While skimming my free copy of edibleBOSTON, I came across an article by John Lee, the manager of Allandale Farm. His article, “Farmer’s Diary: When Is Enough Enough?” left me with the lingering question: If the demand for organic produce continues to rise, can farmers keep up with the demand?
Lee discusses how farm work has begun to invade the winter season, which is traditionally a time for farmers to prepare for the next summer’s harvest. Consumer demand is forcing farmers to increase their production, giving them less time to plan and prepare. The rising demand puts farmers like Lee in a difficult position:
This strikes me as a parallel problem with what I see happening in my fields. With rising demand and increasing market opportunities, there is increasing pressure to produce and the need to double and triple crops, most of our fields are beginning to show a little wear and tear in the soil profile and on the tillage equipment. This is a most unwelcome result of what might be called farm fame . . . The crush to be ‘local’ is beginning to put a significant burden on the ‘local’ resource of first resort . . . Finding a balance between soil health and mental health and the right balance of crops and markets is always on my mind at this time of year. I have to be careful to value each option honestly and judiciously.
Is “farm fame” having a negative effect on local farmers? I don’t think so. While Lee shares with his audience the struggles of increased demand, he also reassures readers that this busy-ness is worth it. But what do you think? Do you think the farmer—and the earth—can handle the consumers’ demand for organic food?
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