Tim Diebel (he/him) | Taproot Garden | Warren County, Iowa
What do you farm?
A 10-acre diversified farmstead with woods, native prairie, fruit and nut orchard, vegetable and pollinator flower garden, honey bees, and chickens.
Tell us a little about the land you farm. What does the landscape look like? How did you end up there?
We have a deep, but narrow rectangular acreage. The northern half of the property is wooded; moving south, the woods give way to a three-acre prairie of native grasses and wildflowers. The southernmost portion includes our house, a barn, the garden, orchards, and chicken yard. When we made the decision to leave the city and learn to grow food, this was the compelling piece of land to which our realtor introduced us.
Share about a time when you felt blessed to be farming.
Every day when I gather eggs; every August when I harvest honey; every winter when we start seeds in the greenhouse; every spring when the asparagus emerges; every summer when we pull the first tomato; every September when we press apples.
How does your faith call you to farming? Where do you see a higher power in your work as a farmer?
Faithful people in ancient times referred to nature as “the first incarnation.” Later ones called it “the first Bible.” Farming brings me close to that primal witness, and to its revelation of the “ways of God.” Scripture, I have come to recognize, emphasizes the ways we interact with each other, and yes, God, but being embedded in nature through farming expands that interactive community to the air, soil, water, and all living things, both visible and microscopic. “Discipleship” becomes a much larger endeavor. That, and it is humbling. There is certainly much that we do in our enterprise here. We work hard, but ultimately, our hardest work is only partial. We can plant, water, and protect a tomato, but we cannot make it grow; we cannot make it ripen, and we cannot give it flavor. We cannot create a seed. There is a vast holiness to that deeper work.
How does farming call you to climate action? What future would you like to see for Iowa and agriculture?
Like so much of our societal strategies, our agricultural efforts as a culture, along with our general way of being in the world, are colonial – impositional, extractive, coercive, and intrinsically arrogant. We function as though the world was for us; the soil, for us; creation’s varied expressions for us. This hierarchical view is intrinsically abusive and coercive. We don’t participate; we use. My desired future is one that rearranges this anthropocentric mode with a communal one that is participatory, rather than extractive. “One with” rather than “us, over” the rest of the natural world. Such a repentant mode would require us to reimagine ourselves as part of the created order, rather than “over and above” and fundamentally “other” than creation. Our efforts, in the name of climate action, are focused primarily in promoting that reimagination, while seeking ways to exemplify it, such as renewing soil, utilizing solar energy, etc.
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