Our motto has the word in it. "Sustainable food from our farm to your table." We have all seen or heard it now. We've even related it to human survival. Is Mars sustainable for human life? Is Earth sustainable for this many humans? Sustainability is by definition: the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. That's sounded pretty boring to me, so I went with the second definition: avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. Now that's a good one! The depletion of our natural resources is something mankind cannot get the hang of. One highly recommended book and case in point is titled Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization. (The book above)
To me sustainability means our animals are happy. A holistic management system keeps the ecological balance in place. This means I can work with nature instead of against it. Ever since we started putting synthetic chemicals on our Earth we have been working against nature. The ecological process becomes out balance and a niche opens up for "weeds" or "pests". Those problem plants or pests are very opportunistic and have evolved to adapt in these open niches. To fix this problem the nature cycles need to be restored. The first thing is to identify which cycle is broke. For example, if the Carbon cycle is broke soil microbes will starve and die. This will turn living soil into dirt. Speaking of soil microbes, we have just began to uncover the secrets of what actually happens under our feet. I am excited to see what lays ahead for soil discovery. By storing carbon in the ground we will provide food for those microbes which allows soil to function properly.
It also means the animals on our farm will receive plenty of natural forage and grain. I try not to use the "o" word that often, but they really do grow here organically. A USDA report from 1898 in Abilene TX (another future blog) warned of the forthcoming of Southwest Texas's rangeland demise. The author warned of the perils to come of overgrazing, yet have we heeded those warning even today!? Sustainability might not mean the most profitability, but I don't count just my Benjamins. Keeping the animals below my feet and above my feet happy and healthy will pay in its own way. During extreme weather events the farm's excess carbon storage will be our bank to withdraw some reserves. An extreme drought will consume soil moisture at an alarming rate, but our “sustainability” managed soil will provide adequate moisture to plants hopefully throughout the drought. After I am gone I will have not just land to give my children, but a fully functional ecosystem, that will be improved from its current condition. This ecosystem will sustain a family as long as the family understands how the system operates.