Friday, August 26, 2022



There is a brand new compost bucket sitting on our kitchen counter, provided by Island Grown Initiative.  This rapidly growing engine that is gradually transforming island consciousness about land use and food consumption was founded in 2006.   Their website clearly states their mission:  Food equity is the heart of Island Grown Initiative’s work on Martha’s Vineyard. Innovative, collaborative programs in regenerative farming, food waste reduction, and community education help make good food accessible to everyone.

Regenerative farming is a new and exciting term to me as my consciousness of food equity and care of the earth continues to expand.  Regenerative farming means low or no tillage, use of cover crops and mulches, composting, diverse crops in the field rotation, grazing animals, no synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.
Regenerative farming focuses on improving the health of the soil.

Each time I look at the ever present compost bin I am reminded of the echoes of the concept of the Jubilee Year commanded in Leviticus 25 - a year of “release throughout all the land for all its inhabitants.”  The year was to be one in which the land was permitted to rest - a year in which there would be no sowing of seed or cultivation of the land, no reaping of the “aftergrowth or harvest of the untrimmed vines.”

The Jubilee Year was largely aspirational. Historically, it probably never actually happened.  However, it continues, generation after generation to hold before us the principle of honoring the land, the earth, upon which we depend for our very lives.

As our island grows in ways to be self sufficient in the face of the climate crisis and the anticipated

supply chain disruptions and the unavailability of adequate food supplies, it is unlikely that our farms will ever be given “rest.”   So it seems as though “regenerative” methods are critical at this time on the planet.  We have to do better in managing the ways we live on and interact with the Mother of Us All.  
Part of what this means is that we are learning to eat “closer to the land.”   And that means a gradual change of diet, leaning toward eating foods grown locally.  Eventually that will mean that we find substitutes for the oranges and grapefruit that are so readily available in the supermarket. The potassium for which we appreciate bananas will have to be found in another source that does not require shipment from some far off land.  It will mean going through the process of identifying locally grown foods that supply all the diverse nutrients that we are accustomed to having at our fingertips in the supermarkets.  

Given the aspirational inspiration of Leviticus and what it holds in the way of both challenge and hope

makes the bi-weekly trip to the local farm for our CSA share a bit of a spiritual, perhaps even religious, journey: witnessing the care that is given to all aspects of farming there; enjoying the mostly “30-somethings” who staff the farm out of love for the land and for the work of producing nutritious food sustainably; being exposed to and stimulated by a real, physical working effort to feed more people more equitably in a culture where affluence can easily ignore the nutritional stress of so many families who must make the choice between paying the rent and putting food on the table.  
Supporting small, local farms that are learning and practicing what is required for the good of the earth and for its inhabitants is the coming thing to do wherever and whenever possible.  Future sustainability depends upon it.

 That modest compost bucket on the counter stimulates a lot more consciousness than one might expect!

Vicky Hanjian

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