December 4, 2008
I received an email requesting me to sign a petition for Michael Pollen for the Secretary of Agriculture. The email said, "This petition is a letter to president elect Obama, urging him to appoint Michael Pollen as the Secretary of Agriculture. The other candidates that are up for election completely undermine the above mentioned objectives and all support big agri-business and biotech industries such as Monsanto. To protect your right to know what you are buying and what you are consuming it is essential that we prevent corporate interests from taking control of our global food systems. To create a holistic and sustainable agricultural future that is not based on economic, social, and ecological exploitation, it is critical that our Secretary of Agriculture be a forward-thinking circumspect, and environmentally minded individual."
Another petition already ousted Vilsack, a proponant of genetically engineered food and industrial agriculture, from the running. Maybe this petition will get some attention. If you are interested in signing it, click here.
For more information on who Michael Pollen is, listen to a podcast here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95896389 and here: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/episodes/2008/11/27/segments/116803 and for information on sustainable agriculture here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/
November 26, 2008
The Howard Ulfelder, MD Healing Garden is a 6,300-square-foot garden on the 8th floor in the Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care at Massachusetts General Hospital. It features an enclosed pavilion for use in all four seasons and an exterior section with pathways, a water fountain, and seating for patients and their families.
Perhaps you know someone who is sick and could benefit from a walk through your garden and a basket of freshly picked produce. It might seem trivial to you, but to them, it could be the lift that they really need to get through the next day, week, chemo treatment. The sights, sounds and smells are so familiar to us but can be so far away to someone who is sick. Even a winter garden is interesting and there is always something to do or see. Dig up a few leftover carrots if the ground isn't frozen yet, follow the footpath of a bird or rabbit through the snow, or sprinkle bird seed around to attract some winter feathered friends.
November 12, 2008
Apparently, the EU just threw out 100 pages of rules and regulations about selling only perfect fruits and vegetables. Before, the bumpy carrots and warped zucchinis got pitched into the compost because it was - can you believe it?! - illegal to sell them. They wanted to ensure properly sized and shaped vegetables and fruits. Now, due to the food shortages around the world, they feel it is irresponsible to limit what can be sold as food and have done away with these regulations.
This is so ridiculous I can hardly stand it. Clearly, they need to get outside in the fresh air and play more batminton and polo. To read the full article at www.boston.com, click here.
November 7, 2008
11/03/08 India - More than 1,000 farmers kill themselves every month here in the "suicide belt" in Maharashtra state. Millions of Indian farmers have been promised great profits and increased yields if they use GM seeds instead of the seeds they've used for centuries. But, crop failures and spiraling debt have left many of them with no income and nowhere to turn. An estimated 125,000 farmers have committed suicide since the onslaught of GM seed companies into rural India. Read the full article here.
October 3, 2008
(photo courtesy of Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
Steve Connolly of Sharon, MA is not having any of the problems most pumpkin growers are having this year. In fact, he's preparing to break some substantial pumpkin growing records. But he only has one to worry about. One giant pumpkin, with an estimated weight of 1,878 pounds. Steve has protected it from rain and sun and fed it a special formula of bone meal, molasses, manure and who knows what else, all with the hopes of smashing the current record weight of 1,689 pounds.
Giant pumpkin growing has turned into a big obsession over the last 10 years. There are clubs and contests and prize money all over the country.
Read more at
For information on how to grow your own giant pumpkin, consult Don Langevin's book, "How to Grow World-Class Giant Pumpkins", available from Amazon for $29.35. Sounds like good, clean fun and hours of entertainment over the summer for the cost of a book and a few seeds.
September 26, 2008
Here's a link to an interview with Alice Waters, one of my heroes, and the California chef who created the "edible schoolyard" in Berkeley, CA. She promotes healthy eating for kids by introducing them to the seasons, nature and gardening. Ms. Waters says, "My solution is not to try to feed children in the same way that fast food nation does -- which is to figure out a gimmick to get them to eat something. It's to bring them into a whole relationship with food that's connected to nature and our culture." Click here to read this interview.
September 18, 2008
(photo via Christine Peterson for The Boston Globe)
We were not imagining it - this has been a very wet year. GardenSnob has noticed it primarily with tomatoes but pumpkin growers are also having a bad year. There has been so much rain that pollination rates are lower because bees don't fly in the rain. Then, fruits become so waterlogged, they fall off the vine early and rot. Read more about New England pumpkin farmers in this article by Michael Levenson for the Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/09/18/a_crop_so_waterlogged_its_scary/?page=1
If you're looking for a pie pumpkin, we had good luck with the Long Pie pumpkin this year which is available at Fedco Seeds, a quirky co-op seed catalog. This heirloom pumpkin is shaped like a large zucchini and hails from Maine. When it is still dark green but sporting a circle of orange on its side, the pumpkin is ready to be picked. After a few weeks in storage, it turns a vivid orange and keeps well into the winter. It also has a voice that sounds a bit like James Brown, but it only speaks out in the field so you'd have to visit next year to hear that. :)
August 24, 2008
Watch this video, made by The Wall Street Journal, to learn how cattle feedlots are coping with higher corn costs. Yet another dumb idea from industrial "pharmers".
August 14, 2008
Finally, this evil empire gets a kick in the butt. The Organic Consumer Organization reports:
"Monsanto announced on August 6 it will "divest" or sell off its controversial genetically engineered animal drug, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). Monsanto's divestment of rBGH is a direct result of 14 years of determined opposition by organic consumer, public interest, and family farmer groups. Since its founding, the Organic Consumers Association has campaigned against this cruel and dangerous drug, pointing out to organic and health-minded consumers that rBGH-tainted dairy products pose unacceptable dangers to humans from increased antibiotic residues and elevated levels of a potent cancer tumor promoter called IGF-1. OCA's "Millions Against Monsanto" campaign has generated over a quarter million emails and petition signatures on the topic of rBGH, helping make rBGH one of the most controversial food products in the world."
To learn more, go to the Organic Consumers website and watch an informative movie about rBGH by Jeffrey M. Smith (author of Seeds of Deception and other books).
August 11, 2008
By Associated Press
Borrowers at the Turner Public Library can choose from a large selection of gardening books -- and more than a dozen hand tools to carry out their chosen projects.
Spades and pruners, a cultivating fork, a root cutter and a bulb planter are among the tools that patrons can check out, just as they would a book. Library Director Vicki Varney said the tools are available to help both new gardeners and others who might not have the right tool for the job.
Offering garden tools was the brainchild of library trustee Pat Dickinson, who read about a similar project elsewhere. Jeff Timberlake of Northland True Value Hardware donated the tools. The tools are normally loaned for one week but can be renewed, just like a book.
Information from: Sun-Journal, http://www.sunjournal.com