Pet Poop Composter

Tired of throwing all that pet poop into the landfill? Then don’t! Check out this Pet Poop Composter. Pet poop compost is ideal for fertilizing lawns, trees and flower beds, though you might want to avoid using it to fertilize your ground and root crops like lettuce and onions…there are those who use “humanure” compost on their orchard crops, since the compost does not come into direct contact with the harvested food. Use your own judgment.

Then you can thank your cats and dogs for the healthiest yard in town!

The Pet Poop Composter also qualifies for free shipping from Green Nation Gardens. You can feel good about purchases made from this small, family-owned business!

Soil, Weeds and Organic Methods

Lots of great documents on sustainable ag, soil conditions, weeds as indicators of soil conditions, and other detailed organic methodology from
Ecological Agriculture Projects, McGill University (Macdonald Campus)
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, H9X 3V9 Canada

AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS AND THE SOIL

ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE

AN INTRODUCTION TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

COMPARISON OF FOOD QUALITY OF ORGANICALLY GROWN VERSUS CONVENTIONALLY GROWN PLANT FOODS

THE BASICS OF GREEN MANURING

COMPOSTING: WHY COMPOST? HOW TO COMPOST?

COMPOSTING FOR FARM AND GARDEN. Part 1: The Whys and Wherefores; Part 2: How to do it

CULTURAL METHODS OF PEST, PRIMARILY INSECT, CONTROL

COMMON GARDEN PESTS: NATURAL CONTROLS

ECOLOGICAL GARDEN SUPPLIES: PESTICIDES, FERTILIZERS

MULCHING: WHY MULCH? WHAT TO USE?

WEEDS AS INDICATORS OF SOIL CONDITIONS

FARM-SCALE AGRONOMIC AND ECONOMIC CONVERSION FROM CONVENTIONAL TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

Monsanto: Harvest of Paranoia?

In my previous post, I allotted myself one major rant about Monsanto, and was prepared to move on. Yes, I suppose the title “Monsanto: My Arch Nemesis” was a tad provocative. Within 3 hours of posting, at least one representative of Monsanto had visited my backwater, podunk blog.

Don’t they have better things to do, like destroy the agriculture of third world countries or squash some U.S. food labeling legislation?

Following is the account of their visits; thanks to StatCounter for the fabulously detailed info:

  • Within 3 hours of going live, there was a visit from a BlackBerry in St. Louis, with an IP labeled “Monsanto”
  • 7:30 a.m. this morning, from a computer in St. Louis, IP labeled “Monsanto”
  • 9:11 a.m. from a computer in New York, IP labeled “Monsanto”
  • At 9:32 someone labeled as Husch and Eppenberger, shown coming from Plano, TX, but the link here shows them with an office in St. Louis
  • Then one more Monsanto visit at 10:16 a.m. this morning from St. Louis
  • The last relevant entry to date is from a business called Edelman PR, a public relations firm with a branch in Washington D.C.

You know, I am sure there are some wonderful people working directly and indirectly for Monsanto. It’s easy for the human brain to rationalize the body’s behavior, particularly when the idol of money is involved. I am speaking out, not unlike the Lorax, to protect seed diversity from genetic rape.

But I believe they can turn it around if they want to. I have some suggestions that might help, but I’ll have to save those for another time.

And to everyone who would LOVE to hit Monsanto in their pocketbook, I encourage those of you with Mutual Funds or 401K’s to do a little digging. Find out which companies are in those mutual funds. Pull your money out of funds which carry Monsanto. I did, and it feels good! And keep buying those heirloom seeds that haven’t had their genes raped. Say NO to Monsanto!

Monsanto: My Arch Nemesis

I promise I’m not going to rant on and on about Monsanto, though they will be mentioned when I can think of something snide enough. Monsanto is my arch nemesis, however.

Here’s a great Vanity Fair article about Monsanto’s tactics regarding rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone).

Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear
by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele May 2008

…Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.

When asked about these practices, Monsanto declined to comment specifically, other than to say that the company is simply protecting its patents…

Yee Haw! It’s a veritable Roundup round-up! Compilation of Monsanto news articles, fact sheets and scientific studies. Tons of links covering pharmaceuticals, food additives, seeds etc.

Just say no to Monsanto. Get your seeds from an heirloom seed distributor, not one who thinks they can own life.

Here’s a LONG list of GMO-free seed distributors. Or check out the links in the sidebar, as well as the previous post on heirloom seeds.

Happy growing!

Heirloom Seeds Entrepreneur

Here are some links where you can read about one of my heroes, Jere Gettle. He is an inspiration and I have had great success with Baker Creek seeds.

Jeremiath Gettle of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company wanted to be a seedman from the time he was a young boy. He worked it out brilliantly, and has built an empire of heirloom seeds. Regular festivals feature folk music and plenty of old-timey goodness, and are drawing more people from around the US and the world each year…

Thanks, Jere and company, for being one of the few alternatives to Monsanto seeds of death!

Enjoy, and happy growing!
Diane

Simple vs. Easy

When I say “simplicity”, I mean “a lack of complexity”. Though they are frequently used interchangeably, easy and simple are not the same thing. It is much more simple to pick a tomato from your yard or container garden than it is for tomatoes to be shipped from Mexico through a wide variety of middlemen. That complex and expensive process yields the lowest price to the actual farmers and laborers who do 99% of the work.

I know many people don’t feel they have time or energy to grow tomatoes. Between working, caring for families and the need to use entertainment as a foil to shake the stressful mess off, the prospect of eating a tomato from your yard does not appear to be easy.

I also see an element of faddishness in the “going green” movement, and I think an important aspect of “going green” includes realizing that “ease” and “convenience” are not the all-encompassing utopia that they have been made out to be. There are harmful impacts from all that easiness, not just on your planet, but on the humanity of your soul.

The simple way, though not easy, often helps one find a side of their own forgotten humanity. At least it works for me. It builds spiritual connection to all that exists.

  • Superhuman scale business ventures increase throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Archetype of strong American work ethic visibly decreasing over the years as “easy is better” becomes the norm.

Coincidence? Is it possible that “easiness” separates us from our own humanity? Do you ever feel like a domesticated pet, raised and cared for to be a good little consumer?

Cow Appreciation Day

On July 11, Chick Fil A is having a “Cow Appreciation Day” and they’ll be giving away a bunch of chicken to celebrate. If you dress fully like a cow, hooves and horns and all, you get a free meal; this is for ADULTS or KIDS. If you dress only partially like a cow, say, just a mask, you get an entree. We’ll discuss the fact that nothing is really free at a later time.

Here’s a fun and subtle joke if you’re a contrarian sort who wants to harass some poor Chick Fil A worker next Friday:

  • Dress all in brown (you are a Jersey cow, because as a contrarian, you wouldn’t dare to dress like the heavily propagandized Holstein).
  • Throw together some simple horns and hooves. Seriously, you can make these out of scrap paper or something, or wear some brown shoes. Now you are fully dressed as a cow.
  • If they question you (the lack of black and white could confuse them mightily) or say you are only “part cow” (and at this point you really have to be female for the punch line to be effective), tell them that udders are a major part of the costume, but for the sake of modesty and family values, they shall remain covered. If you get a sharp one who exclaims, “Hey, you’re a dairy cow, not a beef cow!” simply remind them that their award winning ad campaign uses dairy Holsteins. Then tell them to hand over the meal, or you’re going to send in PETA.
A Jersey cow

I would like to think that Chick Fil A is fulfilling their mission statement of being a “faithful steward to all that is entrusted to” them by using only pastured animals, but I’m pretty sure the superhuman scale of the whole operation would preclude such a thing. This is not to denigrate any faithful stewardship they actually are accomplishing.

On this Independence Day, instead of celebrating your country’s freedom by blowing up a small part of it, consider exercising your freedom of speech and go start a blog. It’s easy, fun, cathartic and you get to be part of the people’s revolution in self-publishing. Bye, bye, big media!

Every Garden a Munition Plant

Back in the days of old-school wars, WWI and WWII that is, food shortages challenged the culture and vexed the governments. In the U.S. and the U.K., citizens were encouraged to start Victory Gardens, and people did so to support their country. There are a number of modern Victory Garden movements on, although this time they have nothing to do with war, or government. They are mostly grassroots movements, although some communities seem to be getting the idea that having people grow food could be helpful in many ways.

Vintage Victory Garden Newsreel Archived movie from the 1940’s depicting the Victory Garden. Did you know that gardening is just like owning a share in an airplane factory? Does that make you want to start a garden? Me either. This is here for nostalgia’s sake; I’m sure there’s lots of kitsch here. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. Short Attention Span.

San Francisco Victory Gardens program A few people are selected each year to participate in their program converting available space (yard/rooftop) to gardens. If you live in San Francisco, you can apply for the program. If you don’t live in San Francisco, this info is meant to inspire you to new ideas for your own community. Here’s another community inspiration: The Edible Plant Project in Gainesville, FL promotes edible landscaping and local food abundance.

Old Victory Garden Art

Every garden a munition plant? Allrighty then.

Maybe we can come up with some modern phrases that don’t compare our gardens to munition plants and airplane factories, and will appeal to the general public. But we won’t let Dick Cheney come up with it, or it would be something like “Every bit of food you grow is oil money out of my pocket.” I’ll have to work on some of these…Please post in comments if you have any good ones, and by good ones I mean would literally be good slogans OR would be hilariously funny or sarcastically attacking the mainstream consumer culture. I just can’t see the Fed endorsing a Victory Garden program because it might cut into big food company profits, and we gotta keep those people spendin’!

Love that soil and it will love you back!

Diane

Not too subtle NAIS in Congress

Note the good talking points below the clipped info.

http://nonais.org/2008/06/23/congress-attempts-nais-mandate/

Congressional Sub-Committee Attempts to Mandate NAIS 

Rep. Rose Delauro, chairwoman of the House Ag Appropriations Sub-Committee, has inserted pro-NAIS provisions into the Ag Appropriations bill for 2009. The proposed bill would require the USDA’s National School Lunch Program to only buy meat from animals registered in the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)…

…Call Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (202.225.4404): Ask Rep. Emerson to offer an amendment to strip pro-NAIS language from the House Ag Appropriations Bill. Tell Rep. Emerson that Missouri livestock producers are adamantly opposed to NAIS.

Call Rep. Rosa DeLauro (202-225-3661): Tell Rep. DeLauro to take pro-NAIS language out of House Ag Appropriations Bill.

Call Rep. Dave Obey (202.225.3365): Ask Rep. Obey to strip the pro-NAIS language from the House Ag Appropriations Bill.

NAIS Talking Points:

1. NAIS does NOTHING to address food safety issues from the processor to the consumer.it simply moves the burden from corporate meat packers, who don’t follow the rules, to independent livestock producers.

2. Missouri’s Family Farmers believe it is extremely important to ensure consumer confidence in the safety and health of the U.S. food supply while at the same time ensuring the economic viability of independent livestock producers.But NAIS does not meet the needs of producers or consumers.

3. The majority (>92%) of family farmers in Missouri (and the rest of the nation) are opposed to NAIS.

4. The Truth About Animal ID.: Creates an undue economic burden on producers, does not include identification of imported meats, does nothing to increase consumer choice or confidence, expands packers ability to unfairly discriminate against family farmers.

What are Local Foods?

You’ve probably started hearing more buzzwords like “local food”, “locally grown” and “locavore”. What is this “local” buzz all about?

The local foods movement has been a grass roots movement, literally and figuratively (I like to say “literally” for the cow farmers who grow grass, a cow’s natural diet). Partly inspired by the notion of peak oil, rising oil prices, health concerns over chemical use and vitamin loss, and a desire for more natural ways of human living that don’t involve constantly manipulating nature to fit our whims.

Do you need to give up such “spice of life” goodies like bananas, pineapples, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla? Clearly it would benefit no one to leave the tropical countries which produce these items without an economy. If you can afford it, search for “Fair-Trade Certified” items, harvested and sold with the farmers, laborers and citizens of those countries in mind. If you can’t afford it, don’t give yourself a guilt trip. You can’t do everything at once.

We have become accustomed to eating what we want when we want it. We eat substantial amounts of food out of our locale and out of season. Were our bodies designed to eat apples, grapes or bananas all year round? My best guess is no. That doesn’t mean I never eat an apple out of season; old habits die hard. But I continue in the garden, improving my soil so I can increase my own local harvest.

Start looking around your town and community for local farms and other producers using Slow Food USA, an organization preserving traditional regional foods, or the definitive Local Harvest where you can search your region in detail for farms, CSA’s, farmers markets, etc.

Happy local eating!