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March 30, 2015
by admin
Comments Off on WHERE IS THE FARMER IN THIS MARKET?

WHERE IS THE FARMER IN THIS MARKET?

Farmer’s Markets are a place where farmers sell their produce: meats, eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables and products made from their crops, like salsa.

All across America there are people sitting on the side of the road under umbrellas selling you a lie. Some are for real, others are not. Read on to see how you can tell the difference.

Farmers markets today are often Resale Markets where the boxes under the table come from your local Wal-Mart.

Fair? Not to you and not to farmers. Why? Because you thought that you were buying local-home-grown produce straight from the farmer. Instead you could have gone to Wally-World and paid less money.

How to remove the veils of confusion?

Farmers Markets are neither regulated, monitored, or have a set of definitions that the produce be grown by the person selling it, so your best defense is to talk to the person behind the table and ask a few simple questions:

  • “Where did you grow these vegetables?” Keep in mind that not all produce grows in all seasons in all soils. For example, if you are in North Texas in August you are not going to find fresh potatoes, garlic, lettuce, or kale. None of these can grow in the hot dry summers. But basil, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, and melons? Those crops LOVE the hot summers.
  • “How did you get such a perfect tomato?” If it is too perfect it was most likely commercially grown. Commercial operations harvest their produce while still immature for ease of shipping. Tomatoes sold in most supermarkets lack flavor because they were NOT harvested ripe and red, produce does not ship well ripe.
  • Check the produce for wax. Nature does NOT wax produce so if it has been waxed or processed it is commercial produce.
  • Be bold- look at the boxes they are pulling the produce from. Is it blazoned with a label ‘grown by BlaBlah Farm in California or Mexico’ while you are standing in New Jersey? Ask if they are re-cycling and re-using boxes or did they go to a Produce Wholesaler and buy a pick-up truck load of commercially grown vegetables, jack up the price, and set up a cute no-frills ‘market’ stand. These folks COUNT on an ill-educated public that thinks ‘sold-in’ and ‘local’ are the same thing.
  • If the seller grew the produce, they will have pride in their crops and be eager to share their knowledge and growing methods. Farmers grow for the passion of the produce not just the profit margin. Be aware that not all farmers are good with people; they may be shy or exhausted from a day in the field. Don’t be fooled by that charismatic salesman standing beneath a sign professing Local Produce that you know cannot grow in your climate.
  • Learn what grows in your area every season. Visit your local feed stores, pick up literature from your county agriculture extension, and learn what crops grow in which season.

THIS is to date my favorite Famers Market

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WOLF CREEK FARM from Tioga, Texas at Farmers Market of Grapevine Texas

 

March 28, 2015
by admin
Comments Off on DREAMS OF SPRING

For those of you unfamiliar with Prairie weather, let this piece illustrate to you the weather extremes we suffer, Saturday was sunny and 74°F and today Wednesday finds  us at 20°F. Here are dreams of Spring to warm your soul.

Here in the Cross Timbers Bioregion, on the edge of the prairie, we’ve had a couple of warm sunny days. These days ignite the promise of a new garden. In my yard the poppies are growing and continuing to emerge, now joined by larkspur and the narcissus bulbs.

Saturday as I strolled the yard with ‘the girls’ I found myself bending over and pulling up weeds of chickweed, ragweed and horehound from between the poppies and larkspur. Spring is definitely in the air and I am itching to start seedlings.

After over 20 years farming in Ponder my internal clock just seems to know the rhythms of this bioregion and now is the time to start seeds for your garden.

What to start now? Flowers and herbs.

Check with your County Extension Office and see if they have a planting guide specific for your area, these folks are an excellent source of local gardening knowledge. They will inform and direct you on the best varieties for your area, when to plant them, the last and first frost dates and average yearly rainfall. Remember, not all plants grow in all soils in all seasons.

In North Central Texas we have extreme weather conditions compounded by extreme periods of low to no rainfall, because of these conditions trees and shrubs have a greater chance of success if planted in the fall. This does not hold true for northern climates.

Here is a list of my favorite seed sources are:

Seeds of Italy http://www.growitalian.com/ (As seen on Martha Stewart Show)

Imported from Italy by a wonderful fellow in Massachusetts they offer the highest quality, greatest quantity and most unique varieties of open pollinated (with many organic choices) seeds out there. And the envelope the seeds are packaged in give us not only beautiful pictures of your future crop but also a glimpse into another part of the world.

Seed Savers Exchange http://www.seedsavers.org/Content.aspx?src=membership.htm

Is an International organization established to safe guard our genetic seed variety. Too many of our seed choices are disappearing due to lack of saving and replanting them. The loss in genetic Biodiversity is sad but the effects to our botanical biodiversity are catastrophic.

Seed Savers has 2 operations, one is a normal beautiful seed catalogue offering you a lovely diversity of open pollinated and heirloom seed choices from all over the globe.

Their other operation is structured more like a co-op or buying club. You pay a yearly membership fee and get a catalog seasonally, full of seed choices from fellow home gardeners. There are oceans of odd and unique seed choices from individuals with a passion for saving and sharing seeds to insure plant biodiversity.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange http://www.southernexposure.com/?gclid=CK_s_aLf6aYCFaZl7Aod-Ubu0g

Based in Virginia these folks have a lovely collection of seeds geared towards southern climates. This is another great company preserving our seed biodiversity. These folks promote seed saving and seed propagation for the home gardener and have an excellent supply of seed starting, seed collecting and seed storage supplies, books and DVD’s. These folks carry the trays I start all of my seedlings in, look for nesting trays in their catalog.

Native Seed\S.E.A.R.C.H. [Southwestern Endangered Aridland Resource Clearing House] http://www.nativeseeds.org/  Ancient seeds for modern needs, they store, research ancient crops and promote their use for preservation of a fast disappearing source.

Native Seeds/SEARCH conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico. They promote the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by gathering, safeguarding, and distributing their seeds to farming and gardening communities. They also work to preserve knowledge about their uses.

Seeds of Change

http://www.seedsofchange.com/   These folks carry 100 % Organic seeds, but NOT open pollinated, heirloom seeds. Though these seeds are quality they are extremely expensive and give low quantity of seeds. I love looking at their catalog as they have beautiful pictures of fruits and vegetables.

These folks are like the Whole Foods of the seed industry, they provide a wonderful service but their focus is profit, not the preservation of botanical seed diversity.

 

 

March 21, 2015
by admin
Comments Off on LEARNING THE HUMAN BODY

Learning the Human Body is an important step to take to understanding your health and how to live with a balanced body.

This website is outstanding. Simple enough for anyone to navigate through with each bodies systems set up to explore, like the graph below. Point your cursor and a side window opens with a few easy to understand paragraphs. An excellent tool for learning as a family.

http://www.innerbody.com/

March 16, 2015
by admin
2 Comments

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1) I simply LOVE this garden idea: multiple tiers for growing with a ‘compost’ tower to feed the lot. This really allows for full use of a very small piece of land, wise choice of crops with a quick yield, crops being ready in two months or less and can be picked at any stage of growth for fresh salad additions.

By lining the cages with straw the compost remains invisible to the neighbors or garden harvesters and since you already know that every addition gets an immediate cover of leaves the pile stays odorless and invisible.

2) USING BALES OF STRAW, available seasonally for free,  and an old glass window (or door)you can try your hand at GREENHOUSE GROWING. Be creative, ask your neighbors and friends, visit thrift stores and second-hand benefit shops (like Habitate for Humanity)

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3) CONTAINER GARDENING

66-Things-You-Can-Grow-In-Containers

An excellent springboard of suggestions. The key to success is VARIETY, VARIETY, VARIETY! Choose the best varieties for your season and container size and off you go.

Best seed catalogues? I lean towards the non-glossy ones and here is why: “As I learned more about the modern seed industry I began to see past the airbrushed transplants and photo-shopped stills in the seed catalogs. I found that the true face of the industry was not so pretty. Many catalogs cover-up where their seeds come from, how they are grown, and who owns the brand name. Most seed companies get their seeds from large scale monocrop seed farms using pesticides, herbicides, and soil-wasting farming practices. Looking deeper I found that a few multinational corporations, mostly biotech, own the bulk of seed sources. I realized that my seed dollar spent at a familiar seed catalog, even one offering heirlooms, could very well be supporting the likes of Monsanto. ” *

Well said!  Most of us are so concerned about clean food but if we only knew about the seeds, the kernel from which food starts, are in high peril and the outlook bleak we might be fighting a different battle.

Seeds from Italy THIS is my #1 choice. The smallest of the companies and by far the best with an exquisitely non-slick catalogue that lacks glossy photos. What it lacks in glitter it makes up for in the quality and choices they offer you. As a commercial Organic farmer THIS was always my go-to-number-one-choice.

Seed Savers Exchange Is my next go-to choice. “Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, members have been passing on our garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners.”

Baker Creek Rare Heirloom Seeds Has an interesting assortment of hard to find seeds.

Hudson Valley Seed Library “Many of these seeds we produce on our own small farm; the rest we source from other local farmers, farmers in other regions, and from trustworthy wholesale seed houses that are not owned by or affiliated with multi-national biotech companies. We have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, and we adhere to Vandana Shiva’s Declaration of Seed Freedom.

Renee’s Garden Seeds “A family owned company sharing the pleasure & satisfaction of growing the finest heirloom, certified organic and specialty vegetable, flower and herb seeds.”

Turtle Tree Seeds One of the specialized catalogues that focuses on Rudolph Steiner’s BIODYNAMIC principles.

Territorial Seed Company “Is an interesting catalogue carrying a nice variety of Organic and Open-Pollinated seeds. I use these guys to fill in what I cannot get from my top choice.”

Stella Natura “Biodynamic planting calendar has two aspects. One aspect is expressed on the first seven pages and in the charts. They show how the forces active in lunar and planetary rhythms are intrinsically connected with the growth and development of the familiar plants that we tend in our gardens and on our farms. And they explain how we can work with these rhythms to enhance their productivity.”

Josephine Porter Institute “Biodynamic takes you beyond organics and offers you a roadmap to enhance the vitality of your farm or garden. Biodynamic preparations and indications for planting, cultivating and harvesting allow you to work with the life forces that increase the physical health of your soil, plants and animals.”