The mission of Jesus College to “Lead Apprentices to Master Love” is guided by the words of Jesus, especially John 15. In our steps learning to be His followers, we have come across an agricultural concept that has illuminated our pathway. It is called “Dry Farming”. The parallels are staggering. Consider the concept of Dry Farming, it’s back story, the quality yield and time demands associated with Dry Farming.
~ Dry Farming defined – A soil management technique, the art of working the soil, for drought-resistant crops to grow deeper to find natural water sources and eliminate a dependence on irrigation.
~ The Backstory – “Three decades ago there was very little irrigation going on in Napa Valley. There really wasn’t enough water to sprinkle irrigate. Drip irrigation changed the picture, and not necessarily for the better. Grape growing started to become like growing hydroponic tomatoes– bigger yields of crops with less flavor, because growers were putting more fertilizer on, increasing canopy size, delaying maturity, making the vines more tasty for leaf hoppers insects. Suddenly fruit was not mature because of the unbalanced growing conditions. The fruit needed more hang time because of the green tannins from over-stimulated canopies. We don’t have those problemsin our dry-farmed vineyards, because our vines are in balance with the water supply. It changes the whole paradigm of winemaking.” John Williams, Winemaker
~ Quality – “Dry-farmed land vines are very self-regulating, and the fruit is often superior from these vineyards because natural water availability frequently causes a good balance. By paying close attention and pruning right, the vine will set the right amount of fruit. Some of the best grapes that I purchase come from dry-land vineyards.” John Munch, Le Cuvier Winery
“Dry-farmed potato patches are remarkably tastier, thicker skinned and hardier against diseases and pests than irrigated potatoes.” Nathan Boone, Oh! Tommy Boy’s
~ Time – “When I first started working with the vineyard, the soil was quite depleted. It took awhile before the soil-building program starting having noticeable effects. I call this putting life back into the soil. Wine quality improved as the soil improved.” Steve Tylicki, Steele Wines
~ What we are learning as students of Jesus College – Dry Farming can produce a higher quality yield but it takes more time and effort to harvest a mature fruit that can survive changing seasons and varied water supplies. A new wine harvest of Jesus followers nourished by the Living Water will be less dependent upon the irrigation from pastors and organized church programs as we learn to follow Jesus in our everyday lives. Each week is 10,080 minutes long. A fruitful focus is His church scattered for 10,000 minutes weekly not a church gathered for 80 minutes on the weekend. We’re learning to be less about the “Wow” of our time together and more about the “Who” of Jesus day to day.
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