Build Soil or Die

Renew Your Agrarian Citizenship

Excerpt from a speech given by Brook LeVan at the 12th Annual Sustainable Settings Harvest Festival on September 20th, 2015:


There is no time for ceremony. The question before this House is one of awful moment for our land, air and water, for this planet - our only life support system. 

For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of our good health and of our freedom; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be our freedom of choice. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill our great responsibility to Nature, our countryside, and our communities. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my countryside, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all government and corporate rulers of markets and dictates of our food systems.

My dear friends, it is natural for people to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till it transforms us into mere beasts of burden. 

Is this the part of wise people, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for safe food, sound   health and genuine liberty?  Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so clearly concern our temporal salvation? 

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it, and to work daily to build an alternative future. We must make the connection, and lift this veil of deceit. The one so artfully crafted hiding all the externalities from our now sedated minds and sullied palates.  What happened to flavor, real satisfying, life giving to every cell, mouth-watering flavor?  How about nutrient density?  And what of our health?  When was the last time you reveled in the flavor of real food. Or have we gone too far now to remember? 

 I remember! 

These qualities of life giving wholeness that our ancestors knew deep in their bones have been drawn off, separated, reduced, modified, pasteurized, homogenized, radiated – their vitality degraded, their life giving forces mutilated beyond what our cells might recognize. We now consume what are at best facsimiles of food, laboratory concoctions, genetically mastered ingredients - simulacra that do not build our cellular health but create work for our bodies, that weaken our fortitude and break our spirits.  These laboratory wonders parade in full color down our grocery store isles.  -all screaming for our purchasing dollars.  More money is spent on the campaigns intended to seduce us than on the so-called food inside.  These products are combinations of ingredients that we can not pronounce, masquerading as food and covered up with contemporary Eco-socially correct overly-designed, brightly bannered sales pitches in suspect containers claiming to bring us momentary bliss - all hawking only slight variations of amber waves of commodities meant for one thing and one thing only  - to efficiently generate profit for a few, and from the most devastating chain of ecological rape and pillage the world has ever experienced - all leaving an accumulated insurmountable debt to future generations.

Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petitions comports with those warlike preparations which poison our waters, degrade our soils and pollute our skies. Are fleets of giant combines and armies of nozzleheads dowsing our lands with chemical weapons necessary to a work of love and reconciliation?  Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled -  that force must be called in to win back our love, our soil? 

Let us not deceive ourselves. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which the corporate ruling powers resort. All so only a few profit while lying waste to our soils – our only means of production, our only means of building a free and just homeland.

I ask ladies and gentlemen, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us into submission? To rob us of our freedoms, our health.  Can this house assign any other possible motive for it? 

Has the agro-industrial complex any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of it’s gargantuan forces built to foul our water ways and dismember all life force in the soil? No, my friends, the goliaths have none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. 

They are sent to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the Green Revolution has been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? We have been trying that for the last 50 years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject?


We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not deceive ourselves. 

We have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the thrones of corporate and government profiteers.  We have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of these companies and our own government ministries. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of this derelict throne! 

In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation? There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must all farm!  

I repeat, ladies and gentlemen, we must farm!  

Are we not citizens of this homeland? Are we not youth and farmers all who have come together to call for a greener, healthier and fairer agriculture?  An appeal to farms, small organic family farms spread once again in balance across the land and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally obese, weak from illnesses buried so deep in us that we are disarmed, incapable to muster any will? and when the laws have been manipulated and regulations piled so high, so costly and complicated   that any form of reasonable agrarian practice to grow our own food the way we want to is a distant memory?   

Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?  Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have us bound up with crippling Insurance policies and astronomical medical bills? 

My friends, we are not weak if we make proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of food liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. 

The battle is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. There is no need to discuss, no time for elections. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. 

There is no retreat but in submission, illness and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard all across this great nation and in every country across the globe! 

This revolution is inevitable—It is a revolution of regeneration!   Let it come! 

It is in vain to extenuate the matter. You may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. This regeneration has actually begun!  It is taking place in backyard gardens and orchards, in schoolyards, on small farms and in farmer supplied markets across the land.  They can’t stop us from producing and consuming the real foods we need and know, from living off of healthy and safe land and waters we know.  The next gale that sweeps from the fields will bring to our palates and our cells the rush of resounding flavor and health! 

Our brothers and sisters are already in the field! They are the seeds of this revolution.  They areour link to the soil. They have made the commitment. These farmers young and old are building soil! They are the most vital resource in your search for genuine health for your families.  

Why stand here idle? What is it that we wish?  What would they have?  Find them!  Learn from them.   Support them before they become too weary and fold under the pressures of the dominant centralized food system.  Before they too are devoured by the gargantuan government sponsored corporate controlled “get big or get out” agro-industrial war-on-soil – a war being raged on our health and freedom. 

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chronic illness,  and slavery to a food system we know is corrupt? Forbid it, Almighty God!

We must all renew our agrarian citizenship! 

Without topsoil we would not be alive.  

Without topsoil you could not have gotten here today.  

Without topsoil there would be no cars and trucks. 

There would be no ships, planes or trains.

Without topsoil we could not have gone to the Moon or Mars

Without topsoil there would be no computers, smart phones, no internet!

Without topsoil there would be no food.

Call me renegade, apostate, traitor, rebel, turncoat, betrayer, defector, or am I loyalist!

I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me food liberty or give me death!

Our allegiance must be to the soil.  Without it we will parish!

I am not an artist

I am not a potter

I am not a green designer/ a permaculturalist… 

Am I Coloradan, 

Am I American?... or Italian, or Chinese, or Mexican, French, Russian or Brazilian?


I am Agrarian!

You are not a physician

You are not a lawyer, a banker, an engineer

You are not a carpenter, a librarian, a chemist

You are not a financial advisor or angel investor!

You are agrarians!

We…are…. all …Agrarians!     We… are… Agrarians!        We… are… Agrarians! (Repeat)

Build Soil or Die!