Beasts of Burden
Calves, pigs and chickens, oh my! Everywhere you turn there are animals around here. None in large quantities, but enough to do their job on our farm. Livestock can play an integral role on small farms and the underlying health effects of animal interaction shouldn’t be overlooked.
Snow Peas (smalls only)
Green Oakleaf Lettuce
Kohlrabi (larges only)
Carrots (larges only)
Here at We Grow, pigs are pastured in areas that we need the vegetation knocked down and turned over. Their rooting behavior is a result of their search for insects, roots, seeds, minerals and even small mammals. In their path, they leave fertile manure behind which is the fastest way to convert plant matter into soil. The role the calves play is very similar. They convert forage into muscle and manure. Both are extremely valuable products. But did you know that simply having animals and/or being exposed to their germs can make you a healthier person?
Scientists have long speculated that the “dirtier” the environment we grow up in, with a wide array of germs from different people and animals, the better our immune system and physical health ultimately will be. Recent studies are suggesting that a “dirty world” might be better for our mental health, too.
The hygiene hypothesis, as it’s called, says that our immune system needs to spar with relatively harmless germs and foreign substances in its earliest years so it can calibrate itself. Without this training, it can become too sensitive and overreact to things it shouldn’t, like house dust and pollen, leading to allergies and asthma. Plenty of research has shown that growing up in a rural environment, or with pets, is associated with lower rates of autoimmune disorders, while rates of allergies and autoimmune disorders have steadily climbed in urban areas.
Rest assured that in your weekly share, you not only get fresh from the field vegetables. You get microbes from our farm. Tiny organisms that remind the immune system how to respond. And an actual visit to our farm is even better for you. Pet the rabbits, rub a cat and give the labrador some love. Germs or not, the adventure is sure to be good for your mental state.
Growing for you,