Community of learners

As a farmer who is just beginning the practice (in my third year), I know that it can be helpful to follow trends in the weather. I am a skeptical consumer of news, but, at the end of the day, I feel that we are a global community of learners, and that, in dividing intellectual labor among ourselves, we inherently trust each other to report on things in good faith.

I recently came across a convincing article dealing with the concepts of El Niño and La Niña. The way I understand these phenomena to work is that with El Niño, the trade winds weaken and do not carry warmer water from the South American coast to parts west (Asia and Australia). This creates a net warming effect because this gathered heat warms the atmosphere instead of the global ocean. With La Niña, the opposite happens. The trade winds, traveling east to west, become stronger than usual, causing cooler ocean temperatures, and therefore a cooler atmosphere.

A graph was included.

weather data

There has been concern that there would be budget cuts to projects carried out by NASA and NOAA to continue monitoring factors that influence these broad weather trends. Those fears have only been partially allayed. Much of the NOAA’s budget remains intact, but an important effort by NASA to keep track of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide has been de-funded. In the absence of this CO2 data, we are not exactly going blind, but it does pull the carpet out from under us a bit.

So what do I do? I plan. I plan for cool years and warm years, for cold winters and hot summers. Because my true passion is a perennial agriculture, I put in plants and varieties that can tolerate at least a zone warmer as well as a zone cooler. We’re zone 7b. I continue to develop landraces and greges that do well in our particular pocket of weather. I buy locally produced seed as much as possible, for that same reason.

Above all, I plan to fail. This is not the pessimist in me speaking, but actually the hard-won practicality of making it a lifelong habit of “learning the hard way.” Significant research has shown that when one makes a mistake, new synaptic connections in the brain are formed. This is where I am now, not aiming to fail or trying to fail (I always work towards harvesting a net yield), but understanding that every day, every season, is a brave new world, and in every loss, there is a gain. Isn’t that the root of science – trying something, observing it thoughtfully, and making note of the results?

What do you think about all this? What have you noticed about weather trends where you are? Do you save seed each year? If you think I’ve made a mistake in what I’ve said, let me know — we are a community of learners (plus, I moderate judiciously).

3 thoughts on “Community of learners”

  1. Interesting what you say about the power of learning from mistakes. Here in South Africa we are suffering from increasingly extreme weather. And yes I do save seed, but mostly allow plants to self-seed and then we nurture and often transplant such offspring, including in the veggie patch.

    Liked by 1 person

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