Meet Murray Provine. He used to be a steak-and-potatoes type of guy living a no-exercise, traveling-executive lifestyle.
All that changed after Provine was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Luckily, radiation destroyed Provine’s tumor. He got a second chance.
That’s when Provine decided it was time for him to eat right and take control of his own health. He knew his body was full of toxins. It needed to heal itself. One way to do that, he decided, was to start growing his own food.
Three years later, Provine and his land are in much better health. Both transformations are well-documented in Peter Byck’s most recent film, “This Farm is Medicine.”
“The pursuit of better health made this land healthy,” Provine says in the film. “A lot of good things happened as I began to eat better. I lost weight. My blood sugar is down. I have more energy. And I plan to live long enough to be a problem for my children.”
Provine credits Williams with helping him turn his property into a biodiverse wonderland.
“What we’re seeing here is a fairly rapid transformation,” says Williams as he walks through the pastures at Provine’s farm:
“In a three-year time period being able to go from a farm that had a lot of bare ground, fairly low water infiltration rates at the time, a lot of weeds to a farm today that is actively thriving. So he has created, in essence, a thriving total ecosystem that not only supports the livestock but also supports an array of other life. From many different species of birds and songbirds to mammals, deer, turkey, rabbits, squirrel, you name it, to pollinator insects and the wildlife below the ground in the soil, the soil microorganisms, everything.”
Other benefits? Provine doesn’t need to use commercial fertilizers because he raises heritage chickens, using regenerative practices. The birds defecate on the ground, which provides the inputs he needs to create healthy soil.
Provine also raises market gardens and pastured pork and cattle, thus creating biodiversity on his farm, by what he calls “stacking enterprises.”
Provine’s cattle are grassfed and on a 30-day cycle moving from pasture to pasture. Williams describes this grazing method:
“What we’re looking at here is a very well-planned and executed rotation of the cattle. Nature has this incredible ability that when subjected to disruption it actually regenerates itself a degree or two higher than where it was before … We want to make darn sure that in our pastures we have that three classifications of forage species represented which creates that salad bar … [The cows] have the opportunity here versus a monoculture to every single day balance their own diets.”
Williams believes we can medicate ourselves through our food as long as we eat good food. Identifying “good” food includes knowing how the food was raised, where it came from and how it was produced. He says: “So you are creating multiple levels of diversity, everything basically from life in the soil all the way up to the different types of animals and produce and that’s what we’ve gotten away from in agriculture.”
Provine sums it up this way:
“It’s just like investing in the stock market. You know if I had invested all my money in Enron years ago, I’d be in deep trouble today. But if I invested in a diverse portfolio, some were up, some were down, but they were all good companies, overall the mix is profitable and it gives me the return that I want.”
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