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  • Glenn McDonagh

    Living not far from Danthonia I was very interested in Johannes Meier’s comments. Very impressed by the depth and scope of their work. Here’s hoping many more farmers take up the challenge and for those of us not on the land, whether people of faith or not, the way of life espoused by Johannes, the open and humble approach to the natural world, is not only inspiring but increasingly essential. All the contributions were very informative, knowledgeable, accessible and ultimately optimistic. Very worthwhile.

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This fall and winter we invited people who work with the land—farmers, ranchers, foresters, ecologists and others—to tell us what they think the earth is for. What follows is a selection of the responses we received.

Art Shapiro
Davis, California
Ecology

What kind of work do you do and how did you start doing it?

I’m an insect ecologist-biogeographer and my career grew out of a childhood fascination with natural history. I’ve had a straight-line trajectory since I was maybe eleven.

What is your schedule like, day to day?

During the school year I teach three days a week. During favorable weather I spend three days afield doing research—collecting data—and in bad weather working in the lab analyzing those data and doing experiments.

What is your favorite part of the job? What is the most challenging?

Favorite: Trekking alone in the high mountains, be it the Sierra Nevada or the Andes. Most challenging: Trekking alone, etc. (I’m 73.)

What are the most serious threats to the earth or the land? What gives you cause for hope?

The most serious threats are all aspects of “global change”—climate, pesticides, land use. There is no way we can understand how Nature works if there is no Nature left to understand. The greatest cause for hope is that the destroyers and the deniers may be cunning, but at core they are stupid brutes. That, and that alone, buys us some time.

What is the earth for?

The earth is not “for” anything. It just is. It was not created or designed with us in mind.

Lyle Anderson
Grygla, Minnesota
Farming

What kind of work do you do and how did you start doing it?

We farm approximately 6,500 acres in the northwest corner of Minnesota, approximately fifty miles from Canada and sixty from North Dakota. A lot of people from Minnesota say northern Minnesota is everything north of St. Cloud; they’ll call Brainerd “northern Minnesota,” but it’s basically in the east-central part of the state. We’re really tucked up in the northwest corner.

I manage the farm with my daughter and son-in-law. We each have our own operations—we make all our own individual decisions on the managing and marketing—but we work together on the land. We rotate wheat, soybeans, and a type of grass seed called rye grass that’s found in most blends of lawn mixture and on a lot of golf courses. (It’s a specialty contract crop, which means it’s not something you can grow and sell on the open market, like you can with wheat or soybeans.)

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  • Kindle
  • Glenn McDonagh

    Living not far from Danthonia I was very interested in Johannes Meier’s comments. Very impressed by the depth and scope of their work. Here’s hoping many more farmers take up the challenge and for those of us not on the land, whether people of faith or not, the way of life espoused by Johannes, the open and humble approach to the natural world, is not only inspiring but increasingly essential. All the contributions were very informative, knowledgeable, accessible and ultimately optimistic. Very worthwhile.

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This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.