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I have a Google Alert set up for a number of phrases: Micro-Farming, Vegetable Garden, Farmers Market, Emergent Church, Missional, and Organic Farming.  Throughout each day Google sends me an email for each Alert with links to news articles and blogs that were written in the past day about each of these topics.  Most of the info I stumble upon because of this service is helpful, however there is quite a bit of information that is poorly thought out and trite.  This is the internet after all.  For the past month or so I’ve become a bit annoyed with some of the “news articles” that come across the wire.  Most of them have this title:

Organic Farming Can’t Feed the World

I’m not really arguing whether or not this is true.  I don’t know whether or not organic farming can feed the world.  What bothers me is that conventional farming (farming using chemical pesticides and herbicides) isn’t feeding the world either.  When this news articles is written is comes across as though conventional farming is doing well to feed the current global population, but it isn’t.  People are still dying because of lack of food.

The truth is that an organic farming does need more land to cultivate the same amount of food as a conventional farm, but there are so many factors that go into that statement that sit below the surface.  Primarily, organic farming believes in building up the soil so that the next season the soil will be healthier than the previous.  This is not a concern with conventional farming.  Aslo, and perhaps the biggest factor, the Western Diet is not sustainable because of the waste associated with it.  Westerner’s throw away an incredible amount of food to support our way of eating.  Rare is it to find someone who saves food from the night before to actually eat in the future.  It is more likely to put some left-overs into a Tupperware only to throw them out in the future.  This is just one example.  If we learned to cook only what we were going to eat.  And buy only what we will eat.  And be conscious of what we are buying.  Not only would our grocery bills go down, but so would are trash piles.  There is another factor in this, too.  We Westerner’s eat more than we need to. Which seems to beg the question:  If we didn’t live on a diet larger than we needed, could organic farming feed the world?

Any thoughts out there?

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I’m sure there will come a time when I will dread having a list of things to do, but for now I am enjoying it. I think I got a lot accomplished this weekend. At least I hope I did, I sure felt busy. One of the hard parts of living in the apartment was that I didn’t feel like I had room to move around in. I certainly didn’t have enough room to do any serious gardening with, and any woodworking was out of the question. Toward the end of our stay in the apartment I was going stir crazy. I could feel it; and I know Lauren felt it too. Living in the house, however, offers room to move, room to garden, and room to build. And that’s precisely what I did this weekend.

The most involved item on my to-do list was to build a coffee table for our living room. A few months ago I picked up a number of old, wooden window frames from a job site that I was working on. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with them, but I knew they would come in handy. Lauren hung two of them up in our living room, and we thought that if I could build a table out of another frame they would compliment each other. I thought it was a great idea, except for the fact that I hadn’t made any furniture before. Sure, I could hammer some legs onto a piece of plywood, but that wouldn’t be what we were looking for. I spent a good amount of time with a pencil and paper in hand trying to figure out the best approach to this. I went to Home Depot to pick up materials, then back home to get started. I looked at the materials and tools and felt pretty certain that I was in over my head. I spent, what felt like all day, in a trial-and-error mode only to end the day frustrated. The table wasn’t complete, and in fact, I had disassembled most of what I did have together. I knew that I needed to sleep on it, so I did.

Working on the table wasn’t all I did yesterday. I transplanted some raspberry plants into the back yard that our landlord had planted in a shady spot. I transplanted them next to the existing vegetable garden which will give the raspberries all the sun that they desire. I also planted some more cucumbers. I know what your thinking. “Steve, didn’t you already plant cucumbers? What are you going to do with all those cucumbers?” Well, since planting the garden, I’ve had to pull out a few of the cucumber transplants. You see, cucumbers don’t like to have their roots messed with. They do best if the seeds are sown directly into the ground that they will spend the whole season in. You can start the seeds indoors, but you must transplant the seeds before they get 5 weeks old. If you wait too long their roots become too established and they wont acclimate to the new soil. The cucumber transplants were very close to that 5 week mark, and I expected that some wouldn’t make it. So the seeds that I planted this weekend were to make up for the plants I had to pull out.

I also planted carrots and radishes. I wasn’t going to plant radishes, but I have heard from a number of people that the two vegetables pair well together because the radishes mature so much quicker than the carrots you can use them to mark the rows of carrots. Carrots send down a taproot before they sprout any leaves, and the process of sending the taproot can sometimes take up to 4 weeks. That means 4 weeks without seeing any growth above the surface. Radishes, on the other hand, can be harvested in 4 weeks. So the radishes will act as a border to my carrots and a reminder to me to not step there.

The garden is growing along, for the most part. I spent last week fighting flea beetles off of my tomatoes. More on that in a later post though.

I also planted two grape vines next to the shaky awning the landlord build over the back patio. We wanted to grow something up and over it to give us some shade during the day, and the fact that the grapes will produce a tasty snack is a bonus. This will be another experiment for me. I’ve never dealt with grapes before, but “How hard could it be?” (he says with a tilt of his head and a slight squinting of his eyes.) Around the whole I placed some red brick. I’d like to fill the middle with some rock to help retain moisture, but that will come at a later time.

The last project that I undertook this weekend was to redo the two compost bins. Our landlord has a plastic, fully contained bin and a cinder block, open structure. Both types of bins have strong benefits it they are used properly. The plastic bin, however was filled with mostly dead branches and dry garden waste. Left like this it will take years to decompose. The other bin was filled with rich black composted material. My plan was to empty the plastic bin and layer it correctly, so that it would do its thing most effectively. I layered some of the good composted material, shredded newspaper, some of the woody material, and some fresh kitchen waste. Watered it all down and sealed it off. Compost needs just three things: the correct material, moisture and heat.

That was my weekend. I stayed pretty busy, which was good, because Lauren was gone shooting a wedding. The more work I was focused on, the less my mind wandered to thinking about how much I was missing her. It’s a good thing she’s back, though, I was starting to talk to myself.

cheers.

I haven’t felt the need to blog for some time now. I guess my last post was in November, and if it was anything like most of the posts before it, it was pointless. Maybe pointless is a harsh word. I felt that many of my post had a purpose, but most often it was a self serving attempt to help others see the world through my eyes. Well, maybe pointless is the best word for it.

Over the past few months, I have felt a considerable change working through me. This change has been difficult to explain to people because, in a way, it showed itself like a flash of lightning, bringing light to a dark sky. Yet, as I reflect on the previous 26 years of my life this seemingly new direction has been a part of who I was all along, more like a seed germinating below the surface. That might be the best metaphor for me to use because much of who I am becoming has to do with seeds germinating.

In the fall I’ll be attending Colorado State University to study Food Crops and Organic Farming. My long term goal is to be in a position to educate people on the benefits of growing their own food. This might happen through me working with specific communities to teach them how to grow the food that grows best in their particular climate. This also could materialize into me working in developing and Third World countries to help them become more self sustaining, and less dependent on food which is used as a political tool.  As far as short term goals?  Tonight, Lauren and I ate a salad with lettuce that I grew from seed.  Tomorrow, my mom is coming down to our house to help me plant a 200 sq. foot vegetable garden.  I’ll try to put some before and after pictures up.

good night and good eating.

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