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New Terra Farm News -- Factoids of Interest to the organic foodie
July 17, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Written & Published by Scott Kelland
Written at New Terra Farm
13510 County Rd 15
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INTERESTING PEOPLEThis section presents stuff you should see (and maybe support) because, well, I said so!
AMAZING ART, in support of a good cause. My friends Aleta Karstad and Fred Schueler are embarking on an ambitious project directly connected to the welfare of our planet. This biologist/artist team are revisiting the landscapes they have traveled over the past 20 to 40 years, checking the condition of ecological communities and populations of plants and animals, some of them now Species At Risk.
Here's a quote from Robert Bateman about Fred and Aleta's work:
The 30 Years Later project is not only exceedingly ambitious, it is vital. It is vital in the sense that we all need to pay attention to what is happening to our natural world. The original expeditions over the past 30 years produced comprehensive and elegant documentation of a broad spectrum of ecosystems in North America. The exquisite paintings by Aleta are gems of art and observation.The Thirty Years Later Project needs your support. You can check out the details here Fragile Inheritance - 30 Years Later and you can see Aleta's amazing paintings on display (and for sale) on her blog Biodiversity Paintings Own an original, unique work by a local artist, and feel good about supporting a great cause.
1.Farm and Garden Update and IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT DELIVERIESIt's really a-blooming in the garden! Unfortunately, this also applies to the weeds. Which brings me to the IMPORTANT NOTICE: there will be no delivery on July 23 or July 26.
Here's why: we are ABSOLUTELY SWAMPED trying to keep up with planting fall crops, weeding watering and feeding what's already in the ground, and harvesting for deliveries. This is a challenge at this time in the season, as we switch over from the spring to the summer crops.
We lost a bed of carrots and a bed of turnips to the weeds, so we had to do something. Since we can't stop planting (or there will be no fall crops) and we can't stop weeding and care of plants already in the ground, we need to skip a delivery day to get caught up.
I know this is inconvenient for everyone, and my apologies to all CSA customers. Hopefully we will make it up with a great fall season.
Deliveries will resume as normal the following week. The good news is, we should start seeing lots of great warm-weather summer veggies.
In a cloud and silver lining kind of thing, this has helped solidify our plans for the future of the farm. To see how we plan to cope with this and other challenges in the future, see Section 3. We're changing the farm plan (again!)
In other garden news, just about everything else in the garden is doing well. The only exception is the potatoes; we planted them in June just before that long wet spell, and I suspect some may have rotted before sprouting.
We do have a back-up plan for the potatoes; if they are a 'no-show' for us, we can source some from a local certified organic farm. I'll keep you posted.
2. Chicken, chicken, chickenThe chickens are coming next week; I will probably do a delivery run on Saturday (the 24th). This is the first batch (70 birds) for the season. About 20 birds are already spoken for, so if you want some, let me know as soon as possible. If you miss out, there will be another batch in about a month.
The birds are free-range organic (of course) and will average about 5 lbs. There will be smaller and larger birds available. The price this year is $3.25/lb plus $4 per bird for the processing cost at the abattoir (this is what they charge me, it's not 'marked up'). I decided to split the abattoir fee out since it is the same for all birds regardless of size.
Send me an e-mail Scott' e-mail or call me at 613 269-3884 to reserve your birds. By the way, my e-mail has now changed to firstname.lastname@example.org; I have finally solved the 'Xplornet sucks' problem.
3. We're changing the farm plan (again!)If you have surfed my website or been reading along with these e-mails for a while, you know that I consider New Terra Farm to sort of be my own Experimental Farm. By that I mean we are always looking for better ways to do the things we do, in as ecologically-sound manner as possible.
This often means making choices between less-than-perfect alternatives (like my discourse on using plastic on the farm lest issue)
You're probably also aware that I believe the BIG MESS is coming; I don't know whether the 'tipping point' will be caused by climate change, political upheaval, super bugs and super diseases run amok, the exhaustion of cheap oil, economic disaster, rogue states, or some other factor. But I believe the 'house of cards' of traditional, industrial agri-business in North America will come crashing down in my lifetime.
Cheap food imports and petro-chemical-intensive 'agri-business' will come screeching to a halt. And that will leave small farmers once again in the position of feeding cities and small communities.
This means the future world will require a LOT more farmers to feed it. So in response to this scenario, we explore ways that this little farm might be made to feed a LOT of people. And I write articles and books about stuff I've found out, to help others along this path.
The good news is, a lot of the things we try on the farm work very well. We can produce a pretty diverse selection of crops pretty reliably. However, there are still problems, as exemplified by our need to halt deliveries for a day just to catch up on garden maintenance.
The problem lies in scale: that is, many methods that work well on a small scale or in the home garden don't scale up efficiently to feed a lot of people. And, it's also true that traditional agriculture methods don't always scale down to do what the future small farms will need.
So for the last 5 years, we have been experimenting with different tools and techniques, while at the same time trying to provide a good product (and make a living!) This last is an important point, because any future 'transition' model of farming has to pay the farmer, or it's a non-starter.
Here's another challenge: it's proving increasingly difficult to find farm help. This has been reported by other farmers I know, and also on farming website and blogs I read regularly.
So, where am I going with all this? To BIG CHANGES here at the farm. After our own experiences, visiting other farms, and countless hours of research, we have come to the conclusion we just can't scale up to where we want to be, using the methods we have been using.
Ironically, this means that in order to remain ecologically and financially sound, we have to move to more mechanization in our methods. And we need to increase the size of the garden to help pay for all that.
Of course, some things won't change. We still won't spray toxic chemicals, or use non-organic means for any purpose. We will keep all the successful, ecologically sound methods we have learned to maintain soil fertility and control pests.
We do need to move to less labour-intensive methods of preparing, planting and maintaining the garden. So this means using equipment to replace some labour.
Starting this fall, we are going to start developing a five acre plot, to incorporate the market garden, our free-range chickens and pigs, cover cropping, the bee yard, a larger greenhouse, and possibly an orchard.
The market garden will expand to three acres from the current size of one acre. We will rotate the animals and cover crops and the garden area to reduce bugs and weeds and maintain soil health.
I recently added a page to my website about this topic, you can read more about the 5 Acre Farm Plan here
We are also looking for partners, in this endeavour, so if you know someone or perhaps a couple that want's to help build the farm of the future, give a call or e-mail.
That's it, drop me a line at the e-mail link below with questions or comments, or to order some birdies. Best regards,
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