It's been a while since I posted in my Conservationist Living category, which is this post's primary classification, though I've assigned it to several others as well.

America is going to hell, right? Everybody says so. Including a whole lot of people who fervently believe there is no such place as hell, which is an interesting conundrum. But they all believe with equal fervor that we are going there rapidly. Believer or non-believer, left-wing or right-wing, we are convinced that we're in bad shape and on course to get much, much worse. What we disagree on is the attitudes, events, actions, and pathways that are taking us hell-ward.

Believe me, I'm not immune to such pessimism. Neither are you, so I'm going to tell you a small part of the story of Dave Anderson.

The Andersons are friends of our daughter's family, from their Pittsburgh days. Dave's success at building a good life for his family while reclaiming a worn-out strip mine and putting to good use many hundreds of tons of refuse every year was featured last month in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.

I made the 45-minute drive to Echo Valley Farm this week because I wanted to meet the man who’d turned strip-mined land in northwest Beaver County into 26 grassy acres on which beef cattle thrive. Mr. Anderson had told me he revived his land by mixing hundreds of thousands of used paper cups from the Pittsburgh Marathon with manure, hay, banana peels and restaurant refuse.

You'll want to read the whole article to learn about the symbiotic relationship between the farm, needing nourisment, and both private businesses and local governments, needing waste disposal, that's a win for everyone involved.

It all works because there’s something in it for everyone. Mr. Anderson said that 14 years ago, the field over my shoulder produced 6,000 pounds of hay at the first cutting. The cutting in [the] same field last year brought 37,000 pounds.

Plus, the farm is a great place to raise kids.

I ask if it’s just the two of them and he says, no, he and his wife, Elaine, have six girls and a boy. They range in age from 10 to 24. All seven of them comprise Echo Valley, a bluegrass/​gospel/​Celtic band, that just played in Harrodsburg, Ky., Saturday night.

Several years ago—it was probably more than ten, though I'm finding that hard to believe—we visited the budding farm for one of their many social gatherings of food, music, and fun. Kids and animals were everywhere. The children were much younger then, of course, but they were already solid musicians. Here is a more recent video of the group.

and one of my favorites from earlier, just for fun.

Mr. Anderson, an inveterate reader who doesn’t own a TV, and who also was an air traffic manager until he retired last Friday, figured out how to turn desolate land into a lush farm that supports a family of nine with 30 head of beef cattle, six miniature donkeys, 40 laying hens, two turkeys, four guinea fowl, three geese, three ducks, two Australian cattle dogs and six pups.

Not to mention a number of cats, as I recall.

I hope this brightened your day. If America is, indeed, going to hell, people like the Andersons are pulling mightily in the other direction.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:46 pm | Edit
Permalink | Read 31 times
Category Politics: [first] [previous] Children & Family Issues: [first] [previous] Food: [first] [previous] Conservationist Living: [first] [previous] Inspiration: [first] [previous]
Comments

Glad to hear about Mr. Anderson and his family. This is a bit of good news, indeed. But I am sure you understand this is just a drop in the bucket. I hope this becomes a grass-roots movement. The way this country is going, let alone the world, is unsustainable, environmentally, economically, and socially.



Posted by Diane Villafane on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 6:26 am

It is already a grass-roots movement, just not one normally covered in the news, which may be a good thing. There's a lot out there to be hopeful about, if you know where to look.



Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 10:13 am

All any of us can do is a drop in the bucket, right? A tiny bit each day that moves the needle in the right direction. That's my hope!



Posted by Leanne Jackson on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Indeed. I always remember your daffodils, Leanne.



Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 5:20 pm
Add comment

(Comments may be delayed by moderation.)