I just returned to South Carolina from week-long trip to Polyface Farm, Detroit Michigan, and the industrial farming of Findlay Ohio. What a diverse experience! I had the opportunity to visit farms and communities, some of who have stepped outside the box, some are growing out of the ashes, and others feeling dis-empowered due to high regulations and trapped in a "Just the way things are" way of thinking.
My first stop, Polyface Farm to visit Joel Salatin the Salatin family, and all of the beautiful souls working and learning together to produce some of the world's finest food, sustainable farm education, work experience, and soil development. I showed up at 6:30 a.m. hardly sleeping a wink the night before due to my burning desire to be there. Immediately Daniel Salatin put my hands to work moving coolers into the freezer. After breakfast, the team gathered for the morning pow wow. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, everyone was clearly content doing whatever was necessary for the day's task. That day, we worked on Tai's land building a cattle corral with wood milled from the Polyface forest. We ran a little short on wood, so Joel and I milled another log to finish up the project. After this, we bailed two trailers of hay and stacked it in the hay barn. Polyface doesn't spend any money on seed , so the hay was the healthy diverse mixture of whatever was growing on the field. I was very impressed with the work ethic of every individual there both man and woman. After the hay baling, we finished up the work day with gathering and sorting eggs. The real treat was next to come: Dinner at Polyface! The table had to be 40 feet long in order to accommodate all 30 people. Farmers, friends, cooks and families. Special occasion? No, this is normal. I asked Joel one thing he would like to share with the world to put in a daily reader that I am compiling. You'll have to wait until the book comes out to find out what he said. Just kidding! Joel said: "Don't give up. People try and fail, try and fail, try and fail. Failure is not the opposite of success. The opposite of success is quitting. It is always darkest right before the dawn." Joel is truly a example of wisdom, passion, and perseverance. He is an author of, I think 10 books. If you want to learn more about regulation and the effects on small communities and sustainable farming, check out Joel's book called "Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal." If you're not a reader, some of his books are available on Audible.
My next stop was Detroit Michigan. The main purpose of this whole trip was to go to Detroit to conduct a permaculture workshop with a partnering organizations called the Global Treehouse Initiative. They're currently raising money to build the Manistique Community Treehouse on Manistique Street. Since the economic crash and many of the buildings were burnt in Detroit in 2008, the city has given land to the people, deregulated, and created partnership opportunities for non-profits and community organizations. Due to this deregulation, people feel more empowered to go out and turn the soil, create inspiring things, and put in gardens. Manistique Street is coming along nicely with beautiful projects, and funky structures. People were stopping by saying "Whoa, what's that?", "Hey what are you guys doing and how can I get involved?" and "I just love the way this place feels!" Manistique Treehouse has just launched a funding campaign to raise money for materials to build their project. Donate Here to contribute. Stay tuned for more info on our partnership with the Manistique Treehouse and the Detroit Treehouse Project. We hope to head there later this year to help with construction.
My final stop was my home town of Findlay Ohio, where GMOs, chemical crop spray-down, and factory farming are the norm. I moved from Findlay when I was 11. I love my old neighbors and my family, but man am I glad I moved. The mindset of this factory farming holds strong, but meanwhile, folks are dying young of heart disease and cancer, and the city of Findlay has flooded 6 times in the past 15 years. Healthy soil has a greater water holding capacity than that of dead soil. One of my friends says that you have to do things this way or you can's get crop insurance. I asked "why do you need crop insurance" he says "because everything is the same." My uncle is about to be forced off his farm land so the city can build a huge dike to hold flood waters out of the city. Right now, it's farmers against Findlay. Farmers feel dis-empowered and Findlay is having to fork out about $150 million dollars to deal with the situation. Currently, this is a loose loose situation. Can permaculture fix this? No, but people who understand and practice permaculture sure can! Lets get to it! If you want to solve problems like these, apply here to join us. If you can't join us, vote with your dollar! How can you do that?
1. Buy from your local farmer
2. Invest in your own education
3. Invest in Treehouse Project International to build Permaculture Learning Centers for the general public.
Above all, seek wisdom. - Trent Stokes
I want to give a big thanks to the Treehouse team, Polyface, the Manistique Block, and all of the other folks out there who are practicing Sustainable development.
Have hope, Love thy neighbor, and never give up!
Polyface Livestock Above
Industrial Farm Livestock Below
Which do you Prefer?