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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

By Lynn Miller (Originally copyrighted in the Fall 2009 Small Farmer’s Journal)

cartoonivy Industrial agriculture is fighting for its scientific, political and economic life. The public drum beat for a new farming is growing louder every day. The citizenry want safe, healthy food – they want the security and the civilizing regional diversities which come of a vibrant local food scene – they want the independent family farms to succeed and thrive – they want to see small rural communities come alive again for all the right reasons.

The vertically-integrated corporate behemoths, wholly separate from actual farmers and farming, are heading off a steep cliff of their own design, they are living the curse of rapidly decreasing returns on investment as vital natural resources are depleted and/or altered by the boardroom’s complete disregard for natural balance and fertility – their disregard for bio-diversity and the true craft of farming.

Meanwhile in nearly every nook and cranny of this land people are getting together local community efforts to answer their increasing need for real local food security and health; farm coops, “foodsheds,” farm to consumer alliances, new farm beginnings programs, and so much more.

The executive and legislative branches of our government are justifiably confused. Who now exactly is the constituency? The general clamoring voting food-eating public – or the money slinging black-mailing corporate board members? The answer would seem to be obvious but alas…

Now we are beginning to see the hard evidence of a campaign to “dis-allow” the public in general and small farms in particular. In other words we farmers and consumers are being stripped of our determinate rights, If the federal-corporate axis have their way, we won’t get to have a say in what sort of farming and food we will have in the near future.

Over the last half-dozen years the USDA and its corporate controllers have worked out a program to demand through regulation, the “professionalization” of agriculture. “No more amateurs” they cry. We see it in the circumlocutions of the euphemistically labelled “Food Safety Bills” and we hear about it today as the secretary of agriculture announces an end-run to implement Animal ID as imbedded within food safety regs.

They are worried and with good reason. The cause of new farming is winning at the grass-roots level across all sociological boundaries. The federal/corporate axis wants to make us, in the new farming, fight their fight. We mustn’t. We must continue our constructive efforts everywhere, we must take our solutions to them. Make them “show cause.” This country must reclaim the capacity to feed itself – not in some abstracted third-removed corporate trade off but ACTUALLY feed itself. It is not only a matter of national security, it is a moral and cultural imperative that affects the survival of the planet and the dignity of mankind. At every opportunity we need to request from our governments and the large corporations that they pass a litmus test, Do they or do they not support the concept of U.S. self-reliance in food? Do they or do they not support the SFJ demand for a whole New Homestead act granting each and every veteran either a college education or a suitable piece of land to farm? Do they or do they not support the goal of zero hunger in this country and around the world? Do they or do they not support the furtherance of farming systems which enhance the biological world? Yes or no? Time to go on record. And know that when you do go on record that record will be called upon when we decide where to shop, who to vote for, what to watch, who to dial in. It’s no longer a contest. The new farming has won out. But it is no time to lower our guard, it’s no time to slow our efforts, no time to trade off any of our principles. They are worried and that is clear evidence of something that has already happened. Let us not be swayed or hoodwinked into fighting their fight. LRM

Spotlight On: Crops & Soil

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 1

Our mild climate makes it too easy to overwinter cover crops. Then the typically wet springs (and, on our farm, wet soils) let the cover put on loads of topgrowth before getting on the soil. Buckwheat is the only crop that I can be certain will winterkill. Field peas, oats, annual rye and crimson clover have all overwintered here. Any suggestions?

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

Evolution of a Permanent Bed System

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After three or four years we could see that the nature of our farming practices would continue to have detrimental effects on our soils. We were looking for a new approach, a routine that would be sustainable, rather than a rescue treatment for an ongoing problem. We decided to convert our fields to permanent planting beds with grassy strips in between where all tractor, foot and irrigation pipe traffic would be concentrated.

Soil, Vegetation, and Acidity

From Dusty Shelves: Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide teaches us about soil acidity.

Peach

Peach

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The Peach is a showy tree when in bloom. There are double-flowered varieties, which are as handsome as the dwarf flowering almond, and they are more showy because of the greater size of the tree. The flowers of the Peach are naturally variable in both size and color. Peach-growers are aware that there are small-flowered and large-flowered varieties. The character of the flower is as characteristic of the variety as size or color of fruit is.

Syrup From Oregons Big-Leaf Maple

Syrup From Oregon’s Big Leaf Maple

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There is a great potential in establishment of a seasonal “sugarbush” industry for small farmers of the northwestern states, particularly western Oregon and Washington. Five syrup producing species of maples are found mainly east of the Rocky Mountains. The Box Elder and the Big-leaf Maple are the only syrup producing maples of the Pacific Northwest. Properly made syrup from these two western maples is indistinguishable from the syrup of maples of the midwestern and northeastern states.

Farm Manure

Farm Manure

Naturally there is great variation in manure according to the animals it is made by, the feeding and bedding material, and the manner in which it is kept. Different analyses naturally shows different results and the tables here given serve only as a guide or index to the various kinds. The manure heap, by the way, is no place for old tin cans, bottles, glass, and other similar waste material.

Ginseng Culture

Ginseng Culture

U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmer’s Bulletin No. 1184 Issued 1921, Revised 1941 — The evident preference of the Chinese for the wild root and the unsatisfactory state of the general market for cultivated ginseng have caused grave doubts as to the future prospects of the industry. These doubts will probably be realized unless growers should strive for quality of product and not for quantity of production, as has been the all too common practice in the past.

Cultivating Questions

Cultivating Questions: Concerning the Bioextensive Market Garden

One of our goals when we first started farming here was to develop the farm as a self-contained nutrient system. Unlike the almost complete recycling of nutrients which can take place on a livestock operation, we are always amazed – even a little disturbed – to see how many tons of fertility and organic matter leave the market garden each year with so little returned to the good earth.

Winter Production of Fresh Vegetables

Winter Production of Fresh Vegetables

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Any claim about winter production of fresh vegetables, with minimal or no heating or heat storage systems, seems highly improbable. The weather is too cold and the days are too short. Low winter temperatures, however, are not an insurmountable barrier. Nor is winter day-length the barrier it may appear to be. In fact most of the continental US has far more winter sunshine than parts of the world where, due to milder temperatures, fresh winter vegetable production has a long tradition.

What We've Learned From Compost

What We’ve Learned From Compost

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Our compost piles will age for at least a year before being added to the garden. We have learned that the slow aging is more beneficial to the decomposition process as well as not losing nearly as much nitrogen to off-gassing as happens with the hot and fast methods. Another benefit is the decomposition is much more thorough, destroying weed seeds, pathogens and any unwanted chemicals much better in a slower composting setup.

Of Peace and Quiet

LittleField Notes: Of Peace and Quiet

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Walk with me for a moment to the edge of the Waterfall Field. We can lean on the gate and let our gaze soak up the mid-summer scene: a perfect blue sky and not a breath of wind. Movement catches your eye, and in the distance you see a threesome hard at work in the hayfield. Two Suffolk horses, heads bobbing, making good time followed by a man comfortably seated on a mowing machine. The waist high grass and clover falls steadily in neat swaths behind the mower. What you can’t help but notice is the quiet.

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

This is the account of how one farm put more horse power into the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of its potato crop. Ever since we began farming on our own in 1994 one of our principle aims has been the conversion of our farm operation to live horse power wherever feasible. This has meant replacing mechanized tools such as tractors and rototillers and figuring out how to reduce human labor as we expanded upon the labor capacity of our work horses.

An Introduction Into Plant Polyculture

An excerpt from What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden
Companion Planting for Beginners

Raised Bed Gardening

Raised Bed Gardening

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Raised beds may not be right for everyone, and our way is not the only way. I have seen raised beds made from rows of 5’ diameter kiddy pools, and heard of a fellow who collected junk refrigerators from the dump and lined them up on their backs into a rainbow of colored enameled steel raised beds. Even rows of five-gallon pails filled with plants count as raised beds in my estimation. Do it any way you care to, but do it if it’s right for you.

Bamboo A Multipurpose Agroforestry Crop

Bamboo: A Multipurpose Agroforestry Crop

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The bamboos are gaining increased attention as an alternative crop with multiple uses and benefits: 1) domestic use around the farm (e.g., vegetable stakes, trellis poles, shade laths); 2) commercial production for use in construction, food, and the arts (e.g., concrete reinforcement, fishing poles, furniture, crafts, edible bamboo shoots, musical instruments); and 3) ornamental, landscape, and conservation uses (e.g., specimen plants, screens, hedges, riparian buffer zone).

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT