Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA
Economics: activities that try to satisfy unlimited wants by the proper use of limited resources; how to
use scarce resources to produce valuable commodities and distribute them among different people
Working with nature rather than against her has always been the rule of thumb for SPIN farmers. Some are organically certified because their markets reward it. Most aren’t, but we know that being organic-based makes financial and practical sense at our scale of operation. We can’t afford pesticides and herbicides, and using them in densely populated areas where a lot of us are farming poses health risks for our neighbors. So for us, organic is a pragmatic choice.
This way of farming is now starting to get more attention beyond our small niche. Again, the motivations are practical and economic. The negative environmental impacts of large-scale chemical use are hard to ignore, and industrial farm operations are being called to account for them. Organic/sustainable/regenerative farming advocates have been making the case for nearly half a century that high-yielding, chemical intensive production of industrial agriculture, with its dependence on huge inputs of nonrenewable resources, is damaging to people’s health and the environment. These reformers have been ideologically-driven, and when ideology collides with economics, it’s ideology that comes out worst. But their efforts produced a lot of consciousness raising over the past 50 years, and it’s at the point where consumers are now wielding their significant purchasing power to change how food is produced. They are being joined by some powerful allies from within the financial industry, There are now hundreds of ESG (environmental, social and governance) funds drawing a direct connection between environmental and economic well-being, and they are directing big money towards businesses that implement sustainable practices.
This alignment of the value-driven with the values-based is what is needed to produce large-scale change, so there is reason to hope the world is moving in a nature-friendly direction. Who knows? Farmers of all sizes may soon be paid for the positive environmental services they provide. In the meantime SPIN farmers continue to play their parts. When economics and the environment work together, entrepreneurs seize opportunity, wherever it crops up.
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