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Showing posts from August, 2010

Book Review: A Nation of Farmers

August 30, 2010 - BOOK REVIEW. A Nation of Farmers, by Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton. 2009. GabriolaIsland: New Society Publishers. This is a terribly important book, packed with information. Its co-authors take turns writing chapters, and while their styles are – as you would expect – a bit different, the difference isn’t great enough to be jarring. Sad to say, the book is poorly edited. That’s nothing new anymore, but the missing words, wrong forms of the right words (i.e., considerable/considerate), and general lack of understanding with regard to the need for punctuation can all be distracting. That having been said, the authors have created a book which will serve as an important reference in times to come. Their observations are gleaned from lives spent gardening and/or farming. Among them, the observation that 2,000 acres farmed by 500 individuals yields a great deal more than 2,000 acres farmed by one individual – or corporation. My own observation: people who farm absolutely…

Making It Up As They Go Along

August 23, 2010 – Another correction!My apologies – the issue of Permaculture Activist I alluded to last week was the Autumn issue, not the Summer.Just when I think the Republicans might not be hell-bent on self destruction after all, the sound of the misinformation machine clanking away brings me to my senses.All this nonsense about a mosque planned for ground zero, when it’s a community center being built many blocks away.(The imam has been a friend to the United States, helping both the Bush and Obama administrations.)Then there’s that idiotic story about Obama’s ostensibly hard-to-figure-out religious convictions surfacing again.Do we actually have to SEE the media in bed with the R’s to understand what’s going on here?When did newspapers, television, and radio begin running stories based on the (admittedly fascinating) question, “Guess what the Republicans are alleging today?” If there ever was a mystery about why readership and audiences in this country have declined, there is…

Making the World a Better Place

August 16, 2010 – First of all, I need to print a correction concerning last week’s blog: Grailville still operates a CSA, as well as its own farm stand.Wonders abound: an affirmative article about global warming appeared on the front page of The Cincinnati Enquirer last week.Have you ever read the magazine Permaculture Activist?After having just finished the summer issue, it’s my pleasure to recommend, not just this issue, but every issue, as essential reading.The editors continue to adopt a broader and broader definition of permaculture, thereby broadening the applicability of the publication’s contents.In addition, the articles appearing in PA are authoritative, yet accessible.You don’t have to be an expert to gain something from reading them.The current issue’s theme – eco-nomics – speaks to matters of the home: selecting the right power source, selecting the right home-building materials, figuring out water supply, and, of course, growing one’s food and/or finding locally grown, …

One Garden At a Time

August 9, 2010 – Little by little, people are taking on the challenges that climate change will inevitably thrust upon all of us.In some cases, climate change has absolutely nothing to do with what’s happening.For instance, I’ve just found out that the Midwest’s largest school garden is located right here, in the town where I live!I’ve driven by a few times in the last several weeks, and the sunflowers have been a sight for sore eyes.There are over 100 garden beds scattered across the 25 acres on which the elementary and preschools are located.The schools make use of the vegetables in their cafeterias, as do the local soup kitchen and the vegetarian restaurant across the street.Community volunteers keep the gardens growing during the summer, and the community is welcome to pick whatever is growing.Started in 2002, the gardens are an unmitigated success!It’s entirely possible that one day, those school gardens may be a vital source of food for the community.Lesson plans, growing tips, …

What Scientists Say, What People Endure

August 2, 2010 – It seems a barrage of earthshaking information is being loosed upon us these days. First the report of the International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference, in which Arctic scientists state that a feedback loop has been established that allows climate change to perpetuate itself. Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued their annual report. I haven’t read the report in its entirety; it’s 218 pages long. Realizing that lay people would find the whole report onerous to read, the NOAA was kind enough to issue an executive summary of the report simultaneously (what they refer to as “Highlights”). It is a vitally important document – too late in coming, critically important nonetheless. I’d like to point out what I view as constituting the very core of the report, the information around which the rest of the report revolves.

On page two of The State of the Climate, 2009: Highlights, the authors (of which there are more than 300, from 48 …