Hello! Matilda here. This month your cows will be coming from my mother's farm so I asked her to give me an update on the shenanigans at Eastbourne Farm, instead she has written a passionate letter about being a regenerative farmer.
Over to you mum!
Your farmer here. Just want you to know how grateful I am as one of the farmers that supply The Good Farm Shop, for your patronage. And that doesn’t only mean I’m grateful that you chose to support our business with your food dollars, I’m grateful that you are aware and committed enough to be supporting a way of farming whose main priority is to regenerate our landscapes.
In the short time that I have been farming regeneratively and doing my homework I have come to understand that the competition from retailers to push prices lower and lower is only possible because your health and the health of the environment is not factored into the price. You obviously understand this too, but I shudder at how ignorant I was and how many still are; unwittingly playing a part in the degeneration of our landscapes and polluting our waterways.
Of course, many, many farmers do their best. They don’t want to see their soil degraded, their water tables shrinking, and their rivers polluted with chemicals but, to stay both domestically and internationally competitive within a farming era which began in the 1970’s when President Nixon’s ag minister Earl Butz, said ‘Get big or get out’, what choice do they have? Today it is almost impossible for small farm to compete with industrial scale farms even without taking the environment into consideration and the decline of the small family farm is evident everywhere. Is this the progress we want? Is this the inevitable cost of cheap food? Or is the deep city-country divide just keeping us ignorant long enough for neo-conservative economic forces to do their mischief until it’s too late; our soils are blown away, our food empty, our rural towns hollowed out.
It’s this fear for the imminent future that has galvanised me to make a documentary about farming. I wanted to bring the experience of running a small farm and its multiple trials and tribulations back from obscurity. To be released later this year, my farming story is just one but I have gathered some brilliant minds into the mix, farmers that can see and articulate a way forward for small farms to exist productively while healing our wounded country, caring humanely for animals and delivering the kind of healthy, tasty, produce our grandparents once enjoyed.
My hope is that the film will fill in the void between the food that sits on our plate and the all the processes by which it got there. That it will illuminate the cost of farming one way as opposed to another, that it will allow the consumer to connect the way their food is grown with their values. Call me an idealist, a dope, deluded, grandiose, but I believe that it is only a question of filling in that blank behind the plate and many consumers will make the choice for their health, their taste buds, their children, their environment and their rural communities. And, of course once they demand it in louder and louder voices, the retailers will provide it and everyone will breathe a sign of relief as the planet takes a gentle shift towards hopefulness. Everyone, that is, other than those with a small paddock to plate business who will be out competed by opportunistic food retailers. But by then we will have done our job. Bring it on I say.
Thanks for reading and supporting folks.