Closer to the Land

By Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light 

I admit to being a pollyanna. I carry with me a rather idyllic view of the way farming can be healthier, both for us and the Earth. This rosy attitude comes from spending time on small, organic farms, talking with farmers, taking photographs, and just paying attention to the flow of life there. Some of these farms take "organic" to the extreme by ridding their land of mechanized equipment and modern chemicals completely. We'll talk a little about this today, and how going back to the way things used to be, at least on small-scale farms, can benefit humans and Mother Nature, both.
Regardless of whether you agree with the religious views of groups like the Amish or Mennonites, they are oftentimes practicing very sustainable, organic, more nature-friendly farming. These "extreme" organic growers produce their crops without the use of modern farm equipment, chemicals, or GMO seeds. And in many of the Mennonite and Amish communities I've visited, their land is insanely productive!

They, and a growing number of non-religious, small-scale growers here in the US are making the old-fashioned, less-mechanized organic farm "cool" again. Let me introduce you to a few of the practices these growers use so you can see how their work is more in tune with the land.


No, not the mechanical kind but real, honest-to-goodness horse power. Both the Mennonites and Amish are well-known for their use of horses to till soil, plant seeds, and harvest crops, but other, non-religious growers across North America are going back to this method too. I spent time in Maine a few years back and saw a fair number of young adults taking up farming and homesteading with nothing but a pair of horses or oxen, a plow, and their own enthusiasm.

Why is simpler farming better for the Earth? First of all, horses don't need chemical fuels such as gasoline or diesel. Pasture grasses, hay, water, and TLC are what is needed to grow these big draft horses. With horses, we don't have to worry about fuel spills, fumes, and storage. Secondly, the Amish in particular often buy (actually "rescue" is the more appropriate word) unwanted young draft horses that are the product of our hormonal birth control industry. Yes, if you didn't know, much of our hormonal contraceptives come from pregnant draft horses kept in pretty rough conditions. You can read more about that here ( and HERE ( . Third, the "products" of the horse are re-used as fertilizer for the crops, finishing the nutrient cycle on the farm. The horses also provide the farm's children valuable training in how to deeply connect with farm animals, something kids in cities rarely have a chance to learn. These children grow up understanding the value of the rest of God's creatures. No Chemicals and No GMO ------------------------------------------------------------ The Mennonite farming communities I've visited in Tennessee view GMOs (artificially genetically-modified crops) as unnecessary and probably not a good idea for our long-term health. It's also a spiritual issue for them. They believe it goes against God's plan for His creation. I don't know about that, but I do respect their beliefs and agree that GMOs aren't something I want to be consuming. Many Mennonites and Amish are working hard at old-fashioned cross-breeding and hybridization as a way to create superior crop strains. And they are succeeding, perhaps even moreso than the big, commercial, GMO seed companies. But more on this in a future posting.
These small-scale organic farms avoid or completely eliminate the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, too. They control weeds the old fashioned way: proper planting techniques (planting tighter rows, using mulches, etc.), tilling (with horses or by hand), or using no-till techniques. To control pests, they encourage insect-eating birds and bats to take up residence on their farms, as well as using a variety of other methods including plant nutrition:

Healthy Crops = Superior Nutrition & Taste

Come summer, do this test. Go to a commercial grocery store and buy one of those imported, commercial tomatoes. You know the ones that look a little ripe but taste ghastly? Now go to your local farmer's market, farmstand, or you own backyard and pick up a truly organic, vine-ripened tomato of the same general kind. Do a taste test. Which one tastes better?

I grew up on a small family farm and my mom had a huge tomato patch, Yes, I was a spoiled kid. We didn't use chemicals, fertilizing the tomatoes with compost and manure, and letting the sunshine and rain do the rest. These were the most incredible tomatoes in the world, well, at least in my small world at that time. Even today, I just cannot bring myself to eat a grocery-store tomato.

And organically-grown vegetables have been shown to be richer in anti-oxidants than their conventionally-raised counterparts: "Across the important antioxidant compounds in fruits and vegetables, organic fruits and vegetables deliver between 20 and 40 percent higher antioxidant activity," says Charles Benbrook, from Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, a co-author of the study. Calming ------------------------------------------------------------ Besides all of that, just being on one of these farms, whether Mennonite or secular, is a calming experience for a visitor. The pace of life is slower, more natural. Birds, butterflies, and bees are common. Animals come and go...a coyote might peep out of a corn row, then nip across the lane into an alfalfa field looking for mice to hunt. Swallows and purple martins zip through the air, snapping up insects. Horses and mules whinny as they greet you at the fence. Kids play on hay piles, tend to the chickens, or help mom with the gardening.
It's hard work, for sure, but the pace of life on these farms is comfortable (at least for me). And it's more in tune with the land. And that's why I support them as much as I can. Love and Blessings to all of you... Nancy

Today's Prayer

God, thank you for the abundance of the Earth, and for the food we're eating today.

Upcoming Events

- June 26, Louisville, Colorado: Awakenings from the Light at the Louisville, Colorado, Center for the Arts, located at 801 Grant Avenue in Memory Square Park (4 blocks west of Main Street on Spruce). Time TBD. Lecture, Q&A, with books sales/signing after.
- July 15-17, Copper Mountain, Colorado: Shifting Your Reality Conference With spiritual medium Lynn Van Pragh-Gratton, manifesting expert Ken Elliott, and me, Nancy Rynes, NDEr and author of Awakenings from the Light ( . Click here for more information and to register.
- July 30, 2-3 PM, Orlando, Florida: Awakening to Life by Nancy Rynes at the International Association for Near Death Studies National Conference (IANDS).  For more information or to register, see:
Posted by Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light ( )
All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015-2016
Bio: Nancy Rynes is a speaker, artist, and author of Awakenings from the Light (available from Nancy's books and workshops teach you how to bring a little bit of Heaven to your life on Earth. She lives near Boulder, Colorado. Check out her website: