Agriculture is the technology upon which civilization, and the many technologies civilization created—from grain mills to currency to alphabets to microchips—is built. It is foundational.
We have to look to it—to how we feed ourselves—in order to find a healthier path forward in the world. Many of the problems of industrial agriculture have come about to solve the difficulties inherent to the progressive weakening or domesticating of wild plants.
So let’s ask the hard questions: How can we farm in harmony with nature while keeping up with the rapacious demands of a growing population? How can we bust “sustainable” and “organic” out of the catchphrase and marketing propaganda trap they have fallen into? How can sustainable farms do more than provide garnishes or side dishes to expensive restaurants and wealthy customers?
I don’t have easy answers because there are none—see my post Why I’m Not a Vegan for more on this. But I know that my company’s path into the future involves facing these problems head-on as we continue to balance the economic demand of our restaurants with the needs of nature on our farms. It’s a slippery jig, but worth dancing, because even though we pretend otherwise, nature will always call in her note.
Los Portales, Our Nambe Farm
On ten terraced acres along the Nambe river, our NM farm is a wonder of agroecological farming that provides seasonal vegetables and fruit and farm fresh eggs for our restaurants. Soil preservation and rejuvenation and responsible water use guide us as we juggle the restaurants' demands with those of the land. We have recently added apple trees from Tooley's Trees in Truchas and are learning to make our own cider and cider vinegar. Coming soon: the farm will be available for private events and weddings!
Our Bastrop Farm in Texas
We bought farmland in Bastrop, Texas in order to create a sustainable food hub that can provide most of the product demand for a group of cooperative, complementary restaurants and in the process eliminate thousands of pounds of waste cardboard, plastic and metal of traditional restaurant supply relationships.
To actually do this, we need a soup-to-nuts reimagination of how farming works and how restaurants get product. We are behind schedule because 1) this is an ambitious goal and 2) I temporarily ran out of money for it. But this is where we are headed as a company, and we finally broke ground this fall! If you want to help us, drop me a line. Or, come eat at our restaurants, knowing that our profits are being ploughed into ground-breaking sustainability solutions.