The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

A Valentine to our Mother Earth

- By Terry Jones

We all share a common childhood experience — crafting a Valentine to our mother in appreciati­on of her love, care and nurture. Our planet Earth is like our mother. She provides the natural environmen­t for our basic needs: healthy food, pure water and clean air. If we make a mess, we get punished. Valentines are an expression of appreciati­on to those who care for us and a commitment to care for them in return.

I am a farmer. For 76 years, I have worked with Mother Earth to coax life from the soil; working with sunshine and rain to grow crops to nurture human life to sustain our body and our spirit. It is a dance made beautiful when both partners are moving together in rhythm. A misstep by either can destroy the harmony. I find as a farmer the best fertilizer is my footsteps on the land. Being in the field, observing, studying and adjusting practices. It is like the relationsh­ip between mother and child.

I am inspired by the natural world. Yes, Mother Earth is not perfect. Like our human mother, she can slip and fall, like a shifting fault line in the planetary bedrock that can quake and take lives.

We are fortunate in Connecticu­t. Our Mother Earth has given us the natural resources for prosperity if we use them wisely. If we keep our air and water clean, care for our rivers and Long Island Sound, steward our soils so we can grow healthy food, culture our forests, and grow more green in our cities, our Mother will respond with love. She will return our valentine.

This January, I traveled south to the region of Patagonia to learn lessons from the land and waters of southern Chile. With our local guides, Valentina and Alicia, we traveled along the roads, hiking trails, and on horseback.

I am inspired by the fierce love of the land by the shepherds of the estancia, the fisherman, and guides of Patagonia, where Argentina and Chile merge at the southern tip of the continent. They share a common bond of passion for Mother Earth. The land is vast without manmade boundaries — only mountains, big sky, fjords, and the Strait of Magellan. The people work together.

The sheep and cattle ranchers are struggling with successive years of drought. Forage is sparse and prices for their products are falling.

For fishermen, the ecology of the once-pristine fjords is deteriorat­ing as foreign salmon farming companies are intensivel­y feeding the salmon and adding antibiotic­s and artificial coloring to turn the fish flesh pink. Native sea lions are slaughtere­d because they prey on the salmon.

Ecotourism with wise environmen­tal safeguards is growing and boosting the local economy while in harmony with Mother Earth.

We, in Connecticu­t, can take pride in the many institutio­ns of science and education that provide a positive influence on the quality of our earth’s environmen­t.

Noteworthy, in New Haven, the Connecticu­t Agricultur­al Experiment Station welcomes graduate students, Fulbright scholars, and post-docs from around the globe to collaborat­e with their scientific staff and return home with knowledge and skills to help our Mother Earth and her people, plants, and animals. Likewise, the Yale School of the Environmen­t sends forth hundreds of graduates to bring leadership to our global community.

This Valentine’s Day, pause to count our blessings. Send our Mother Earth a Valentine of appreciati­on by resolving to help her and humanity take care of our planet.

In the words of John F. Kennedy: “Our most common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

Terry Jones is a fifth-generation Shelton farmer and grandfathe­r. He serves as vice president of the Board of Control at the CT Agricultur­al Experiment Station, and board member at CT Working Lands Alliance, the Valley Community Foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

 ?? Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? Terry Jones at Jones Family Farms in Shelton.
Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticu­t Media Terry Jones at Jones Family Farms in Shelton.

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