Monica Bongue is the owner of Muddy Fork Farm http://www.muddyforkfarm.com and at the heart of her work she is an ecosystem manager. She manages not only the abundant plant life that grows on her farm, but also the animals and insects that use her fields. She wants to grow food that has the highest quality and the best taste. Monica lives by a holistic philosophy, in that nature, mind, and body must all be treated kindly. She only takes what the land is willing to give her and she has a strong sense of actions and consequences.
Monica is also a part of Farm Roots Connection (http://farmrootsconnection.com) – which is a farmer-owned and managed cooperative CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that delivers fresh produce and farm goods to Northern Ohio.
I am a farm assistant at Muddy Fork and I help out with the day-to-day operations on the farm. This includes planting, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, watering, thinning, mulching, and fertilizing the many fruits and vegetables that are grown here. One of the things that surprised me with all of this produce was not only the amount grown (there is an acre of asparagus and we get 70-100lbs from it a day) but also the number of variety (we planted over 50 types of tomatoes). We are practicing ecological diversity in the sense that if a few varieties do not produce well there are alternatives. Nature does not put all of her eggs in one basket and neither do we. We also harvest and pack for various farmer’s markets and CSAs.
Once I week I volunteer at Local Roots Market & Café (http://localrootswooster.com). Local Roots is a market place with the goal of connecting producers to consumers. They encourage healthy eating, local economy, and sustainable living. There are over 100 producers and artisans that are a part of Local Roots. Working here has been very rewarding because this is the place where I get to the meet the people who buy the food I grow. I also get to have honest and open interactions with them about what they want from their food.
My co-op is about cultivating community and growing the future. I came to Muddy Fork Farm with the intention of reestablishing the links between food, community, people, and the land that is grows from. Our food is only as good as the health of the soil it grew from just as our meat is only as good as the food it was fed.
I also want to learn the path food takes from farm to table, how to produce food effectively in an organic settling, and to understand what I want from my food.
I can tell you one thing that I have learned so far – we are all interdependent upon one another. It is these beautiful connections that makes us human and they also remind us that we are also animals and very much connected to this planet.
Reasons to be Organic:
The Effects of Herbicides & Pesticides on Humans –http://www.livestrong.com/article/246750-the-effects-of-herbicides-pesticides-on-humans/
Top 12 Reasons to go Organic
Top 10 Reasons Not to Go Organic – And Why to Ignore Them All
You have to crawl to get into the cave, but once you go through the opening you enter a world that is steeped in history. The ground you walk upon is tens of thousands of years old, the stone formations on the walls are ten times older than the soil, and the rock walls are five times older than their formations. “Time vertigo” is what David Burney calls the strange feeling of seeing so many different time scales at once. With your eyes alone you can see half a million years of history as soon as you walk into the cave.
The Makauwahi Cave has nothing to do with volcanoes, it is actually a limestone cave that was formed when a giant sand dune was carved out by an underground stream 450,000 years ago. Then the top of the cave collapsed 7,000 years ago. So this cave turned shallow lake is an archaeologist dream that attracted many different plant and animal material over the years. The water in the cave is a neutral 7 and preserves all types of artifacts: human, animal, plant, spores, pollen, and even wood in its oxygen deprived mud. Over the years hundreds upon thousands of individuals came and dedicated their time to working in the archaeological pits to uncover the hidden past of Kaua’i. Thirty-three feet is what it took to go back in time. The years have been catalogued and study by hundreds of volunteers from all over the world. And what they found was even more beautiful.
They found 89 fishhooks made out of pearl and bone. One was made out of iron. They found gourds, paddles, spears, daggers, bone picks, stone tools, shells, land crabs, seeds and pollens from extinct plants that once flourished across the island, many types of bones, and much, much more. Our favorite human find is a stone mirror, this is a polished piece of basalt that creates a reflection when cold water is placed upon it. They also found long extinct birds and land snails. And even identified some that were not known to have existed beforehand. One of the birds, now called the moa-nalo, which is Hawaiian for “lost fowl,” was over four feet tall and wingless. They disappeared when the Polynesians arrived as they were eaten to extinction. From the archaeological digs they were able to get an idea of what species went extinct when the Polynesians arrived and later when the Europeans arrived. Through this information we may be able to better understand how humans impact environments and learn how to curb our detrimental actions.
The cave has been a refuge for many different people over the past thousand years. It has been a witches’ gathering place, a hippie commune, a movie set for Pirates of the Caribbean 4, a Chines opium den, a place for spiritual divination, and above all it has been a time machine for those that worked in the pits. Makauwahi cave is more than just a place of conservation and archaeological work. It is a deeply spiritual place.
As we would say at Antioch, Steven Taylor and I wear many different hats while working on these beautiful 17 acres. My days vary from working on the nature trails, replanting native plants in the quarry, helping with the adult and baby tortoises, repairing fences and making new ones, giving tours of the cave and tortoises, cleaning around base camp, revamping the place with new signs and fixing picnic tables, repairing irrigation lines, removing invasive plants, and any other project we or our co-workers can think of. We want to show our visitors what Kaua’I looked like a thousand years ago. We call our conservation efforts “Re-wilding” as we are planting only pre-Polynesians and Polynesians introduced plants throughout the reserve. This approach uses the knowledge of paleoecology and the wealth of information we obtained from the cave to transform the landscape back to what it was 1000 years ago. This is the mission of the reserve to use the past to save the future and its environments.
“Between animal and human medicine, there is no dividing line – nor should there be” ~ Rudolf Virchow (a father of modern medicine). This co-op I have taken these words to heart and I held an internship at an animal clinic and at a county hospital.
Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic of Indianapolis (http://www.exoticvetclinic.com/) is dedicated to helping all nontraditional animals as well as wildlife rescues. The patients range anywhere from rabbits, boa constrictors, raptors, lemurs, macaws, and everything in between. Each day is unique and the saying is true that you never know what will walk through that door. I work as a veterinary intern and the interesting thing about this clinic is that everyone is learning.
The environment is one of exploration of different veterinary techniques to learn which ones will work best with exotic animals. The head veterinarian is Angela Lennox and she is one of the leading experts in exotic animal medicine. There is a lot to learn about exotic animal medicine as most of the research and money is spent on dogs and cats. She helps other veterinarians specialize in exotic medicine. There are also many different interns that come and spend a rotation at the clinic which usually lasts three weeks. I, and the other interns, help take care of the animals during the day and after surgery while they recover. I help set up for surgeries and clean up after surgeries and examinations.
Hendricks Regional Health (http://www.hendricks.org/) strives to improve the health of patients through high quality health care in a compassionate, efficient, and technologically advanced environment. I am a hospitalist intern and I follow different doctors on different days. A hospitalist specializes in internal medicine and cares for adult patients that are admitted to the hospital. I have seen patients in many different wings of the hospital such as the surgery ward, the medical floor, ER (emergency room) patients, and ICU (intensive care unit). The doctors I follow are also part of another organization called Acute Rehab Medicine Specialists, or ARMS for short. ARMS is about transitional medicine and helps patients continue the rehab process after they have left the hospital so that they can have an easier and smoother adjustment.
At both places I see a range of patients, but I have recently learned about the One Health movement which I read about in Zoobiquity by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers. In the book it discusses how every human disease, mental illness, or psychological behavior has a direct correlations to diseases in animals. With a union between these two sides of medicine that are part of the same coin all species can benefit. And One Health doesn’t just stop at animal and human health it also wants to improve wildlife, ecological, and world health.
The One Health Initiative (http://onehealthinitiative.com/) is a movement that is working on uniting veterinarians, physicians, ecologists, and more to work together to improve the health of all species and the world. The One Health Initiative is based upon the principle that there is one world, one medicine, and one health. One health looks at the individual, population, and ecosystem level of health for animals, humans, and plants. The One Health resolution was adopted by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2007. Later other organizations and countries adopted the resolution. But there are still many who do not know of this movement and there is a large rift between the human and animal sides of medicine. This movement cannot be fully realized until the obvious truth that humans are mammals, and therefore animals, is accepted. We have to understand that we are very much connected to everything and everyone else around us whether directly or indirectly.
We have this one world that we live in and share. There are continuous feedback loops in place that include the nutrient cycles, human behaviors, and the activities of all species across the planet. I recently ran across a quote from Niels Bohr that reminded me of our “Be ashamed to die” quote from Horace. Bohr stated that “Every human being must aim to make things better than they are now.” So I hope to live up to these two great quotes, but I hope to do more than win a victory for humanity; I want to win a victory for the world and all that live here.
More Articles on One Health:
“What is One Health?” Henrik Lerner and Charlotte Berg
“Our Animal Natures” by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers
“The Manhattan Principles on One World, One Health”