Trailer Talk's Frack Talk: Why Food and Fuel Shouldn't Mix -- A Farmer Speaks Out On the Dangers of Fracking
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So, now, that investment and that decision is ... it's questionable whether it was a good investment decision. And in fact, last winter -- the winter of 2009 into 2010 -- my wife Tannis and I had the very hard conversation, "Do we pull out now?" We had already invested money in the farm in terms of the land, and some infrastructure, but this past year we invested a lot more money in the infrastructure, and we had the conversation. We said, "Do we pull out now; save at least some of that capital; and leave? Or, do we stay?" And we're talking right now, so we decided to stay.
The reasons were this: Number one, we had both invested more than a decade in terms of living in this community. We're really deeply vested in this community through our work, through our friends, our relationships, through all the organizations we're involved with -- Tannis in terms of creating a space for performance and creating work -- she's an actor.
All these things that we've invested -- not money when I say "invested" in this sense -- not in terms of what we've invested in money, but in terms of place and in terms of people. And we decided we weren't willing to give that up ... with a caveat -- we were not willing to give it up yet. I mean, there may come a point where we have to make a decision first for our health and the health of our son; and probably not too far after that decision is made, we have to make the decision that we cannot in good conscience sell vegetables to people if there is any possibility of contamination.
So, that is looming there, and that is a daily thought. It has made it very complicated to do the work of farming, which is a long-term work. You know, actions today are going to yield things years or decades down the line.
And so, we made this decision on this calculation.
If we decide we have to leave, we are hoping that we'll be able to sell our land. My calculation is that I think, based on what happens in other areas where fracking is occurring, that we'll get at least 50 percent of the value of our land. If we do get that, we'll be able to wipe out our debt, and that means that we'll be able to leave here debt-free and broke. And Tannis and I both decided we can do that -- we can start over broke without debt. You can't start over broke with debt -- that's impossible to unbury yourself from.
So, we're going for it. We're putting our everything into this, and in the meantime hoping that we won't be put out of business.
SA: And these are big decisions, and it's challenging, isn't it, to live with this sort of decision looming, because it's personal, and it's also representing what's happening -- a mentality that is happening throughout the country. But we can even look globally to what's happening still with fossil fuel extraction.
GS: And the complexity of that system, and that decision -- you can evaluate that in an intellectual way. You can even start to evaluate it emotionally when things are starting to percolate in your community.
But I said before that the intensity of gas drilling in our region ratcheted up as soon as we saw this rig in July. Well, things took another step up in September. I'm saying that at some point we may have to make the decision based on the health of my family, and the ability to grow and sell healthy food is based on what's happening around us.