On an early Thursday evening, Alexa Whipple rolled into the Semester in the West Camp in an old, white Toyota pickup. As she got out of the truck carrying a box of organic pears, she greeted everyone with smiling eyes. The pears came from 12 Moons Farm, a 6-acre plot of land that Alexa runs in the Methow Valley, Washington. Whipple started her farm after graduating with a degree in wildlife biology from Virginia Tech and bouncing around the West until she found her place in the Methow, and she visited the group to educate us about sustainable agriculture and its environmental benefits. She addressed the concept of regenerative grazing, in which public lands are selectively grazed in order to promote the growth of native bunchgrass. Whipple also explained the use of human range-riders to ensure proper grazing practices and livestock-predator relations on the range. Alexa also emphasized the importance of soil health in agriculture. Her farm uses organic, pesticide/herbicide-free practices to maintain the health of the bacteria within the top layers of soil. She tills as little as possible so as not to damage the fragile soil structures, and is currently researching organic, no-till farming methods in order to make her operation even more sustainable than it already is. Alexa’s clear and concise explanations of these practices showed us that sustainable agricultural practices do exist and that it’s possible to produce food in a manner that is better for and gives back to the environment as a whole.
By Fields Ford