"It is our life."

By the Columbia Green Chamber of Commerce

COLUMBIA, Mo 4/9/15 (Reprint)
--   As the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression changed the lives of millions of Americans, one Missouri family received a gift that would allow them to survive and flourish while others stood in bread lines.

Jim Thomas, Jr.’s grandparents were trying to make a living and raise five children on land near Blackwater, Missouri that flooded regularly.

The gift -- land that is now Share Life Farms (a Columbia Farmers Market vendor) -- came from a wealthy cousin who saw their need for a better location.

Much hard work lay ahead after their move to Marshall, Missouri.   The family's cattle brought only a penny per pound, for instance, Jim Jr. explains.  But the Thomases survived the tumultuous years, tending the same fields ever since.  

Share Life Farms owners Jim Thomas, Sr. and Jim Jr. began organic farming in the 1980s, before the organic food movement received significant attention from American farmers and consumers.

Jim Jr.'s wife Rosie had become ill with seemingly un-diagnosable symptoms.  After Rosie's physicians determined her immune system had been compromised by farm chemicals, the family began to research and practice organic -- chemical-free -- agriculture. 

Share Life Farms

Since 1994, they have used organic methods exclusively, receiving official organic certification in 2004.  To their knowledge, ten acres of the farm have never received a single application of chemicals.  The Thomas family is also concerned about genetically-modified (GMO) crops, and believe good reasons exist to avoid GMO food products.

Many factors contribute value to certified-organic foods or growing plants organically:

· Organic produce has higher nutrient values than conventionally grown produce (crops grown using synthetic and often toxic chemicals).

· Organic farming helps promote healthy soils, environments, crops, livestock, and humans.

· Organic farming sends a message about the safety of genetically-modified foods.

· Certified organic farms are inspected yearly to verify they follow approved organic guidelines and use only approved organic inputs.

Words from the Share Life Farms Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) brochure provide a powerful statement about the benefits and ethics of sustainable agriculture:

"Instead of trying to control nature through poisons and soil amendments...we should work with nature to achieve our goals.  The soil is filled with living organisms and when we restore the life in the soil, it will in turn restore life in the plants. We in turn can share that restored life in us when we consume them.

"This is not simply an occupation with us. It is our life."

Share-Life Farms
21302 185th Road
Marshall, MO 65340
Tel. 660-886-3936

-- Carole Riesenberg