Joel Salatin Workshop – part 2

Yes, in THIS post I begin sharing what I actually learned at the workshop this past week!

The first night was a 1 hour presentation on “Folks, This Ain’t Normal”.  After a lot of dithering at home about what book to get signed, I chose to bring the book of that title (it was a Christmas present), and since I was sitting near the front, was able to chat with Joel for a couple of minutes while we waited for people to come in, so I got a good opportunity to get the book signed – if you’ve had this book signed by him yourself, you’ll know what he wrote – “Thanks for being normal” – he told me that he has a line he uses for every title.

The workshop space was actually a workshop – as in tool bench at one end, broken engine thing at the other, numerous bits of irrigation connections and hose hanging on the walls, tool chests, extension cords etc.  I’ve never seen such a clean workshop in my life.  Joel jumped right into his talk and swept us along.  Here’s some highlights from my notes:

– a century ago, one third of all farming was dedicated to supporting motive power – horses/mules.  At one point there were 20 million head of power in North America.

-the food system was historically integrated – growing, harvesting, eating, and waste were close together and related.  Today each component is separate, often by huge geographical distances.

-history shows us a track record that we should pay attention to when moving toward the future.  What has held civilization together for centuries?  Not fossil fuel.  Technology is not bad, nor is oil necessarily, but we should consider that for several hundred years, the majority of people were fed without it.  Use technology appropriately.  Stuff with a high water content (fresh produce) was not transported, instead things like tea and spices were.

-herbivores, perennials and seafood were primary food sources historically because annuals were so labour intensive.

-the answer is to integrate the food system again, and then connect it to herbivores/perennials

-all draft power animals are herbivores.

-perennials build soil because they store energy in their roots.

-There is no such thing as “animal-less” ecology.

-The predator/prey relationship takes fertilization back up to the top of the hill (gravity, water etc move it down, herbivores walk up to the top and deposit it). We can use electric fence to mimic this.

-There is a “crisis of participation” right now – to get things back to “normal”, people, you, me, us – have to do it, eat it.  We can’t point a finger at “them” and complain.

-It’s the first time in history we don’t ponder in June about what we need to be doing to have something to eat in January.

-Shopping at farmers markets has become “guilt assuagement” – shoppers just nibble – they  hold Fifi in one arm and buy a loaf of bread, or bunch of parsley.  Who is shopping for their families meals for the whole week there?  Who is thinking ahead to the winter, and ordering bushels of tomatoes or beans for preserving?  None of them, but that’s what it should be.

credit: Foxglove Farm staff

That’s it for my notes from the first night.  Let me know if you need me to explain or expand, and I’ll do my best.  Much of this is in Joel Salatin’s book “Folks, This Ain’t Normal”.  He spent all of the next day on Pastured Livestock, it was intense but we learned a ton.  Stay tuned.