Episode 36, Our Right to Farm with Randy Buchler




This past winter I had the pleasure of visiting my friends Randy and Libby Buchler and their family at their farm, Shady Grove Farm in Michigans Upper Peninsula. Shady Grove Farm is a small, but productive 2 acre farmstead that produces certified naturally grown eggs, wool, pork, veggies and more for their local community.

In 2009, they recieved a notice for alleged zoning violations regarding their agricultural activity. Through a ton of research and collaborations, they were finally able to win back their Right to Farm in a 2012 court case.

Today Randy Buchler joins us to share their story of how they achieved success. And how Your right to farm is currently under threat due to more recent changes in Michigan’s Right to Farm Act. Randy also shares what we can all do to help defend our Right to Farm, and support local farms who are striving, sometimes against many odds, to put healthy, clean, responsibly grown food on your plate.


The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Shady Grove Farm

Michigan Small Farm Council

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Music Credits: 

Speed Me Towards Death – Rob Dougan


Levi: It’s really nice to join you here, Randy, at your awesome farm, Shady Grove Farm. I’ve been really anticipating visiting your farm for several years since your case that I came up and visited with some friends at your court case, in what year was that?


Randy: I think 2012.


Levi: 2012. I guess just to start off with, can you give us an overview of Shady Grove Farm?


Randy: We started out here back in 2001 when we moved back from Colorado. There wasn’t anything here agriculturally speaking. 2002, we got a flock of 25 chickens. We decided we wanted to have some chickens for our own eggs. Twenty-five chickens for a family of 3 at that time, that’s a lot of eggs. So we realize that’s more eggs than we need to we decided we’d start sharing them with friends and pretty soon our 25 chickens turned into 50 chickens and realized how easy it would be to sell these eggs. So the chickens are really what got us going and we started snowballing from there and put in a 30 x 30 garden. We started opening up more areas for more going space and eventually ended up with a couple of sheep because Libby likes to knit and spin wool and we took these sheep to save their lives because they were destined for meat. My buddy’s girlfriend was a vegetarian and she wasn’t gonna have it. So we took on the sheep. From there we realized this way of life was definitely something that we want to strive to do more of. Today, we have ended up building what I consider to be a pretty good permaculture system utilizing several different livestock and different growing methods for produce and berries. We do broiler chickens, meat rabbits, turkeys, meat lambs and wool sheep and I’ve got a few hare as well. We’ve reached a point where we’re good with the way things are as far as expansion and all that, now it’s a matter of just dialing in the system and fine tuning certain aspects of it to make it all more functional, more efficient, more productive, more environmentally friendly because I’m sure there’s improvements that we can make there as well. Basically, we’re a small permaculture farm. Everything we do is on about 2 acres. We have 6 1/2 total. We try to pride ourselves on being an educational farm. We open up the farm every year to multiple field trips from school aged children that are preschool all the way up to college kids and like the public to come and see what we’re doing and what would be considered an urban setting for the UP, I guess, after what we went through. But we want people to see that farming, regardless of what your zoning is, can happen in an environmentally-friendly manner and have absolutely zero harm to air quality, soil quality, water quality. We don’t make bad neighbors because of what we’re doing. So we just want people to see that you can do it, you can do it efficiently and you can produce a lot of food for your community in a small space.


Levi: And it’s a really awesome farm. It’s very clear that you’ve been dialing it all in and building it up at the same time for quite a number of years because it’s just coming along really smoothly and efficiently. It’s awesome and I’m here in the winter. I’m sure it’s much lusher in the summer. I’ve seen some pictures. It looks great. I’ll have to come back sometime. So what first inspired you guys to start the farm and do what you’re doing?


Randy: I would say the main inspiration was we just wanted to live a healthy life and we wanted to raise our children with a very healthy way of life. So we’ve been trying to raise our own food since we lived in Colorado back in the late 90s. It was a lot harder to grow food at a 9000 feet elevation up in the mountains but we certainly tried. After our daughter was born in 2001, we moved back here and found it was much easier to produce a garden here in Upper Michigan than it was in Colorado where we were. I would say we were hobby farmers at that time. I was working fulltime for a tree company doing line clearance tree trimming along the power lines. Then in January 2008, I suffered a spine injury at work. I broke my lower spine and ended having to have surgery and could add a bone and parts put in my back in 2008. From that injury and surgery became disabled permanently and was not able to go back to work. We don’t have television or anything like that and I’m not a lay-around-the-couch kind of guy. So after a long road of healing and therapy and recovery from a spine surgery and injury, I decided that I just needed more to do to try to keep me active and not just become a couch potato in severe pain. I didn’t take on any of the pharmaceuticals that they were offering me because that doesn’t fit well into the way of life that we are living. So to stay and active we started adding more things to the farm and it was family effort at that time. We were homeschooling our children. Libby was home so we had all four of us here able to work on the farm and everybody will take on different aspects of the daily chores and eventually it just grew into this commercial farm and we’re producing a lot of food here for a farm that we have no employees, we don’t have a volunteer program to speak of, we don’t do internships. We have several friends who if I call them up they’re here to help but the main inspiration was I need to keep busy after my spine injury so that really got the ball rolling on trying to come up with a system that was going to be productive and produces much food for our family.  After recovering as much as I could from the spine injury, back in 2011, three years after that I found that I was having a problem walking with both of my legs and I had to utilize crutches to be able to get around. I had been thinking that it was just stemming from my original spine injury and surgery but it was affecting my right leg which was not affected after my injury or surgery. So after having some pretty serious bouts of illness and stuff at home, I ended up in the emergency room and had some testing done and I tested positive for lyme disease. That would have been September 2011 and from there my symptoms kept becoming worse and I’ve been through seizures, heart symptoms. I’ve been in and out of the emergency room and out of the cardiac unit. I was at Mayo Clinic for a week but I’ve had impaired speech, I’ve lost the use of both my legs, severe weight loss, visions problems, blood pressure fluctuations, you name it I’ve probably had it. Lyme disease is one of those things that’s hard to be diagnosed in the western medicine world so after my initial diagnosis, I was told by an infectious disease doctor that I most likely didn’t have it. He didn’t believe the test because he didn’t believe lyme disease existed here. Therefore, I didn’t get the proper treatment that I should have gotten upon my initial lime test. So the lyme disease progressed into chronic lyme and antibiotics wouldn’t do me any good at that point so basically for the last 5 plus years I’ve been combatting chronic lyme disease. Homeopathically, naturally through diet, herbal protocols and over the last year I’ve been doing ozone treatments in Wisconsin at an alternative medicine place. So all of these, the injury and the lyme disease and the health problems I’ve had over the last 9 years, they’ve all been fires that were lit under me to continue to be positive and remain active. I think the farm, realistically, has probably saved my life, especially with the lyme disease because it forces me to get out of bed in the morning on the days where I’m not feeling well. So there’s a lot to be said about having animals who is dependent on you as a farmer. It’s therapeutic in its own right and getting me outside everyday, multiple times a day even on the days where I had to use crutches to come out is probably the best thing that could have happened to me. The farm is way more than just producing food.


Levi: So in the midst of all those health issues that you were battling with, you also got a letter from your township that you were supposedly violating their zoning regulations because of your farming and your livestock that you have. So how did that affect the whole story?


Randy: So I had surgery in June of 2008 on my spine. During that whole process when I was off work with the spine injury, I was tangled up in this horrible workman’s comp case. I had $100,000 on unpaid medical bills, I was no longer receiving a paycheck or workman’s comp so I was involved with that legal issue. Like everybody, I’ve been denied my first application to social security disabilities so I was involved with that and then the letter comes from the township and states that we have the cease-and-desist all agricultural activity because it’s not a permissible or conditional use in the lake residential zone district. So that was another negative thing that came into our lives at that time but at that point, I was ready to take it on. I was doing all my own legal research for the workman’s comp stuff. I did have a lawyer. So when that letter came about being in violation of a zoning ordinance due to the fact that I was off work at home after spine injury and such I had the time to do a whole bunch of research on my own via the internet. So my initial response to the township was I went to a meeting and I said, basically this is a way of life for us. You’re not just asking us to get rid of some chickens and sheep. You’re asking us to stop living the way of like that we’re living and we didn’t feel we were harming anybody and had we been, by all means stop us but we weren’t.” So I got signatures from all the neighbors and had them sign that they had no problems with what we were doing, started attending the township meetings to see if maybe there was a way we could compromise this or update the zoning to catch up with the way things were in today’s world rather than how it used to be. But going back further than how it used to be not that long ago, in the alleys there’s little buildings where they had a window on the alley side for people to throw the manure out from their cow or their livestock that they had right in town. So it’s not like it’s a new thing that somebody has chickens or sheep. So what I was trying to do what just to get them to open up to the fact that Libby and I played a key role in getting the Gwinn Farmer’s Market going and eventually we took it over and we ran it and that we’re in this community to do good things and are children are being raised here and we just wanted to have good things to happen in our community and that’s why we were doing what we were doing. On their side, it seems as though maybe they were willing to talk about changing some zoning. I offered to volunteer on a committee to write up some new language to fore zoning that would pertain to allowing people to keep up to 4 or 6 chickens or some rabbits or whatever. It seems as though we were making progress and then all of a sudden were just adamant that, “No, we’re not going to allow this.” So in one of the meetings, the recording of the meeting that I have as the lawyers stayed in at the Buchler’s have given us no choice but to take them to court. What they didn’t realize at that time is that through the hundreds of hours of research that I had done, I discovered the Michigan right to farm Act and I also discovered the Farm to Consumer Defense Fund which is a national organization that defends the rights of small farms primarily because the small farms are usually the ones that are getting stepped on by overreaching governments. So when the township decided they were gonna take us to court they had one lawyer, I had a whole team of lawyers lined up that were gonna take our case at no charge to us so that was pretty cool. When Pete Kennedy from the Farm to Consumer Defense once said they’d take our case. I felt really good about where things were headed. At that point, we weren’t compromising. We were going for it. So through all of that, they ended up hiring a local attorney here and Michelle Holly as our lead counsel. Co-counsel was out of Ann Arbor and all the rest of the Farmer-Consumer attorneys were there to assist. We ended up going to court. It took 2 1/2 years or so before we ended up in court in November of 2012. Ironically, it was the two days prior to thanksgiving. I recall the judge stating it’s ironic that we’re here trying this case two days before the holiday where we give thanks for the bounty of the harvest. I just felt that things were lining and I felt really good about the outcome and it was a day and a half trial. I was a never wreck. I’ve never been in court before and I knew that the township attorney was coming at my jugular. I was on the stand for quite a few hours and after the first few hours questions I got over the anxiety and the nervousness. All I had to do was tell the truth and all I had to do was share the knowledge that I had acquired and I knew that they were grasping at straws to try to shut us down simply because we weren’t part of the good ‘ol boy system and we were peacefully non-complying because we felt we were protected by state law which superseded local ordinances. So I got pretty comfortable on the stand and was easily able to answer the majority of the questions coming at me. After a day and a half of testimony and witness testimony. We walked out of feeling really good about where things had gone and then about a month after that (I think it was December 21), we got an early Christmas present from Judge Sulka and he had ruled in our favor and we were the first farm to win a Michigan right to farm case at the circuit court level. We felt like we had a better chance at the appeals court at the state level. We were kind of anticipating losing at circuit court level and having to appeal but we won at the circuit court level and the township did not appeal, which we were somewhat surprised by, but I think they probably knew that their chances to win at appeals court weren’t that good either. Just because of past cases that had been tried with the Michigan right to farm act.


Levi: That makes me really curious about the Michigan right to farm act and how if that come about and what does protect and how did that protect your rights in this case?


Randy: Initially, the Michigan right to farm act was written to protect farms that were on the outskirts of urban areas, so to speak. There were rural farms but due to growth and people moving out to the country. There were these big CAFO operations and huge corporate farms and factory farms that were housing thousands of hogs and buildings or hundreds of thousands of chickens and buildings. They’d have their slurry ponds and manure catchment systems. They were producing a lot of odor and there was a lot of chemical spraying going on from growing corn and soy and stuff. So these people would move out and build these houses next to farms and then they would file a complaint. The Michigan Right to Farm Act was written to protect these huge farms from urban sprawl, basically. Back in 1999 or 2000, there was an amendment written in the Michigan Right to Farm Act and this amendment expanded the right to farm protections into including even small farms like us. In the amendment this is what is says, “Beginning June 1st, 2000, except as otherwise provided in this section, it is the express legislative intent that this act preempt any local ordinance, regulation, or resolution that purports to extend or revise in a manner. The provisions of this act are generally accepted agricultural and management practices developed under this act, except as otherwise provided in this section, a local unit of government shall not intact, maintain, enforce and ordinance, regulation or resolution that conflicts in any manner with this act or generally accepted agricultural  and management practices developed in this act.” Basically, what that says is that if a township has an ordinance that contradicts with anything in the Michigan Right to Farm Act and if that farm is compliant with any of the applicable GAMPs or the generally-accepted agricultural management practices that apply to their farm then that township ordinance is void. It’s unenforceable, would be the word. I tried explaining that to the township and sharing that with them and at that there was actually an attorney who sat on the planning commission board and he agreed with me. He told them, “Yeah, this is state law that preempts local ordinances.” But they were set in their ways and they didn’t believe for one second that this applied to us. So I took it upon myself to contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development about their MAEAP  program which is the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program and what happens through that is you work with your local conservation district, back them up, they do an inspection on your farm. They tell you things that you should improve on or what needs to change in order to become MAEAP verified. So I had a lady come up and she’s like, “Wow, you guys have a lot going on in a small area.” I said, “Yeah, it’s called diversity. We’re creating a system that will work together here.” She’s like, “I’ve never seen anything like this”, which told me that they’re so used just going to these big commercial corporate farms and factory or monoculture type setups. But she’s like, “What you’re doing here is fantastic. The only thing that I could really think of that maybe you should change is documenting stuff. You just need to start writing things down like how much composted manure you apply to a certain grow area or how much water you apply in the greenhouse.” So I’m thinking, “Well, okay. If all I have to do is documentation I can do that.” So the next step was having the guys from Lansing come up from the Department of Ag who were running the meat program and Joel Kapinsky was the main inspector and then there was a new guy that became of him Erin Satchel. He lives in the eastern UP and this was his first farm inspection. So we’re walking around here. These guys were telling me how cool this is and having all these things in a small area and I was explaining to them that it’s permaculture and they’re used to the big corporate farm stuff as well. Although Erin Satchel has a small farm in the Eastern UP so we ended up having this great conversation, a good visit. We went in the kitchen of our house afterwards and sat down and we filled out paperwork and stuff and at the end of the conversation Joel Kapinsky stood up and he said, “Congratulations. You are now protected by the Michigan Right to Farm Act.” Because they found us compliant with any of the GAMPs that were applicable to our farm and when he said that I had this feeling of, “Right. That should take care of it. When we go to court there should be no questions.” These inspectors had no idea that we were in the middle of a case with our township. It wasn’t an information that I shared with them because I wanted them to remain objective in their inspection of the farm. So once I heard that, and now Joel runs the MAEP program, I felt pretty good where things were. It’d been a long stressful few years but things were starting to take shape. That amendment in the Right to Farm Act was a huge, huge find for me. When I presented all the research that I had done to Pete Kennedy he said, “Wow, you’ve really done your research, haven’t you?” I said that I have. I handed them a really good start to a really good case to hopefully set precedent to the state of Michigan and it worked.


Levi: First of all, thank you so much for everything that you put into it and really establishing that protection for our rights in the state of Michigan because of you and all these other people that were helping out. That’s huge. Great! So then you won the case. So how’s it going now?


Randy: So far we won the case, it got the attention of people all over the world. I was contacted by people from 11 different countries during this whole process which was surreal to me. The one example I’ll use real quick was I got an email from a guy sitting. He said, “Sitting on a rooftop from India and I’m here working on an organic program and I came across your video on YouTube and I just want you to know that the work you’re doing is incredibly important and we need more small farms.” The next day he was gonna go into this monastery or something to ask 3 Mayo Indian guys to do a prayer in order of Shady Grove Farm. To have it be that far reaching from this tiny little location in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the middle of nowhere, it spoke volumes to me that the importance of being able to produce our own food is something that is incredibly important all over the world. We cannot be dependent on corporate food systems and the government takeover of our food system or the attempt of a government takeover of our food system. To have that many people understand the importance of the work that I was trying to do to defend our farm, it wasn’t about just us, it was anybody that eats food or anybody that wants to produce food. Like I said, I wasn’t trying to ignore authority, so to speak, or keep doing something that was doing harm to neighbors or anything like that. It was protecting something that was gonna be nothing but beneficial to everybody around. So with that, it also got the attention of other small farms in Michigan and people who were in very urban settings in cities of Ann harbor, and Muskegon and Grand Rapids and all over. So there were 7 of us that were founded members of the Michigan Small Farm Council. They all followed our case pretty closely and the Michigan Small Farm Council today were kind of a grassroots watchdog for farm rights and Michigan which unfortunately ends up being mostly to help protect small farms because the large farms have protection from the state already. The week we have people attend all the meetings and lancing all the egg commission meetings to stay informed and to share this information with the general public because a huge part of starting a farm or being a farmer in Michigan today or anywhere, you need to understand the rules of the local level, you need to understand the policies and the policies of the state level. Since our case happened in 2012, 2014 would have been the first time that language changes were being made in the GAMPs that are what they look at for protection in the Right to Farm Act, the generally-accepted agricultural management practices. One of those GAMPs is the site selection GAMP so they look at your site and they determine whether or not they have too many neighbors within a certain amount. You cannot have 13 houses within a quarter mile or something like that. I have to look at the language changes. So they started changing language anyway in these GAMPs. These would be the 5 appointed commissioners in the Michigan commission of Agriculture. So there’s this Ag commercial in Lansing who deals with policy, not legislation mind you, there’s difference between policy and legislation. Laws can only be done by legislators. Policy can be appointed by bureaucrats, policy language. So in these GAMPs, the site selection GAMPs, all of a sudden they started introducing these new language changes and we would get public comment and stuff and have people go to these meetings and speak up against these changes they were making because, for our case, we were under 50 animal units which would have been 5,000 chickens. One hundred chickens is 1 animal unit. So for case, because of how the language was written at that time in 2012, we were under 50 animal units so the site selection GAMP did not apply to us.


Levi: Or would not have?


Randy: It did not apply to us at that time. With these language changes that they did in 2014, had those been present in 2012 the site selection GAMP would have applied to us. However, the policy changes that they made in 2014 were indirect conflict with the Michigan Right to Farm Act itself and it also changes the intent of a state law. So through changing language in a policy, they changed the intent of a state law which according to our attorneys is illegal and is a separation of powers issue. It has yet to be challenged in court but other farms have lost right to farm cases since those language changes. They’ve lost their protection because of these changes that were made in the language. So there’s a lot of gray areas today with the right to farm act because of these language and our Michigan  small farm council works hard to stay informed and reaching out to different policy makers and legislators to try and work on how can we make this– We’re looking for right to farm protection for all farms, blanket coverage. It’s not about just the small farms or just the big farms. It’s about farming in general and having regulations and policies in place that control pollution and control any negative impacts on the environment or neighbors or neighborhoods in general so the right to farm act today went from being the strongest right to farm act in the country to if the language that were made were actually done legislative and if things were to stick the way they are, we’d probably have one of the weakest right to farm acts now.


Levi: So I need to know what can I do to try to get these things changed.


Randy: One thing that I would encourage people to do is become members of the Michigan small farm council. It’s free. You can go to michigansmallfarmcouncil.com and sign up. What that does is it gives you access to a group of people who are more in the know because we have people attend these meetings and stay informed on what’s going on. The other thing I would do is get groups of people to gather in your communities and discuss the possibilities of going to some township meetings or city meetings to discuss zoning or anything like that’s in place right now that’s deterring people from doing this. Cooperation is a much easier road than having to battle for something. We call it we’re on a quest for food freedom. More people would join us in a quest than they will join us in a battle. So if we can get communities all over the state working together for food freedom and stay informed and have this networking ability from community to community and maybe the Michigan small farm council can be the bridge that bridges all those gaps to help keep people connected and informed then that’s what we need to encourage. When it comes time to provide public comment or reach out to the legislators to the state in Michigan when it comes to farm policy, it’s really important that people express their concerns with language changes that have been made in the right to farm act. Another thing that I would encourage people to do is peacefully non-complying with an unjust regulation I don’t consider to be a bad thing. We can’t just submit to unjust rules and regulations. A lot of these rules and regulations are outdated. A lot of them are kept in place simply because of a power trip. For example, one of the things that was overheard in the hallway after one of our meetings with our township was these people don’t have any money to defend themselves, let’s just take them to court. So I’m not saying that all local governments are like this. Some of them are. If that’s the mentality that we are up against, then we have to have a whole group of people doing the same things and believing in the same things to combat that mentality. So I think it’s more important to talk to your neighbors about something that you want to do on your property than it is to ask permission from your local government. Your neighbors are gonna be the ones that complain so if your neighbors aren’t complaining and they’re happy with what you’re doing you’re providing them with some eggs or produce, then you’re already building a stronger community and stronger relations in your immediate vicinity that are gonna be completely beneficial in the event that maybe conflict does arise. I feel that some other things that people really need to do is become educated on the importance of supporting local farmers and local food. It’s incredibly important for our community to purchase our products so that we can continue doing what we’re doing and the more support that we can build up from community members, the more support we would have in the event of another conflict with government. So I encourage people go to your farmers markets, talk to your local farmers anywhere you can go. Go to the flying mousse, we have our eggs at the flying mousse and they carry a lot of local produce. The coop obviously carries a lot of local farm stuff. Some restaurants in town who are buying products from several of us, go eat at those restaurants so that they continue buying our products. In order to keep this going the way it’s going, we’ve got to have the financial support from our communities and build that whole farm to consumer relationship and I feel it’s important for people to come to the farms as well and see how their food is being produced and understand the difference between conventional and organic and certified naturally grown and get a more broad understanding of what we’re all doing what they can do to support us. It’s more than just monetary. They can also come and volunteer and hang out on the farm for a day and help produce some of their own food.


Levi: And it’s lot of fun, too. But we definitely have our work cut out for us, so thank you for everything that you’re doing for everyone. It’s really an inspiration.


Randy: And thank you for doing these podcasts and sharing the information.


Levi: Of course.


From my limited studies of history, I have a sense that Randy’s story is part of a larger trend or pattern that runs through much of human history. This conflict between small, subsistence level farmers and states and people in power is not just a new trend in the 21st century, although perhaps these stories are more widely exposed now thanks to open communication channels via the internet. And these conflics aren’t just limited to our region here in the Midwest, or in the USA. This seems to be a recurring universal issue, so I wanted to take a moment and explore these larger trends and patterns to see if we can gain any insights from this perspective.

I’ve been watching the wonderful BBC documentary series Planet Earth 2 recently, and it provides an excellent window into the lives, motives, and inter-species conflicts that often take place amongs various primate groups. One of the most frequent conflicts is over the best territory. That which has the best hunting or foraging.

As primates, this conflict still plagues our societies, except instead of just fighting through acts of violence and displays of dominance, the new battle ground is legislative. We battle over the best territory with our written words. When those lingustic battles fail, then we still resort to the violence, but with much more devastating means. Instead of some scratches and flesh wounds on our opponent we use advanced weaponry to destroy whole cities. Our cleverness is certainly a double edges sword it seems. It greatly improves our power and efficacy do to things, but doesn’t always improve our motives and intentions for doing so.

Since the landbase is fundamentally the source of almost all real value; whether soil and space to grow food or materials to harvest for building, or minerals for mining, the ownership or access to land is fundamental for every living thing. However, our economic systems are structured such that the wealthiest are able to own and control vast territories, leaving the landless lot effectively as servants on anothers land. Our biological dependance on the land-base, means that who-soever controls the land-base effectively controls the biological creatures attempting to live upon it. This fact of nature has been exploited endlessly by power-hungry individuals throughout history.

This concentration in land ownership has happened many time through history. Our language still carries the traces of this subjugation, when we talk about our Landlords. It harkens back to the age of Lords and Serfs (ie servants ie slaves this words are all connected) in the feudalisc systems that came into prevalence in Europe in the 10th centry AD.

So the right to access to land is intricately tied to our basic right to farm.

Now, it might be appropriate to examine some of the philosophical roots of this idea of our right to farm. Where does this right come from? Is it ordained by the divine? Is it an innate right given by nature?

It doesn’t seem to me that nature has much preference for rights, and instead rewards the most successful gene replicators. The divine may have intentions but hasn’t effectively communicated those intentions to all of us, so we are left to work it out amongst our mortal selves.

The right to farm is part of the social contract. It’s perhaps a cultural innovation that was developed to counteract this basic trend of dominant human individuals and groups to attempt to control as much as possible, mostly for their own benefit, not usually for the greater good of all.

So that means that we can’t just assume that this right will always be a given. The right to farm is real in as much as we believe in it, defend it, practice it, and pass it on.

Somehow 7+ billion humans have to figure out how to all get along and share this tiny space rock we call the earth, not to mention the other millions of species. It will probably be easier to get along if we all have reasonable access to the means to meet our daily biological needs. Only once those are ensured for all can we move on and talk about the pursuit of happiness, or freedom, or your chosen utopia. Right now most humans are still living in the pursuit of survival. It doesn’t have to be that way. We’re better than this.

Just look at Randy and his family as a shining example. On only two acres of land, with a short growing season and long cold winter, they are able to provide much of the nutrients and calories they need to get by, and even have a surplus to share with their community. The right to farm, and land access are central on our journey to a world where all have access to what we need to flourish.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.
I’ll see you next time, on the Permaculture Realized Podcast.