Jack Lazor: Changing paradigms in food and farming — Part 1

Everyday issues at home in VT are on our minds.  National unrest brings Vermonters together to work on solutions to pertinent universal human needs.  Immediate attention to the air we breathe, the quality of our food, water and the financial and environmental sustainability of all Vermont lives, both rural and urban is necessary!

“Hardly a day goes by without some mention of water quality and environmental pollution in the news. This past August we saw some of the worst-ever blue green algae blooms in lakes Champlain, Carmi and Memphremagog. Fingers were pointed, and the usual blame game transpired. In the last month, the Department of Agriculture has come under fire for lax enforcement of water quality regulations. Some legislators want to know why farmers are exempt from Act 250 jurisdiction. The question of who and how we will pay for Lake Champlain cleanup looms large.”

“Switching to a biological system of agriculture will be costly…Still, when we think of the billions of dollars that have been earmarked for Lake Champlain cleanup, these practices seem rather inexpensive and quite doable compared to the massive infrastructure that has been recommended to solve our pollution problems.”

“Changing lifelong habits is never easy, but is necessary if we want to have a habitable world for our children and grandchildren. We need to do everything possible to put the biology back into all of agriculture. On our own farm, this has lead to increasing our permanent grasslands and reducing grain production. What grain we do grow will be grown no-till so that we can protect and improve our soil. Growing crops organically without plowing and herbicides is the new frontier in organic farming. On conventional Vermont dairy farms, this means less continuous corn, more grass, and annual cover cropping. As soil biology increases, the need for chemical inputs will eventually decrease. Everyone can enhance carbon sequestration in their own small way. Even a lawn can restore carbon into the earth by being mowed less often, allowing plant roots to fully develop and exude carbon.”

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