A couple of years ago, I realized that I had lived on our farm, the North Outback, longer than any other human being. The people who lived here before this part of the world was “discovered” by Europeans, were nomadic and didn’t plant themselves in one spot. My grandparents lived here for about thirty years, my parents for less than twenty. I have lived on the top of this little hill in the middle of the prairie for most of my life.
Living in one spot, especially one that gives you a view of the horizon in all directions, gives one a particular view of the the world, I think. I began farming with my husband in 1974 on my maternal grandparents’ farm. We always had an interest in farming in a way that made sense not only for our generation, but for future generations, as well. In 1980 our farm was certified as organic and remains certified today. We farm organically, not only because it has made sense for us financially, but because we believe it is the right thing to do. Our neighbors don’t necessarily agree with us, but we don’t criticize them for their decisions and they are respectful of ours. We don’t try to convert them to our way of thinking and they don’t openly tell us we’re crazy even if they might think so sometimes.
My husband, Terry, and I have farmed organically nearly as long as anyone in the state of North Dakota. Someone once called me a “grandmother” of the North Dakota organic movement. I think that’s an exaggeration of both my age and my influence. We have, however seen the number of organic farms and businesses grow and have experienced first hand many of the changes in attitudes about what we do. At one time we were seen as crazy, back-to-the-land, hippies. Now organic agriculture is viewed as a legitimate and growing part of the food system. Even the First Lady has an organic garden.