A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader
Rest comes in sevens. We see a significance in the number seven from the very beginning of written history. Principles woven into the natural world’s design are affecting us, aware or not. Learning to work with them causes prospering. Rest is integral to success in any business, and in particular the farm. Sometimes it’s counter intuitive.
Exodus, a book in ancient Hebrew scriptures, documents some detailed instructions from the creator of the natural systems we manage. Chapter 23 records this: “Sow your land for six years and gather its produce. But during the seventh year you are to let it rest and leave it uncultivated…” My initial reaction to this is fear. “Ouch”, I think. “How can I give up a whole year’s production or 1/7th of my produce each year?” My thoughts might change, however if I experience greater production in six years with rest than in seven without, and what value might we find in experiencing six years of production with trust versus seven without. The greatest gain might be in my adjusted perspective - perhaps my increase is only one factor in a larger equation.
Relatively recent soil health discoveries regarding biology, structure and nutrient cycling support the validity of this management technique. Continual soil disturbance destroys structure needed for the essential balance of air, water, organic matter, and biological activity. Thriving, interconnected soil biology is what makes nutrients (already present in the soil) available to the plants we want to grow. Learning to enhance soil biological activity would likely be the most significant technical gain a farm could make.
Immediately following we find this second design insight: “Do your work for six days, but rest on the seventh day…” This is radical thinking for most everyone, and especially farmers whose work is never done. But radical steps often produce radical results.
It is true that people embracing this design principle will often out-produce those who don’t. But I think this reveals something much more foundational than production. It’s a clue that we are designed to prosper as an entire person, not only in certain life categories we think we must major on. Stopping once every seven days to alter my pace adjusts my perspective. A more accurate perspective reaches to every part of me, including my business decisions.
Don’t let all-or-nothing thinking prevent you from growing in this. Do the essential work. Think in terms of intentionally altering your pace. Make space. Minimize. Simplify. Unplug. Rest. Setting aside a day of rest will often require some preparation steps the previous day to make the necessary work simpler. Give yourself time and space to learn the skill. We could have fun with this!
Interested in different results? Try a different way. Seven is more than meets the eye. Discovering the pattern of rest designed for you will likely be the highlight of your year!
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District