Westaby_IL_07-15_16688

In our family, each of us knows the story of the history of our farm. Every time we go to the fields, we know that 5 generations of Westabys have tilled this land, cared for the animals, and some have died here. Our commitment to organic agriculture is the heart of our farm, from how the first generation began in 1861 to now. We strive to improve the health of the soil, the animals and ourselves every day.  To us, these are the most important points of Declaration of Interdependence, written by Organic Valley’s founding farmers nearly 30 years ago.

If we do these things well, then achieving a fair pay price, helping our neighbors, community and consumers will all fall into place.

We were told once that you don’t own the land you farm on; you are just tenants for a short moment in time. Leave the land better for every generation after you. Remember the past in order to look to the future.

When thinking about this story and our Declaration of Interdependence, a poem came to mind that I want to share here. It’s very powerful and conveys more than I could ever say about what the land means and about our responsibility to it as short-term stewards of the land.

The Westabys' family farm in Illinois.

The Westabys’ family farm in Illinois.

The Arrowpoint
by Jim Hicks

An ancient archer called to me.
He found me in my field.
He spoke in stone, an arrowpoint
The frost-heaved soil revealed.

“You till the land where we once lived,
My village stood nearby;
We stalked the deer, we trapped the fish,
We chased the eagle’s cry.

We used this field, it gave us life,
A thousand seasons turned;
We took our needs and left the rest,
A million campfires burned.

Now you say you own this land,
But gaze into the sky;
Who owns the sun? Who holds the wind?
Who keeps the eagle’s cry?

We trust this land to you for now,
Maintain it well, my son;
Countless people passed it on,
To countless yet to come.

When your short tenancy is done,
Recall the stone you found.
My message must stay with the land,
What sign will you hand down?”