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no offense intended
Sorry, no offense intended by the Amish top ten list. I found it amusing
:) FYI I fully respect the Amish/Mennonite culture and their historic
relationship with the land and the Earth and agree we'd all be better off
if we had followed their land ethic and example long ago. It is also hard
not to idealize (and perhaps idolize) the Amish culture much the same way
we do American Indian culture.
So I'll add something more substantial, less humorous and perhaps thought
provoking to the thread. I am from SE Pennsylvania and did some research
years ago on the impacts of farm practices in the Susquehanna R. watershed
of PA in the Chesapeake Bay downstream (nutrient/sediment/pesticide runoff
leading to eutrophication..., same old story). I was privileged to
interview a Mennonite farmer on the subject at his home in Lancaster
County. I also attended several community meetings in the area on the
proposed land use restrictions and requirments for Best Management
Practices (BMPs) to be used in sensitive areas.
My most interesting finding was that despite their strong land ethic, sense
of place, pride in and care of their land, the traditional Amish and
Mennonites were having a very hard time conceptualizing the impacts of
their practices on downstream neighbors on the Chesapeake one to two
humdred miles away. Many had never been away at all. Their wholistic
connection with the Earth seemed to me to be very local after all.
I also learned that the traditional Amish/Mennonite practices (diversified
farms, shared community effort and resources, barter, nutrient
conservation, manure spreading, soil building, "leave a piece of land
healthier than you found it" ethic) are colidding head-on with modern
economic pressures. Farms are traditionally subdivided amongst the sons of
a farmer, if the overall land base is not diminished, the community
sustains itself. However, sons on smaller and smaller parcels are shifting
to concentrated livestock farming and feed-crop production to make money to
survive (not to get rich!), away from traditional more environmentally
sound grazing practices and diversified ag. production.
Local land stewardship is the bottom line right? How can we connect the
local to the regional, bioregiona and global if the local culture doesn't
watch TV (a noble goal), doesn't travel, shuns the outside world, etc. In
the end, the sensibility and intelligence of the Amish farmers (and
non-Amish farmers in the region) prevailed and there was little resistance
to implementing BMPs etc. All it took was a little conversation and
education. A little cash helped too.
That's all, Kert
ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP
1718 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20009
EWG web page: http://www.ewg.org
202-667-6982 fax 202-232-2592
Any opinions expressed are mine and not my employer's.