The big story this week swirling around social media and the local and national news has been the story of small farmer, Johsua Rockwood from Glenville, in Schenectady County. Eking out a living as a small, sustainably-minded farmer is hard enough, but Joshua had the misfortune to try his hand doing so in a community in transition from rural to suburban. And therein lies the heart of this Orwellian nightmare for one family farmer.
If you haven't heard of the plight of Joshua Rockwood yet, spend a few moments doing a Google search and reading up on the details. Basically, Joshua, a hard-working novice farmer, was caught off guard by this winter's severe weather. Truth be told, there were many a seasoned farmer who had the same problems Joshua did in keeping his animals comfortable and well-watered during this winter-to-end-all-winters. But the powers that be in Glenville, New York, decided that Joshua's struggles constituted animal cruelty, and some of his animals have been taken away.
This story has a bit of something for everyone - its a story of a small farmer's dreams and perseverance, a story of government intrusion and overreach, and it is a story of the farming community coming together to support one of their own. The world has truly gone crazy when a struggling small family farmer trying to raise animals in a sustainable way is charged with animal cruelty while factory farmers get away with horrific abuses day in and day out. Something is rotten here.
Let's imagine for one moment how differently this story would have turned out if the police officer, after his first tour of Joshua's farm, instead of acting like a government lackey, had said to Joshua, "Hey, it's a really cold day and I can see how it might be harder than usual today for you to make sure all your animals have fresh water. What about if I help you do your chores so that we can make sure all the animals are watered sooner?" Yeah, imagine that. Instead of being an Orwellian instigator, the police officer could have been a friend, a neighbor, a help-mate to an area resident in need. One needs to question the motto "To protect and to serve." In whose service did he cite Joshua for animal cruelty? And maybe, just maybe that police officer would have seen just how hard Joshua's job really is and what it really takes to produce food in a sustainable way. It's tough, grueling work that isn't always pretty. But sustainable farming, as Joshua practices it, is a hell of a lot better than raising animals on factory farms.
Well the Glenville town government is going to find out just how tough and determined the local farming community is. They're all standing behind him, knowing it could have been them. His next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21st at 5:00 pm at the Glenville Town Court. Let's see how many supporters show up this time. For his first court appearance, over 100 supporters showed up. Let's make it 1,000 or more in April. Let this become the story of the small farmer who roared back.