Seth Watkins (bio) is a a fourth generation farmer. He stewards the Pinhook Farms cow-calf and crop operation in Clarinda, Iowa. I first heard Seth Watkins speak while lurking on an Iowa Farmers Union Facebook livestream. I was so deeply impressed that I immediately reached out to see if he'd be willing to have a conversation with the Solutionary Rail team and engage in a conversation about rural resilience, regenerative agriculture and the potential for rail infrastructure to bolster and revive rural communities.
Last summer, I delved into articles on chronic rural depopulation and the role that immigration and infrastructure might play. Seth was the white first person I heard speaking directly to building welcoming, equitable rural communities that embrace newcomers no matter where they come from. I frankly did not expect to hear "No one who is essential can also be illegal" on an Iowa Farmers Union livestream. I now realize that that says more about my own assumptions and biases than it says about anything else.
Seth shared a number of insights with me recently. His deep commitment to healing between people and between people and the living systems that sustain us is profound. The pandemic is a time of reckoning and recalibration. Recalibrating how we grow food, for whom we grow it and how we transport it are all interrelated, as is food production and the growing of resilient, sustainable and equitable communities.
Seth was joined by retired railroad engineer Jeff Kurtz who is both a long time member of the Solutionary Rail team and an elected representative serving in the Iowa legislature. Jeff augments Seth's messages and connects the conversation to state and federal policies.
Solutionary Rail looks forward to continuing to learn from our brothers and sisters in rural places. This Zoomcast was a another chance to do so. Enjoy!
PS - More about Seth in this 7 min. video and the Facebook livestream where I first heard him present. Here are a couple presentations he has given: Integrated Crop and Livestock Systems & Stewardship (Economics Productivity and the Environment - a Farmer's Perspective.)