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The Heartland

I’m writing to you from Kansas. This is the first time I’ve spoken in Kansas. The event is the Fuller Field School, a two-day program for farmers created by Gail and Lynnette Fuller. I would like to share some of the deep impressions I’ve received from this event.

This morning I walked barefoot to the gathering area where I was to give my speech. Everyone I saw was wearing shoes. I wondered whether I was offending anyone’s sensibilities. An older gentleman in cowboy boots came up to me, looking every bit the Kansas good old boy in his baseball cap. “My Crossfit coach goes barefoot all the time too,” he said. “He says earthing is really good for your health.”

There is a profound awakening underway in the unlikeliest of places, and the old order is disintegrating.

Another man I met, who could have answered a casting call for a cowboy without changing his outfit, told me about his kundalini awakening he’d had six months prior. On the book table was a copy of The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. “I just finished reading it,” said one middle-aged farmer. “I’ve been doing emotions wrong for 47 years.”

The event brought together established ranchers, at least one of which grazes cattle on 7,000 acres, with urban farmers, apprentice farmers, homesteaders, and regenerative agriculture activists. What united everyone was a love for soil. Gail’s slogan is, “Soil is the answer. What is the question?” I learned a lot from listening to conversations; for example, that regenerative grazing depends crucially on burrowing animals, particularly dung beetles, for the manure and water to penetrate the earth. Without them, the manure stays on the surface long enough to breed flies that make humans and animals alike miserable. The dung beetles are decimated both by applications of insecticide to “control” various insect pests, and by dewormer medicine given to the cows.