A Conversation with Q
I would like to share with you part of the interview with Q—Larry Kuser, who along with his wife Suzie, own the magnificent Fernbrook Farm. As you will see, he makes some very important points, and knows many hard-working activists, people and organizations for us to consider and get to know. Co-workers on the path to right our failing world.
Our interview with Q took place a week and one-half ago. We gathered on a sunny Saturday afternoon, sat on their the back porch of their farm house overlooking the beautiful farm of woods, streams, ponds, farm animals of all kinds, and varieties of vegetable gardens to produce an abundance that feeds its nearly 300 CSA members for a year. Fernbrook Farms is a “preserved status”—230 acres of working farm that has thrived under the care of the Kuser family for three generations. The Farm is divided into four areas of commerce—the Wholesale Nursery, the Education Center, the CSA and the Bed and Breakfast. The farm is totally certified organic.
SB: “Why did you decide to go organic?”
Q: “Organic vegetables, such as lettuce, have more proteins in them that conventionally raised produce because of the non-use of pesticides and herbicides. Organically feed cows that are grass feed have more omegas-3s in their meat than farm raised salmon. If you feed cows as little as 2 pounds of grain a day, that is not a lot for a full grown cow, that will lower the omega-3s in their system. We Americans eat corn fed beef; yet cows are grass eating, not grain eaters. Michael Pollen in The Omnivore’s Dilemma tells of his interview with a veterinary doctor in charge of a giant CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) in the mid-west, who when asked why they slaughter the cows when they are 17 months old, was told by the vet that if they don’t kill them they are going to die because their livers are shot, their kidneys are shot. They just won’t live. We are feeding animals all this food that is making them sick, so that we have to give them antibiotics and hormones just to keep them upright and alive.”
“We have to come up with a new way, a new system to feed millions of people!”
SB: “Let’s focus on America—how are CSAs and organic farming going to feed millions of people?”
Q: “The way a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) works is that you pay for a share in the farm. That share entitles you to all the vegetables that we produce in that year. Our first share is usually a week before Memorial Day and goes until a week before Thanksgiving. Every week you can come and get whatever we have. That is twenty-six weeks. For example this week we have carrots, broccoli, turnips, squash, all kinds of lettuces, arugula, bok choy, eggplant, onions, potatoes and so on. Our members pay $19.95 for a box of veggies each week, that is more than they can eat.”
“We consider a share [feeds] four people—two adults and two children. The economic model is that a share for a year is around $500, and you pay that up front by the first of May. That is the community-supported idea. So we have money up front to buy seeds, fertilizer, etc. If something goes wrong, like a flood, or virus— like the tomato virus this year that wiped out all tomatoes—we all suffer.”
“When we break down the costs for produce it will cost the member about 86 cents a pound. That is cheap. Where Whole Food will sell an organic pepper for $1.50 each we sell them for 50 cents. So you are investing with the farmer.”
“I had this thought a couple of months ago that with our intensive organic farming we can with 25 shares support 100 people with all their food needs for one year on one acre. Let’s do the math. Say there are 400 million people in the US. Divide that by 100 and you say that you need 4 million acres to feed every person in America. New Jersey has a half million acres. California has more than 4 million acres. Florida has more than 4 million acres. Texas has certainly more that 4 million. How many millions of acres are out there in the middle of America that our agriculture department subsidizes farmers to grow soybeans and corn and nothing else?”
[Note: Q talks on regarding the problems of modern industrial agriculture in America and around the world, the problem with Monsanto and refers me to a great book many of us heard and read—The Stolen Harvest by Vandana Shiva—about the hijacking of the global food supply. In this phenomenal book Shiva charts the impacts of the globalized, corporate agriculture on small farmers, the environment, and the quality of the food we eat.]
SB: “What other groups are out there doing good work to feed the world?”
Q: “Heifer International is certainly one! It is an international network that came out of the Second World War to help and train farmers to get back on their feet. Its initial focus was in Western Europe. It was a social service agency that would try to get you and your whole family into the animal farming business, because many of the fathers of the families had been killed in the war, and the young people needed to be trained. They would get you pigs, sheep, cows or chickens. Today Heifer International is all over the world, particularly in third world countries. Click on their website here and take a look. It is very inspiring.”
For a $250 gift donation the organization can give a gift of a water buffalo to a farmer family and train them how to be good farmers.
A water buffalo can lead a hungry family out of poverty and give them a chance for a bright future filled with hope and free from hunger. In poor Filipino villages, water buffalo from Heifer provide draft power for planting rice and potatoes, milk for protein and manure for fertilizer and fuel. A farmer can plant four times more rice with a buffalo than by hand. Water buffalo haul heavy loads to the market, where the sale of extra produce brings in vital income for clothing, medicine and school. By renting their buffalo to neighbors, Heifer partner families can earn money for home improvements. And one day, those same neighbors might receive a water buffalo of their own as recipients pass on the gifts of animals and training. Protein-rich milk, strength to till soil, manure to enrich the land—so many benefits. And, in turn, water buffalo are happy just to graze on coarse grasses and other plants not suitable for harvesting.
For $20 you can give a gift of a flock of geese
Geese make a great gift, and here’s why: Since some geese can lay up to 75 eggs a year the benefits add up quickly for families in desperate need of protein and a means of income. Geese are easy to care for because they don’t require much shelter and can adapt to hot, wet or cold weather. Geese can also find a good portion of their food by themselves, and they efficiently dispose of weed seeds and gobble up insects, slugs and snails. Best of all, geese are highly efficient producers of animal protein. And they’re vigilant “watchdogs,” loudly warning when uninvited guests arrive at the homestead. Click here to see the different animals you can give—Heifer’s animal gifts.
Heifer’s model spreads throughout communities as recipients pass on the gifts of animals and offspring – creating a sustainable cycle of hope and change. They are a fascinating organization.
Another group mentioned by Q is No Child Left Indoors. It is a nationwide movement to get kids outdoors, spurred in part by Richard Louv’s popular book, Last Child in the Woods—Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. There is a growing concern that we need to unplug kids from electronics and turn them on to the natural world. And we need to do it now before we lose a generation of young people.
Q was very impassioned about this topic, of impacting kids with nature. And, he gave me a copy of Louv’s Last Child in the Woods. This is a very powerful book about the healing power of nature.
I love this quote from a fourth-grader in San Diego, “I like to play indoors better cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
On Fernbrook Farms Q and Suzie have set up an Education Center for kids, inviting children to explore the natural world and their relationships within it. All summer long groups of inner city kids from Trenton New Jersey come to their farm and stay a week. A $175.00 donation provides the necessary funds for one child for one week. They take kids up to 15 years old.
Their mission is to provide hands-on educational experiences in agriculture, the source of our food, and the importance of nutrition for healthy lifestyles. Click on the Fernbrook Farms for information about the center.
Q believes strongly that people should make meaningful connections with our natural world in order to become responsible stewards of local and global sustainability.
Clinical Note: What do I take of our Therapeutic Foods on a regular basis? I am glad you asked. Usually a dose of one of our synbiotic formula—I rotate through them all, sometime taking them in combinations. My thoughts for you on that is to relax and experiment with them. I take either one of the Wild Blueberry Extract or two of the Daily each day. I take two of the Fructo Borate Complex. About four times a week I take one serving of the Cruciferous Sprouts Complex (either the powder or four of the capsule—I like the capsules as there’s no cruciferousy taste!). And, I take the Freeze Dried Organic Garlic if I am starting to feel like some bug is coming on—usually 2 capsule a day for a couple of days does the trick. That’s it.
The Last Quiz Answer: This cute little creature is a Pika. A cousin of the rabbit, Pikas are small chinchilla like animals that are native to cold climates, mostly in Asia, North America and parts of Eastern Europe.