A Young Agrarian Land Covenant:
Food for Thought, For Becoming at Home in Our Place, For Thoughtfulness in Producing Food
With future generations in mind, may my family and friends never leave the land we steward poorer, nor its water scarcer than conditions were before we acquired responsibility for their care.
May we keep land meant to be farmed from being de-veloped, and re-envelope it with people dedicated to keep its inherent productivity in tact into perpetuity.
May we work as “greenhorns” to offer dignity, reciprocity and respect to the “grayhorns” willing to offer their land to us, and to never betray our covenant with them and the land itself.
May we seek to enrich the soil, diversify its plant cover and deepen its roots both within and beyond its harvested fields, its grazed pastures, or its orchards.
May we be diligent in learning how our practices affect those who live above and below us in our foodshed and watershed— not only the human lives, but all other-than-human lives as well.
May we participate in the regional culture of this land, and whenever possible, engage in the community rites and calendric rhythms that bind us to our place.
May we work to link the consumers of the food, fiber and timber we produce to the land on which it is produced, so that their values and ours are developed in harmony rather than in completion or in conflict.
May we encourage our members, friends and neighboring consumers to vote for what is best for the land at the polling booth where our choices help determine its governance, and at the table where what we choose to eat can benefit rather than harm the community at large.
May we share with our neighbors not only our successes in stewardship, but cautionary words of wisdom gained from our past failures as well, so that the principles that guide us and the practices that work on the ground are spread throughout this landscape.
May we refrain from solely focusing on increasing the saleable products from the land, but also on investing in the underlying natural processes which generate those products.
May we experiment with ways to control pests, diseases and weeds in a manner that does least harm to pollinators like bees and monarchs, predators, and
May we make long-term decisions about the destiny of the land and the choice of its future caretakers by asking a simple question: “What would the land itself want?” just as some Christian land ethicists often ask, “What would Jesus do if he were a farmer, fisher or forager?”
May we stay as humble as this blessed earth itself.
Gary Nabhan will be presenting at the Agrarian Trust Our Land Symposium this Saturday April 26th