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Stewardculture magazine

Pastor Jonathan Dodd continues his series on how understanding Genesis helps us as farmers

Just how connected is farming to faith? Do you have enough enterprizes on your farm to keep your children interested? Understanding principles of soil function help us manage to soil health.


Stewardculture magazine is a quarterly electronic magazine containing news, articles and features about regenerative farming and gardening that is God glorifying. Stewardculture seeks to promote Bible-based stewardship agriculture. This simply means we advocate for creation-friendly thinking that emphasizes the fact that we do not own the Earth or even some small piece of it. Creation is simply a gift given to humans who are commanded to be its stewards as God’s representatives. Our editorial and promotional content is designed to inform, educate and motivate nearly anyone connected with growing things, with content targeted to redeemed Christians. Each issue will cover a wide range of editorial and promotional content including tips and how-to articles, opinion pieces and feature stories. Stewardculture’s editor happily accepts by-lined editorial submissions with the right of final editing for style, tone, length and voice. Editorial and graphical content may not be used in any form, printed or digital, without permission of the editor and attribution.

INSIDE

Stewardculture

Cover story

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Soil science is nothing new

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A next generation

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For humans to understand our plance in the world, we must understand God’s design and His plans for man to live in this world. Read this second part of a new series written by Jonathan Dodd of New Earth Farm & Goods.

Guest contributor Gene Logsdon (aka The Contrary Farmer) gives us some of his thoughts on how long good soil science has been around.

Famed North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown writes about how to keep multimple generations on the farm by developing multiple enterprizes.

Faith and farming

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Soil function discussion

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Editor Dan Grubbs discusses the connection between faith and farming and what that connection may mean to how we manage our farms.

Doug Peterson, NRCS soil expert, outlines key principles for gaining and maintaining soil health at a recent small farm gathering.

Publisher and editor: Dan Grubbs Stewardculture 13605 Jesse James Farm Rd. Kearney, Missouri 64060 816-729-4422 stewardculture@gmail.com

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Front cover image courtesy of Birdcage Release Collaborative. Back cover illustration: PSALM 85 Copyright 2003 by John August Swanson Serigraph 24” x 28.75” www.JohnAugustSwanson.com


From My Tractor Seat Observations and opinions from the editor stewardculture@gmail.com

There are implications when humans carefully consider creation and find it was built in special ways for them. I claim that there is one mandatory response to that careful consideration: stewardship. The account of God’s creative acts found in Genesis illustrates that the Creator called the Earth into existence and specifically designed it to be a home for humans. In His perfect omniscience, God had us in mind as He was building our home and considered our every need in His creation.

formed it to be inhabited), ‘I am the LORD, and there is none else.’” One powerful revelation in the Isaiah passage is that God formed the earth “to be inhabited.” The oftenmissed concept when believers read the creation account in Genesis is the idea that the Earth – the rest of creation, in fact – was designed with humans in mind. In his excellent study notes of Isaiah, Thomas L. Constable, Th.D., reinforces this point. “Isaiah’s elaboration on this statement stresses that God’s creative activity was for the welfare of His creatures.” And also, “I think the verse means that God’s intention in creation was not to create something permanently without form but to create an environment for His creatures that He suitably formed for their habitation.”

Consider just how unique the Earth is in our own solar system and compared to any other body in space we have information about. So many characteristics of the Earth are so precise that just a minor change would make the Earth uninhabitable for humans. Take, for example, the planet’s orbit around the sun. The earth travels at a constant speed in its orbit. This Supporting this interpretation is the Nelson study is critical to life because series which Constable its speed affects the disGod’s creative acts found in Genesis il- quotes in his own notes, tance from the sun. lustrates that the Creator called the Earth “The Lord created the earth ‘to be inhabited,’ If the earth traveled into existence and specifically designed not to be desolate…” faster in its 584-milit to be a home for humans. Though both of these lion-mile-long journey commentaries on the around the sun, its orbit would become larger and it would move farther away Isaiah passage are trying to deal with interpretation of the Genesis phrase “formless and void,” the applifrom the sun. If it moved too far from the narrow cation of the idea is that humans were anticipated in habitable zone, all life would cease to exist on earth. the design. If it traveled slightly slower in its orbit, the earth would move closer to the sun, and if it moved too close, all life would likewise perish. The earth’s 365days, 6-hours, 49-minutes and 9.54-seconds trip around the sun (the sidereal year) is consistent to over a thousandth of a second! Note the careful explanation in Isaiah 45:18 “For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but

Most people think about water and its importance for human survival and they narrow their thinking to potable water a human needs to exist on a daily basis. However, that volume of water is a drop in the bucket (an apt pun) when we consider the volume of water needed to regulate the planet’s temperatures. Planetary life cannot be reasonably sustained just because there is enough water to drink for survival. The planet requires massive bodies of water for temperature

see EDITOR on page 17 3


Soil science spelled it out a An organic farm marketer brought me a strange book to read and I can’t get it out of my mind. It was written by Cyril Hopkins, an agronomist at the University of Illinois in 1911. Already a century ago, science had committed the wisdom of the ages about maintaining soil fertility (Hopkins quotes Cato, Varro and Virgil from ancient Rome) to the finely wrought analysis and statistics of science. Soil scientists knew very well how to practice sustainable farming a century ago but then as now many people, including some fellow scientists, paid little attention. The strangeness of the book comes from the author’s efforts to write “The Story of the Soil” in the form of a novel, embedding his treatise on soil science in a more or less fictional love story. He had already written a factual book on how to restore and maintain fertility in America’s declining soils but, surprise, surprise, hardly anyone read it. I suppose he figured that maybe people would pay attention if a little sexual intrigue were woven into his pages of dry facts and figures about manure, lime, rock phosphate and clover rotations and what happens when you don’t do it correctly. I doubt his ploy worked except with those of us

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by Gene Logsdon

who think sustainable farming is a pretty sexy subject all by itself. At the beginning of the twentieth century there was plenty of evidence that yields of farm crops were in decline, despite all the blazing glory shouted from the rooftops about the limitless fertility of our soils. All that was staving off a clear realization of that fact was that for two centuries and more, we always had new land to move to and repeat the process of mining the virgin nutrients out of it. Hopkins addressed that reality directly, piling up enough statistics and case histories to choke a dinosaur. Farming for profit, farming to feed a growing

population, required returning to the soil the fertility lost when crops were taken off the farm. Intelligent cultivation, legumes in the rotations, green manure, animal manure, and replacing minerals for those lost by cropping were all essential. Hopkins was “organic” not because he was against chemical fertilizers but because he thought they would always be too expensive. Rock phosphate, natural calcium and raw potash were cheaper and got the job done with intelligent cultivation and proper rotations. But his overall take on soil fertility was chilling. No matter how clever the rotations, or how scrupulously


a whole century ago the farmer tried to use all the manure he had available, the soil could not maintain itself without outside additions of nutrients if crops were going to be removed to feed, clothe and shelter increasing populations. It is fun to try to figure out ways to make a farm totally self-subsistent but it just ain’t so, said Hopkins. It is hard to keep in mind that already in 1911, farming in America was already two and a half centuries old. My home farm here in Ohio had been cultivated for fifty years longer than the land I worked in Minnesota in the 1950s and you could tell the difference. The first fields on the east

farmers and even some agronomists without the perspective of history, thought their land was timelessly fertile just because they hadn’t had time to use up the native nutrients yet. Hopkins predicted inevitable famine as had occurred throughout history when land “wore out.” He was famously wrong because he did not see the enormous role that mined and manufactured fertilizers would play in making his worries unfounded. But a century later, we surely must start thinking about how to keep our fields fertile without what still seems to some as an unlimited supply of these off-farm fertilizers. Or perhaps in the long run, these fertil-

I keep in mind always that we are feeding much grain to domestic animals, an extremely wasteful practice so far as economy of human food is concerned. Cyril Hopkins 1911 coast were cultivated around 1634 and those farms were for a century quite profitable. But by 1910, many thousands of those acres lay idle. No hue and cry was being raised, except for a few like Hopkins, because new land to the west had always been available. Against the evidence which Hopkins kept giving, cornbelt

izers will become, as Hopkins believed, too costly and the poorer people will starve again. The most insightful passage in the book, it seems to me, goes like this: “I keep in mind always that we are feeding much grain to domestic animals, an extremely wasteful practice so far as economy of human food is concerned; because as

an average, animals return in meat and milk not more than one fifth as much food value as they destroy in the responding grain consumed; and as we gradually reduce the amounts of grain that are fed to cattle, sheep and swine, we shall also gradually increase our human food supply. Ultimately our milk-producing and meatproducing animals will be fed only the grass grown upon the non-arable lands and possibly some refused forage not suitable for human food or more valuable for green manure, unless we modify our present practices…” What courage it took to say something like that right when agriculture’s idolatry of grain was soaring. Could Hopkins have been the first prophet announcing the kind of grass farming that would rise in popularity a century later? Or will he still be wrong, not seeing that the amount of mineral fertilizers available is so great that we can not only feed humans and livestock with grain but our cars too?

Editor’s note: this article originally appeared in The Contrary Farmer, the blog of Gene Logsdon, and is reprinted here with permission.

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Two trees and the One: Our place

Part two in a series

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The LORD God planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.

Genesis 2:8

For some reason, I can’t get this 1991 Michael W. Smith Billboard Hot 100 song out of my head, my “Place in This World”. The last phrase of the song says: “Lookin’ for a reason / Roamin’ through the night to find my place in this world, my place in this world. “ Can you believe a Christian singer and songwriter made the top ten Billboard Hot 100 with this song? Not only was it a catchy song during that time, it seems to resonate with so many who feel and long for the same. Longing for a place, the place where you fit and I fit, the thing we were created to do and created to be. On the path to self-discovery, longing for true intimacy and connection…it is the cry of every heart. If it is not the cry of your heart, then maybe your heart has grown cold and numb as a way to survive this pain-filled and beautifully broken world. It is no surprise that hungering to belong and know where you fit, knowing where your place is, is true for so many of us. It is the same basic story for us all; it is the same story of those who came before us and the same story of those who will come after us. It is also a story from a long time ago that tells our story, the story of our place in this world. Do you want to find your place? Then let’s go back to the original place, the place we all long for, the story from the Garden of Eden. It is the story of Gen 2-4, and the story of us all.

by Jonathan Dodd

Genesis chapters 2-4 tell a new story. It is a separate story from Genesis chapter one. The first chapter of Genesis helps us understand our place within the cosmos, as rulers and image bearers created in the image of the Great King, who speaks the cosmos into form and fashions a palace temple with His temple rulers ruling rightly. Genesis chapters 2-4 is not that story; instead, it is a hands-on story, a story of calling, place and stewardship, a story of deception, breakdown, pain, and yet, hope. Today we will begin the story with Genesis chapter two, the first part of the story, and this is how it goes. The earth was bare, before the succession of life in all forms. The bare earth contains all the water needed, stored underground for the hydrological cycle to begin and produce life, seeping up from the ground, a hovering mist, a bubbling fog. The story tells us that the reason the cycle of precipitation and evaporation had not begun was because there was no earthling to serve it, like a servant of a king, a laborer for something other than itself. Then from the dust of the ground, the same minerals, the same stuff of the earth, an earthling was formed, a mascu-

see OUR PLACE page 19 7


And a next generation By Gabe Brown

A speaker at a recent conference posed this question: “How many of you have a son or daughter or relative taking over or planning to take over your operation?� Of the more than 160 in attendance, how many of do you think raised their hands?

Generating answers

Myself and one other. I was stunned! I had expected at least 30, and was hopeful of many more. I find it hard to believe that of the more than 120 operations represented, only two ha daughters, sons, nieces or nephews who wanted to make a living on the farm.

First, why is the farm not generating enough income? Is it due to low prices? High input costs? Or can it be that the farm is not capitalizing on opportunities for other enterprises?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I realize that many children do not wish to make production agriculture their career. That is perfectly fine. Everyone should follow their dreams. But why did only two operations have an atmosphere that was conducive to ringing youth into the business? I have spent the past month asking that question of as many operators and youth as I could and found two reasons cropping up again and again.

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In an earlier article in Graze, I talked about the holistic management decision making process. If we use this process to answer the above question, we can arrive at some conclusions.

As for the second reason, why is it too expensive to enter production agriculture? Or is it just too expensive to enter certain areas of production agriculture, such as grain, dairy or beef? What about other enterprises? At upper right is a chart of the enterprises we have on our ranch. In no way am I saying that you need these on your operation; that is for you to decide. I am merely illustrating some of the possibilities. If you have been following my articles, you know


that I believe farm profit is directly related to carbon. The more carbon we have in our soil, the greater our farm’s profit potential. On our operation we use carbon to grow perennial pastures, cover crops and cash crops, including vegetables and fruit. We use livestock to harvest much of this production. Notice that we are not just running one livestock species. I think that multi-species grazing is a miss opportunity on many operations. We run cow-calf pairs, stockers and grass-finished beef. These beef animals harvest primarily grasses and legumes in our environment. However there are many other plants in our paddocks – why not convert some of those into cash? That is why we added a flock of sheep. They graze plants that are not often grazed by the beef animals. This adds income without adding to the land base.

Answering questions We need border collies to help us move the stock and guard dogs to protect the sheep. Why not breed and sell border collies and guard dogs? There is strong demand for both. Insects abound on our operation. Most are beneficial: for every insect pest there are 1,700 other species that are beneficial or produce neither help nor harm. Why not take advantage of the insect populations? Why not add some poultry to feed on those insects? This is why we added laying hens that we house in portable egg-mobiles (salvaged and converted stock

trailers). We follow the grass-finished beeves with these egg mobiles. The layers feast on all of the fly larvae found in the dung pats, and in so doing spread those pats, thus fertilizing a larger area. The layers are happy, the beeves are happy and our pocketbook is fuller from the sale of nutrient-dense eggs. We run our grain crop through a “quick cleaner” to glean any weed seeds and cracked kernels before we sell that grain. Why not add a pastured broiler operation to convert these screenings to cash? We take something that would be dockage at the elevator and convert it to cash in our pocket. If we pull the broiler mobiles across the pasture, they will be fertilizing as they go. Another enterprise that fits well into our operation is pastured hogs. The sows farrow on pasture and as long as we move them frequently they are not destructive. We have many shelter belts surrounding our farmsteads. They are great places to run finishing hogs that are supplemented with the corn, peas and barley we grow, thus adding value to these crops. As I have talked about in several previous articles, we grow a lot of cover crops. These always have flowering species in mixes. These, along with all the alfalfas, clovers and forms in our perennial pastures are producing a lot of pollen. Why not raise bees to take advantage of that opportunity? We formed a partnership with an apiary to take care of the hives, which provides our partner with great habitat for their bees and another income stream for us.

see NEXT GENERATION on page 18

Mixed-species grazing


Essay: Faith and farming, are they connected? by Dan Grubbs

If the headline causes speculation, then I think that’s good. I certainly believe I have an answer to the question, but not everyone agrees with me. Yet, if I truly believe my farming is connected to my faith, then I better be able to state why.

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People around the world have several belief systems. These belief systems usually have guiding principles. I am a born-again Christian and so the guiding principles I live by are documented in the Bible. And, it’s been through my careful study of the Bible as well as careful observation of creation that I’ve concluded that is it my responsibility as a child of God to manage my land as if God was doing it. Many would call this stewardship. As a child of God, stewardship is an important component in my relationship with God, the Creator of all things. The very concept of stewardship defines one party as owner (God) and another party as manager (man). No matter what title or deed I may produce, I am not true owner of anything.

Required responsibility In the all-satisifying relationship with God, He has made provision for me with such things as talent, abilities, economic means and land. I have learned I need to be a good steward of all these things – in fact, of all things God provides. With His provision, I have found that all my needs are met if I manage these things in a way that is aligned to the way God would. As Creator and Provider, God put Adam in the garden to steward it, God engages me through His lovingkindness as overseer or steward of all He has provided me. This includes that little portion of creation God saw fit to give me to manage.

Following Adam It’s clear from the description of the original plan in what God gave Adam to do in the Garden of Eden that it was part of God’s plan for mankind to steward His creation.

Through Genesis 2:15 we see part of God’s will for Adam. “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” As I study carefully what God called Adam to do, I see something interesting in the words. We need to be careful about being dogmatic about translations of Hebrew words. So, when the Bible gives us the phrase “to cultivate it and keep it” we want to be very sure we know what this means. So, I looked for insight into the Hebrew terms and how they are used.

Serve and protect The Hebrew word we translate into “cultivate” is abad (pronounced aw-bad’). It is a primitive root meaning to work or by implication to serve, it can also mean to be bound to or to husband, as in animal husbandry. Think of how differently the verse might be understood if we translate it more directly when the passage would be better read as “put him into the garden of Eden to serve it”. I believe serving the Earth helps us take on a different mindset than cultivate does. To serve the earth takes on a fuller meaning than cultivate ever could. Serving in no way implies that man is lower than the Earth. A primary principle of the Bible is for man to adopt God’s ways. What better example of service do we have than Jesus Christ? Matthew 20:28 makes this plain. “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many.” In Christlikeness, we are to serve the people and that part of creation where God places us. Our service isn’t exclusive to God’s creation,

but it is a role we are given. This most certainly includes farming. Likewise, we must not mistake the meaning of “keep” in Genesis 2:15. The Hebrew word translated as keep is shamar (pronounced shaw-mar’). This verb is a primitive root meaning to hedge around something, more properly to mean to guard or protect something. In my mind, the better translation, especially for our purposes of farming, would be “put him into the garden of Eden to serve it and protect it”. Serve and protect. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Accountability If this is the description of our role – at least in part – we are then performing the function of a steward on God’s behalf. What would we say to God when asked to give an account of our stewardship of the land He gave us to serve and protect? It’s a good question I think we all should ask of ourselves. If we are satisfied that one of our roles as Christians is to steward the Earth – the place God created specifically for human habitation – then the next logical question would be how do we steward it. We can find our answer in many places in the Bible, but the short answer to how we steward creation is simply to say to do it the way that God would do it. It is through Christ’s teaching we can learn how God would do it. That is a discussion for another day. Yet, I hope a beginning understanding of how connected faith and farming is begins to take root in our minds.

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Soil function was ‘topic de jour’ at small on-farm NRCS presentation

NRCS expert Doug Peterson shared important information with producers in northwest Missouri. Doug Peterson sat under a pop-up canopy in 95 degree heat in Holt, Missouri, in July to help a small group of producers, permaculture designers and homesteaders enhance their knowledge of soil health. Through demonstrations and a detailed description of soil function, Peterson advanced the group’s knowledge on how they can improve or ensure soil health in their own operation.

plant life and keep living root systems as long as possible,” he said.

No more tilling

Disturbing the soil can occur in several ways, Peterson explained. Tilling the soil is like a small natural disaster. What you end up with is bare compacted soil that has decreased or destroyed soil function. “Many farmers believe you need a nice fluffy seed bed to Peterson spoke at Hebron Acres, the small farm of grow plants,” Peterson said. “Yet, what they are doing our editor, Dan Grubbs, to continue to spread the is creating a hostile environment in which the soil word about soil health and advance the mission of the food web cannot function well.” Natural Resources Conservation Service, where he is Healthy soil is packed with living organisms that a soil health specialist for the state of Missouri. form a food web along with plants. With hundreds of He began the session describing four keys to mainmillions of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, nematodes and tain and build soil health and function. “You need arthropods, an entire ecosystem exists in the topsoil to disturb the soil as little as possible, keep the soil that all have a role in soil function. “Tilling the soil covered as much as possible, maintain a diversity of

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exposes it to sunlight which vaporizes the moisture in it as well as raises the soil temperature to the point it kills off the microorganisms,” Peterson explained. “Regular tillage and cultivation also causes the soil – which is made up of particles of sand, clay, silt and organic matter – to compact and form an impermeable barrier to water which before long will run off and cause erosion.” The particles are held together by a material (glomalin) that Peterson explained functions similar to glue holding the sand, clay and silt particles together in small clods. These clods are irregular shapes that create airspace within and between themselves that allow water and air filtration. Tilling, he said, breaks up the clods and reduces the airspace between particles.

Keep the cover on Falling rain, hot sunshine and invasive weeds. Two of these seem like farmers’ friends while the third farmers tend to battle. But, all these things can be harmful to topsoil. “When rain falls, each drop is a little explosion when it strikes bare soil,” Peterson said. “We can slow down rain drops significantly by growing cover crops and leaving thick plant residue.” Soil should always be covered. With a diverse mix of cover crops you gain protection over the soil that is critical. Hot sun raises soil temperatures that are detrimental to many plants, root systems and microbial soil life. “The soil microbes prefer soil temperatures from 70 to 75 degrees,” Peterson pointed out. “If we don’t keep the soil covered in cover crops or residue, the top soil temperatures get too hot for that microbial life to live.” The other benefit of keeping the soil covered, according to Peterson, is weed suppression and moisture retention. A good thick mat of cover crop, once crimped down with a roller, is an ideal bed through which cash crops can be planted and the cover keeps the weeds from finding light. “The mat also keeps the sun from vaporizing the moisture in the topsoil.”

“A diversity of plant exudates is required to support a diversity of soil microorganisms,” Peterson said. “To achieve this, different plants must be grown. The key to improving soil health is ensuring that food and energy chains and webs consist of several types of plants or animals, not just one or two.” Biodiversity is ultimately the key to the success of any agricultural system. A lack of biodiversity severely limits the potential of any cropping system and increases disease and pest problems.

Living root systems One of the most under estimated techniques to fostering and preserving soil health and function is by keeping living roots in the soil for as long as possible. “Living plants maintain a rhizosphere, an area of concentrated microbial activity close to the root,” Peterson said. “The rhizosphere is the most active part of the soil ecosystem because it is where the most readily available food is, and where peak nutrient and water cycling occurs.” One way to keep living roots in the soil is through cover crops – even among cash row crops. Many farmers think that competition for water and nutrients is not a good thing for their cash crops. Yet, many farmers are finding their row crops do well even when the ground is blanketed in a ground cover. “Healthy soil is dependent upon how well the soil food web is fed,” Peterson explained. “Providing plenty of easily accessible food to soil microbes helps them cycle nutrients that plants need to grow. This has a wider effect on plants around cover crops because the soil food web is enlarged to include them.” Managing landscapes for soil health and good soil function is a matter of maintaining suitable habitat for the myriad of creatures that comprise the soil food web. These four keys to soil health will aid any size operation no matter what stage of development.

Polycultures equals diversity Attracting and keeping beneficial species of animals, insects and microbial life is difficult in a monoculture. But, planting a diversity of crops and support plants – a polyculture – can create the kind of biologically diverse environment that helps create healthy soils and provides a diverse mix of the carbohydrates that the soil microbial life need to survive.

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credit: Mark Graves Photography


“Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.� Genesis 1:29

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EDITOR from page 3 regulation so it can support human life. During the day, the earth’s bodies of water rapidly soak up enormous amounts of heat; thus, the earth stays fairly cool. At night, they release the vast amounts of heat that they absorbed during the day, which, combined with atmospheric effects, keeps most of the surface from freezing solid at night. If it were not for the tremendous amounts of water on the earth, far greater day and night temperature variations would exist. Many parts of the surface would be hot enough to boil water during the day, and the same parts would be cold enough to freeze water at night. Because water is an excellent temperature stabilizer, the large oceans on earth are vital for life to exist on earth. Many farmers understand that nitrogen is necessary for healthy plant life. Plan cells need nitrogen to grow. Most of us also understand there is nitrogen in the atmosphere and nitrogen in the soil. Many of us even understand that many plants draw atmospheric nitrogen out of the air and “fix” it into soils through their subterranean structures. But, we now know that there are enzymes that can make nitrogen available in the presence of oxygen or without oxygen present. This is an indication of the resilient nature of the nitrogen cycling system upon which the plant life of the planet depends for survival. Even if humans were exclusively carnivores, humans would still not survive without a dynamic and diverse plant life on

the planet because our food supply starts in the plant world and that energy makes it to us through the plants and animals we eat. At a much larger level, the continued maintenance of the overall nitrogen cycle by soil bacteria in varying environments is a well-designed meta-system (see illustration below). And all of it had to be put in place at the same time in the beginning in order for life to exist, just as Scripture teaches. These scientific observations show that life did not emerge millions of years after earth came into being, as evolution teaches, but that God created life during the same week that He formed the earth. What are the implications of these facts? What is the believer’s response and subsequent actions knowing that God created the very place we live? How should we live knowing that the inherent systems of the Earth were designed to support us? The implications are many and our reaction as believers is specific. We should come at creation, and therefore agriculture, with a different mindset. What is this mindset? Consider the answer Elliot Johnson, Th.D., professor of Bible Exposition at the Dallas Theological Seminary, gave when I asked what is mankind’s response to God’s work of creation. He told the congregation that day that man’s response to God’s creation “should be stewardship.” I certainly will not argue with the learned doctor.

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NEXT GENERATION from page 9 Those same cover crops and diverse perennial pastures attract a lot of wildlife. Many people are willing to spend a healthy sum of money for the opportunity to hunt that wildlife with a gun or a camera. Do not feel guilty about charging them a fee to do so, as it costs money for the cover crop seed and other habitat you are providing. When deer drop their antlers in the winter take advantage of that, too. People are willing to pay for those sheds. Why not pick them up and sell them instead of finding them in a tractor tire?

Direct marketing may not be for you, but don’t let that stop you from adding value to your production. Team up with an individual who has the will and desire to direct market. Use their skills to your advantage and let them sell your products for a commission. This will put more money in both your pockets. What about logistics? Having a population of 100,000 people within 25 miles of our operation

income! Distance is an issue only if you allow it to be. We are considering many more enterprises, including pastured dairy, rabbits, turkeys and ducks. All could be raised in a pasture-based operation. We also produce compost and have had demand for it, so we plan to market more of that in the future. Paul enjoys welding and has seen demand for egg mobiles and broiler mobiles, which means another potential income

How about a vegetable garden? We are selling our grass-finished meats and eggs at the farmers market anyway, so why not vegetables? Consumers appreciate the variety of writing just one check. How about the farm orchard? Jellies, jams and pies can add value.

The labor is doable I know that by this time many of you are wondering just how many people are required to raise, grow and market all of these enterprises. The answer is tree full-time people and one seasonal employee: my wife, Shelly; our son, Paul; myself; and one summer employee. Since we are taking advantage of stacking enterprises that go well together, the labor to accomplish this amount of production is relatively minimal.

is an advantage to us. However, we are in the process of starting buying clubs in other cities up to 200 miles away. Online ordering and buying clubs will allow us to travel to these cities once per month, thus adding considerable marketing opportunities with little investment of time.

I know of one family operation We are finding that the most labor- that drives 700 miles one way each intensive part is the marketing, month to service a buying club. and are working to streamline that This one buying club accounts process with online ordering. for more than 75 percent of their

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stream is waiting to be tapped. The greatest roadblock in solving a problem is the human mind. I wonder how many more young people could enter agriculture if we would just open up our minds to the opportunities available to us. Gabe Brown, a highly sought-after speaker, practices no-till farming and grass finishes beef on his family’s ranch near Bismarck, N.D. This article is reprinted with permission from In Practice, the official magazine of Holistic Management International.


OUR PLACE from page 7 line form of a feminine ground. The earthling is animated to life from the Potter of Clay, and is breathed into the breath of life like the wind. But the Potter was not just a potter; He was also the Garden Builder. Let me explain. We are deeply connected to our environment. We are intimately connected to the ground and we have a calling to care for it. In the Hebrew language, the word for ground is “adamah” and the word for human is “adam”. This is the same word in its male and female forms. The ground (the soil) and the man are two forms of the same thing. We are made of the same minerals, the same water and microorganisms. We as earthlings, or living ground things, are deeply connected to the ground on which we walk. How we live on this earth impacts the ground, which in turn impacts us. Until we can grasp this connection, this basic and foundational relationship, we will continue on our path of disconnection. Living rightly with the ground helps us to live rightly with God and with others. To understand our place rightly we must literally be grounded.

good. This garden also had two special trees. The first was a tree in the middle of the garden, the most protected and important tree, the Tree of Life. And the second tree, located somewhere in the garden, was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Potter and Garden Builder took the earthling and placed it in this edenic paradise, the Garden of Eden.

But the garden just got better, for it was no ordinary garden. From this garden flowed the river of all rivers, the water that flowed to the four main rivers that fed the life of In order for us to be grounded and the whole land, rivers along whose know our place, we must come to bank one could see aesthetically expect that our place is not our beautiful rocks and minerals not own. It is a garden that is given to meant for jewelry and personal us as a gift and great responsibiltreasure. I imagine this water was ity. the purest of pure, and the garThe Potter and Garden Builder had den was the fullest of health and wholeness giving air, water and also planted a garden in the east. But this was no ordinary garden; it food, with abundance and beauty was a diversified polycultured gar- in simplicity; everything needed to den full of trees that were beautiful make one happy in place existed, satisfaction for sure. to the eyes and good for food, like really good, like healing and whole

The Potter and Garden Builder, the Great Design Maker, then grabbed the earthling and placed it in the garden to serve it and to guard it, like a servant of a king and a guard-like soldier, to give its full energy and time to protect it. The earthling was told by the Potter and Garden Builder that it could eat from all of the trees except one. The forbidden tree was forbidden for the sake of life, because to eat from that tree would cause death. You see it wasn’t a rule; it was the Potter protecting its vessel from breaking. To be in right relationship one must not need to know every detail, but only to trust what our Maker has said. In this beautiful garden of water, trees and a diversity of life in right relationship, the Great Design Maker placed the earthling for a specific and stewarding task. The new gardener’s task was to serve and to guard it. The Hebrew words used here “ebed” and “shamar”, have been translated most commonly as cultivate and keep or

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work and care. However, I believe the best translation is serve and guard – the most common translation of these words in other writings and most appropriate to the literary context. To serve and to guard is the first and primary task of the garden steward, that is, to care for the Earth, having been placed in the garden of God. To care for the garden and earth well requires that we be in relationship with it, with the place in which we find ourselves. To be in right and intentional relationship requires that we slow down and spend intimate time in the place we are. The question is not “where

is your place in this world” but “where are you located, where have you been placed?” After the Potter and Garden Builder placed the earthling in the garden He gave it the task of stewarding and then states that it is not good for the earthling to be alone. The task was not meant for one to do the work, but for the work to be done in community, to share the load with another, earthlings with equal and opposite strengths.

birds out of the sky, out the same ground the earthling was fashioned from. All of the animals are brought to the earthling for it to name them, to give each living thing meaning according to its uses and functions. To give a name to something is to identify it, to understand its purpose and function. By knowing and naming the animals, the earthling is learning to understand each creature’s place within the garden system.

However, the earthling has still not learned all it needs to know about the garden task at hand. Next, instead of giving a partner, the Great Design Maker forms all the animals of the land and

We can only learn to care for things properly once we know their purpose and function. In fact, we usually won’t care for something at all until we know what it is. To allow the earthling to name each

“How we live on this earth impacts the ground, which in turn impacts us. Until we can grasp this connection, this basic and foundational relationship, we will continue on our path of disconnection.” 20


creature allows it to connect and know all that is around it, a growth and discovery of right relationship and intimacy. Let me give you an example. On our farm we are learning how to identify every plant and living organism. It is so much fun to give people tours of our farm and then hand them something wild to eat that also grows in their backyard. Grabbing a plantain leaf from the ground, giving it to them to try and eat and telling them of its medicinal, edible and topical uses changes the way they see the plant. Plantain no longer is seen as a weed to them, but a plant of value to be cared for properly. When we name things and understand the animals and plants, we build a relationship to them. To live in the world as God intended requires that we must not only serve and guard our air, our water, our land, our animals, but we must also care and know it. We cannot care for people well until we learn how to care for the earth and all that is in it. The first calling of the earthling is not only to serve and guard the garden, but also to name and understand how everything fits together. Only when the earthling knows and learns its first calling of Earth Care is it ready for People Care. This is so true of much poverty in the world. All poverty stems from our disconnection from place and right relationship. Our resources for living well come from the place in which we are located. When we disconnect from that, we disconnect from all that God intended for us, we abuse our resources and places, and in turn, abuse the people of that place, whether we know them or not.

Once the earthling was ready for People Care, the Potter, the Garden Builder, the Great Design Maker also becomes the Surgeon. The earthling is put into a deep sleep so that a rib could be taken to form the earthling’s partner. A rib, not a bone from the arm as to rule over, not from the foot as to be trampled on, but a rib from the side, an equal and opposite partner. This new female earthling is brought to the original earthling just as all the creatures were brought.

ever, right relationship requires trust, intimacy, and responsibility. And that is where the breakdown begins...the story continues another day.

Once again, the earthling was allowed to name and identify the new partner as different from itself yet deeply connected, ‘bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh’. The earthling also discovers that he is man and she is woman - in Hebrew, ish and ishah. In the same way that the earthling is connected to the ground, as adam and adamah, he is now connected to a new partner, two halves of the whole, distinct yet deeply connected in intimacy and relation. Naked and unashamed they have nothing to hide, living in trust and connection with each other and with everything around them, including their Maker. It is full and abundant relationship.

Maybe the question we need to ask from Genesis two is not ‘where is our place?’, but ‘where have we been placed and how are we living rightly and wholly within it?’

To be fully present, intimate, knowing a place and people, is the most peace-full and satisfying place one can find himself. To be in whole relationship with the Creator and the created is the place where we all belong. It is what we are all searching for, whether we recognize it or not. Obviously, though, we have a problem, as things are not as they should be.

So where is your place? The truth is, I can’t tell you because the story is not yet over. We will have to continue next time when the story moves from right relationship to deception, mistrust and greed, to shame, pain, murder, and displacement, and then beyond to redemption and hope.

What is your place and how are you connected to it? Do you know where you are located in the history of your land? Wherever you find yourself, be present. What do you breathe in? What do you see? What do you hear? What can you touch? What do you feel? What are you taking in? Wherever we find ourselves, we can still find our place and our purpose by connecting our story to the Great Story. Begin with your place; connect to your present, and invite the Potter, The Garden Builder, The Great Design Maker and Surgeon to fill you with His sustaining and living breath.

Genesis two is not just a story of what was, but of what is coming. In the beginning God placed everything in right relationship. How-

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“existing to restore people and place, alleviating poverty and pain� Our mission is to participate in the restoration of people and place by using gardening, agriculture, horticulture, and regenerative design education as tools for development and as bridges to share the love of Jesus with a fractaled world. http://keipos.org

Stewardculture no4  
Stewardculture no4  

Stewardculture Magazine is a quarterly electronic magazine containing news, articles and features about regenerative farming and gardening t...

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