Renewable Farming

Are You Cecropia Curious?

On the second-floor sun porch of our neighbor’s house, the elm tree drooped its canopy over our daughter’s chair. She basked in the coolness and reached out to pluck a leaf. But it wasn’t a leaf that came off in her hand. It was a five-inch plump caterpillar.

Cecropia caterpillar

Jan. 2, 2017  By Jill Carlson — Some 9-year-olds might have screamed, but ours was curious. Fresh from her adventure of finding fossils at our new farm, she faced this challenge with purpose: Get a jar big enough. Bring some of the leaves home for food. Put the caterpillar in her dark closet. Close the door. Wait in expectation. Move on to the next adventure. 

The jar was forgotten. But the following spring, the jar came alive with the sound of furiously flapping wings. Desperately trying to escape: A brilliant Cecropia moth. 

Cecropia moth

Our daughter’s curiosity blossomed. She is now a writer for national magazines and editor for book authors. Farming is her artistry, the computer her palette. 

All parents wonder whether they did anything right, as they watch their children grow up. But one thing we did right was to walk alongside our young ones’ curiosity. Snakes in the house? Well, yes, if you promise to take it back outside again. What, you LOST it in the drop ceiling? Next spring the snakes had babies.  One of them dropped out of the ceiling in front of a guest. One with a sense of humor, fortunately.

Singing toads taken to school in our son’s aquarium box? Yes, until the teacher begs us to take the noisy creatures back home. Now that son harvests his curiosity in science, metal work, plant physiology and electromagnetic frequencies. 

Picking backyard herbs to see which ones taste good? Which ones make her feel better? Yes, and now this daughter is a budding author too. 

Little by little those children chose nature walks over packed schedules. 

We’ve lived to see another generation now, with the unfolding adventure of fostering Cecropia Curiosity in our eight-year-old grandson. Nature walks. Microscope investigations. Toad hunts. Bugs in a jar. 

It’s Cecropia Curiosity that piques the mind, takes the quest from wonder to investigation to questioning to answers. 

We’ve talked to some of you, the Cecropia Curious who happen to grow crops and livestock. You’re the ones with replicated strips, paying attention to greenhouse and field strip findings. You’re the ones who question why a certain grain makes hogs sick… why cattle unerringly seek the pasture species that will make them well… why predator bugs don’t come to healthy fields… why 140 geese chomp your conventional post-harvest corn but avoid the neighbors’ GMO fields. You read the farm ads. And you question them. You listen, and you act. And you share with us, because we need your stories! 

In the late 1800s one young German child wondered why the earthworms on the west half of his grandmother’s garden left that soil, crossed the sidewalk to the east half of the garden, and multiplied abundantly in the soil they preferred. He didn’t know that his grandmother had spread commercial NPK fertilizer on the west half of the garden.

That was nine-year-old Max Gerson. He listened to his Cecropia Curiosity and became a world-famous medical doctor. He formulated a cancer-healing diet in 1928 based on healthy foods — and emphasized that the foods must be raised on healthy soil. That diet can still be found. The Gerson Therapy is healing the Cecropia Curious.