I tell you, it has almost been too hot to grill…we are experiencing a warmer than normal June in Nashville, but if the thunderstorms will cut me some slack over the weekend, I intend to add some delicious wood char to a fine selection of sleeved-up protein!

Perhaps one of the reasons I got into the real estate business lo some 20 plus years ago, was that while I was getting my graduate degree, one of my professors was an international expert in agribusiness.  One of the things he said has always stuck with me: “our greatness as a country depends on six inches of topsoil.”  He was referring, of course, to the world’s breadbasket, our Great Plains and farming regions throughout this rich land.  Protection of that resource is something we need to be keenly aware of and so I thought I would share some resources and thought leaders on this topic with you this week.

1. Wes Jackson – founder of the Land Institute, Wes has been a champion of more holistic ways of farming.  He is a brilliant thinker and proponent of local agriculture.  Click on his name above to read an interview with him.  He saw over thirty years ago how soil, water and agriculture are carefully intertwined and that we had better preserve the first two to maintain the third.

2. Michael Pollan – author of  Food Rules and The Omnivore’s Dilemna among other books, Pollan is a tremendous advocate for locally grown food.  He has studied the links between transit costs, food quality and health.  He can be provocative, but his books and articles are well worth the time!

3. Wendell Berry – where to begin?  Poet, novelist, essayist and farmer, Wendell Berry is the nearest thing to an American  conscience alive today.  One of the central themes of his work is the need to preserve the small scale farm.  He acknowledges the efficiency of corporate farming, but worries about the loss of diversity, culture and taste .  I’ve read a ton of his work, but would recommend “Bringing it to the Table,On Farming and Food,” and “The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry.”   You can get the flavor of his work from this interview: “Toward a Healthy Community.”

4. EcoTrust – we had our annual Partner/Spouse Meeting in Portland, Oregon a few years ago.  One of the things that really impressed me was the city’s restaurants use of local produce – and advertising of it!  Apparently EcoTrust is the outfit behind that movement.  Go to their website an poke around…they even offer advice on how to form local food networks.

5. LocalHarvest – not long ago, a close friend of mine told me his wife was getting involved in a “CSA.”  Always the history buff, I thought that perhaps she was joining the Daughters of the Confederacy, but learned quickly that the new CSA means “community supported agriculture.”  I really believe that the future challenge for cities will be how they integrate their surrounding rural towns and environs.  The CSA model is a great way to start.

Have a wonderful weekend!