Gaining Ground

Gaining Ground

Over the Easter holiday, traveling to and from the lake shore where my father-in-law lives, my wife read to me from Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm. Erin has been increasingly vocal about living on a farm, and this has been her latest attempt at luring me to the countryside. On another, previous attempt–as a guest blogger on this site–she chose the agrarian life as her topic (please click here to read that apologetic).

There’s a quote toward the end of the book that encapsulates its main themes, themes that resonates deeply with me and, surely, many of you. They’re at once inspiring and convicting. As the author reflects upon the grass-fed meat farm he’s established, he writes:

The were no concrete feedlots, no antibiotics, no supplements laced with hormones. This was the very definition of ‘slow food.’ As I entered my late twenties, I found myself moving at a more tranquil pace as well, finding a rhythm with the subtle changes of the seasons. My definition of success began to fall out of step with the anxious hustle of modern life…I sometimes lay on my back in the soft, clean pasture, staring up at the blue sky, relaxing while the animals placidly grazed around me. The air was fresh, and the pastures thick and green…This version of productivity ran contrary to every business book I had ever read. Instead of taking, we were leaving. Green space was restored to landscape, and airborne carbon was recycled into the earth, building new topsoil for future fertility. We were literally gaining ground. It was an equation of increasing returns. Each year, the soil responded with more abundance. Almost by accident, I felt as though we had tapped into something much bigger than ourselves, a natural equilibrium that transcended culture and politics,” (Gaining Ground, 288)

Here are found the themes of a seasonality to life; good stewardship of natural resources; and both the tangible (and intangible) abundance that comes to us more as a gift for living this way: an “accident” he calls it, which can also be understood in the more classical sense of the term accident as something that naturally follows from the essence of something else. Something calls to us from this “natural equilibrium”, and when one responds one finds one’s footing.

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