cows in field

Message from the NODPA Co-President

By Kirk Arnold, NODPA Co-President

Kirk Arnold (2)_thumbOne of my favorite parts of farming is that there is just such a massive number of things to know (sometimes this is also my least favorite part of farming!) and different ways of doing things. I like to dig into something new every year. Last year was tweaking and upgrading the milking system, and this year it's trying to make good compost out of free or nearly free materials.

The theory is, if we can add just the right types of ingredients, then we can have good growth of both beneficial fungi and bacteria. The end result is a more diverse and biologically complete compost, which will be as much a soil inoculant as it will a source of nutrients for the crops. I have some doubts about whether it will be worth all of the extra work, but experiments are a fun way to learn.

It's been nice having something to draw my mind and attention away from the world at large at times for a mental rest of sorts. The farm has felt more like a sanctuary than ever before. But it's important to pick our heads up and witness what is going on in our neighboring communities, rather than stay blind to those struggles. Farmers get the raw end of a lot of deals – bad prices, weather upsets, 24/7 work and responsibility – but it's so important to remember what a privilege it is to own land, to live somewhere with clean air, to be able to grow our own food. For example, have you ever wondered why there are so few black farmers? It is no accident, but rather an injustice shaped by decades of discriminatory policy decisions by the USDA. We are not so distant from the struggles of our fellow black and brown citizens as it may sometimes feel way out here in the country. As the saying goes, do unto others as you would do unto your soil microbiome – diversity is resilience.

Kirk Arnold, NODPA Co-President

Twin Oaks Dairy, Truxton, NY