughterhouse door." Whereas on a farm like ours, if an animal can't be slaughtered today, it'll be just fine continuing to live out on the pastures until its day has come. I'm hoping we'll see a resurgence of the once popular "eat local" movement that seemed to die down in recent years in favor of a misguided plant-based trend that furthers a centralized and fragile food system.
👼🐓 Rounding this out once again with a movie recommendation: Holy Chicken. This is Morgan Spurlock's follow up to Super Size Me, and it's an eye-opening, tongue-in-cheek look at the rampant greenwashing in today's food culture. It's also especially timely now with its exploration of how the consolidation of big ag has severely indebted and exploited the farmers contracted by the large ag corporations. I got into a debate with an Internet troll this week who said "the farmer makes all the money." Two things: A) never engage with Internet trolls, even if you think you're the one trolling them at the start (they don't seem to understand irony); B) I think this film shows just how wrong that statement is. Watch on YouTube for free. I think it's ad-supported, but I just learned that a good ad blocker also blocks mid-roll video ads! Here's the ad blocker I use.
If you like this email and know someone else who might, I'd love if you shared it. Send your friends here to sign up. I try to keep these short but informative, and hope they're adding value to your week.
Betting the farm,