Growing up in Upstate New York, meaning 3 miles from the St. Lawrence River (the body of water that I learned how to swim in), one hour south of Ottawa, capital of Canada Upstate NY, meant that I lived out in the middle of nowhere. My closest neighbor was a quarter of a mile away from our house, I played in the road, the woods, the brooks, and had all sorts of farm neighbor friends. My family itself had HUGE garden, sometimes small farm animals such as sheep or pigs, and had bees that produce the best honey in the world. I grew up and I knew where the food served to me came from. Sometimes I knew too much, like I had seen dad slaughter the animal on my plate which a few days prior we referred to it by name. UGH. I had nightmares! Turns out I’m very sensitive, you know.
Regardless, we frequently bought raw milk, eggs, a half a butchered cow for all kinds of beef cuts, etc. from one neighbor farmer or another and we ate vegetables from the garden. That’s how I grew up. We did family excursions for blueberry picking in the Adirondacks- YUM! I usually ate too many blueberries. We canoed, swam, had a hunting camp, skied, and generally had an outdoor, nature loving life.
I didn’t really think about food again until after college when I started to learn that conventional food production had huge impacts on the earth and our health; organic food production became very important to me. As an environmental chemist the fate and transport of the chemicals that were applied to crops was an important contributor to the destruction of our ecosystems. And what about the residual chemicals on food that we ingested? Oh My God, we are what we eat!
A critical movement for me was when I met a Dutch guy in the south of France who was vegetarian; funny we met as I was stuffing my face with the largest American sized sandwich the café could make for my friend and I. As someone who never subscribed to vegetarianism, I finally heard a legitimate argument for reducing meat consumption due to the hormones, antibiotics, and other impactful meat production on our health and environment. It made sense and I started to be as vegetarian as I could be based on reducing unnecessary chemical exposure. Taking this a bit further, I thought not to limit chemical exposure from meat only, but all food I consume should be produced chemical free and sustainably. I referred to myself as a selectatarian, as I selected what I would eat making decisions based on whether I was trying something new (it’s important to me to stay open to new experiences!), something cooked for me (it’s important to not be disrespectful and eat what someone serves you), how traditional something was (I’ll have my kielbasa at Easter, thank you), or if I had control over where it came from and was cooking myself.
It’s no wonder that my life has come around to embracing organic farming as the one net positive impact that humans can have on this planet, for our health and for our life depending ecosystems. Nature beautifully has what we need and it’s a symbiotic relationship that we should embrace rather than the leaching, impeding, and thwarting relationship we have developed with our natural resources in the last 100 years. As I sail and explore the lands I want to explore the means, which we are doing well for us, the earth, the soils, and for the local economies.
While on Bermuda in amongst the settling in, exploring, meeting new sailor friends of all kinds, I was finally able to make a farm visit happen! Bermuda is a beautiful island with the friendliest people on it. This farm matched Bermuda’s charm; it was beautiful and run by the friendliest farmer! I wanted to know where the food I was buying was coming from and my very sacred dollars were going to support the people supplying my upcoming meals. I went, I visited, I made a new friend, and I came home with bags of fresh, delicious goodies! For the renowned high prices in Bermuda, I felt like I had just my spent money the best way I could. I love good food. And local food. As what better way to get to know a culture than to see what the people eat?! And what is better than knowing the farmer that grows what the people eat and seasonally demand for their local traditions?!
Tom Wadson is one of your top local Organic farmers, Bermuda!
I got on a bus in Hamilton and looked out for the signs where to get off to walk down to the farm; there conveniently was a bus stop right across from the road. I walked down to beautifully maintained fields of greens. And yes, we are in Bermuda, so there was a sailboat up in the farmer’s yard, just like the compulsory Marblehead ordinance of having a boat in one’s yard. I walked up to the farm store and asked for Tom whom I soon met and we got right on for a tour around the fields. It was lovely! Quaint, quiet, nice, sunny, lush green, and productive!
We toured the fields; I saw the Bermudian hogs, ducks, the chickens, and the greenhouses. The hogs were penned up with the babies or out in the field. The chickens ran around
outside and looked beautifully plump. Tom raises pasture poultry, which have advantages 2 fold. Each resource, the chicken and the soil, are naturally better products when you raise them using pasture technique vs cooped up in crowded poultry barns. Raising the poultry in the pasture allows them to live a strong healthy life grazing on fresh grasses, bugs, and grains while the poultry in return helps produce rich productive soils. Poultry that lives their life as they are meant to live, ie. outside in fresh pastures allows them to do what they are meant to do in their natural ecosystem. They eat bugs, provide fertilization enriching the soils, plant seeds to regenerate the vegetation, which then helps restore and maintain the essential carbon and water cycles. They are some of the best natural farm tools and they do most of the work for us!
At Wadson’s, the poultry and their shelters are rotated throughout the fields to keep the soil replenished but not overworked. Rotating the plots that animals inhabit allows time for the land to rest from the livestock in order to grow. Prior to taking on these practices 15 years ago, Tom described the soils on this land as being unproductive and they washed out in heavy rains. Allowing the natural practices of letting livestock work the land and letting it rest, stabilizes the land, carbon, and encourages soils to hold and percolate water.
Yes, on a large scale pasture poultry (or other well managed livestock) it is the answer to the excess carbon in the atmosphere that is said to be causing climate change (pasture raised animals, advantageous 3 fold now! I could go on and make it 100+ fold, however I don’t think I’ll keep your attention right here for all that). Poultry and livestock, when managed in an advantageous means, provide the perfect means for carbon sequestration and the regeneration of fertile, productive, and stable soils.
Immediate net positive impacts for the farm= better quality poultry and meats + improved soils and ecosystems for better crops.
Tom showed me all his goodies and how he has all the makings for a local Holiday feast; cassava for pies, organic vegetables and herbs, organic and pasture raised turkey, duck, geese, and pork. He also had everything I needed for my traditional Christmas Eve holiday feast, organic potatoes! I obtained a bunch of great local goodies and produce including Goslings Rum Sausage! How could you go wrong with this Bermudian organic farm and the real food grown there?! Yum.