The idea of sustainability is often preached by environmentalists, though it can be difficult to pinpoint the meaning of the concept.
“Sustainability is a fuzzy word,” said Terra Brockman, founder of the central Illinois based organization The Land Connection.
“There is a whole continuum of sustainability and we would like to meet people wherever they are on that continuum and maybe look at the next best practice or the next step they might take on a continuum of sustainability.”
The Land Connection bills itself as being devoted to “Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Healthy Communities,” and it would like every farmer to have an opportunity to grow food in a sustainable manner.
Brockman, who serves as the organization’s Director of Farmland Programs, believes sustainable agriculture can be practiced on large farms as well as smaller ones.
“It isn’t really a matter of scale,” she said. “You can have an excellent, sustainable farm at any scale.”
She considered a sustainable farm to be one that can sustain itself with few external inputs – an ecological system that basically feeds itself.
“It means you can keep going – not just for your lifetime or even the next lifetime.”
Brockman said that means using water and soil resources wisely. She’s concerned about the loss of soil in the Midwest and the decrease in soil quality. She said sustainable practices such as crop rotations can help bring soil back to life.
Brockman was the keynote speaker for the annual Environmental Summit at Western Illinois University.