Author Archive | Ted Dobson

Postscript from the Future

Ted Dobson of Equinox Farm
Imagines Life in 2044

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It is with some doubt that I am writing what could easily be a ridiculous and presumptuous editorial—how could anyone know what life will look like 30 years from today? What do we know about tomorrow?

What I do have is a sense of the last 30 years and what has happened, organically speaking, in that time frame: We’ve made it through earthly hell and very high waters.

With that caveat in place, let’s begin. In 2044, capitalism and the carbon-based energy system that supports it has basically been discarded. Ah, sweet relief! Social and ecological capitalism are the new normative structures. The groundswell for a common-sense approach—justice, equality and liberty for all— has religious power that has built tremendous momentum.

Our intimate sense of self and nature, and respect for both, has been re-established. This paradigm shift, while gradual, is major: Communities have re-established healthy working relationships with the air, water and soil that they steward.

We are now the active ecological architects of our mutual destinies. This reality is an interwoven tapestry of all levels of local life interacting to maximize efficiency in an equitable, creative, multi-diverse distribution system.

We have stopped being disconnected consumers of products from elsewhere and have become intimate cultivars, from our immediate environs, of all that we need and desire.… Read the rest

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An Ancestral Memory

Our Past Holds Key for a Greener Future

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Mary Hulett, Hulett Hill Road, Sheffield, 1800’s

Photos courtesy of The Sheffield Historical Society

There was a time in our past when we needed each other.

From the first settlement in Plymouth until the introduction of the telegraph and railroads, there was an interdependent economic glue that bound communities together. People, no matter where they settled, had to grow their own food. Agriculture was the primary economic activity of the self-contained and self-reliant villages and towns of New England.

Every stich that made up the everyday fabric of existence was woven by these industrious people with their own hands. People built their homes from trees locally logged. They made their own clothing and shoes from wool, flax and leather derived from their animals. They worked their land with primitive hand tools, growing all their own vegetables, fruits, grains and hay for the animals they raised.

Those animals—sheep, cows, goats and chickens—were pastured on acreage utilized by everyone, called the Commons. At night, the various animals were returned to safe shelters adjacent to the individual owners’ homes. Wool was sheared and spun by hand and then sewn into clothing.

Cows were milked, and butter was made.… Read the rest

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30 Years Ago Today…..

Vision from the Past, Revisions for the Future

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Photographs by Caroline Alexander

A few thoughts about 1983 stand out: Firstly, there wasn’t Internet, and secondly, there weren’t any commercial organic vegetable farms in the area. Anne Banks, my then-wife, and I moved to Hillsdale, New York, that April. Our intention was to grow food for ourselves and sell the surplus.

Working by hand, we cleared 3½ acres of shrubs and tangled land. In early June, our first sowings went into the newly cultivated ground. By mid-August we had our first harvest of leafy greens, roots and fruits. We had plenty to eat; the main question was where to sell the excess bounty. This necessitated knocking on restaurant and food purveyors’ doors.

I met many chefs and produce buyers as a result of my intensity (my desperation) to sell our produce. Initial responses were a mix of apprehension and curiosity. For instance, I had a big bushy head of hair and a full beard. My usual conversation starter was that everything was organically grown, which usually generated comments like “Is that hydroponic?” or “So you grow in poop?”

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Success was not immediate but piecemeal. Chefs and owners gradually—and in some cases, quickly—saw the wisdom in purchasing freshly harvested food.… Read the rest

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