Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Farmstead Community

I know Joel Salatin personally and have eaten food grown on his farm. My respect for him and the way he does things runs deep. You may not think something like this is of concern to near-death experiencers and those like them, but it is. Soil, food, animals, water – all of these are of immense interest to experiencers of transformational states. Without good soil, water, food, we have nothing to build from. Our experiences teach us how valuable the earthplane is and how we are responsible for taking care of it. Some experiencers return unable to even step on an ant, they are so in awe of life and the many levels of being. I am a member of VICFA Voice, because I stand with farmers who understand deep ecology and the way of the sacred. Check around and see if there is a group like this in your state. If there is, join it, or help this one. Do what you can to support people who truly love nature and farming. If we help them, they can support us with the wonder of good nutrition and fabulous food! Thank you, PMH Atwater

The Farmstead Community

By Joel Salatin

What defines the allure of Historic Williamsburg? Is it the costumes, the drum and fife corps, the buildings? All of those things add to it, of course, but I think most people are drawn to the imbedded farmstead crafts and industry.

The defining characteristic about Williamsburg, which differs from modern America, is the proximity to residences of what was, in that day, fairly heavy industry. They didn’t have the commercial district, the retail outlet district, the farming district, and the residential district. If you visit the George Wythe House, after going through the house you enter the backyard. There, busy at their work, are candle makers, spinners, a blacksmith, a barrel maker, and a woodworker.

If you study the on farm industry at Monticello, it’s the same thing. I recently finished a fascinating book about Pharsalia, a plantation south of Charlottesville that cured hams and had an on-site hospital for the slaves. These farmsteads bustled with the industry of the day. At Mt. Vernon, George Washington owned a mill, dock, and had numerous income streams, from whiskey to shad fishing.

All of these activities are appropriate for farms. Butchering, tanning, all food preservation from canning to curing, welding, energy generation, brewing, woodworking, spinning and clothes making—the list is endless. But today, this kind of activity is considered incompatible with farming. Oh, you can do it for yourself as a hobby, but don’t dare sell any of it! I call all this social and economic apartheid. And, lest anyone think this is a product of big business and conservatives, the radical environmentalists are just as bad. They want to lock up large tracts of land called wilderness. They kicked farmsteads off the Blue Ridge Mountains and took land and farms for a national park, dislocating people who had lived there for a long time. Today, we parse this apartheid down even to residential square footage. If you can afford a 1,500 square foot house, you can live in this section. But, if you can only afford a 1,000 square foot house, you have to live over in that section. Talk about becoming insular.

In 1915 some 1,500 auto manufacturers existed. Many of them were glorified backyard mechanics, tinkering and working in their own home shops, long before zoning regulations. This creativity worked out the kinks and slowly birthed the automobile. Today, this same kind of creativity has birthed the e-boom from home offices and computer consoles. The e-breakthroughs largely have come from individual, independent minds, not from big corporate efforts.

Two areas need this kind of home-based creativity to be unleashed today: food and energy. We hear about inner city food deserts. Nothing would solve that problem faster than vacant lot mini-farms and in-home food preservation and processing. Re-imbedding the entire food chain in a farm and village setting would exponentially increase creativity and innovation in food. The way to solve problems is not to centralize the innovation, but to spread it out and let more people participate in the solutions.

Rarely does the answer come from one source. The more brains, eyes, ears, and hands participate, the better the solution and the quicker it will occur. A lady in Texas told me recently that she’d been turned in to the zoning board for growing a tomato plant in her flower garden. Her residential area prohibits farming…and growing a tomato is farming. Is this crazy or what?

The same is true for energy. The best thing we could do for energy is to dismantle the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) so that anyone who wanted a still could have one. We should have a blanket exemption for windmill towers up to a certain height. The paperwork and bureaucratic permitting process to produce your own energy is not only inappropriate, it actually stifles innovation.

I wish I had a nickel for every time some jackleg mechanic has told me about a little carburetor gizmo that will increase fuel efficiency by 20 percent. I’m not mechanical enough to figure out how to install these things. I’d be happy to pay someone to install these things and they’d be happy to do it. But if they do, then they have a business, and if they are working out of their residence, that’s prohibited.

If we’re ever going to bring creativity to the table, we have to quit this economic and vocational apartheid nonsense. Instead of restricting access to local commerce, we need to encourage local commerce. Taken from the February VICFA Voice. You can join the Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association at:

For more about Joel Salatin, read this blog post.

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Jimmy Carter - "Losing my Religion"

This proclamation by former President Jimmy Carter is so true and so powerful, I wanted to share it with you. ~PMH Atwater

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I have been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasize the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

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