Reciprocity is sometimes interpreted as an obligation to repay someone who has provided something for you.
I see it differently, because as a farmer I live in a world that is completely dependent on reciprocity. I see it as a fundamental law of nature often described as a law of return.
While most plants, animals and organisms have to prioritize their own genetic survival, baked into their DNA is an obligation to give back to their environment to make it a better place for them to live.
This is especially true when they are physically tied to it by a set of roots. Plants give away 30% of their sugars and exudates to the soil organisms surrounding their roots. It’s a symbiotic relationship and an exchange for all the nutrients these same organisms feed back to the plant.
A cow, on the other hand, is completely evolved to support a healthy pasture. It’s cloven hooves till and stimulate the plants and soil, and its manure is perfectly designed to accelerate soil formation. The cow directly feeds the soil organisms that support the plants, which in turn support the cow. Healthy pasture makes for healthy cows and vice versa.
Perhaps the deeper truth is that no animal, plant or organism can possibly survive on its own. It seems only man is under some spell that he can go it alone.
Perhaps the reason our culture has been so destructive to our environment is that we have forgotten our role and become blind to our reciprocal and symbiotic relationship with the earth.
We have been taught this myth that man is superior, and therefore independent of these burdens. With enough wealth and resources, we really don’t need anyone or anything. Just witness all the plans our tech billionaires are hatching to fly off to another planet after we have used this one all up.
I really don’t know how this came to pass but I find it very difficult to witness, and I know that if we just acted more like these wise plants, animals and soil organisms, we could flourish and thrive on this beautiful planet: the one that was made for us and us for it.
Some very wise people in the regenerative farming community see our role as a shepherd or steward of all these interacting relationships between plants and animals and organisms. We certainly don’t create them or control them, but as farmers we are very careful of the changes we make, of what is introduced or taken away from our farm lest we upset the balance or introduce something that is not aligned with health, regeneration and fertility.
We are the shepherds who were put here to help make this a paradise for all of us—animals, plants, and the organisms that feed and support us.
At this time of year I become deeply reflective, especially at the solstice since it is the time of year when our living planet literally stills it's beating heart. Our great, great, great ancestors feared that the light might not return—so it’s no surprise that all this season’s holidays and traditions in the world are based on bringing in the light. It is also a time to still ourselves, look deeply inside and ask, what can I do? What is my place and purpose here?
My personal solstice wish and intention is to deepen my relationship and awareness of the reciprocal debts I owe to this land and earth that supports me, and to joyfully pay them back and forward. To absorb the sun and fertility and life and give a portion back to those who support me tirelessly and invisibly without any thought of lack or selfishness, like a beautiful plant or animal.
Thank you for being a part of Farmers To You. We created a system that would allow us to feed and support each other, precisely as nature intends. With your partnership, the partnership of our farmers, and the dedication of our staff who make this all possible, we can all rest assured that we are building a better future each week. By deepening our relationship to each meal and our food, we acknowledge the gift from our Earth and our farmers.
Blessings for a light filled Solstice and Holiday season. Delve deeply into your heart. Give to those who support you.