System of Rice intensification farming in Chattisgarh India

You squint towards a sunset that is rapidly embracing the horizon. It’s as if the sun is as tired as you are, collapsing slowly into a deep dark mattress after a hard day at work. Your hands are well-calloused, not just from today, and rough-skinned from the rigour of the handling of the tools, from the tearing of weeds, from the shifting of logs. You raise one of them to shield your eyes from those final raise – about 20 minutes before nightfall you think – and quickly gather your thoughts as to how much you can do before you need to gather your tools.

You turn and look at the shadows that seem to grow from the ground around the seedlings, the grass, the trees. Anchored to their three dimensional partners, they begin stretching themselves over your day’s work. You can do nothing about the shadows. They will not be there in the morning, when you will return here to continue your work. They too are temporary. They do no real harm.

The sun is reeling in its light, withdrawing its gift from the world so the night may have its time. So the stars can gleam proudly in the sky. So sleeping minds can expand beyond the day-to-day and instead steam past planets and stars and take part in the great cosmic music of mathematics that makes all things possible.

The farmer’s work never finishes. He, or she, plans. Then sources the right seeds. Then plants. Then tends. Then prunes. Then harvests. Then does it all again.

They understand that their part of farming can only be planned to a certain extent. That at some point they need to put down their tools, turn off the tractor’s engine, to sit on the porch and look out over their land and watch the storm roll in from the foothills. They need to feel the rain hit the earth and consume it. They accept that the wind may not touch the right part of the crop to take up seeds and add new life to barren ground. They watch, and plan, and respond.

Weather does not stop because of a plan. Crops don’t grow without attention. The future doesn’t transform into the present at the whim of those who have one foot in the past. There are some things you just cannot control. Change will happen regardless of what we want to happen, laughing at our attempt to control or manage it. We can make positive change happen and we must acknowledge when we can’t, or shouldn’t, grasp it too tightly. However, even organic farms need farmers.

So, how do you cultivate change?  How do we cultivate change?

And when you get a chance to take a breath… don’t forget to look up at the stars.