The soul of the soil and an island of green.
“Here’s our organic farm from space! 500 acres surrounded by conventional farmland. Feels like I’m living on an island. Seeing is believing. I tell people and they don’t get it.” Bryan Wagner said in a text message when he shared this image.
We get it.
You get it, don’t you?
Better for the crop, better for the land, better for the ecological system and infrastructure of the soil… the soul of the soil, and it’s better for our bodies.
This is food our bodies were intended to eat, and judging by the stark contrast in this image, it’s not just better for our bodies. Organic is better for the farmer and the companies they sell to.
Organic is where it’s at. So if you were a big mega farm corporation viewing the contrast here, why wouldn’t you go green? This should be a no-brainer, right?
But that’s what Bryan means by “people don’t get it.” Imagine being surrounded by land farmed with chemical pesticides and fertilizers that’s damaging the soil and the ecosystem. It could certainly feel like you’re an island surrounded by a sea of insanity.
The only reason now that “big farma” isn’t green is entrenchment in habit, and the assumption that it’s the cheapest way. In the long run it’s more costly than we can imagine. Or maybe we can imagine it if we consider the rampant disease and out of control health of this country, fueled by denatured foods and toxified by chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Prodigal Organic Farmer
Bryan grew up on a farm… lived through his family losing a farm and is now almost full circle returned to his roots, managing another farm. Actually, we could say “full spiral”, because this circle isn’t a closed loop, but rather an ascending one. Bryan is now doing better than what he grew up knowing to do because he’s learned a new method of farming.
Bryan Wagner is an inventor and organic farmer on 500 acres in central Illinois. A
fifth seventh generation farmer, Bryan is returning to the roots of his ancestors. Use to be, organic farming was the only kind of farming there was. Bryan’s grandfather grew up knowing how. That’s just what everyone did, until that all began to change after WWII with the introduction of chemical farming.
Now organic naysayers will say that chemicals are organic, which is perfectly true. So for common ground, let’s agree that we’re speaking to naturally occurring substances known to benefit the earth and people, without the negatives.
Editor’s Note: After we first posted this article, Bryan got to talking with his father about their farming roots, and they dug a little deeper to discover that Bryan is actually a 7th generation farmer!
For Bryan, it’s been a journey of unlearning all that he ever knew about farming and learning how to work with nature rather than fight her. As you can see by the Google Earth image, he has been a good student.
“It’s been a journey of learning how to work with nature rather than fight her.”
Bryan Wagner attributes virtually all that he’s learned about how to manage a thriving organic farm to one man.
I am not yet a farmer, but after hearing about Gary from Bryan, and tuning into his presentation in the video that follows this, I was fascinated.
Gary McDonald has vast wisdom on the natural ecosystem of plants that begins with the soil. He is changing farming, changing lives and helping to salvage our soil and farming ecosystem.
In Gary’s lesson for farmers, I found lessons for life.
Anyone tapped into nature tends to see life’s lessons there. “See the lilies in the field and how they grow…” And Gary is a shining example of this.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
― Henry David Thoreau,
On the next page you’ll see a video of Gary presenting to a group of farmers at the Albert Lea Seed Company in Albert Lea, MN. They are a supplier of Organic Seeds and other Organically related products. Kudos to them for offering such great educational programs on organic farming! 1)http://www.alseed.com/
But before we head over to Gary’s presentation, first to share some poignant points as intro.
“We want to get that crop to where it’s a lot bigger than the weeds and grass.”
Think about the symbology here for life. Bad stuff happens. Bad days, wrong choices, failures, lessons. It’s all a part of the journey and if after each failure we get back up and try again, we get stronger, better, smarter.
It’s so vital to make that gap bigger between the size of the weed and the size of the corn.
As in the garden, so in life. If our crops are bigger than the weeds, we will have a good garden. In the garden of life, bad stuff is like the weeds. We keep them under control by nurturing the good stuff. If our crops are bigger than the weeds, we will have a good garden.
It all begins with rich soil and worms—vermiculture—but that’s just a part of it. Gary speaks of a system where the weeds have their job to do, and it all works in balance.
Veins of the Soil – Worms and Vermiculture
Good gardens have good worms. Worms are like the veins of the soil.
You don’t need fertilizer and additives. You need worms.You don’t need pesticides, you need weeds.
Bryan Wagner told me that:
“When a worm eats, it poops out 9 times in NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium)! Take a square foot and count how many earthworms are in it. Then times that by nine to give you the amount of NPK per units. Figure that in cubic yard and then acres. Conventional [farming] can’t beat it!”
The three numbers on fertilizer represents the value of the three macro-nutrients used by plants. These macro-nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) or NPK for short. 2)http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/fertilizer-numbers-npk.htm
You may also benefit by these articles on worms and vermiculture.3)https://gardensall.com/she-made-her-own-worm-bins-and-you-can-too/4)https://gardensall.com/vermiculture-for-vermicompost-and-organic-gardening/
Soil is the foundation of the garden. To nurture the garden we must first nurture the soil.
You may also enjoy these articles on soil.5)Healthy Soil is the Foundation of Your Garden6)https://gardensall.com/soil-tests-how-healthy-is-your-soil/7)https://gardensall.com/ancient-soil-amendment-increase-food-security-reduce-carbon/
Back to the synchronicity of gardens and life: the soil is akin to our gut. If our gut isn’t healthy, our entire biome is out of balance, and our body suffers illness or other imbalances.
Gary McDonald’s wisdom on farming and the soil, run miles deep and acres wide. Whether you’re a farmer with hundreds of acres or a gardener with a small yard plot you’re cultivating, Gary’s wisdom is interesting, encouraging and valuable for organic gardens.
“Weeds are here for a reason. They’re here to build the soil.” Gary McDonald, Ag Pro
Since the garden begins with the nurturing of the soil, you may enjoy this book. We bought it years ago, and it’s time to dust it off and read it again:
Book on Amazon: The Soul of Soil: A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers, 4th Edition by Joseph Smillie
Gary’s Talk on Weeds
We hope you’ll tuned into Gary’s presentation on the last page. You’ve likely never heard gardening wisdom so deep… so simultaneously esoteric and yet common sensical as this. You will likely never see your garden’s weeds in quite the same way.
Please do take the time to tune into Gary McDonald’s presentation below:
The Wisdom of Weeds – and what your weeds are telling you about your soil.
The Wisdom of Weeds
With Gary McDonald
Gary McDonald speaks about organic weed control in 2014. Published by ProfitProAg.com8)https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1KAbcmNMXMY7gg63_nyTIQ
“I’d rather go with wisdom and truth than knowledge and facts.” Gary McDonald
“Kick that soil off the welfare program…. I want the farmer to become self sufficient so that he can hang onto his farm and keep his family together in the future.” Gary McDonald
We hope you enjoy this interview with Gary as much as we have.
Thanks to Bryan Wagner, Organic Farmer and Inventor, for telling us about Gary.
Thanks to Gary McDonald for telling it like it is, sharing his deep wisdom and connections from working closely with the earth his entire life, and for working tirelessly to restore sanity and sanctity to the soil of our earth and crops.
Editor’s Update: When we wrote to Gary McDonald to ask for his approval of his inclusion in this article, he graciously responded with an eloquent response, which we have his permission to share with you here:
It is exciting to know there are people in the world like you who are promoting the most efficient and safest system of feeding a hungry world “The Home Garden”. Big Ag has brought us “Big Problems” large and small. The way we change the world is one person at a time and you are doing it!
I am okay with you sharing the video as often as you like, I do not own the rights to the video. It was taken of me when I was speaking for the Albert Lea Seed Company in Albert Lea, MN. They are a supplier of Organic Seeds and other Organically related products. I appreciate knowing you enjoyed the presentation.
I briefly read through the article and approve it. There is so much that needs to be communicated to all Earthlings, we must learn and internalize the basics.
“The health of plants, animals and man starts in the Soil”.
As I watch the world news being reported daily of our world coming apart at the seams, I can’t help but think how much of a difference it would make if the people of this world could grasp this simple “Truth”. As we continue to compromise the integrity of our “Ecology” we continue to compromise the integrity of our “Economy” but few are even of a mind to connect the two. Like drunken sailors our indoctrinated leaders foolishly attempt to print new wealth rather than working with the Infinite Creator’s creative processes, that through “Biological Proliferation and Nitrogen fixation” true wealth and health is created.
It is truly in the hands of the masses to solve the world’s challenges, for…
…we can be no closer to our Creator than when we are in the Garden.
Yours for More Life,
For more on what the weeds are telling you about your soil, you may enjoy this article.9)https://gardensall.com/your-weeds-telling-you-something/
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