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Farm Drum 23 Gathering Together

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

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Farm Drum 23 Gathering Together

THE ESSENCE OF SUSTAINABILITY: What do quinoa, hazelnuts, amaranth, asparagus, artichokes and apples have in common? They’re all perennials — which means you don’t have to plant them each year, you don’t have to disturb the soil so much, or risk losing nutrients. Such crops need vigilance and care of a different kind, since they’re stuck in place season after season. There are plant biologists who have long been working on perennial varieties of wheat, rice, rye and other staple crops, (ask Wes Jackson!) not to beat industrial agriculture’s astonishing yields, which are pumped up by synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, but to strike a lasting balance with the soil’s fertility. The essence of sustainability. If you don’t grow any perennials, it may be time to try some, to round out your knowledge of different plant strategies for dealing with pests and seasonal variables. Your toolkit will include pruning and mulching and planting certain varieties near each other, to keep the pollinators coming around. — PH

“Give the children an opportunity to make gardens. Let them grow what they will. It matters less that they grow good plants than that they try for themselves.” — Liberty Hyde Bailey

To earn the right to continue living on this planet, we need to find simple, direct solutions to human interaction with all other forms of biological life. We need to find ways that our time on this planet is beneficial for all. Wresting control of the land, air and sea from corporate interests is vitally important. It can start by accepting as axiomatic that every one should have a piece of land to care for. And by ‘every one’ we are speaking of individual human beings. — LRM

TICK REMOVAL: especially good for places where it’s hard to get tweezers—between toes, in the middle of your hair or the middle of your back. Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball, and swab it for 15-20 seconds. The tick will come away on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it off. Just be sure you’re not allergic to the kind of liquid soap you’re using. — PH

A Matter of a Raincoat: The difference between farmers and other people is not just a matter of a raincoat. It’s not just how they watch the weather reports and seasonal changes with care. Farmers have to act on the conditions they see, and live with the consequences of their actions. You could say they don’t have to if they have crop insurance, which the large-scale operators do, courtesy of the federal government, but in the long run there is no crop insurance. The big picture is made up of accumulated good guesses and bad guesses. Like the hot dog vendor outside the ballpark, who has to know how many hot dogs to have on hand, and how many to cook in time to make any difference when the rush comes, before and after the game. That’s how you make a living. Inside the ball park with a captive audience forced to wait in line to buy a dog at inflated prices, or curb their hunger, with the game blaring all around, it’s a different story, with less risk and more profit to be shared more ways with a large and assertive management. One thing about scale: it makes you either an insider or an outsider, and defines how you get to play the game. — PH

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” — Marcel Proust

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” — William James

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Small Farmer's Journal
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