A wedding in Serenbe, Georgia, the invitation said; my daughter Emily marries Tyler Michaels on April 18. The beautiful, rural Georgian community of Serenbe is a lovely location for a wedding, but also most interesting for this writer’s inner gardener.
Serenbe is reminiscent of small towns of years ago when life was simpler, with an emphasis on a quality and stress free lifestyle. It exists as a village in which all senses are engaged through the arts, continuing education is promoted for mind and spirit, and organic farm foods are produced for healthy nourishment through sustainable agriculture. Emphasizing physical exercise, each hamlet is within walking distance through wooded areas where wildlife and farm animals roam. There resides in Serenbe a belief in Biophilia — “the theory that there is an instinctive bond between humans and other living systems.”
“Sustainable agriculture” is more than a buzzword or passing fad, it is the future.
According to the organization World Hope International, “In the simplest of terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber or other plant or animal product using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.” As defined by the learning center, SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education) along with the Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the three pillars of sustainability are:
• Profit over the long term
• Stewardship of our nation’s land, air and water
• Quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities
This organization is a treasure trove of information, and also awards grant money to qualified persons. The website is www.sare.org.
Supported by governments and organizations with educational and financial support, sustainable agriculture has moved from a “buzz” word to a necessary and responsible worldwide movement with an agenda and methods for the small farmer to large agri-businesses. In 2015 the United Nations implemented a “New Sustainable Development Agenda” with a list of actions that governments, the private sector and everyday persons can do to contribute to a sustainable future.
One organization, Feed the World, is supporting family farms with sustainable plans, skills and practices for feeding their families and livestock. Their ultimate hope is the elimination of hunger, malnutrition and poverty, with families financially and nutritionally self-sufficient on their own land using available resources. World Hope International agriculture programs support impoverished farmers and communities with supply chain best practices, sustainable farming, and raising livestock for better production while preserving their land for the future.
The food industry and consumers are supporting local gardeners, farmers and ranchers with direct sales, farmers markets, food hubs, Pick-Your-Own business and Community Supported Agriculture that use organic practices and sustainable products. These businesses are growing and thriving.
Perusing the website, wwwsustainableaged.org, I found no less than 84 state and private universities, colleges, community and junior colleges, as well as international and summer programs offering degrees in Sustainable Agriculture. Folks, this is not a fad, it is the future! (University of South Dakota in Vermillion offers a cross-discipline Sustainability major and minor.)