Tag Archives: Organic farming

I am a Farmer

“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.”

– Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food

Anyone recognize the voice?!

When I throw my hands up in despair over the latest GMO spliced with resistance to yet another biocide… Or hear ill-informed peeps tout dubious benefits of biotech… It’s enough to weep rivers of despair. But when I go to eat, I perk up and remind myself that I am not insignificant. No, I cannot automatically change all the misguided laws and foul decisions in the world with the sweep of my hand. I cannot reverse climate change by wishing for it. I cannot magically make all toxic chemicals vanish and extinct creatures extant. I cannot make billions of bees come back from the dead. And no, I cannot reverse the loss in biodiversity by feeling bad.

However, I can do little things. You too! Little things that you and I can each do daily and repeatedly. We can sign petitions for social and environmental justice. More importantly, we can choose how to spend each dollar in this consumeristic society we live in. We can choose what kinds of systems and companies get our support. And as we make the choices about what to feed our loved ones, we – by default – choose what kind of farms to support.

Voting with every bite on our forks. Because when we choose well, good things grow.

Farmer.

March for our Food

“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”
– JFK

I passionately encourage everyone everywhere to march tomorrow in the world’s second March Against Monsanto.  It’s being held in every major city in the world on October 12th.

Here is Dr Vandana Shiva explaining why we should March.

Although Monsanto is perhaps the least ethical of the corporations, they are not the only ones legally hijacking our food supply.  6 companies are in control here: Dow, Sygenta, Dupont, Bayer Crop Science, Basf  are just as culpable.  Between them, they control the global seed, pesticide and agricultural biotechnology markets.  This is not science fiction.  This is not a conspiracy theory.

“What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain.” —Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector

20130522-111054.jpg

This should have violated every anti-trust piece of legislation known to the courts.   Like monocrop agriculture is wrong, so are a handful of companies consolidating the food chain.   They say they are feeding the world.  Owning and poisoning the food supply doesn’t equate to feeding the world.  GMOs are not proven safe for human consumption.   They were released into our food supply after 3 month long rat studies.  Rats live 2 years!  The theory is that they use fewer pesticides.  The reality is that they use more pesticides than before.  The theory is that they give more nutrition.  The reality is that these are all just dreams and not one nutritionally enhanced food is commercially available.  As people wake up to this reality, they are outraged.


20130522-111143.jpg

March for our Food.

March for the Bees who are beeing destroyed by neonicontinoid pesticides.  (Neonicotinoids are a common coating on GMO seeds)

March for justice for the 284 000 Farmers in India who have been driven to suicide.

March for biodiversity.

March for the system of farming that works: ORGANIC.  In side by side comparison studies Organic yields equal GMO yields over the long run.  In times of drought, Organic yields are greater than GMOs.  Without poisoning the Earth.

I’m leaving you with this image: Monarch butterflies flutter, Bees Buzz, Insects abound, Our rivers run clean.  Air is pure.  This all is possible if we grow organically. Listen to the Earth.  Respect her creatures.  Respect each other.   As Grandpa Rupert said,

“Always Leave the soil better than when you found it.”

Dag Falck, the Expert, Replies

As the saying goes, let other people advise but never let them decide for you.

Yesterday, while gathering signatures for the GE FREE BC Petition, I met a working scientist with 3 biology degrees including a PhD, who only bought organic local food and was carrying his precious sleeping baby in a baby bjorn.  Guess what?  He was reluctant to sign the petition.  He knows the data about fertilizers creating a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the data about glyphosate toxins in fetal blood, the poisoning of water by atrazine, the death of bees by GMOs since the seeds are coated in neonictinoid pesticides.  He knows that and accepts that but was still unwilling to sign.  The GMOs we accept and grow right now in N. America – not the theory of them, not the hope of them, not the promise of them – are terribly catastrophically wrong for our planet, bees, health and society.    This scientist holding his baby said that he was holding out for the possibility that GE technology was in theory helpful (for Africans, Asians, for a remote possibility that they would solve future problems).  Again, we said that GMOS that are grown right now were not solving anything especially given that over the long-run organic yields are higher that GMOs!  He hummed and hawed.

But Victory!  After a 10 minute debate – we convinced him to sign.  It was the hardest-earned signature from yesterday!

I wanted to formally address Amy’s reply from yesterday.  Not only Amy brought this up but several others too – Amy is a political scientist.  She asked important questions that were also asked by thinkers and scholars, University Professors who are using their powerful logic and splendid gifts of deduction to understand GMOs (as they are currently grown in N.America for N. Americans).  I asked Dag Falk, Organic programs manager at Nature’s Path if he would respond to questions several of you asked me following the film screening about Organic.  He has spent his entire life advocating for organic methods. He answers Amy’s questions point by point.

Dag Falck, Organic Programs Manager, Nature's Path Foods

Dag Falck, Organic Programs Manager, Nature’s Path Foods

do you know for sure that certified organic does not include GMO? What about GMOs in grain that found its way into the food chain — feed that is given to cows/pigs/chickens?

What we know for sure is that Organic does not contain any GMO that was knowingly allowed to enter the product either through growing or handling.  Unfortunately we live in a polluted world where these pollutants in the last 17 years have started to include GMOs.  Imagine whale fat containing DDT which was banned in most developed countries decades ago?  So there is no safe place, there is no way to build a wall tall enough, As Arran Stephens said many years ago, “there is no wall tall enough to keep out GMO”.  We are all very sad that this is the case, and after we grieve for this most terrible and unforgivable fact, we need to shake our heads and take a hard look around and ask ourselves, what is the best protection I can give myself and my family from GMOs?  And the answer is that certified organic food, and food with credible standards and oversight like the Non GMO Project, are the best ways to do that.  Is it perfect? — no, but it’s the best there is, and let me tell you exactly how much better it is than conventional non organic food, or food where no effort has gone into protecting it.  Organic food production has strict rules about not using prohibited materials like pesticides, herbicides GMOs etc. ect.  Buffers are required towards any neighboring crop that uses any of these.  Harvesting equipment, silos, trucks etc used to handle crops must be either used exclusively for organic, or it must be cleaned and documented according to a very high standard.

Can contamination still happen?  Yes it can, and there is pesticides in millions of public wells in America, groundwater is polluted many places, rainwater contains industrial particles that fall out in rain.  It just simply cannot be avoided 100%, even if we really really want to.  But what organic does do is two things: A) it does not add any more to the pollution, because its forbidden to use any of the materials that pollute like pesticides, herbicides, GMO’s etc.  B) the contamination of organic products is miniscule compared to conventional crops.  Consider potatoes, sprayed routinely 12 times between planting and harvest, consider GMO corn or soy that is “stacked” and contain both BT toxin (a pesticide) in each cell of the plant including the corn and soy we eat, and Round Up Ready®, which means that every cell of the plant including what we eat is impervious to the pesticide Round Up ® or Glyphosate.  And it’s not just a little bit, it’s 100% present in entire fields- as a matter of fact it’s in 100% of over 80% of all cotton, corn, soy, canola and sugarbeet that is grown in North America.

If you’re not paying attention, it’s a foregone conclusion that each and every meal you eat contains large portions of 100% GMO ingredients.  The EU, and the Non GMO Project agrees on a threshold of 0.9% GMO contamination.  Anything above that is not allowed.  Organic foods don’t have the threshold, but attain a similar level through all the practices mentioned above.  It’s actually pretty good that we can limit our exposure by 99.1% just by choosing organic.

But I agree, it’s a crime and a terribly sad world to live in where there is no way to escape even this.  That’s why (besides eating organic) that I’m doing everything I can to set this straight,.

On a practical point, organic standards prohibit feeding animals anything that is GMO, so the only thing that could get into an animal feed would be unwanted contamination at the low levels mentioned.

 How can organic farmers be sure the food scraps they feed their chickens and the like are GMO free? 

Organic standards do not allow food scraps or anything else to be fed to certified organic animals unless it can be demonstrated and documented that the feed is not GMO.  So for instance a bakery could not have their waste used by an organic farmer as feed if the bakery used non certified organic corn soy or Canola oil at all.

How about GMO contaminated soil (from household composing) in which otherwise perfectly organic tomatoes would be grown in peoples backyards?

Organic standards do not allow composting of GMO substrates, and neither should any backyard gardener who is concerned about organic and non GMO.

It’s difficult to fight back, and to do everything to protect ourselves from GMO and pesticide pollution, but it is possible to make a huge difference, and one of the easiest ways is to support organic agriculture, the only system with a strict standard, an annual third party inspection, and a serious fine for fraud (people are in jail right now for breaking the organic rules).  Also this is a repeatable system than anyone can learn, and it leaves the soil more fertile after use than before.

Sometimes it’s tempting to complain about that which we love the most, because we are so disappointed that it’s not perfect.  Think of how much we often expect of our spouses, or children.  They already are the most beautiful creatures to us, but when they slip up (in our eyes) even a little bit, we can’t help but notice, and heaven forbid we sometimes open our mouth and say something….  (don’t try this at home…)

It’s precisely because we love them, and we want them to be perfect to help us feel like we are protected by them also, that we hold them to such a high standard.  A stranger walking down the street, we don’t have very high standards for at all.

Let’s curb our tongues with our loved ones when we get disappointed or scared when we feel that they fall an ¼ inch below our standard, and lets curb our tongues when we want to cry that even organic isn’t able to protect us 100.0%.  We all know what the right thing to do is; support your loved ones, share your love for them, with them, and they will become more of what you love.  Support organic, it will do more to save  the world than any other single thing you could possibly do.  And love an organic farmer!

Organically,

Dag Falck

Victoria’s Organic Box Delivery Guide

I love organic food being delivered to my kitchen door.

The best is when my husband or children run to the garden and come back with handfuls of kale or lettuce or carrots.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love going to farms and Farmer’s Markets and choosing my fruits and veggies when I can.  But when I can’t (which is most of the time), I get them delivered.

When we lived in London England in the late 1990s, we got an organic box delivered to our home.  I do admit to grumbling, washing off clods of Earth from potatoes and parsnips, carrots and leeks.  With time or with understanding that foods from the farms are best washed at the farm (why dump the soil down the drain instead of putting it back into the earth?), our experience in locally delivered vegetables and fruits has vastly improved.  A frequent complaint I hear from folks is that they don’t like being delivered food that they don’t like or can’t bribe their kids to eat (rutabaga? Jerusalem artichokes? Brussel sprouts?).  Fear not, with sophisticated websites and the ability to avoid food few in your household will eat, that has changed as well.  The options are incredible!

For my local Victorians, I wanted to tell you about GoBox Organics, a new delivery service on the block and also give you a guide of where to look to get Healthy fresh Organic Foods delivered to your door.  I could have used a guide like this when I first arrived.

Hope it’s helpful!

GoBox Organics. I know Megan Parris to have one of the Greenest thumbs around.  She could probably turn a GMO plant organic!  (That is a joke in case you’re wondering.  GMO seeds are altered at the DNA level to either express a toxin to repeal pests and/or to be resistant to dangerous, toxic and unsustainable pesticides.  Furthermore, GMO seeds are also genetically engineered to not reproduce, forcing you to buy seeds often, paying royalties for the patent on life.  I won’t talk about food democracy but look it up.)  Megan, a trained and gifted chef, used to run the Popular Cook’s Day Off catering with her sister and is now providing certified organic farm fresh food and groceries too.  She is committed to service and quality and organics.  She told me that although there are local farms which seem great, she only will bring you foods from farms that have Organic Certification.  Farmers have to keep meticulous records, she told me.  If they are organized farmers, getting the Organic Certification is not complicated   http://www.goboxorganics.com/

Share Organics came highly recommended when we moved to Victoria.  We tried it, it was great and have since spread the word to many others.  Susan is active, reinforcing Organics and non-GMOs at every turn.  She was even giving out organic apples at the March Against Monsanto Victoria. http://www.shareorganics.bc.ca/

My friend Jenny swears by Saanich Organics.  Her husband’s family has a farm, so if Jenny likes it, you’re sure to like it too. http://saanichorganics.com/

Spud has been at it since 1997.  They are based in Vancouver and provide great service and quality products.  http://www.spud.ca/

Green Earth Organics looks like another great option in a cornucopia of choices.  I haven’t tried them before but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  https://victoria.greenearthorganics.com/

The Good Food Box is a non-profit scheme.  Not fully certified organic though. http://thegoodfoodbox.ca/

I want this to be a definitive guide to Victoria’s Organic Box Delivery Schemes.  Please let me know if I’ve missed one or things change.

Certified organic food is the gold standard.  Foods bearing the Canada Organic Seal can be trusted.  Organic is a legal definition and a traceable system with the force of law behind it.  Organic means no GMOs.  GMOs have never been allowed in Organic agriculture ever.  I want to say just trust me on this, my family has been fighting to keep it that way for years.  But don’t take my word for it, look it up and educate yourself, your family and your friends.

I’ve heard people say, “Oh, how do I really know if it’s organic”.  First of all, I’m sure we all know people who are allergic to pesticides.  I am sad to say that I know more than a couple.  A girl in my daughter’s school has an immediate hive reaction to non-organic foods.  She’s like a human litmus test.  Ask around, maybe you know someone who can tell you if organic foods really have pesticides or not.  If in doubt, visit your farms and find out what they are growing and how they are growing it.  Organic farmers are happy to share their knowledge.  They are proud of what they do.

Organic Farmers are heroes purifying our planet, our bodies and our taste-buds.

I am proud of them too.

My Speech at the March Against Monsanto Victoria

“The Right to Know what’s in our food is going to define our generation”

– Me (Today)

For the first time today, I gave a speech at a Protest Rally.   I spoke to a crowd covering the lawn in front of Victoria’s Parliament Buildings.  The energy was insane and I kept getting interrupted with applause.  Having been so moved since hearing Dr Vandana Shiva talk, it was motivating and inspiring to march with others, demanding our rights to know what’s in our food.  Several people afterwards asked me if I could email my speech to them.  I figured maybe it would be better to post it so anybody can find it.  I’ve also been asked about where to sign  petitions.  I am going to find that out put that information out too.  Meantime, here is my talk.

“I speak to you as a friend and as a mother who is sick to her stomach with this GMO madness. My Grandparents and great- grandparents farmed here on Vancouver Island. Grandpa Rupert said “Always leave the Soil better than you found it”.

I am here today because I met Dr Vandana Shiva, winner of the Alternative Nobel prize and heard her talk here at UVIC. I was so upset that evening, I couldn’t sleep. I was inspired and inflamed. I was so perturbed and disturbed about the current state of affairs, I wanted to get up and shout, tell people about it. We have a right to know what’s in our food. There is not enough evidence that GMOs are healthy for us. The ever-growing evidence is that GMOs are poisoning us and destroying our planet.

20130525-170613.jpg

First of all, GMOs stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. These are plants and animals not found in nature, created in laboratories. Once they are released into nature you can’t recall them, like opening the lid of Pandora’s Box, My Dad Arran said in 1990s, “There is no wall high enough to keep out GMOs”. There are two main types of GMOs. One type has insecticide toxin spliced into their genes. The other type is spliced with a pesticide resistance gene. So when you plant it in a field and saturate that field with pesticides and herbicides, Everything in that field dies (in theory). Everything, except for the Genetically modified plant.

We first heard about GMO foods in the 1990s with the Franken tomato with fish genes.  From then until now independent study after independent study has shown serious health and environmental and social consequences.

Animal studies show that GMOs cause : cancers, ulcers, acute signs of early aging, reproductive and growth problems.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg. GMO toxins are in our bodies. They even cross the placenta. In a 2011 study from the Scientific Journal Reproductive Toxicology, 93% of fetal blood tested contained GMO toxins. This is dangerous and as a Mother, I find this terrifying.

What is worse is that more than eighty percent of all food sold in Canadian supermarkets contains these GMOs. Eighty percent! And nobody knows about it because they are not labelled!

64 countries require GMO labeling or outright ban GMOs. 64 countries including such “Progressive Nations like China and Russia – require GMOs to be labelled. Why not US?

20130525-170644.jpg

My family has been at the forefront to label GMOs in North America. We are Canadians, living here in Victoria and Vancouver but so far, the fight to label has been in the US. GMOs are a problem affecting everybody, everywhere. You coming out today is a sign that Canada too is waking up.

Let me tell you about a grandmother called Pamm Larry in California. Pamm presented a proposition to label GMOs called prop 37. My family heard about this contributed 660, 000 to help her spread the word. Other companies and individuals joined us and we raised 3-4 million dollars for prop 37, the right to know. Californians wanted GMO labelling and the proposition was going to pass with a landslide. But guess what happened in the last 6 weeks of that grass roots campaign? Monsanto, Dow, Coca cola, Syngenta, Post, DuPont, Bayer, Pespico, Cascadian Farms, Kelloggs, Kashi and others donated almost 50 million dollars to defeat labelling. Those big companies and big companies posing as little companies do not want consumers to know what we are eating. They outspent the grassroots pro-labelling initiative by 10 to 1 after waging a dirty, fearful, and deceitful campaign. But guess what? they didn’t win the vote by tenfold. The final vote came down to 48.5% for labelling GMOs and 51.5% against. It wasn’t a win for Consumer Rights this time BUT it was a victory in that 6,000,000 people voted FOR labelling. That represents a ten-fold increase in awareness of this dangerous and unsustainable technology.

We are awakening and we are the droplets of water in the tides that are turning. Just this past week in Connecticut, the house approved a pro-labelling bill that went to the senate who also voted to approve it 35 to 1: Democrats and Republicans together. Concerned Citizens in Washington State and Vermont have bills on the table as we speak.

Let me tell you something neat. Scientists have come up with a way of measuring life in fields. They take this box contraption which has cameras and sensors in it and lay it in a field. It counts every time a bug or creature crawls or slithers or buzzes through it. In an organic field, there will be hundreds of insects going through there in 24 hours. Now take the same box and put it in a GMO field and guess what happens? In one 24 hour period, in that GMO field, there will only maybe one or possibly 2 insects passing that box. The animals and insects know to stay away from GMOS – or have been killed -but we don’t. ?

20130525-171943.jpg

I thought the Canadian government was supposed to protect us citizens.  Don’t we have the right to know what we are eating?  We must teach ourselves where to shop, how to shop, and what to buy. Tell your schools and your work places about GMOs. Make you voice heard, ask your local elected representative for help. In a world where voting with your money can be an act of protest, buy from your local farms food you trust. If you want to be totally and utterly defiant, plant seeds, grow your own food.

It’s confusing out there in the supermarket. We are being misled and confused and deliberately so. What should you eat? What should you trust? What should you avoid? Here are some shopping rules:

Avoid “Natural” if that’s it’s only claim. By itself, “Natural” means nothing nowadays. Natural means it can have pesticides and herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, and GMOs.  It probably does.  There are no rules or laws regulating the term ‘Natural”.

Foods bearing the Canada Organic Seal can be trusted.  Organic is a legal definition and a traceable system with the force of law behind it.

There is a new label called Non-GMO project verified. It is third-party certified at a threshold of 9/10 of a percent contamination. If you see it on packaging, that means the food has been tested and has no GMOs. It is a step in the right direction. However, it is not all that great. Harmful and unsustainable pesticides and Herbicides are still allowed, just not the ones in GMO production. This label is being used as Greenwashing by some companies. It certainly is not as good as organic.  Organic certification has never allowed GMOs.  Never.

20130525-170622.jpg

When in doubt, if in doubt, buy certified organic. Organic automatically means that it’s GMO FREE PLUS it’s grown sustainably. Organic is quantum leaps better than all the other labels combined. Certified organic is the Gold Standard: No harmful pesticides, no harmful herbicides. Buying organic is safe for you and is the only way we can keep our waters and lands and soil pure.

Think of that GMO field – barren of bees and insects, silent except for farmers in biohazard suits spraying toxic chemicals on the crops. Now see an organic one. See a world where the bees are buzzing and the soil is naturally replenished. See the world where food is democratic, where the seeds are free and grow again and again and again. When you buy Organic, you support this.

20130525-170604.jpg

Demand GMOs to be labelled. If China and Russia and 62 other countries have done it, we can do it too. Nestle just recently caved into consumers in South Africa who demanded that its baby food be GMO free. Why did Nestle do this? Because a concerned group of citizens demanded it. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Like in S. Africa, we can do the same thing here in Canada. We must do the same thing! We are the voice! We have the right to know what’s in our food! What do we want: Labelling When do we want it: Yesterday

Dr Vandana Shiva said, “The growing of our food should be an act of love.”

And as Grandpa Rupert said “Always leave the soil better than you found it.”

Thank you.”

Earth Day Message

On this Earth Day 2013, I see a world where it is becoming ever hipper and cooler to garden and farm organically.

Image

Me and my dad, Arran

I was hanging out in Richmond the other day, dad was busy, furiously typing when I walked into his office

‘Whatcha doing?” I asked.

He kind of hummed and hawed and mumbled for a bit.  My phone rang so I left.  About half an hour later or so, I bumped into him again.  “Hey Deepie, want to hear what I’ve been writing?” he asked.  My friend Nathalie Chambers was there, talking about conservation of farmland (more on that in the future).  Dad read the following out loud to us.  Nathalie was crying by the time he finished.  Me too.

“Dad,” I said, “I have to share that on my new blog”.

He smiled his beautiful smile. “Go ahead.”

Dad and mom are my heroes, more so every day.  Dad founded Vancouver’s first vegetarian restaurant called the Golden Lotus and established Vancouver’s first super-market size Health Food store called Lifestream in the late 1960s.  An idealist driven to business in order to advocate for the Earth, Health, Organic Farming and Ethical business practises, my parents are inspirations to thousands.  Dad has been called a ‘folk hero”, “hippie capitalist” among other names.  To me he is a loving, kind, and firm father with a fierce sense of justice. When he feels that something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘just’ or ‘injust’, he will stop at nothing to stand up and say so.  My Mom is a determined mother bear and lioness.  She also has that uncanny common sense with the wisdom of Solomon.  They are a fierce team.

In case you are wondering, the goal of “The Deeper Side Blog” is not to promote my parent’s or their company but to use them and many many others as beacons of light, as shining models; templates of success for those searching to creating meaning in life.  I was thrilled to hear from Tricia Millhouse Walter feeling moved by despair about the conditions of children in her neighbourhood and transforming that energy into positive action by working for the non-profit ‘Corazon’.  She posted on my first ‘blogger’ post and I’m not sure that came through.  She is another example of people moved to ‘be the change’.   Although I’ve started this blog talking about the right of the seed, I am brewing and steeping with overflowing words in my bottomless teapot of ideas.  I’m just wondering which one to write next – and trying to find the time!  I could write this blog 15 hours a-day, not eat or sleep (Yeah, I’m a little obsessive).

Here is the Earth Day message.

EARTH DAY OPEN LETTER FROM ARRAN & RATANA, Nature’s Path co-
founders

On this Earth Day, we give thanks to the Earth, our Mother, and to the Creative
Spirit, our Father. We give thanks to you, our beloved Customers for believing in
and supporting Nature’s Path and what we stand for: good wholesome healing
food, food which is good for the planet, good for people, for animals, for farmers
and all living things. We give thanks for Light and Love, Peace and Beauty. May
it heal, spread and overcome the dark, the forlorn, the hungry, the pain and the
forgotten. We give thanks to the hundreds of valued team members at Nature’s
Path.

On this Earth Day, we would also like to say a few words in support of the
powerful, relevant, beautiful and poetic new film about food which is being
released across North America and the world: GMO OMG by filmmaker Jeremy
Seifert.

There is a parable about the Earth, which we’d like to share:

Once, the Earth was asked how She could support the weight of the mountains,
the land, the oceans, the peoples, the animals, the birds and fishes. How could
she possibly withstand the occasional famine, war, bloodshed and poverty. How
could she bear such a burden?

And the Earth replied, “I can stand any burden, except an ungrateful heart.”

Love to you all,

Arran & Ratana Stephens

This Earth Is Ours Song

I know of a world where farmers were moved by the land’s beauty to poetry and song. I see a world where farmers break out again into a joyful refrain. And may they carry spirit of this song in their hearts.

Gearing up for Earth Day…. This is a Farmer’s Anthem.

My grandfather Rupert Stephens was a gentle soul with 2 passions, organic farming and writing songs. He also wrote about farming. Grandpa’s most beautiful songs are (arguably) those about the Earth. He wrote “This Earth is Mine’ in the 1950s.

Last year, on Vancouver Island where the song was born, I re-recorded ‘This Earth is Ours’ changing the lyric slightly. My dad Arran recited the second verse as indicated in a creased, fragile, old lyrics sheet found in some random book. It had been type-written by my grandmother the glamorous Gwendolyn who loved the feel of dirt in her hands.

I got in touch with the amazing guitarist Adam Dobres. We took up the tempo, gave it a Joan Baez ‘Silver Dagger’ – feel with full vocal vibrato and Adam playing a wicked folk-rendition on his guitar.

Grandpa Rupert passed away when I was a toddler. When my dad Arran announced the event of the birth of his granddaughter (ie: moi), Grandpa Rupert was delighted. But when they told him my name, he didn’t say anything.

He must have been at the origin of the Stephens’ refrain of “Before you speak, ask yourself first, ‘Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?'” Grandpa Rupert really didn’t like my name.

Awww. Sniff. (I don’t blame him, it was a name that I found hard to wear growing up on the West side of Vancouver.)

A little afterwards, Grandpa Rupert told dad about a bird cooing outside his window. The bird was singing ‘G-Deep! G-Deep!’ And that did it. If the birds were singing my name, it was a sign. After that Grandpa Rupert loved my name.

I love him through his music and his earnest joy and romantic ideals of respect for the land and especially for the ‘lowly earthworm’.