Archive for November, 2013

RNH Forging Ahead On Many Fronts.

Friday, November 1st, 2013

L1020224Resilient Northern Habitats is finishing its fourth year of operations, and for most people the question remains:   Who are you guys?  What do you do?

And why not?  Over the last four years, RNH has done some of everything:  permaculture classes, bread oven building, farm transitioning, land access, grant making, a writing group, bringing in speakers and even purchasing an old building in Amery — which we are renovating and re-purposing.

The point of intersection in these activities, and the work RNH has done for four years, is rural revitalization:  whether in the form of protecting habitat, re-establishing family farms or pitching-in to re-invigorate commerce in local communities.

At the core of this mission is a very stark reality:  America’s industrial farming model is not sustainable.  It’s not proving healthy for America’s soil and water resources, it’s not helping to mitigate climate and fossil-fuel challenges, it’s not growing small-town America, it’s not allowing families to buy land or even keep land in the family, and the products produced from GMO corn and soy, as well as CAFOs, are, unfortunately, very poor sources of nutrition for the human body.

The good news is the vast majority of Wisconsin farmers want better outcomes from their life’s work.  We love this area, and the whole of the Midwest.  This is home.  Our friends and family have farmed here for generations and raised families.  We believe in family farming and the ability to work land and produce food as the basis of community.

And,  we can do better.  That’s the mission of RNH:   understanding, advocating and acting on routes to a better food and farming system.  One that preserves habitat for future generations, one that builds soil quality and protects ground-water, one that rewards smart farming strategies and innovation, one that promotes business formation and the local economy, and one that recognizes a quality food system takes time and is worth building from the ground up.

The needs are real on the farm and in small towns across America.  Much has been lost over decades — infrastructure, food-service businesses, know-how, and in most communities, young people who want to be a part of making things better.  Getting this back on track takes time, but it can be done — it needs to get done if future generations are going to be able to hunt, fish and farm as people have done for generations.

RNH goes about this work matter-of-fact —  searching for viable farm-sites, starting a Farmer’s Market, helping put up a hoop-house or a loafing shed.   It’s not always exciting, easy or clear what the next step is.  But, there are more young people now, their rows of vegetables and grazing animals look beautiful in late Fall, their products are shipping to town, ideas for new businesses are hatched and debated.  The nascent path forward has been joined by hearty homesteaders — looking at their acreage as if it were new and unbroken, joining that heritage of thrift and strong-backs that originally made this area great.

Four years in and RNH is happy to lend a hand for better stewardship and creativity in producing great food.  It’s not easy work.  But there’s also joy and quiet satisfaction in getting things done well.  Thanks to everyone for assistance and collaboration in bringing new producers to this area and believing in the importance of food produced sustainably on family farms.  It is the historic basis of the Midwest and something we must rely on if we are going to reinvigorate our rural economy and landscape.