In Lentil Underground, Liz Carlisle recounts the patient growth of Timeless Seeds, which is today a highly successful purveyor of heirloom organic lentils and specialty grains. The “renegade farmers” who rejected the chemical farming practices that dominated the region in Montana learned together to “farm down” – focusing on soil health as a pre-condition to crop health and community health. As cost-price squeezes and droughts forced conventional farmers off their farms or into bankruptcy, organically-managed soils gave back to their stewards, rewarding their long-term, ecological approach.
Apart from the soil, Lentil Underground discusses “another form of erosion, painfully evident across the grain belt: the attrition of farmers and farming knowledge.” The type of community building that made the story of Timeless Seeds possible is reversing this trend everywhere it sets root. With today’s communications technology and the proven success of organic systems globally, there is reason for optimism that we can continue to reduce our addiction to a chemically-dependent food system.