Ripe for Change
Now, in the midst of so much unnecessary
human and ecological destruction, we are
facing the necessity of a new start in agriculture.
In midsummer, the softly undulating hills of northeastern Iowa are lush with corn and soybeans. The Amish farms are immaculate. The town of Decorah is also orderly, a legacy of the Norwegian immigrants who began farming here in the mid-nineteenth century. It has a real Main Street and fanciful Victorian houses surrounded by tall trees and well-kept lawns. Just north of town is Heritage Farm, the home of Seed Savers Exchange (SSE). Getting there means driving through mile after mile of monotonous commodity crops, but once the road leaves the main highway, another landscape appears. The road dips down into a riparian forest and crosses a creek edged by limestone cliffs and century-old white pine trees. The warm air suddenly turns cool, and the contrast between the planted and native riparian areas is startling. It signals more changes to come, just over the horizon.
When you turn onto the dirt drive leading into Heritage Farm, suddenly a circus of color appears. The summer gardens are blazing with orange calendulas, golden sunflowers, redjewel-colored zinnias, white and purple coreopsis, tall spires of