GW: Tell us about where you are from?
DK: I am from central Massachusetts, in a section of the US called “New England”. It is a fairly rural area with the population in the various townships from 800-5000 a little more than an hours drive from Boston, and about three hours from New York City. Generally forested, there are many small farms, and I grew up on a homestead type operation where we raised mixed vegetables, fruit, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy and beef. I have continued to live and produce in such a manner and find the relatively small expense in land, mixed with the close proximity of urban areas makes it very plausible to make a good living on a small farm.
GW: What’s keeping you busy at the moment?
DK: Beyond planting, watering, animal chores, picking and sorting on the farm, and running the Bionutrient Food Association, I am putting most of my energy into building out the Real Food Campaign (RFC). The RFC is a collaboration of a number of different organizations who are working together to identify the variation in nutrient levels in crops, the management practices that cause those variations, and building tools to be able to test the difference. It is a large endeavor, and just getting off of the ground, but seems quite promising.
GW: What’s the rainfall / soil / topography like where you are from?
DK: The land is rolling in New England, as we are basically the foothills of the Appalachian mountain range. Rocky, and wet, with ponds, swamps and forests throughout, the soil is generally thin, weathered and acidic. We generally get 50-60 inches or rain through the year, although some of it comes in snow in the winter. There is no real wet or dry season, where I live.
GW: What support do farmers in USA get from the govt.?
DK: Farmers that are producing commodity crops like corn and soybeans and milk in many cases do have price supports from the government, but farmers like myself who have smaller mixed operations get no support. Not being from a part of the country where the subsidies are prevalent I am not that well versed on this topic, except to say that none of the farmers that I work with receive them.
GW: Can you tell us about the importance of being able to measure soil health?
DK: Soil health is certainly very important, as it correlates to any number of other dynamics like plant health, pest and disease resistance, cost of production, crop nutrient density etc. Through whatever modes are appropriate for each grower, understanding what your specific soil needs to be functioning more well, is, in my mind, critical to your success as a farmer.
GW: Where do you see farming in 20 years’ time?
DK: My hope, and work are oriented towards farming being a central solution to our health, climate and cultural crisis. In my estimation, farming done well has the capacity to revitalize the ecosystem and environment, reverse the epidemic levels of degenerative disease that seem to be sweeping the planet, and provide a cultural construct upon which communities can be rebuilt. I do not presume to know where things will be in 20 years, but do think that if we can continue to openly coordinate the science and economics the ability for agriculture to be a profoundly positive force is well within our grasp.
Dan Kittredge – 9th June 2018