SOME THOUGHTS ON ORGANIC FARMING AND ITS FUTURE, THOUGHTS ON MINT CREEK FARM AND ITS FUTURE, THOUGHTS ON IROQUOIS VALLEY FARMS

CLAIRE MESENAN (IVF) INTERVIEWS RAYA CARR (MCF)

"...the organic movement is about keeping our community, ecosystems, and natural resources healthy. That’s such a beautiful and inspiring goal, I’m happy to devote my life to organic farming–hard work, low pay and all–to reach towards making our world healthier and more resilient!"

Why you feel organic/sustainable farming is important

Not all organic farming is sustainable but all sustainable farming is organic, broadly speaking. For our farms to be able to produce wholesome foods requires that they avoid hormones, GMOs, pesticides, and other chemicals. The rise of many health problems can be linked to the use of all these contaminating and corrupting elements on and in the foods as they are grown conventionally. I am proud to be a part of the organic movement, because counteracting unhealthy, destructive farming methods is what it’s all about. On top of that, the organic movement is about keeping our community, ecosystems, and natural resources healthy. That’s such a beautiful and inspiring goal, I’m happy to devote my life to organic farming–hard work, low pay and all–to reach towards making our world healthier and more resilient! Additionally, food and animals are such a big part of life, or what I think of life to its fullest, and organic farming culture is very food and animal-centric, which I love.

 

  • Perspective on the future of organic/sustainable agriculture

This is largely up to the people of our nation and our world collectively. It’s quite the fight to stand up to large and powerful corporations like Monsanto that want to make it very hard to avoid their corrupted food products and keep our land free of their GMOs. But other nations have done this, so why can’t the U.S.A.? I think this is largely about embracing and creating a culture that is more focussed on the holistic process of food being grown and served. This culture has shown itself in nations such as France, where meals may take three hours to finish, and no one complains. This culture shows itself more in almost every other country where people are paying a higher percentage of their income towards foods than in the U.S. However, it seems , at least from my little bubble of the universe, that people are demanding better, healthier food in mass, and that awareness about how to get this food and what goes into growing it is increasing. A study down at Walmart of all places in the last few years showed that 99% of people would eat organic if the could afford it.

 

  • What your role on the farm is

I am the sales manager at Mint Creek Farm. We are a small farm business so I am not a conventional sales manager, but wear many hats throughout the business. Basically I feel like having this role means that the buck stops with me when it comes to all issues sales/distribution/marketing. I also love to get down to the farm to help care for the animals and make sure to do this as much as I can.

 

  • What your vision for the farm/Mint Creek CSA program is

My vision of our family farm is informed by my dad, who been the mastermind and visionary at Mint Creek since the beginning, my brother who has been such a key player in taking the business forward, and our lovely community of staff and customers. I am inspired by the dual forces of ambition/high-mindedness and practical change coming together at the farm. I see us working hard on knitty gritty details of how to run a successful diversified livestock farm business while making sure that this means improving our local ecosystem, our farm animals’ well-being, and our community. The direction that all of these focal points come together around is growth. Our business model requires us to scale our farming to a point where we can afford to have the infrastructure and staff we need. The lands around us look on sadly gray and depleted by conventional farming, dead to most signs of nature, and just asking to be converted to organic, holistic perennial pasture farming! In contrast, nature blooms in abundance here at Mint Creek on our IL prairie pasture farm–from grass to legume to wild pheasant to domesticated livestock–and the demand for our farms’ organic-grassfed meats, eggs, and CSAs is stronger than ever.

 

This very same focal point of the farm’s growth is where Iroquois Valley Farms has come into play. Without IVF we wouldn’t be able to follow all these demands for growth and our longevity as a business might have looked doubtful right now.  I cannot stress enough how important IVF’s involvement, guidance, and financing support has to been to our family farm. Honestly, I don’t know if we would have survived another winter without the refinancing of our land that IVF offered. And this is all while there has been 3X more demand than supply of our products as we go to market! Financing can be very hard to get for the farmer focused on organic, holistic, diversified farming methods. It is incomprehensible to those that are conventionally minded and come from monoculture corn and beans farming backgrounds. Many banks we had spoken with before going with IVF were coming from that conventional background. You’d think working with nature instead of against it would be more common sense than it is these days in the U.S. farming world. Thank you IVF for seeing eye to eye with us on farmings’ future, and being rooted in holistic values. I love your mission statement and slogan about looking forward to seven generations from now and deciding what is wise from that perspective.