Dear Big Ag, I have a Suggestion.


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Dear Big Ag,
first pea flowers and round-up drift damage

Last week as I was tending my organic garden nestled on our 5 acre homestead that happens to be plopped right smack in the middle of conventionally grown commodity crops, I noticed one sweet pea plant starting to bleach. I even took a picture and posted it on Instagram because it was also the day I noticed the first flower blossoms and I was really excited. I wondered why the leaf was light but chalked it up to rainy and cool weather, even though the same thing didn’t happen during last year’s rainy and cool spring.

Sweet Peas killed by round-up drift

A few days later as I was weeding and planting more plants in my garden, I noticed ALL the peas were bleached, and my dill was also bleached and the leaves appeared to be burned off.

Dill killed by Round-Up Drift

Same thing on my brussel sprouts, broccolis, cabbages, and sunflowers. At this point I knew something was wrong. I walked around inspecting all of my bleached plants and racked my brain for what could have caused it. At one point, I even suspected my husband who several weeks ago wanted to spray for dandelions. He didn’t though, because he knows doing so might just be my breaking point. When I asked him, he said he’d be better off having an affair than spraying any poisons at my house!! {And he’s right – although I’m not certain I could forgive either transgression.}

Round-up drift damage

I stepped outside my garden to take a breath and think, and I noticed a wide path of dead grass in a line between your corn and my property. Then I remembered the enormous sprayer that had been out earlier in the week on a windy day spraying some killing concoction of round-up and who knows what else and I had my answer.

broccoli and brussel sprouts with round-up drift damage

My garden is a victim of round-up drift.

Your big tractor with booms about a mile wide, came barreling through your field on a windy day spraying dangerous chemicals on your GMO commodities. In years past I have jeopardized my own health to stop you in the field and ask you to be mindful of my garden, but on this day, I wasn’t home when you arrived. I came home from a meeting and watched as you finished spraying and headed on to the next field. And my organic heirloom vegetables that I spent the winter nurturing into healthy plants from seed are now your victims. You have every right to spray your field. And I have every right to grow my garden. But now my garden has taken a hard hit. Your right to spray your field does not extend to spraying mine.

broccoli with round-up drift damage

You’ve gotten quite the bad rap in recent years. From nitrate laden drinking water, to concern over animal treatment, to an increasingly large population that wants transparency in their food, a lot of people aren’t very pleased with Big Ag. When I posted pictures of my dying garden on my social media accounts I was shocked at the outpouring of stories similar to mine. So many people have lost their gardens, their fruit trees, their flowers, their passions to your poisons.

You see, I might only be one woman tending a garden to feed her family, but I have just as much right to do so as you have to grow your commodities. When your chemicals cross over the property line and harm my garden, there’s a real problem. If my tree fell on your house, I would be liable. Bottom line:: keep your chemicals on your property. I don’t want them on mine. 

Want to work on your reputation?

Start by taking the best possible care of your neighbors. I know you can do things to minimize drift. I shouldn’t have to be home and stop you in the field. I shouldn’t have to call you every year and remind you about my garden. And I shouldn’t have to find my garden destroyed by your chemicals.

aerial photo

You can see my homestead from your air-conditioned, GPS-guided tractor. You know people live there. Likely people with kids and animals and something living that won’t tolerate round-up drift. Regardless if you know there’s a garden there or not, I’m imploring you to slow your big-ass tractors way down when you come upon little homesteads like mine. Choose calm days for spraying instead of the windy days. You could even choose to not spray the last row closest to the property line. And have a little respect for people like me who are trying their best to provide their families with wholesome fresh fruit and vegetables to nourish their families. Whatever it takes, keep your chemicals on your land. I don’t want them on mine and I really don’t want to have to beg you to be careful and considerate again next year.


Michelle Marine,

Mom of Four & Organic Homesteader in Eastern Iowa

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. I would have cried if this had happened to me. All of your hard work and dedication gone in a moment.
    I would hate to think that the only way to keep plants safe would be in a greenhouse and not out where it belongs.
    What will you do?

    1. Well, my garden has mostly recovered! I’m pretty happy about that. Even the peas are green again and producing green peas instead of blanched peas! Only my garlic seems to be dying. We did call the farmer and I talked to the applicators. I hope it doesn’t happen again.