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New Terra Farm News -- Factoids of Interest to the organic foodie
March 08, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
Written & Published by Scott Kelland
Written at New Terra Farm
13510 County Rd 15
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1. Opening NotesThe weather has been fantastic, the ground in the new greenhouse has been thawed for a couple weeks; the surface 6 inches or so never really froze at all during the winter.
Later this week we will be planting carrots, beets and bunching onions in there, and also trying a little experiment with starting some broccoli and cabbage transplants. We plan to direct seed all these guys then cover them up with row cover as well, for a second layer of protection inside the greenhouse.
This is an important experiment because, if successful, it will reduce our dependence on artificial light and heat to start plants early in the season. I'll let you know how it goes.
In other news, the idea of a farmer's market in Merrickville is firming up. I have identified a couple of possible locations. A 'go/no-go' decision will be made by the end of the month.
And, mark your calendar for April 17 for the Eco-Fair and Artists' Competition in the Village; details can be found at Merrickville Goes Green
Payment reminder: if you haven't already done so, please make arrangements to get share payment for the season to us by the end of March.
The prices per share are remaining the same as last year, $500 for a half-share payable in two equal installments, and $900 for a full share, also payable in two installments.
You can send cheques payable to New Terra Farm, 13510 County Rd 15, Merrickville K0G 1N0. You can also pay in installments by credit card on my New Terra Farm page
2. What products would you buy?I've been meeting and brainstorming with a lot of local 'green entrepreneurs' over the last couple of months. The products they carry range from herbal teas and tinctures to beeswax candles and goat's milk fudge.
I am considering making these products available for purchase to the CSA members. So I would like to know if you are interested in learning more about these products.
And (while I'm on the topic) is there any continuing interest in the other organic products I made available last year? You may recall I had a catalog of everything from beverages to pasta to cereals to flours to sauces. While a number of people expressed interest at the beginning of the season, the actual order rate was very low; in fact it was too low to sustain, as it did not meet minimum order quantities from my wholesaler.
So, here's the question: which, if any, of these products would you buy this season, if I offered them? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know.
3. Book review: Life, Money and IllusionYou may recall I mentioned meeting Mike Nickerson a few weeks back. Mike is a carpenter, an author and a former Merrickvillian now living in Lanark.
For the last few decades, Mike has been thinking, writing and working in the area of sustainability. His beliefs about the current path of society being unsustainable very closely resemble my own (so obviously he's a really smart guy ;-)
I met with Mike and discussed many topics with him, in particular what makes a community sustainable. He was interested in our little Merrickville Goes Green group, and it's pretty sure that in the future we will do some stuff together.
But, to get to the book review . . . Mike's book is titled Life, Money and Illusion; I could sum it up as a 400+ page history and economics lesson, that was both fascinating and frightening to read.
The main problem identified in the book is that we are reaching planetary limits of growth, but the global economic system is entirely dependent on never-ending growth. These two facts are irreconcilable under the present system.
Mike asks us to question, what is the point of all that growth? He makes the case that in many instances it is driven by the self-interest and greed and the competition for resources that characterizes corporations and governments. But are people well-served by this system?
Mike boils the essence of the book down to 8 points:
Well-being can be sustained when activities:
1 - use materials in continuous cycles.
2 - use continuously reliable sources of energy.
3 - come mainly from the qualities of being human
(i.e. creativity, communication, movement, appreciation, and spiritual and intellectual development).
Long-term well-being is diminished when activities:
4 - require continual inputs of non-renewable resources.
5 - use renewable resources faster than their rate of renewal.
6 - cause cumulative degradation of the environment.
7 - require resources in quantities that undermine other people's well-being.
8 - lead to the extinction of other life forms.
These 8 points in essence define what is and is not sustainable.
Mike then goes on to point out the fallacies of the 'perpetual growth' model. No species can grow forever without outstripping the carrying capacity of it's environment. It doesn't matter if it is yeast cells that eventually die off in their own waste product (alcohol), or deer populations that swing wildly because their natural predators have been decimated.
Once the threshold is reached, the result is the same - a mass die-off. Human beings are not exempt from this fact.
To give one example, we are consuming supplies of coal and oil at a far greater rate than they are created. Leaving aside the question of releasing all that carbon, this continuing massive use of a diminishing resource will doom our current civilization.
Our entire industrialized economy including the 'agri-food' industry is totally dependent on oil. We have already consumed more than half of all the available oil, since about World War II. And, the rate of consumption is increasing; it's not hard to see the end of that particular bubble.
This makes urgent the need to develop energy sources that can be relied upon for many generations to come.
Unfortunately, as Mike points out, our current political and industrial leaders have not acknowledged this truth, and are in fact relentlessly pursuing 'growth' as the cure for all problems. Mike makes the case that we have not been well served by our politicians and power-brokers. Sometimes deliberately, and sometimes just from an excess of self-interest and willful blindness, they have brought our civilization to this perilous point.
Are there solutions? Mike says 'yes', and discusses these at some length. They all stem from the first 3 points in the above list. I will leave the details to your own reading of Mike's book.
In summary, the book is subtitled 'Living on Earth as if we want to stay. I don't think the topic could be better summed-up that by that phrase.
If you want a copy of "Life, Money and Illusion", contact me at at e-mail link below or call me at 613 269-3884 and I'll get one to you. The book is $20, proceeds go to Mike and the Merrickville Goes Green community group.
ciao for niao
You can contact me with questions or comments about any of the above at Scott's email
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