Friday, July 31, 2009

Say goodbye to cookies...

It may be close to time to say goodbye to cookies, jams, pies, and mixed greens at the farmers markets, or at least many of them. People who do any of these will be considered "Processes" under the bill which passed the house yesterday and as such subject to a $500 annual fee and inspections.

$500 may not seem like a lot, but it may be enough to keep small farms or small business people from trying to start doing "value added" products.

The ramifications of the bill may be a while in the making but it is time to let your senators know that you think this bill needs to be reworked as not to so heavily impact small producers and local economies. The Bill still needs to pass the senate but if it does that it is game over, because the president will not veto a bill to enhance food safety. No president would or politically could.

I will try to keep on top of this. It is amazing how hard it is to find information about it, but I suppose to most people it is a non-issue... I'm hoping YOU care about this though.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What to say...

I was speaking with a friend this afternoon and they said that when they called to talk about HR2749 they felt like a bumbling idiot. This is an intelligent person, she said she just didn't know what to say. Here is a simple script... Look up your representative's name find the number and just say this...

I am a constituent of Representative___________ and I am calling to ask him/her to support the Kaptur-Farr proposal to HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. I am also asking him/her to vote against HR 2749 unless the proposals included in the Kaptur-Farr letter are included in the final bill.

It may be too late, but we need to fight agaist this bill, or for the inclusion of this reasonable amendment... The problem is when you rush items through to fast things fall through the cracks. Things like small farmers.


HR2749 was defeated yesterday in the house. It did not get the 2/3rds majority it needed to pass.

Today they are bringing it up again and this time it only needs a simple majority!
  • "The small-producer lobby was less successful; the $500 per-facility fee remained in the version voted on Wednsday. In a Wednesday press release, Ferd Hoefner, policy director of the widely respected National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, said that some small-producer concerns had been taken care of in the version voted on Wednesday. In particular, farms that sell directly to consumers would have access to “limited exemptions from traceability and registration requirements” that would be onerous.
    But the legislation would stiill place double bookkeeping and traceability requirements on organic growers, who already follow similar procedures from the USDA’s National Organic Program. And even as it gives factory-scale livestock farms a free pass, the bill comes down hard on the wildlife that might—gasp!—trespass on farms. “The bill contains language that experience shows can do serious harm to wildlife and biodiversity, while failing to specify the positive role that conservation practices can play to address food safety concerns,” Hoefner says.
    All in all, Hoefner finds the bill wanting. “This bill ultimately had great potential to economically harm family farms as a result of overreaching provisions that do nothing to advance the important cause of food safety,” Hoefner declared."

It is probably way to late to do anything but try to call your represeantivies. If they feel a need to pass it at a minimum we should attempt to get it passed with the inclusion of the Kaptur-Farr amendment which would adress many of the issues. Read it Here and use it as speaking points when you call your congress people, whose numbers you can find here.

There is no time to waste...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Late July share

Today's pickup..... 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes (dug yesterday), a bunch of green onions, a head of lettuce, swiss chard, green beans, a large bunch of beets (yes, beets again if only I could grow everything as well!), three summer squash, and a small bag of rat tailed radish - for fun!

Not a bad share, but more typical of late June then 2 days until August! This has just been a cool year... all the tomatoes are green and the peppers are hardely flowering...

But beets we have - all 5 weeks so far.

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More kitten photos.

Really the dark kitten is not dead! But you hold her on her back and pet her and even odds are that her head will fall to the side and she will appear comatoius.... They are starting to purr, so sometime that is the only sign I have she is not dead!

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Take note gardeners...

Blown in on storms this plant diesese can wipe out cucumbers, squash, and melons quite quickly.

If you look at this map we are surrounded... That basically means it is here.

So if you see this on any of your plants it is time to take action.

Here are a couple things you can try,

Some people swear by milk, dilute skim milk 1 to 1 with water and spray it on your plants once a week.

If you want to do a little more work you can use 1/4 ounce of baking soda to a gallon of water mixed with an insecticidal oil. You want to be sure you have less then 2% baking soda by weight. If you do not have insecticidal oil (like NEEM oil) you can try this recipie... Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda, 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil with one gallon of water. Shake this up very thoroughly. To this mix add 1/2 teaspoon of pure Castile soap and spray. Be sure to agitate your sprayer while you work to keep the ingredients from separating. Cover upper and lower leaf surfaces and spray some on the soil. Repeat every 5-7 days as needed

Some natural food stores sell food grade hydrogen peroxide but people will also use just regular. Spray with a 1.5% solution. Since most of the stuff at the drug store is 3% that is a 1:1 mix. If you use a stronger solution add more water accordingly.

So, you may ask yourself what do we do? Well, we have used both hydrogen peroxide and baking soda in the past BUT as a preventive, before we see any signs of problems. Once we see a problem (especially downy mildew which is fast and horrible!) we switch to a commercial product (organic of course.)

For a home gardener I would suggest a product called Serenade Garden, we use it's big brother Serenade Max Powder.

Good luck, and here is hoping this years downy mildew is not as bad as last!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let it rain!

Yeah! It has been raining the past couple days. Now we need it to get warm and we will be having perfect summer growing weather. Days in the low 80s, nights in the 70s, not to much humidity and about 1 inch of rain a week... Hey, we can dream!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Genetic Diversity of our Seeds...

We think that the genetic diversity of our seeds are a precious and irreplaceable gift. So we do our best to balance our need for varieties with tons of different considerations, leaving us with over 80% of the varieties we plant being heirlooms or slightly newer open pollinated ones.

We end up buying seeds from all over in our quest to do this, and are members (though non-listing (meaning we do not actively save and offer to others seeds)) of Seed Savers Exchange from whose catalogue we buy a lot of seeds.

So my question is... What is going on at Seed Savers? I found this on another blog... A pretty long letter but worth reading... The first couple pages on the seed vault are what interests me...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

H.R. 2749 - The new fight...

My husband asked me the other day, again, "Did you ever think you would be a radical?"

Me? A radical, no... I am as centrist as they come. Right and wrong, not left and right. And I am sorry, small businesses are at heart of this nations foundations, and small farms at the begining and center of those. Small farms operate, for the most part, on razor thin margins if they manage to make a profit at all, additional regulation and requirments will put burdens on them that most of them will not be able to survive. I think that is a pretty centrist view... Not everyone agrees with me, however.

If you agree with me and want to support your right to eat produce from small farms, fruit from u-pick operations, and small scale grass fed livestock it may be time to speak up. This time against HR 2749 which has passed committee and is on it's way to the house floor for a vote (although it has not yet been scheduled for one.)

You can read the text of the bill here... I will be going over the text in detail in the next couple days to get a real handle on what it says (reading a bill, what a concept?) I will post about it more, but from what I am seeing this is being pushed through fast, so if you want to act, don't wait. This bill is moving at an unusally fast rate...

It got a number on June 10, went to committee on June 17, passed instantly, and is headed for a vote on the floor of the House... Which makes me think that this is the one they wanted all along. And several orgnizations which had no stand on HR 875 have very strong opinions aganist this one...

Watch out...

The bill may be dead in the water, the issue is not...

Here is a really good post on food safety legislation ...

The point basically is that HR875 is basically dead, but the issue of food safety is still very much alive. To quote the above link when discussing other food safety bills...

"Perhaps the worst of the lot is HR 1332, Rep. Costa’s Safe FEAST Act of 2009, which is backed by the Big Ag group Western Growers. It would create a HACCP system for produce. (HACCP is the set of burdensome recordkeeping requirements credited with hastening the demise of many small-scale slaughter facilities.) It doesn’t take the size of operations into account. It would pay for inspections by charging fees to farms and processors and would hand the duty of inspection over to third-party certifiers. Because yeah, that’s worked so well for us to date.
Then there’s
Rep. DeGette’s H.R. 814, which actually does mandate a National Animal Identification System, which we and lots of other people have major concerns about. And there’s H.R. 759, offered by Rep. Dingell, which requires traceability of food from farm to restaurants and requires that the recordkeeping be done electronically. It also charges fees to processors — small or large — for inspections."

Oh, yeah! NAIS - the national animal identification system, whose first goal is the tagging and tracking of ever agricultural animal in the country but whose proponents suggest it should apply to every domesticated animal!

Here is a very nice description of some of the issues around food safety... It discusses among other things the greens rules I posted about last week.

The battle over HR875 may be over, but the war over your right to decide what food you want to buy, what farmers you want to support, and what production techniques you think are right has just begun...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

These are the two trouble makers...

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The kittens got names today... They are all doing great. One will fall asleep and start purring as soon as you hold him on his back. One crys to be picked up when he sees me. Two are trouble makers and you have to keep an eye on them.

One does have an eye infection. I bought some antibiotic eye ointment at the feed store and two days later you can hardley tell...

I think 4 of them will be great house cats, two may be a bit more active. If you want to come by and see them let me know, I think they are almost ready to wean...

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Veggie Share

Will there be a time when farms sell veggie shares as strictly as herd share programs are managed now?  Will non-industrialized  veggies become the next raw milk? 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am putting your health at risk...

We are very sorry! After reading this article "Crops, ponds destroyed in quest for food safety" I have seen the error of my ways. We are, I suppose, lucky that members can come to the farm at all to pick up, racked as they must be illness caused by our violations of food safety standards required by many super markets for their greens growers. Fine, I suppose, until those large growers push to make these rules apply to everyone!

Should these rules apply to me? If so, it was nice being your farmer because as of today we are out of business.

For example, there is a requirement for 450 foot dirt buffer zones around fields. These no-man lands are to have no vegetation, to prevent animals from straying into the fields and contaminating my crops. The aerial photo shows 12 acres of our fields. The area in the center that does not have a colored overlay is the "safe" area to grow...

Wait a minute???

I am also very sorry to say to those of you whose children sweetly ask if they may feed a carrot to the chickens or who bug you all week about when they get to come back to the farm to visit the chickens, children, under 5 are no longer allowed on the farm. At all. You know they are a "diaper risk." Even if they never touch a growing veggie, never step foot in the garden, even if they never see the veggies in the field they are a safety risk (as are their parents if they are not wearing an official farm ID badge.) It is truly amazing that those of us who enjoy cooking with young children have survived meals where they MIX THE DOUGH, WITH THEIR HANDS!!!) Personally, I am wondering how my own children will feel, not being able to live on the farm with us until they are 5, but all in the name of food safety...

Then there are the deer and rabbits. Any place we see evidence of animals be it a footprint or a toad, we are to destroy all crops in a 30' wide swath through the garden. I am telling you now, we will have no garden. Personally, I see an occasional toad and frog as a sign that we have a healthy garden, but I guess it is not so healthy for you! I suppose the park will be OK with us poisoning all our animal friends! After all, we must be safe.

So (on the unlikely case) that any of our members are still alive to read this, please accept my apologies! The facts are according to Seattle trial lawyer Bill Marler, who represented many of the plaintiffs in the 2006 E. coli outbreak in "In 16 years of handling nearly every major food-borne illness outbreak in America, I can tell you I've never had a case where it's been linked to a farmers' market, could it happen? Absolutely. But the big problem has been the mass-produced product. What you're seeing is this rub between trying to make it as clean as possible so they don't poison anybody, but still not wanting to come to the reality that it may be the industrialized process that's making it all so risky."

I stand by the statement that their may come a day when doing what we do - growing food on a small scale using natural and sustainable methods - will be illegal...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mid July share...

This week's share... Spring onions, beets, summer squash, green beans, a head of garlic & a head of lettuce...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

HR 875 - Anyone?

I have posted about this Bill before.

Here and here and here.

It was introduced in February and currently has 42 sponsors and co-sponsors.

It seems to just be sitting there, does anyone have any news on it, because when I google it all I get is wacko bloggers (like me) screaming that this bill might impose so many restrictions on small farmers and small food producers that it might, effectively, outlaw what we do...

Anyone have any news?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Red Box Etiquette

I might be the last person to discover Red Box, but I love the way it works. Go to any of the MANY locations, walk up pick out a movie, swipe your card for the $1 nightly fee, your email will pop up (if you entered it previously for that card) just confirm you want the receipt sent there, out pops your movie and off you go.

The next day return it at any red box you happen to see... So easy and so cheap...

BUT, there should be a code of Red Box etiquette. Ideally, have some idea of what movie you want. You can see what is available online and can even reserve it! If you don't know do not stand there for 10 minutes when someone is waiting behind you (especially when said person is already short in patience because they had to fight through traffic due to a big concert at Blossom.) If you don't know and someone has been waiting a minute or two, step back, let them go and look at the movies on the board. Don't stand there for 9 minutes (that we timed) and read description after description! We can probably guarantee that if you are a 17 year oldish girl you probably won't like a movie about resistance in the forests of Germany during WWII...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Here you go Ash.

My neice asked me to post a photo of Seth. He is the best cat, we got tempoary custody of him when they moved to Germany... And before you ask... he is not the kitten's daddy... he never goes out and.... well he will never be anyones daddy...

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Some of the garlic harvest...

I love garlic... To bad we just grew enough for ourselves... :)
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Look what we found in window well of our house!

Mama Cat is a stray who has been hanging around for over a year, sleeping up in trees! She won't let us get anywhere near her, but her babies are right where I can see them from my dining room window.

Here is the plan. I need six homes for six little fuzzy babies.

I will take them all at once, and when I do will be the thing. I have to get them after they need moms milk and before they start wandering (into a coytee or racoon.) There eyes opened Sunday so they are 2 weeks now. I figure I will take them in 2 more weeks.

If you want a kitten let me know. Farmer Hubby said it is hard to find homes for kittens.. I told him my blog readers are great and they will help!

So...... Kitten anyone?

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Monday, July 6, 2009

TSC trip..

After a look around at the avilable and expensive "drip tape injectors" Farmer Hubby decided to build his own... $400 each (we need two) is a lot of money for something that basically just spools out hose and drags it a couple inches under loose and tilled dirt.

I am not that handy, I probably would have just spent the money. A project which involves buying steel, cutting it, welding it, and (not least or last) designing something that I have only seen pictures of, is braver then me...

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Real CSA or not?

Today we did a lot of driving. And we happened to go by a couple of farms which have started their own CSAs recently. I will not say which ones, because these are observations only.

One of these farms had a small (40x50 or so) garden in the side yard, surrounded by corn, soybeans, and hay. We drove past it a second time to see if we were missing anything behind the barns. It is hard to hide a garden for a mid-sized CSA. The small garden that was there were so many weeds you could barely see the rows. High yields are typically gained from "clean" gardens which do not compete for nutrients with weeds which are taller then the plants.

The second CSA had a small farm stand. We went in to see what they had. They had quite a bit... including plums with UPC codes. There were a couple small garden plots near the stand, but again not nearly as much space as you would need for a small CSA, yet alone a mid sized one PLUS a stand, which had 4 cars pull in during the 10 minutes we were there...

Now, I need to say that there are quite a few FANTASTIC CSAs in our area, with committed growers who are passionate about what they do. If you join a CSA look around! In general, one acre can support 20-40 members. So a 100 member CSA needs somewhere around 2-1/2 to 5 acres in production!!!! Not one small plot. If you see early June tomatoes you should also see a hoophouse (greenhouse.) And if you cannot grow it in your garden at that time you should ask yourself how can your farmer - often there is a reason they can, but not always.

CSA farmers NEVER stick UPC codes on their produce, and neither do most small farmers or even mid sized growers selling locally. A UPC sticker is usually a sign (at least in Ohio) of non-local produce.

I have said before and I will say again it is a buyer beware market and your best bet is to know your grower! We live in a region in which there is the ability for anyone to buy cheap produce at wholesale markets. Very little of this is grown in anything close to a sustainable manner.

It is my opinion that if you don't know your farmer you don't know if you belong to a CSA.

Part of this weeks beet harvest...

I sure hope people like beets!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I LOVE our members!

I just got done with our first pickup and I just have one thing to say...

I LOVE our members!

They are so great. The start of our season is a couple weeks later then we planned and we did not have quite as much as we hoped. We gave a nice large bunch of beets, chard, heirloom radishes, garlic scapes, a half dozen eggs, and a little pot with an oregano plant in it. I think it was an OK share, and we have so much more coming and lots of new stuff in the garden.

All our members are always so happy and cheerful, it is so much fun to talk with everyone! If we have not met you yet, I look forward to doing so soon.

I don' t think we could have a great CSA if we did not have GREAT members. I know we have a great CSA!