I started working as an intern at Radix farm almost two months ago, and have already begun to develop the cracked and permanently dirty hands to show for it. While farming has meant much more physical work than my old desk job, this new step has felt like a pretty natural shift from my previous tenure as a climate change organizer, and I’ll explain why. Prior to starting at the farm, I helped start and worked for almost five years at 350.org, an international organization working to build a movement to fight climate change. More recently, I wanted to see what it felt like to work more in depth at a more local scale, and learn how successful local solutions like CSA’s really work. To me, working on one small piece of land to feed 50+ families is as local and in-depth as I could imagine.
Two weeks ago, as I watched the wind rip trees down in the street before me, and heard reports of the damage at the farm (see Facebook for photos and details of the damage), I was newly aware of just how connected my work on climate change is to work on the farm. My last project at 350 was “Connect the Dots“, an initiative with the goal of making the connection between the extreme weather we’re already witnessing, and climate change, undeniable. The connections are not always simple to explain scientifically, but all of us, especially the older amongst us, feel it: the weather is different. And the scientific evidence that the increasing severity and frequency of certain weather phenomena is linked to climate change is strong and increasing (for some simplified, but well cited fact sheets and materials created by yours truly, click here). Scientists and meteorologists are already weighing in about the connection between Friday’s rare “derecho” storm and climate change, saying it is very clear that the extreme heat wave scorching the country accounted for at least some of the storm’s severity. The connection between increasingly frequent and severe heat waves and climate change is well documented by some of the most widely respected scientists doing this work.
While focusing in at the local level has felt very rewarding, seeing the damage of Friday’s severe storm was a stark reminder to me of the importance of seeing the big picture. Farmers are used to being at the whim of the weather, but there are simply some changes you can’t adapt to, and a frequency at which losses and damage are too great to recover from. I believe we have to say “yes” to beautiful and important solutions like CSAs and small sustainable farms, but also “no” to problems like fracking, mountaintop removal mining, and industrial agriculture – or the solutions we’re working so hard to create won’t even be viable in the face of increasingly severe weather as climate change intensifies. So, as we enjoy this week’s produce, I hope everyone will consider the bigger picture of how our actions affect the world around us and what else we can do to ensure sustainable agriculture’s future and our own futures. (oh, and also consider how we might rebuild that greenhouse!).