I love questions. Questions are like doorways that keep opening into other worlds. Our skill at asking questions peaks around age four or five and then is quickly hammered out of us by tired adults. We have to relearn the art of asking good questions, and that's one of the aims of my teaching.
The list of questions below is the list that the soil sponge course I've been teaching works to answer, through my own understanding, through the mentors I have studied with, and from the experiences of the incredible people who join the course.
I hope you'll join me as I continue to seek the myriad answers to this set of important questions.
Flour vs. Bread Demo at Paicines Ranch, CA.
Photo of Flour vs. Bread demonstration
My student Emaline demonstrating Flour vs. Bread
I don't even know where to start with this post...so I'll just dive in... Yesterday I had the incredible honor of being one of five invited panelists at the United Nations for World Soil Day 2017. I didn't know I was invited till just a couple days before the event (because I was trying to be good and not be checking my email and phone while I was at the Bionutrient Food Association conference.) So I had to write a speech and make a slide presentation and finish cooking my turkey broth and pack up and go. Two nights of very little sleep. I didn't even have time to tell most of my friends or family where I was going.
Up at 5:30, A wild ride on a tiny ancient 8-seater plane from West Lebanon New Hampshire, (my stepmother in law Grace Paley used to take those planes to NYC all the time, and I suspected my life was heading in that direction soon...) shuttle to Penn Station, ran into Macy's to use an eyebrow pencil at the makeup booth, use the bathroom and take off my wool socks and long underwear (oh those Vermonters...), struggled with various printers at Staples but finally printed out my speech, which I was still trying to shorten to 7 minutes, jumped in a cab, rushed through security (with my escort from the Thai embassy) with hair and teeth unbrushed (thank God for those fancy dress pants from Oodles, the $10 shirt from Walmart and the $3 jacket from Listen).
I sat down and said some prayers, so that I could notice the sacredness of every person sitting at that beautiful round table and then.... I was happy and composed because I was right where I should be, speaking with passion about the subject I committed my life to four years ago-- to a group of people equally passionate about the world.
My talk went over very well. The people I met were absolutely lovely. The whole thing was very humbling and moving. And before I knew it, it was over, and I was outside again with a different, amazing person from the embassy putting me in a cab so I could fly back and have dinner with Alden. Then...... I got an email that the flight was cancelled so I thought "Okay, I'll go back to the UN for the evening reception" (hosted by Syngenta.). I then realized I forgot to pick up my passport inside (they take them from you), and when I went back to the gate they wouldn't let me back in without an escort, so I was stuck outside, back in the real world. The only problem is that for me the real world is where people from all over the world sit around a big round table and speak kindly to each other about really important things....
So I spent a couple of hours wandering around in the dark, noisy, and rainy city trying to find a bathroom and a place to sleep. (thank God for packing my comfortable shoes. and welcoming text messages from friends in brooklyn and the bronx who were awfully far away and not coming home till late.) I was absolutely exhausted, and the heating grates where lots of other folks were sleeping were looking mighty comfy.
I ended up sleeping on the floor of my old yoga school that saved my life when I was in my 20s... the quiet peaceful community that probably set me on the path to be calm enough and devoted enough to the world to be able to speak at the UN on two days notice.
(I'm about 50 minutes in, and again near the end answering a very very moving question about corporate influences in agriculture from the Ambassador from Lesotho...)
The tiny town of Emporia, Kansas has become my favorite gathering place to eat good food and meet like-minded people. Gail Fuller and his partner Lynette Miller are innovative farmers who challenged federal crop insurance rules in order to farm in a way that can regenerate land. Every year they round up an odd mix of 100 or more local farmers and ranchers, agronomists, policy makers, a few investors, and an assortment of other passionate folks from Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the US for a two-day field school in Emporia.