Regenerative Agriculture in the Context of Real Life

Stephen Jay Gould wrote, 
“We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of a life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.

I struggle a lot with my apparent inability to ‘get started’, to create a regenerative livelihood for myself, to build a thriving agriculture business that not only pays the bills but ensures a future foothold for my daughter in a very mucked-up, uncertain world; and even provides livelihoods for a few others along the way.

I forget that some of the limits are, in fact, imposed from without. This isn’t a victim mentality: I have plenty of advantages and have been incredibly blessed by financial gifts, support, a loving family, a great background and unique childhood, education, whiteness, capability. I am strong, attractive (enough), articulate, intelligent, and a hard worker. These are blessings I can take very little credit for (because at the end of the day, we’re all lazy if we can get away with it and without an imposition of hard work to be done, I don’t work very hard.)

But I didn’t realize what motherhood, marriage, and a move – immigration – across a continent would mean when I committed to those things. It’s hard not to feel a little twisted about what I can’t do right now: sign up for a conference that a bunch of friends will be gathering at, or head back to Canada for a month with family and friends that I haven’t seen in over a year. I have always struggled with limits until I realized how many of them were self-imposed: fears of travel (overcome by, what else, traveling); fears of following my heart (resolved by doing just that, against much advice and admonishment, not to mention heartbreak, my own and others’); fears of committing (two degrees later I think I’m okay there); and more. But these ones — these are a whole new level. In part they’re imposed by someone else, because my choices affect others’ lives profoundly now. In part they’re chosen by me, because – well, various reasons.

In any event, I look around at the regenerative agriculture world and I struggle with where I fit in and how I do this. It keeps coming back to working with what I’ve got to work with: a roof overhead, most expenses covered (because that’s an arrangement that works for us, for now, for eldercare), year-round sunshine, limited rainfall, fire-prone ecology, some community, and a collapsing food system. That should be plenty. We have systems desperately in need of rapid redesign. There’s no time to waste bandying about on limitations, and barely enough time to leap onto our best opportunity and forge ahead with what we’ve got.

One of the things I’d like to begin exploring is parallels between the semi-arid regions of British Columbia, and California’s mediterranean climate. There is a lot of conversation starting to happen — in fact, I had one today — about how California could be a role model for B.C. in that it faces many of the same challenges, magnified and very current; and is leading some really powerful political and social initiatives to bring regenerative agriculture to the forefront, through soil health, social justice, indigenous rights, and food sovereignty. There’s much work to be done and I think I know the right people to get started doing it.

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