From an environmental perspective, agriculture, especially ranching and farming in the dry American West, is an easy target for our eco-angst, but a new breed of innovative farmers is building resilience and adapting to a drier climate.
You don't have to go very far in environmental circles to start hearing that our soil and water woes are due to irresponsible agricultural practices, and that old habits and attitudes and practices among ranchers and farmers are a big part of the problem. Unfortunately, that kind of blame is rarely accurate or helpful, and from my viewpoint, has created a big rift between the people who grow most of the food and the rest of us, who depend on them, and often overlooks the many growers, ranchers, and farmers who are making a difference by focusing on building soil, conserving water, and creating a more resilient local food shed.
In light of increased pressure on water supplies, frequent drought conditions, and a changing climate, farmers and ranchers are having to either adjust their practices to more sustainable ones or to face the very real possibility that their livelihoods are in jeopardy. Part of the issue is that all too often the media highlights the negative effects of agriculture, and pays too little attention to those who are creating a more sustainable future by adapting resilient strategies and tactics for their agricultural operations.
But thanks to the efforts of the Young Farmers Coalition, the Lexicon of Sustainability, and the design studio Rumplefarm, the practices of innovative farmers and ranchers who are building soil and saving water in one of the country's most challenging regions, western Colorado, is getting highlighted.
The short film Resilient: Soil, Water and the New Stewards of the American West is intended, at least in part, to spur discussion and awareness about food, water, and farming issues, and while the film is viewable in its entirety below, hosting a screening of it in your town could be a great addition to discussions about resiliency, local food, or food systems in general.
To host a screening (or to find one), see the Young Farmers Coalition website.