Kindness to the Land
By Paul Fleischer
We wrote about the Southern Gables annual leaf collection event a few weeks ago, mostly about how it was such a wonderful example of the neighborhood coming together to support one another and the planet. The project kept hundreds of bags of leaves out of landfills, and enhanced our sense of community by working together for good and having fun doing it.
We didn’t say much, though, about the huge amount of good this project is doing for the land. As a small scale food producer, I can tell you that this event helps us incredibly. The seasons to come will be more prolific and the crops more abundant because of all of this organic matter which will be worked into the soil to enrich fertility. When we first purchased this property, the ground was really nothing more than dead dirt. Over the years though, we have utilized cover cropping methods, added leaves through this event and multiple trucks of organic compost and manure, implemented a crop rotation schedule and focused on low till organic farming methods to improve the land. Now the soil is just exploding with microbial activity and life, and this has led to an improvement in the overall ecosystem of our land.
We now have 3 families of red-tailed hawks that are constantly perched somewhere around the property. They are so used to us now we can nearly get close enough to touch them. When the sun hides behind the mountains for the evening the hawks end their shift, a beautiful barn owl takes over. He is not quite as unintimidated by us, but equally important to our living system. We have now seen foxes and deer, raccoons and skunks, snakes and unlimited numbers of birds and insects come back to the land. All of these creatures add to the diversity that we have been working to improve and are returning to this land because of what we are doing to the soil. This really is where all life begins. Good soil creates a ripple effect through the entire ecosystem and without it, there can be no ecological diversity, no life. Kindness to the land will always be rewarded with generous returns.
We are thankful for this community and for what we can all do together for our planet. We will keep doing our part here at the farm, and look forward to producing healthful food here for years to come. As we feel the changing of the seasons and shift over to the farm tasks of winter, we think of the coming holidays and wish our neighbors the best. Stay safe.
Paul Fleischer is the co-owner and farmer of Fleischer Family Farms. He is also a high school agricultural education teacher. He cultivates the land on his Southern Gables property alongside his wife and co-owner, Chelsie.