Disappearing Barn Lights

(See All Our Previous Letters Here)

Help us Turn the Lights Back On in the barns of rural America.

Our Milk & Money symposium opened and closed with the heartfelt words of Wisconsin Real Organic farmer, Helen Kees.

She tells us about the loss of the warm barn lights that used to dot her Western Wisconsin landscape during the evening milking time.

The disappearances of those barn lights signify the loss of family dairies over the years and with them, our vanishing rural communities.

Please take 2 minutes now to listen to Helen’s words.

Then, help the Real Organic Project turn the lights back on in the barns of rural America by sending her important message to others.

A red barn in the evening with snow covered corrals in the foreground. A single light is on outside the barn.

“When we started farming here 45 years ago, there were over a dozen dairy farms between our farm and the 15 miles south of us to the next little rural community.

During this time of year, the warm glow of the lights on in those dairy barns for evening chores were an absolute beacon in the suppertime darkness. And every barn held cattle and community. 

Those barn lights knitted together school Christmas programs and sports teams. They represented families. They signaled healthy creameries and cheese factories and other local businesses.

Those barn lights reflected a bustling main street where farm income, spent locally, was turned over seven times before it left the community. 

The glow of those barn lights, though, represented something even more important. They represented mouths full of hay and a winter’s worth of fermented forage.

That hay and forage represented carbon-sequestering acreage and resiliency to drought and damage. 

Today, there are no barn lights on at suppertime in that stretch of highway. There are no dairy barns in that 15 miles.

Today, most of the barns are literally gone, erased from the landscape to make room for one more row of corn or beans.
Government policy inadvertently or advertently, conspired to destroy one of the most elegant environmentally, socially, economically-speaking systems known in America, and that was the family farm.”

  • Helen Kees, Wheatfield Hill Organics, Durand Wisconsin

A farmer walks in a dairy barn with a milk kettle in his hand. Cows eat behind him. Text reads: Post-Event Recordings Available. Real Organic Project Virtual Symposium "Milk & Money"

Missed the Symposium? Sign up to watch the recordings here.

What else are we up to this week?

Watching: Jim Riddle Speaking At NOFA New Jersey’s Winter Conference entitled “Let’s Get Real! Protecting Organic from the Ground Up.” 

Reading: We’re in Civil Eats’s article What Is The Future Of Organic? by Lisa Held

Doing: Please spread the word to help us find the perfect Development Director or Manager. Both job descriptions can be found here: https://www.realorganicproject.org/work-with-us/