wasn’t by design. Maybe it’s just in
the air – or the dirt. People are starting to pay attention
to the secret life of the soil, and so we have three pieces this
week that approach that topic from different directions:
Laura Sayre launches our year-long series on research that’s
taking place here at The Institute with a piece about David Douds’
research on mycorrhizae— beneficial fungi that thrive in organically
managed soils, and can increase yields by up to 50 percent.
Go to David Douds.
Our long-time columnist Mary-Howell Martens, a large scale organic
grower from up-state New York, took a vacation to Cape Hatteras
this August. But a farmer can never get entirely away from her soil.
She looked at the seemingly sterile sands of the beach, thought
about the invisible life that thrives even there, and then marveled
at the infinitely more complex web of soil life that sustains organic
to Letter from NY.
Meanwhile, Lisa Hamilton continues her series on Natural Agriculture
in Japan: On an island in the Japanese inland sea, a spiritually
oriented, non-scientific farmer draws the same conclusion as Mary-Howell
Martens from his close observation of nature: Each step toward wildness
in farming adds a new layer of complexity … and the complexity
is what holds the soil together both literally and figuratively.
to Kishima Island.
The articles by Mary-Howell and Lisa are lyrical and inspiring.
And I think you’ll be amazed by David Douds’ results,
which you can easily duplicate on your own farm.
Spicing up the OPX:
Over the last several months we’ve been developing price sources
on the east and west coasts for organic and conventional herbs.
Today we launch a new herb page that shows these price comparisons.
It’s just one small step of many we’ll be taking in
the next year to expand and improve the Organic Price Index™.
Go to the
herb page now.
Teaching farms: Managing
editor Greg Bowman and I were in Little Rock, Arkansas, last week
meeting with folks at Heifer International to discuss collaborations
both domestically and internationally. One of the things we talked
about was helping farmers add value to their farms by turning them
into classrooms for paying customers--teaching everything from soap
making to cheese making. There are many farms around the country
doing just that. But there’s another type of teaching farm:
the farm that trains new farmers. We wrote not along ago above Skip
Glover’s farm in Georgia that serves as an on-farm training
center for all sorts of immigrant farmers. This week we feature
two other farms were teaching and training are integral to the mission
of the farm:
- Roy Brubaker’s Village Acres farm in western PA, where
six interns are an integral part of the farm operation.
- D-Trois-Pierres CSA outside of Montreal, which offers four 8-month
apprenticeships for young people in the region each year.
See below for more information on these stories.
Coming tomorrow, October 1: Packer
Ban call to arms. Four companies control more than half
of all U.S. hog slaughter and more than 80% of U.S. fed cattle slaughter.
Such control of the market is made possible by captive supplies
-- where livestock packers either own or control through contracts
with farmers and ranchers. Fortunately, there is something you can
do to stop the slide into a meat monopoly. Congress has introduced
two new bills that will help put an end to captive supply. Go to
the New Farm home page on October 1 and use our action alert to
support this legislation.
--Chris Hill, Executive Editor
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