Among the earliest memories imprinted in my mind: Sitting alone in the sands of the Indiana Dunes when I was three, maybe four years old. Listening.
The late afternoon sun was cascading diagonally down through the canopies of oaks & cottonwoods above me. A squabble of Blue Jays appeared to be my only companions for well over an hour. I became mesmerized by their presences.
One might wonder whether any twenty-first-century preoccupation with agrarian values, agrarian ecology, and agrarian ideals comes as too little, too late. Less than 2 percent of the North American public lives in rural areas outside towns, cities, and suburbs, and less than half of the world’s population now lives outside cities.
But the New Agrarianism, which is emerging globally, is not restricted to the rural domain, nor is it necessarily a romantic desire to reenact social behaviors and mores associated with rural populaces in bygone eras.
Richard Felger has always been a little ahead of his time. Even before he was a teenager in southern California, he cultivated rare cacti and orchids at home, and kept three alligators in his bathtub.
Before he graduated from the University of Arizona, he shadowed some of the world’s greatest desert ecologists. On his first trip down to Alamos, Sonora, he realized what would drive his career: the Sonoran Desert was full of wonders, and some of them were delectable.
Before anything else, I want to apologize for previously failing to acknowledge your value to our society at large, and to more fully support you in gaining traction with your endeavors. In four decades of writing about farming and ranching, I am afraid I have missed the mark by not writing about the issues most critical to your health and well-being.
I have been so attracted to helping save the seeds, breeds, soil, and water of food-producing land that I failed to notice that, first and foremost, those resources need bright, passionate, energetic, and innovative farmers and farmworkers if they are to survive and thrive.