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SSAWG2018 farm body


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Bringing personal sustainability into sustainable farming- taking care of ourselves amidst the physical and emotional stresses of farming to avoid burnout and injury.

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SSAWG2018 farm body

  1. 1. Bringing Personal Sustainability into Sustainable Farming Jamie Davis of A Way of Life Farm Sunshine, NC
  2. 2. Sustainable Farming • Environmental • Financial • Social • Personal – encompasses both the physical and psychological/emotional – Avoid burnout! – This means finding ways to avoid injury, build strength and flexibility to sustain a long farming career
  3. 3. Outline • Awareness, Activity, Rest • Specific “Exercises” to build awareness, openness and support • Specific farming activities
  4. 4. Awareness • It all comes down to awareness! • On a farm we have a lot of external forces driving us: production and marketing goals, weather, etc. If we lose track of our self- awareness, often times our personal sustainability suffers. • If you don’t know what you are doing, it’s hard to make changes!
  5. 5. Awareness • Exploration: Listen to your breath -- it can provide insight into how you are doing on a more subtle level. – What is my breath like at rest? – What is my breath like during moderate activity? – What is my breath like during a challenging task? – How do they compare?
  6. 6. Activity • Do something different – Yoga, aerobics, pilates, martial arts, non-contact sports, dancing – Alexander Technique, Rolfing, Feldenkrais Method – Increase your body’s vocabulary and give it a broader story to tell
  7. 7. Activity • Do the same thing in a different way – Jog, run, or bike as a means of transportation around the farm – Find ways to make a task into aerobic exercise or something of a dance
  8. 8. Activity • Farm work tends to be very inward directed: bend and grip and lift and hold and pull! • The forces of contraction and compression: – We walk around looking down, generally carrying weight, be it tools, food, feed, or water. Also, sitting at the computer, on the tractor or in the truck -- we are pulled forward and down. If we give in to the forces exerted upon us, we will end up in a heap on the floor. Thus, cultivate your inner buoyancy and find an element of extension and expansiveness in anything you do.
  9. 9. Rest • Conscious Rest – not sleep! • Lunchtime (just before eating) is a great time • Conscious rest has the effect of a power nap
  10. 10. Conscious Rest • ON THE FLOOR • Hands at your sides, palms face-up • Use a timer set to 5-10 minutes • Always roll to your side and pause a moment before getting up • Take the time to turn off the lights, draw the curtains, and cover yourself with a blanket – This dampens external stimuli (or distractions) and allows your attention to rest more easily inward.
  11. 11. Alexander Technique “The Monkey”
  12. 12. Half-Dog and Variations
  13. 13. Seated Trunk Lengthening Variations
  14. 14. Two Ways to Stand Up From a Forward Bend: #1
  15. 15. Two Ways to Stand Up From a Forward Bend: #2
  16. 16. Holding and Carrying Weight
  17. 17. Holding and Carrying Weight
  18. 18. Specific Farming Activities • Bending: Transplanting, Weeding, Harvesting
  19. 19. Transplanting and Harvesting
  20. 20. Transplanting
  21. 21. Specific Farming Activities • Lifting and Carrying
  22. 22. Specific Farming Activities • Standing, Repetitive Action: Hoeing, Walk- behind Tractor/Tiller, Broadforking
  23. 23. Specific Farming Activities • Sitting: Driving a Tractor, Driving a Truck, Sitting at a Computer
  24. 24. Specific Farming Activities • Walking: can feed tension and gravity OR we can use walking as a time to re-center and maybe “Do Something in a Different Way” (School of Funny Walks anyone?) • Pulling: the “grunt work” of farming – Often happens when something has already gotten the better of us
  25. 25. Tools and Techniques for “Lightening the Load” • Landscaping Fabric, Precision Seeders, Flame Weeders, Silage Tarp
  26. 26. Tools and Techniques for “Lightening the Load” • Hand trucks, Mover’s Dolly, Tractor with Forks
  27. 27. Tools and Techniques for “Lightening the Load” • Quick-Cut Greens Harvester, Chain Digger Photo from
  28. 28. Food and Eating Habits
  29. 29. Food and Eating Habits • Food should be meaningful – through connection to food you helped grow or prepare – through tradition and culture – through good company sharing a meal together • We are farmers who feed the soil biology – now let’s feed our own.
  30. 30. Resources • Body Learning by Michael Gelb – Good introduction to the Alexander Technique • The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman – Great book in general, but in terms of our topic, it provides a systems approach to avoiding injury and maintaining personal health: good workplace flow and making good decisions about production efficiency can save a lot of wear and tear on our bodies! • Anatomy of Movement by Blandine Calais-Germain – Great, functional anatomical drawings; helps me discern and understand more clearly exactly what is ailing me. • The Microbiome Solution by Dr. Robynne Chutkan – As farmers, we feed microbes in the soil to benefit our crops (think compost, manure, mulch, organic fertilizers). This book suggest we do the same for the microbes in and on our bodies. Lots of great recipes for feeding your good bugs. • The Divided Mind by Dr. John Sarno – An integrated approach for dealing with chronic pain syndromes. If you deal with chronic pain, and it seems like nothing is working, you should take a look at Dr. Sarno’s work.