Dharma Farmer

The date 1888 is etched into the side of the well worn wooden frame of the threshing machine. It spews chaff out one end while spitting wheat kernels into a galvanized steel bucket sitting at the side of the farm implement. A pile of burlap sacks await being filled with grain by a worker when the bucket reaches capacity. It is amazing to watch a wonder of 19th century technology still chugging away on this farm in north central Oregon.

I am witness to an old fashioned threshing bee, a gathering of farmers, horses, and equipment bringing in the harvest. Although it may seem anachronistic to the times, it is more timely than one would think. The carbon footprint and use of other resources is actually more appropriate to our time of water scarcity and climate change. It demonstrates how humans have created and used technology that is not so dependent upon fossil fuels and high tech equipment.

This demonstration is on a regenerative farm, an acreage dedicated to using natural cycles to produce food products with minimal waste while being restorative to the environment. Enriching the land while making it more resilient to changing conditions is key to regenerative farming. I talk with the owners of the farm and we joke about them being ‘Dharma farmers’.

These wonderful folks are so full of heart and compassionate intention. I am humbled by the intense sweat and toil it takes to make this endeavor work. Having spent a fair amount of time on a dry land wheat farm when I was young, I can attest to the sweat part. I only became aware of the compassion later in life. The heart has to be in it or the strength to carry on will falter. But this is the kind of Dharma farming we need right now.

How can each of us become a Dharma farmer in our own situation, positively regenerating our little plot of existence for the benefit of all beings? It begins with opening our hearts and seeing the long view as did the great Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nation when it suggested we must take into consideration the effects on seven generations into the future before making any decision. How is this possible? It is written in our hearts since long before we were born. We just need to listen, to remember our part in natural cycles.

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