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Why We Do What We Do

I was reminded yesterday why we do what we do.

I signed up for a cow-share. The farmers were a cute young couple, she was 26, he was 28. They were both from the city, she from D.C., he from L.A. They met in college, and together fell in love with each other and with sustainable farming. After graduating with some very unrelated college degrees, they put everything they had into 22 acres of grass and some old, neglected apple trees. In two years they have managed to build a house, greenhouse, and barn, all from the ground up, all from scratch, on a shoestring. Their entire income has come from selling truly organic fruit and vegetables, and they now they have two cows as well. They also have two very young children. She was out working in the orchard with her baby on her back when I pulled up, dirt on both of their smiling faces.

To the uneducated, they appear to live in poverty. Nothing is new, nothing is nice, and everything is lacking. But to me, I see nothing but hope, love and goodness. It’s obvious that they put every single last dime that they can spare into building their little farm. Their joy is equally obvious. Their love for the land, for the plants and animals, for the sustainable lifestyle, for their family and each other, radiates from them. They are our hope, our future, young people who are willing to sacrifice all to maintain what is probably our most important piece of heritage. They are a bulwark against all that is wrong in our society. They are living and being the message.

They had never heard of the FTCLDF or NAIS, and didn’t even seem to understand why they needed to have cow-shares. I suspect that they probably don’t have the internet or TV, or if they do that they haven’t any time for such things. They were much too busy caring for and improving the land, and providing wholesome food for others. A single rouge bureaucrat, another layer of invasive regulation, a government official having a bad day, could ruin everything for them. They don’t understand the dangers that they face. They don’t understand that there are people in this world who literally hate everything that they stand for, everything that they do, everything that they are. That type of hatred and illogical behavior does not compute with people whose daily task in the nurturing goodness of the land. But we understand. And it’s up to those of us who understand and care to do something about it, to protect them and fight for them even when they don’t know about it.

I was thrilled to be able to buy their milk and tomatoes. I would have paid triple. I even offered to milk their cows for them when they need time off. That seemed to really touch them, once the shock of realizing that there are lawyers in this world who can also milk cows wore off. But I feel very protective over these people, these new friends and business partners. I feel that I have a duty to my own values, to what I stand for in life, to protect and nurture them, just as they protect and nurture the land, and nurture me with their food. I had a bowl of yogurt this morning, which I made last night with milk from their cow. Such a simple food, a nutritious medium teaming with millions of beneficial little organisms. If you create and protect the right environment, life will flourish. Yogurt makes itself. I want to do that for our farmers. Create and protect an environment where they can flourish, nurture, and teach their children the values that they embody. They are our future. They are why I do what I do.

Marc Stimpert, Attorney and Former FTCLDF Board Member