Just about sunset yesterday, I saw the first local great blue heron this year, flying along the road I was driving. It'll be about six or seven weeks until the farmers markets are open and high temps in the 50s are in next week's forecast. Minnesota trout season opens in mid-April, Wisconsin sometime in the first week of May, I think.
Many of Minnesota's trout streams in the southeastern part of the state empty into Lake Pepin. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency [MPCA] reports that, with a few exceptions where bacteria counts are high, and some nitrogen concerns, those streams are in pretty good shape. Nutrient and sediment levels meet standards.
a Chisago County farm
Photo by J. Harrington
The waters of the southwest corner of Minnesota aren't nearly as healthy.
Of the water bodies studied, no lakes and few streams in the Minnesota portion of the Missouri River Basin met state standards for supporting aquatic life and recreation — fishable and swimmable — according to a recent report from the MPCA.Agriculture is a major contributor to water quality degradation in each locale, just as it's been identified as a past polluter and future major contributor to improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Iowa is engaged in some interesting work using "prairie strips" in row crops to improve water quality.
Sunrise River, Chisago County
Photo by J. Harrington
I'm not sure how much of the funding in the latest version of the farm bill is dedicated to improving water quality and supporting non-commodity crops, but I bet if I knew I'd say "not enough." I'll see what's available for a layperson like me to try to understand. There's a lot to learn for both farmers and their customers. I'm encouraged by the apparent progress that's been accomplished with GMO labeling. I've studied enough about systems to believe that, if we want quality, affordable locally raised food, we need to modify the current system to be more supportive of smaller, more diversified, much less industrial farms. "Cheap food" that devastates our environment, consumes great quantities of fossil fuels and contributes to our rising medical costs (gluten-free anyone?) isn't sustainable. As with many other issues these days, we can find a way to work it out together or we can become like this year's Republican party presidential campaign. What's your choice?
by Wendell BerryLove the quick profit, the annual raise,vacation with pay. Want moreof everything ready-made. Be afraidto know your neighbors and to die.And you will have a window in your head.Not even your future will be a mysteryany more. Your mind will be punched in a cardand shut away in a little drawer.When they want you to buy somethingthey will call you. When they want youto die for profit they will let you know.So, friends, every day do somethingthat won’t compute. Love the Lord.Love the world. Work for nothing.Take all that you have and be poor.Love someone who does not deserve it.Denounce the government and embracethe flag. Hope to live in that freerepublic for which it stands.Give your approval to all you cannotunderstand. Praise ignorance, for what manhas not encountered he has not destroyed.Ask the questions that have no answers.Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.Say that your main crop is the forestthat you did not plant,that you will not live to harvest.Say that the leaves are harvestedwhen they have rotted into the mold.Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.Put your faith in the two inches of humusthat will build under the treesevery thousand years.Listen to carrion — put your earclose, and hear the faint chatteringof the songs that are to come.Expect the end of the world. Laugh.Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyfulthough you have considered all the facts.So long as women do not go cheapfor power, please women more than men.Ask yourself: Will this satisfya woman satisfied to bear a child?Will this disturb the sleepof a woman near to giving birth?Go with your love to the fields.Lie easy in the shade. Rest your headin her lap. Swear allegianceto what is nighest your thoughts.As soon as the generals and the politicoscan predict the motions of your mind,lose it. Leave it as a signto mark the false trail, the wayyou didn’t go. Be like the foxwho makes more tracks than necessary,some in the wrong direction.Practice resurrection.
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.