Real Food For Thought

Farming in a Changing Climate (cont’d)

By Bryan Alexander, Clifton Park Field Manager

March 19, 2015

(Last week, Bryan shared some problems plaguing agriculture that have been brought about by climate change. This week, he discusses how farmers are managing the change.)

But not everything is doom and gloom…

6. Always be prepared.

If our country was able to muster the political will tomorrow to cut carbon emissions dramatically, we would still have to live with the effects of climate change for at least a generation. So what are we doing?

RFF 2014-08-29 320Farmers can invest in low-cost technologies like high tunnels for fruit and vegetable crops that protect against climate extremes. We can employ water saving practices in our irrigation equipment and how and when we water. We can compost and cover crop to build soils richer in organic matter that hold water better. We can learn from our ancestors and transform our farms into thriving ecosystems where predatory insects and birds abound and help control our pests. Many of these practices and part and parcel with the sustainability strategies already being adopted and expanded across the country.

7. Take the long view.

For anyone, farmers included, it can be difficult to take our day-to-day experience of the weather and interpret it in broader regional and global patterns of change. Attending this talk was an excellent opportunity to do just that and to reconceptualize a sustainable farm as the farm of the future. It helped me realize the ways in which the typical challenges of farming are compounded by a steadily warming Earth.

Real Food is already experimenting with many of the practices listed above, and we’re excited to expand on them to share with other farmers in the region. I remember hearing at a previous conference that farmers are naturally risk-takers. Becoming involved in farming is necessarily a commitment to learn, experiment, and grow. That’s why conferences like these are so invaluable to farmers. They help us see that we aren’t alone out in the field, that our challenges are shared, and that we share a common purpose in finding sustainable means to overcome them.

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About Real Food Farm

Real Food Farm works toward a just and sustainable food system by improving neighborhood access to healthy food, providing experience-based education, and developing an economically viable, environmentally responsible local agriculture sector.

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