Sunday, December 31, 2006

Small Farming for Profit and Stewardship

North Carolina farmer Alex Hitt and his wife Betsy have worked their 26 acre farm in Graham, N.C. into an environmental gem and profit center. "Over the years, Hitt has reduced acreage and labor by improving their soil with cover crops, concentrating on high-value crops that grow well in the area. What he has not reduced is profit, thanks to direct marketing through the Caroboro Farmers Market and Weaver Street Market, a cooperative grocery store in the area.

"Each acre returns a minimum of $20,000 annually, while four high-tunnel greenhouses (that shelter young or delicate crops) bring in $1,000 per crop. The Hitts embrace their small scale, growing 80 varieties of 23 vegetables along with 164 varieties of cut flowers on just three acres. Alex and Betsy were winners of the 2006 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program." (~Reprinted from "Small American Farm" magazine, January 2007 issue.)

Alex and Betsy Hitt will deliver the keynote address at this year's Future Harvest Alliance Conference in Hagerstown, Maryland, January 12-13, 2007. Learn more about this and other Future Harvest-CASA information on their website at: http:/, or email to:

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Eco Villages

Great things are occurring in Intentional Community organizations. Many today are looking at building Green and Permaculture planning in their process of creating sustainable living in rural as well as urban and suburban settings.

It's almost as if time spirits from the 60's went to school, experienced all the ups, downs and changes that life can bring, and now armed with "Green Master's Degrees", PhD’s in urban planning, psychology, and agriculture, are coming full cycle to the commune and readjusting their earlier fantasies of Utopia to fit the realities of today's world. Questions remain:

  1. Who will watch my back when crime rates rise?
  2. Where will I raise my children as predator populations increase?
  3. With crack babies now raising meth babies, where will I find a quiet, peaceful place to live?
  4. How will I earn a living in rural settings ... and perhaps even "flourish rather than just survive?"

I attest that this is a window of time when the answers to the questions are not only possible, but point to far greater rewards than we even imagine in these current cities of despair.

White American is on the move working in this direction. Why are we still anchored to places where there is little or no money, and where we are dying?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Example of a Farm Business ... Like Dogs?

Here's just one of thousands of ideas you can purchase that will change your life ... and most likely add years of contented living.

When most urbanites think of moving to rurual areas, one of the first things that pops into their heads is: "How am I going to make a living?"

Do what you like. Follow your passion. If you like dogs, there are a surprising number of kennels and horse properties up for sale. You may not want to buy large farm animals like horses, but Kennels and is a website aimed just at that market. The asking price for:
  • 10+ Acres
  • 2 Master Suites
  • 32 Separate Fenced Exercise Areas
  • 4 Bdr 3 1/2 Bath
  • 72 Runs
Asking Price: $299,000

Here's how the property above is listed:

This is a lovely Southern home, complete with the white columns. Brick and the setting is magnificent. White four board fence lines the roadside, sweeping lawn, complete with large magnolia trees, between the road and the house. Fenced back yard for security. The house is large, I haven't measured but would guestimate about 3000 sq. ft. Four bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, two story with a ground floor master suite and another on the second floor. Full balcony opens onto both back bedrooms upstairs. Formal dining room, Living room, and huge family room kitchen combo. Double attached garage.

Located in South Carolina, convenient to both Columbia and Orangeburg. On paved secondary road.

The kennel is located in 3 buildings, totaling 72 runs, with 32 separate fenced exercise areas, all fenced with 6' chain link. Approach is down a long paved drive that winds thru the grounds. Large shade trees surround all the buildings.

There is a significant amount of deferred maintenance on all the buildings, some need more work than others. Kennel is currently operating and making a living, it could do much more. Currently offering no training, no walks, minimal grooming. Owner does no advertising.

Seller may do some owner financing with significant down. This is an opportunity for the buyer with vision.

Now Is The Time ~ Start Planning

Unless you're young or grew up on a farm ... or earned a degree in agriculture or something, they type of "farms" I'm urging African Americans to purchase are best called: "Hobby Farms" or "Truck Farms."

For middle age folks and older, the prospect of buying over 1,000 acres of land, and actually FARMING them ... well, it's a bit un-daunting to say the least. Otherwise, owning something like three, five ... ten ... up to 40 acres is what I'm talking about.

1910 was the peak era for black land ownership. For African Americans to regain that same level of land ownership, each black person must own a minimum of 1.37 acres of land for us to even get back what was lost ... or depending on how you look at it... what we gave up.

Toiling all day every day in 100 degrees on over 100 acres of Georgia red clay wasn't easy and I'm sure there were more than a few who were only too happy to sell the family farm. (Especially knowing that they weren't paid the same earnings for what they produced as white farmers were.) In fact, if you look at programs like television programs like PBS' "Homecoming," you have to be wary of the propaganda they're selling. Still, it too is a valuable story about the feelings that linger in the souls of many black Americans about "Home" ... wherever that is.

I remember stories my mother told me about life on the farm and how during The Great Depression (..yeah ... some of those stories did get old...) they never suffered like people in urban America or farm workers who were in dust bowl areas... because they had everything they needed. Fresh food, farm animals, cows for milk, plenty of fresh water that ran through their land ... even horse and buggy if the gas ran out.

Even though most financial forecasters aren't sounding the alarm bells of a new depression any time soon, there are plenty who are saying that the next ten years ... and for sometime thereafter, we may be in for "Sinking Globalization" and "The Muddle Through Decades."

I don't know about you, but at age 53, I've learned from experience, that black people don't do too well in recessions ... especially a series of recessions! I was born near the end of the Baby Boom ... and it seemed like every time I stood in line, and finally got my turn at bat, game was either over or called for rain.

I attest that in Capitalism 101, to have a top, you have to have a bottom.

I assert that the playing field is not fair and never will be fair when it comes to us ... unless we can gain far more economic and moral power than we have today.

Owning land has always been one of the quickest routes to wealth. Americans seem to love to move ... and now the bulk of who is moving .... is moving to either the left or the right coast. Both are already over crowded. [SEE: ]

THERE'S NO MORE ROOM LEFT ... and still they're moving in. More rats in the cage means lower earnings, lower quality of housing, more traffic jams. Just this morning I heard a radio story about a new computerized fast lane in Minnesota or someplace. As global funds decrease, you can bet State and local authorities are going to be squeezing us for as much as they can.

Isn't it a far more logical decision to confront our fear of change, and do something different?? The definition of insanity is what? Yes ...

"Doing the same thing over, and over again, expecting different results."

African American mental health isn't all that good right now ... and with increased stressors, there will be more crime in the hoods, and more self-medication for all the drama, and yes, more mental illness. It's time to go!

Monday, December 4, 2006

So Much Land To Be Free In

During the Great Depression, many people fled the drought-stricken region that stretched from Nebraska to the Texas panhandle. The struggles of those who stayed are the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Timothy Egan who follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains during the Depression, going from sod huts to new framed houses to basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out.

One of the most powerful and thought provoking aspects of "The Worst Hard Time" is the fact that the Midwest has never recovered from the Dust Bowl exodus. Even to this day, farmers in the Midwest going bust. "All across the Grain Belt stand abandoned homesteads, symbols of untold stories of failure, flight from the land, and even suicide." They leave behing land, farm homes, barns, etc...

Perhaps to entice urban-weary Brits, even the BBC did a story on Mid West Farmers Going Bust. But the Reverse Black Migration Movement is not about trying to become prosperous farmers as much as it is getting out of the way of the insanity and ever increasing cultural doom that life in Urban America is for us. Therefore, land with a farm house and out buildings, electricty, and water already on it is a huge gift just waiting for us. I dream of small Intential Communities of like minded black people with vision seeing this opportunity and sizing it.

A common Buddhist quote is: "Everything Changes." Sadly, what is true for the "American Farmer," may be a good thing for black people seeking to join the "Back To The Land" movement. (Click here for Wikipedia’s write up.)

Heretic or "New Theology"? Bishop Charlton Pearson

Have you ever stood outside... some place where it's hot, and just wished for a breath of fresh air? Well, I just felt one while listening to NPR. It wasn't a great, cool, "Winds of Change"kind of breath ... it was just a faint one ... a small whiff that moved the grass tops just a bit ... so faintly that you could miss it if you weren't paying attention. I'm always talking about why American (and especially Black America) needs to update its theology, knowing that we'll never be a monolythic people, SEVERAL updates ... hell ... newer versions completely are in great need. But I'm getting a head of myself.
The story was about a modern American "Heretic" and "This American Life" began the story with:

"The story of Reverend Carlton Pearson (pictured), an evangelical pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His church, Higher Dimensions, was once one of the biggest in the city, drawing crowds of 5,000 people every Sunday. But several years ago, scandal engulfed the Reverend, he was denounced by almost all his former supporters, and today his congregation is just a few hundred people. He didn't have an affair. He didn't embezzle lots of money. His sin was something that to a lot of people is far worse ... he stopped believing in hell..."
The power of this story is not that the good Revern got himself in trouble by using his God given brain to actually think about his subject ... it was that ... well, it's a viewpoint long overdue.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" goes the old saying. Well, it's obviously broke and the current nation-wide Meth / Crack / OxyContin epidemics prove it. Transpersonal Psychology says that addicion is a spiritual emergency.

In, "Reality Isn't What It Used To Be," Walter Truitt Anderson discusses the strange combination of issues we're currently walking around feeling ... or choosing not to feel. "We still have the same pre-modern Gods, yet we live in a postmodern world and it seems the theologians haven't kept up pace with the Space Age we entered 30 years ago ... let alone define The Divine in our post-modern, alienated, fantasy-fueled, drama ruled dysfunctional world of The New Millennium.

We're still battling with worn out, premodern concepts like:
  • "God took my parents" *sniff* (where? ... um ... WHY??)

  • God as Santa Claus (i.e. "If I'm a good boy, God will give me a new Mercedes!")

  • If Jesus Chist lives only at MY church ... what's going to happen to good old Hapka at work?

So ... what exactly should religion do for us?

  • Religion is supposed to help us make sense of our world.

  • It's supposed to help us see The Divine increasinly in ourself and in others.

  • It should give us the faith we need to be adults. (It's said you can't be a man without faith.)

  • It's tasked with providing us with enough strenght to embrace "The Other" ... and the other isn't just the man or woman we hope to marry ... in todays world ... it's pretty damn near every body other than the person walking around in our shoes ... most days...

We obviously have enough guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are the key ingrediants for addiction ... as well as for Mental Illness... so shouldn't we have more guys and gals like Bishop Pearson walking around instead of fearfully nailing him OUT of the chruch ... because ... well ... because he's showing the emperor's lack of clothing ... despite all the money we've been giving so he could buy some?

What We Believe:

"Every problem is an opportunity in work clothes."
~Henry J. Kaiser