Zoetic

Zoetic Seed is outstanding, like Pablo in this field.

Last week, our old friend and coworker Pablo came down off of San Juan Island for an unexpected visit, and helped us weed our collard greens.

Pablo worked for Wild Garden for a few years, and grew his own flower seeds on the side. This past winter, Pablo moved north, and started selling his flowers under his own company name, Zoetic Seeds. Check out his website, and if you are on the island, look for him at market!

p.s. he also makes really nice top bar bee hives that you can check out on the website…

Earth Day Plantings

It’s Earth Day today, and here at Wild Garden we celebrated by doing more of what we do every chance we can: transplant lettuce. By my rough calculations, we transplanted around a mile of lettuce today.

Anaka planting some lettuce. I know this photo has been used before, but fast trains have slow upload times, so y’all will have to wait for more pictures/videos.

James Cassidy of OSU Crop and Soil Sciences in the fields where the Hoo Haa will go down.

In addition, the Organic Grower’s Club at Oregon State University holds an annual “Hoo Haa” on this day, and my cohorts have plans to attend the festivities.

As for me, as I write this I am sitting on the Amtrak Cascades train, speeding on down the line, so each word I write is from a different beautiful location! Wowza! I am on my way to Mount Vernon, Washington, where the tulips of Skagit Valley will be in full bloom. Look for an exciting new video of Anaka coming soon…

Geurilla Farming

It’s been a wet spring again here, and we’re taking organic matters into our own hands. We had a new idea to use my electric cultivating tractor with a modified toolbar to open furrows and draw lines. In two weeks we’ll come back and clean up our mess.

We have to get our crops in early so they have enough time to complete their life cycle and make seeds before the rains start in fall.

Transplanting / Brassica Attack

Today I have a couple videos: First off, we have been transplanting lettuce like crazy, trying to make hay while the sun shines, or rather while the sun shines and then two minutes later it hails and then the sun shines again. I believe there will be a more in depth posting on our early season transplanting method, but for now you can check out Hank doing the monster march.

We have also been busy keeping our eyes out for flowering brassica plants that we do not want to cross with our seed crops. If you drive by Gathering Together Farm and see three wild, machete-wielding crazies scurrying about and chopping down plants, there is a good chance that it is us. In this video you will hear me heckling Anaka while she swings a big old machete. Check out the sound her blade makes!

ciao!

Glyphosate news

A couple of interesting blurbs about Glyphosate, the main chemical compound in Roundup and other herbicides, came out this week, and I think they are worth sharing and taking note.

First of all, Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, has written a letter to the USDA asking that they reconsider their deregulation of glyphosate resistant crops in light of some new research he and other scientists are working on in which they say they have found a new organism in corn and soy. They say this new organism thrives in glyphosate resistant crops, and is possibly linked to infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock, and is possibly harmful for humans as well. More research is being done at the moment, but the letter is interesting to read and is definitely something to keep an eye on.  You can read a Pdf of the letter here.

Secondly, an article from Reuters this week says that the Environmental Protection Agency is beginning an investigation on the safety of glyphosate, including allegations of links to cancer as well as infertility in livestock as Don Huber has said.

In other news, here at the farm we are using this window of good weather to navigate the wet soils and transplant like crazy. I suspect there will be some photos, stories, and video coming this week.

Spring Training

I just got back from a trip to Michigan to visit family, and wham, we are back outside working! This week we transplanted our first set of lettuce and spinach, and we will be planting more as soon as it dries up enough to prepare more beds.

Anaka and I ran the manure bucket brigade

The last part of the week was spent feeding some Scarlet Ohno Turnips, and Wild Garden Kale, with composted chicken manure mixed with terra preta.

It has been wet the past little while, and to get to the field we are currently working in you either need a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle, or a row boat.

too deep for boots, too shallow for boats; we scraped bottom

We also began work on an expanded deer fence for an old and new section of field. Friday was spent with an auger, gravel and shovels, securing the new corner posts.

When this fence is up, our seeds will be certified Deer-Free.

mapping out the new territory, known as "the back field"

Drill, baby, drill

Rally for the Right to Know

Hey Folks,

Our own Hank Keough, Master of the Marys River Grange and recently made famous in the pages of New York Times, will be speaking at the Rally for the Right to Know in Salem, OR tomorrow.

Look for this guy!

This event is to raise awareness about GMO food labeling, and will coincide with a national rally in Washington D.C.  If you want to find a rally in a town near you, check out their website here.

The Salem event is set to go from 12:00- 3:00 pm, and will be located at 900 Court Street NE, the Oregon State Capitol.

Going Rogue

These days at the Wild Garden, we are doing our very first selections on the seedlings we have recently planted.  When planting, we sow more seeds than necessary in each cell of our flats. The

thinning

making the cut

plants then need some space when they come up, so we take that opportunity to remove anything that looks like it should not be there. I also did a different type of selection the other day, separating a variety into its black-seeded and white-seeded types.

separating seeds

don't sneeze

Additionally, we have been observing wildlife. Some hungry squirrels have begun to raid a compost pile in search of delicata squash, bits and pieces of which may now be found in and around nearby trees. One particularly defiant specimen has taken to eating on the front wheel of a subaru:

squirrel

*note: squirrel is cuter than it appears to be

Blowing Bubbles

Two weeks ago, I attended the Food Justice Conference in Eugene, Oregon. Fred Kirschenmann gave the opening address on Saturday evening, and Dr. Vandana Shiva wrapped it all up on Monday, speaking about the food desert of industrial agriculture and the dangers of including food in the global casino of financial speculation. This is a theme that appeared repeatedly throughout the conference, with many of the speakers making references to a Harpers article entitled “The Food Bubble” by Frederick Kaufman. This article came out last year, and describes in detail how Goldman Sachs brought food into the futures trading world in 1991, artificially drove up the price of wheat in the course of creating returns for investors, and caused millions of people to go hungry worldwide while silos in the Midwest stood full of over 600 million bushels of unused grain.

In the article, Kaufman asks the CEO of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, which used to keep the price of grain low, if this could happen again; if wheat prices could soar like in 2008. The response is, well, yes. Not only is it possible, it is probable, and as the New York Times reported last week in the article In Price of Farmland, Echoes of Another Boom, “Just a few years ago, farmers marveled as land prices began to rise in response to demand for corn to make ethanol. More recently, soaring prices for wheat, corn, soybeans and other crops have driven the increase”.  The bubble machine is hard at work, cranking out the next big one.

Goldman Sachs

At the end, Kaufman asks Minneapolis Grain Exchange executives if it was not the responsibility of the grain exchange to “ensure a stable valuation of our daily bread”, and is informed that, “I view what we’re working with as Widgets…I think being an employee at an exchange is different from adding value to the food system”.   This is food reduced to mathematical equations, separated from the story of its production and consumption, separated from its real value as human nourishment, separated even from the physical food itself, and used as a speculative tool to leverage money into pockets.

As Dr. Shiva said in her closing address in Eugene, “If you get your ethics right, your economics will flow out naturally”; here we have an absence of ethics, and an economy spiraling unnaturally out of control.

Cutting up the Beets

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came back with a decision in the Roundup Ready Sugar Beet case. Their deliberations hinged on whether or not Judge White was correct in ruling that the sugar beet stecklings (young plants) be destroyed last December.  Here is what the court had to say:

“Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the permitted steckling plants present a possibility, much less a likelihood, of genetic contamination or other irreparable harm. The undisputed evidence indicates that the stecklings pose a negligible risk of genetic contamination, as the juvenile plants are biologically incapable of flowering or cross-pollinating before February 28, 2011, when the permits expire.”

In other words, the appeals court found that the stecklings should not be destroyed because they do not flower and thus cannot cross with other crops. Additionally, the court wrote that “The alleged irreparable harms are little more than an expression that “life finds a way.” Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park 159 (Ballantine 1990). However, an invocation to chaos theory is not sufficient to justify a preliminary injunction.” Applying this story of Jurassic Park to the beet case is surprisingly appropriate:

Do Dino eggs produce Dinosaurs?

Dinosaur DNA was harvested from some hardened amber, and the opportunity to bring dinosaurs back to life was made possible. The government approved the development of dinosaur eggs, because, well, eggs are just eggs and they do not in and of themselves make a dinosaur. Concerned citizens sued, citing possible negative aspects of dinosaurs. The courts then said that the eggs did not present any harm, but that the people were welcome to seek an injunction once the eggs hatched.  And in the story, of course, no dinosaurs actually hatched from the eggs, and everything was fine, right?

Read the full 21 page court decision here, if you wish.