Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Climate Change and Agriculture

A few weeks back, Katie and I had the opportunity to attend the Northeast Biochar Symposium in Amherst. The day yielded tremendous hope for the future of agriculture and its potential role in addressing climate change through carbon sequestration.

Tonight, at 5PM at the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, David Orr will be presenting at SEEAL's annual meeting. In anticipation of that event I've put together a list of resources for folks looking into the impact of climate change on agriculture and agriculture's role in future solutions. Check out the November 2009 - Brix Bounty - Climate Change and Agriculture Resource Sheet.

There are so many profound ways that climate change will impact global agriculture, but I thought I would hilight one that has been on my mind lately, thanks to Lester Brown's Plan B 4.o. As glaciers in the high himalayas continue to retreat this will have a big effect on agriculture production in Asia. Many of the rivers in India and China that are used for irrigation of farmland are fed by snowmelt from these glaciers, as the flows associated with this snowmelt become less reliable we may find agricultural lands unable to rely on irrigation waters, thus lowering potential yields. Without shouting fire too loudly, I would direct folks to consider the writing on the Market Skeptics blog - as they address some of the potential impacts of global food shortages...

We can play a role in mitigating climate change, by moving toward increasing our local sources of food. Join us for a free Roots Down - New Bedford: Wintertime Garden Planning Workshop Series held in January/February 2010. Dates and Times to be announced in mid-December.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Know Your Vegetables - Biochar on Monday Nov. 16th at Brix Bounty Farm

It's been awhile...Join us for another installment of Know Your Vegetables on Monday November 16th, 6:30 PM at Brix Bounty Farm.

Katie and I are heading out to Amherst tomorrow for the Northeast Biochar Symposium 2009; should be a terrific day hearing from the leaders in the field from the Northeast and beyond. On Monday night we'll host a low-key Know Your Vegetables session focusing on Biochar production/use in small scale agriculture. Biochar - the potential for carbon sequestration, increasing nutrient holding capacity, and creating more biologically active soils are tremendous. We'll discuss these potentials and hopefully shed a bit more light on the subject. For a basic introduction I would refer you to a Brix Bounty Blog post from August 2008.

Biochar has received a bit more attention this year, as many have been drawn to its potential role in future carbon sequestration. I don't think we'll be able to solve the debate about the role of large scale biochar production and application, but perhaps we can delve into its potential for small-scale production and use. There are a couple of individuals on the Cape at New England Biochar; who we will invite to a workshop in the area come springtime. Monday's conversation will focus on the basics, biochar resources, and more. We are in the process of looking into a small scale retort to process our own biochar on the Southcoast, if this interests you please be in touch.

Also a reminder, our winter study starts the following Monday with Small is Beautiful; there is still space to register (which is free) so let me know if you would like to join the group.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Connecting Gardens with Education - Resources for Educators

The school garden movement is alive and well on the Southcoast, with a number of projects thriving...

Since early October, we have been working with Watson Elementary School in Fall River to continue to development of their Watson School Garden. The Garden was started this past Spring thanks in part to funding from the Children in Balance Program in Fall River and through the vision of community members, teachers, and the school's principal Nancy Martin-Bernier.

This fall we, alongside 4th grade teacher Jasmine Olean and community members, have been working with 3 different groups of students (K-5) in an afterschool program titled, Worms, Worms, Worms. Over the past few weeks we have been busy filling 3 new beds that will provide a total of 600 sq. feet of garden beds for next seasons garden. Once we are finished filling the beds, we'll be busy seeding garlic before winter sets in, and then move our efforts into stewarding and studying the new worm composting bins set up in the classroom.

The Watson school garden is just one of many school gardens thriving in our area; the Friends Academy just down the road from the farm has been enjoying a wildly successful growing season and Hayden-McFadden Elementary school in New Bedford is focusing on re-energizing their garden beds that have been active for years.

We have a partial list of community and education gardens on the Southcoast from this past Summer. Please check out our list of Resources for Garden Based Education for great websites and book recommendations. SEEAL (Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance) is another great organization working on sustainability and education in the area.

Nothing compares to sharing the flavors and tastes of fresh grown produce with our youth, who knew turnips could taste so good?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Brix Bounty Farm hosts a series of Winter Studies 2009/2010

Beginning Monday November 23rd... with E.F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful

Mondays at 7 PM (with an option to join us at 6PM for a simple Soup, Salad, and Bread Potluck Supper)

" And what is my case? Simply that our most important task is to get off our present collision course. And who is there to tackle such a task? I think every one of us, whether old or young, powerful or powerless, rich or poor, influential or uninfluential. To talk about the future is useful only if it leads to action now."
-E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered

I started rereading this book a few weeks back when the rains came and slowed down our Thursday markets in New Bedford. With the continued uncertainty about the future of our economy I thought it might be nice to reflect back on a rather seminal work that has provided insight and inspiration to many folk. The book must have been mentioned on at least 3 different occasions during this past weekend's Bioneers by the Bay and it made me think - perhaps we have time to get into delve into some thought regarding economics here in the late fall, many of you are likely aware its something that I spend a fair bit of time contemplating... We were originally planning to wait to begin our study groups until January, but instead will start on Monday Nov 23rd. with Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.

The second selection, which will start in mid-January will take us to a more traditional selection focusing on sustainable agriculture - as we'll read Francis Chaboussou's Healthy Crops: A New Agricultural Revolution. Originally published in the mid-80's in France this book focuses on Chaboussou's research into his theory of trophobiosis: which "...is a commonsense and essentially simple biochemical argument: that most pest and disease organisms depend for their growth on free amino acids and reducing sugars in solution in the plant's cell sap." Given the severe impact late blight had on our tomato crop in the northeast I reckoned it would be worthwhile to spend a bit of time considering plant health and disease resistance in greater detail this winter.

If you are interested in joining us for one or both of the study groups, please let me know and I'll add your name to the list. Schumacher's book is widely available new and used through local booksellers. Chabbousou's book is available through Acres USA or Lancaster Ag if your local book seller has trouble tracking it down. If the cost of either book is a barrier please know that scholarships are available.

Winter Study 2009/2010 Mondays at 7 PM (with an option to join us at 6PM for a simple Soup, Salad, and Bread Potluck Supper)

Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered - Monday November 23rd through approx. January 4th/11th

Healthy Crops: A New Agricultural Revolution - Jan 25th through approx. Feb 22nd/March 1st

We'll plan on gathering for 6 evenings for each book, leaving a little room in the schedule for any weather related cancellations.

To register for the either Winter Study (registration is free) please contact Derek Christianson at 508-992-1868 or via email.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Roots Down New Bedford - 4PM Tuesday Nov. 3rd

Join us for the last installment of Roots Down - New Bedford for the 2009 season. We'll meet at 4PM at the Lawler Library, 745 Rockdale Ave in New Bedford.

The topic for this month's discussion will be: Wintertime Tasks for a Terrific 2010 Vegetable Garden: Mulching, Reviewing the Season, and an Organic Garden Reading List. We'll use our final session of the season to discuss common winter chores - from mulching the garden, tool care, and composting to the ever important review of the growing season. There will be plenty of time for general questions and discussions on a wide array of topics including your favorite vegetable gardening books, magazines, and seed catalogs. Feel free to bring along pictures of the garden and or your favorite book or catalog to share with the group.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Community Garden Film and Bristol County Beekeepers Monthly Meeting Tonight, Tuesday Oct. 27th

The Bristol County Beekeepers group meets on the 4th Tuesday evening of every month at Bristol Agricultural High School in Dighton. Visit their website for more information on beekeeping happenings in the area. Much has been written about the plight of the honeybee, suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder, for a thoughtful analysis I recommend Gunther Hauk's Toward Saving the Honeybee. Hauk is in the process of developing a honeybee sanctuary, Spikenard Farm in Virginia. For those interested in getting started with beekeeping, Bristol Community College offers beginning beekeeping courses.

Also this evening UMass Dartmouth's Sustainable Film Series continues with Another World is Plantable, a documentary focusing on community gardens, at the Library Browsing Area, 6:30 PM. To connect with community garden efforts, we have a partial list of Greater New Bedford community and educational gardens operating during the Summer 2009. The Southcoast Community Gardens Coalition currently has a small pool of funding from the Greater New Bedford United Way mini-grants program to assist with soil testing in community/educational gardens in the area. If you would like assistance with soil testing, please contact Derek at 508-992-1868.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bioneers by the Bay 2009

Come on down to New Bedford, Massachusetts this coming weekend for a great 2009 Bioneers by the Bay... Read Will Allen's take on the Good Food Revolution in the Boston Globe earlier this week.

There are a number of food related speakers and workshop sessions (see link for full list), including:

Will Allen from Growing Power, Will was one of this Summer's NOFA Conference keynote speakers. In addition to his Friday morning keynote, he will also be leading a Friday afternoon workshop alongside Rich Pederson from Southside Community Land Trust and local community gardeners from Serenity Gardens in New Bedford. The focus of the workshop will be on soil restoration in urban agriculture through composting and marketing and improving food access in urban areas.

On Friday evening there will be a showing of the film "Fresh" with a q+a with the filmmaker and other panelists.

Sunday morning's keynote presentations include two shining beacons of light among the sustainable agriculture movement: Vandana Shiva and Woody Tasch. These are just a few of the amazing presenters who will be sharing words of inspiration over the weekend.

Food is just one of the themes that is covered by the conference... other keynoters include: Robin Chase, Winona Laduke, Paul Hawken, Paul Epstein, Juan Pachecho, Nipun Mehta, Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris, Khepe-Ra Maat-Het-Heru and Climbing poeTree. Of course there will be a 350.org event on Saturday afternoon as well.

Bioneers by the Bay: Connecting for Change, the Marion Institute’s 5th annual conference will be held in historic Downtown New Bedford, MA, on October 22-25, 2009. Bioneers by the Bay provides an opportunity for concerned citizens to meet with environmental, scientific, and social justice innovators to address the Earth’s most pressing challenges. We are planning a rather remarkable three days of live keynote speakers, afternoon workshops, an extensive Youth Initiative program, a downlink of the 20th Annual Bioneers Conference in California [www.bioneers.org], an exhibition hall featuring sustainable businesses and organizations, a 350 Day of Action event, films, music, art installations, a farmers’ market and local & organic food. Also we have scholarships and volunteer opportunities available—if you want to come to the conference we want to help get you there. For more information, please visit connectingforchange.org or call 508.748.0816

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sustainabilty Council - Food&Ag Meeting Oct 21st and Sustainable Food Resources

Our next Southeastern Massachusetts Council on Sustainability - Food&Ag Working Group meeting will be held on Wednesday Oct. 21st at Bristol Community College (specific room tbd).
You can review previous meeting notes in the Forum: Food & Ag section of the Council website.

In March of this year we convened for a Sustainability Exchange focusing on Sustainable Food at UMass Dartmouth; Please check out the 2-Page Sustainable Food Resource List prepared for the March gathering for a wide ranging list of links related to Sustainable Food on the Southcoast.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bounties of the Fall - Great Events Happening in October/November on the Southcoast and beyond

If you haven't seen the weekly Sustainability Almanac email blast published by UMass Dartmouth, I highly suggest checking it out. It's a great place to list events and find out about happenings on the entire southcoast.

As the fall sets in there are a number of terrific events happening in the area - either for pleasure or purpose...

Tuesday October 6th - 4PM - Roots Down New Bedford
see earlier post on the blog today.

Tuesday October 6th 8:00 PM - Antique Apples and the Working of a Century Farm
with Sue Smith of Noakochoke Orchards at the Dartmouth Grange (1133 Fisher Road, Dartmouth, MA)

Wednesday October 7th - Noon - Southcoast Community Gardens Coalition Meeting at the Coachman's House meeting room at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House&Garden Museum.

Wednesday October 7th - 6PM - Joel Salatin speaking at the Association to Preserve Cape Cod annual meeting in Hyannis, MA (members - free, guests $20)

Wednesday October 7th 6:30 PM - Sustainability Film Series - UMass Dartmouth Library Browsing Area - A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba Brazil

Wednesday October 14th - Environmental Coffee Hour in New Bedford -
Autumn Coffee Hour on October 14th in Room 314 of City Hall from 7:30 AM to about 8:30 AM.

Friday October 16th 10AM at the ATMC in Fall River - Discussing Support for the Financial Revitalization in Southeastern Massachusetts' Agricultural Industry.
including remarks from Ag Commisioner Scott Soares.

Saturday October 17th
the Dartmouth YMCA and Sharing the Harvest will host its Annual Fall Festival - including a road race in the morning and family friendly farm activities in the afternoon and a haunted hayride in the evening.

Definitely Not to be Missed: Thursday October 22 - Sunday October 25 - Bioneers by the Bay will be in downtown New Bedford. Including an event on Saturday October 24 in conjunction with 350.org's International Day of Climate Action. Featured keynote speaker of ag. interest include: Will Allen of Growing Power, Vandana Shiva, and Woody Tasch and a viewing of the new movie Fresh.

November 12th - 14th - Farm Based Education Conference in Tarrytown, NY.

November 13th and 14th - NESAWG It Takes a Region: A Working Conference in Albany, NY.

and finally... Friday November 13th - the first New England Biochar Symposium will be held at UMass Amherst.

Roots Down New Bedford - October 6th - Improving Your Soil

Our free Roots Down - New Bedford program continues this month on Tuesday October 6th at 4PM at the Lawler Branch Library - 745 Rockdale Ave. in New Bedford. The topic for this month's discussion will be: Improving Your Soils - Fall Soil Amendments for Organic Gardens.

The fall is one of the best time to apply rock minerals (hi-cal lime, soft rock phosphate, etc.) because the ensuing winter provides time for the minerals to be incorporated into the soil and made more available for the coming growing season. We'll discuss some of the various mineral amendments available through the NOFA Bulk Order, review soil tests if you have questions about them, and more.

This year, NOFA-Mass is offering it's first ever Fall Bulk Order - Oct 14th deadline. This is a terrific way to track down some hard to find minerals and soil amendments.

Looking for info on how to deal with Late Blight this fall - see this important info from UMass extension.

about Roots Down - New Bedford*

what: A Free Monthly Series Focusing on Sustainable Gardening Techniques

why: To help new and experienced gardeners gain a deeper understanding of methods used in healthy food production.

To help build local food security for our community.

*Roots Down - New Bedford is part of the Safe Soils for Healthy Food Project presented by Brix Bounty Farm and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House&Garden Museum and is made possible by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts - SEEAL Fund.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Working Waterfront Festival - Sept 26th and 27th in New Bedford

This year's Working Waterfront Festival theme is Surf and Turf: Fisherman and Farmers Finding Common Ground. In addition to their annual celebration of the area's fishing industry the festival will include an agricultural focus. The festival includes a wide variety of family friendly activities, including: cross-cultural exchanges, music, waterfront tours, great food and more. Brix Bounty Farm will have a table with information about our education workshops - Roots Down and tips for home gardeners to grow great vegetables. It's all free! and a great way to spend a day this upcoming weekend celebrating our local culture.

Additionally, on Friday afternoon the 25th at 3:30 PM the festival will host a roundtable discussion about the recent development of CSF - community supported fisheries in New England. It's not too late to RSVP.

For recent media coverage of the festival see today's article by Becky Evans in the Standard-Times or listen to a recording on WCAI of The Point with Mindy Todd from Wed. Sept 16th (a half-hour discussion between Mindy, Laura Orleans of the Working Waterfront Festival, a local fisherman Ed Barrett, and myself).

Stop by the Brix Bounty table and say hello!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

SE Mass Council on Sustainability Meeting

The next Council on Sustainability meeting will be held this coming Thursday, Sept 17th at 3:45 at the ATMC in Fall River. Douglas Foy will be a guest speaker, as well as updates from the 5 working groups. More info is available on the council website.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Roots Down New Bedford - Sept. 1 - Seeds to Sow in September and Extending the Season with Row Covers

Join us at our next Roots Down New Bedford workshop,

Short and Sweet Salad Greens: Seeds to Sow in September and Extending the Season with Row Covers
With the recent return of cool temperatures at night, we are reminded that fall is drawing near. Now is a great time to do some late seeding in the garden to ensure a fresh supply of greens throughout the mid-fall to early winter. From basics like Lettuce, Radishes, and Spinach to specialty crops like Arugula, Mache, and Mizuna there are still a wide variety of seeds that can be sown in the coming days. In addition to discussing crop varieties we'll also look at season extension strategies to make the most of the fall harvest.

Our monthly Roots Down workshops are held at 4PM on the first Tuesday of every month, this month it's Tuesday September 1st, at the Lawler Branch Library (745 Rockdale Ave.) in New Bedford. All of the Roots Down New Bedford workshops are free and open to the entire community. Download the complete Fall 2009 Schedule.

Have gardening questions, interested in following up on a Roots Down topic? You can catch me every Thursday, from 2PM-6PM, at the Wing's Court Farmers' Market in downtown New Bedford. In addition to being available to answer questions, we'll have our Brix Bounty tip sheets, info on soil testing, and other resources focusing on sustainability.

about Roots Down - New Bedford*

what: A Free Monthly Series Focusing on Sustainable Gardening Techniques

why: To help new and experienced gardeners gain a deeper understanding of methods used in healthy food production.

To help build local food security for our community.

*Roots Down - New Bedford is part of the Safe Soils for Healthy Food Project presented by Brix Bounty Farm and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House&Garden Museum and is made possible by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts - SEEAL Fund.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Upcoming Events with a Focus on Food...

Tuesday August 18th, at 6:30 PM - Deb Habib of Seeds of Solidarity Farm will be giving a presentation "Growing Food Everywhere" at the New Bedford Public Library.

Wednesday August 26th, the Food&Agriculture Subcommittee of the Southeastern Massachusetts Council on Sustainability will be meeting - exact time and location tbd. For more info please contact the farm at 508-992-1868.

Friday August 28th and 29th - the Dartmouth Grange in Russells Mills Village will host their annual Rural Community Fair.

Friday September 26th and 27th - the Working Waterfront Festival: Surf and Turf - Fisherman and Farmers Finding Common Ground will be held at State Pier in New Bedford.

Saturday October 17th the Dartmouth YMCA and Sharing the Harvest will host its annual fall festival - including a road race in the morning and family friendly farm activities in the afternoon.

Thursday October 22 - Sunday October 25 - Bioneers by the Bay will be in downtown New Bedford. Including an event on Saturday October 24 in conjunction with 350.org's International Day of Climate Action.

and finally... Friday November 13th - the first New England Biochar Symposium will be held at UMass Amherst.

Thoughts on the Economy

The New York Times published a nice op-ed piece by Eric Zencey today focusing on the misuse of GDP as a measure of societal well being.

While by no means a new finding, the article is a timely reminder of the gap between economic indicators and other measures of quality of life.

One group that has sprung up to address the need for positive thought around sustainable economics, The Slow Money Alliance, has recently announced its first National Gathering to be held in early September in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Woody Tasch who has authored a book titled Slow Money, will be one of this years keynote speakers at the Bioneers By the Bay Conference
which will be held Oct 22-25 in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

For a terrific presentation focusing on the nexus of our economic, energy, and ecological crisis I highly recommend visiting www.christmartenson.com and taking the time to view his Crash Course presentation. In my mind the presentation should be mandatory viewing for many; from elected leaders, MBA students, to concerned citizens.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Roots Down New Bedford - August 4th and Fall Schedule

Roots Down New Bedford continues with a workshop on Growing Nutrient Dense Foods - Mid-Summer Tips and Techniques including Using a Refractometer to Measure Brix Levels and Foliar Fertilizers.

The August workshop will be held today, at 4PM at the Lawler Branch Library, 745 Rockdale in New Bedford.

We are also announcing our Fall 2009 Roots Down New Bedford Workshop Schedule - all workshops held the first Tuesday of every month at 4PM at the Lawler Branch Library.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Market Added: Thursdays at Wing's Court in New Bedford

This season we have added a new market to our locations where you can purchase Brix Bounty Farm produce. Last week we begin our weekly participation in the Wing's Court Farmers Market in downtown New Bedford. The Wing's Court market is held every Tuesday from 2PM to 6 or 7PM, depending on weather and market traffic.

We are happy to be joining a number of other terrific growers at the market, including: Karl Glosl who grows apples, blueberries, and more at his orchard in Dartmouth, Mary Merhi from Quansett Gardens who is already bringing local tomatoes to the market!, and Dick Winterbottom who grows corn, flowers, and other terrific vegetables across the harbor.

In addition to fresh produce, we'll have our Brix Bounty tip sheets available for gardeners to check out, an active community board sharing news about the healthy, local food movement on the Southcoast, and I'll be available to answer general gardening questions.

If you are interested in signing up for weekly market announcements, an email that will be sent every Thursday morning with an update of crops available that afternoon, please send us an email

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Roots Down New Bedford - Tuesday July 7th: Compost and Irrigation Strategies

Join us for our next installment of Roots Down New Bedford this Tuesday at 4PM at the Lawler Branch Library, 745 Rockdale Ave. in New Bedford.

We'll be focusing on two terrific topics to help your summertime garden thrive: Compost and Irrigation Strategies (though I reckon the irrigation is a little less pressing this season).

about Roots Down - New Bedford*

what: A Free Monthly Series Focusing on Sustainable Gardening Techniques

why: To help new and experienced gardeners gain a deeper understanding of methods used in healthy food production.

To help build local food security for our community.

*Roots Down - New Bedford is part of the Safe Soils for Healthy Food Project presented by Brix Bounty Farm and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House&Garden Museum and is made possible by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts - SEEAL Fund.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bristol Community College's Organic Agriculture Technician Program

Bristol Community College is launching a new Organic Agriculture Technician Program in the Fall of 2009.

The program is "designed to prepare people to use ecological production techniques that minimize pollution and create a healthier, tastier product". Classes begin this September with a course focusing on Organic Farming Practices; held at their Fall River campus.

For more information check out the brochure for the Certificate Program or contact Dr. James Corven, Program Coordinator, at 508-678-2811 x3047.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Meet our 2009 Urban Agriculture Apprentices

Rosa V. DaCosta, Khepe-Ra Maat-Het-Heru, and Raymond Duarte Jr.

Three terrific young leaders continuing to make a difference in greater New Bedford.

For full biographies please download our 2009 Urban Agriculture Bios .pdf

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Soil Testing 101+102 @ Roots Down - New Bedford, 4PM Tuesday June 2nd.

Lots of great garden events happening in New Bedford this coming week ...

Roots Down New Bedford
continues in June with a free workshop focusing on: Soil Testing 101 + 102 - Soil Testing for Safety and Health, Understanding Soil Test Results, and Selecting Organic Fertilizers. Soil testing is extremely important in urban areas where many soils are contaminated with lead; soil tests also provide important information for making informed fertilizer decisions in the garden. This workshop will include demonstrations on soil testing procedures; assistance with interpreting soil test results and a hands-on activity that will help participants build a deeper understanding of nutrients, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and pH.

Our monthly workshop will be held at 4PM on Tuesday June 2nd at the Lawler Branch Library (745 Rockdale Ave) in New Bedford. All of the Roots Down New Bedford workshops are free and open to the whole community. See our Summer 2009 Roots Down Flyer for information on July and August topics.

Also, happening this week is our next neighborhood workshop at 4PM on June 3rd at the Peaceworks Garden (522 Maxfield St. - sincere apologies to community members who were unable to attend the May meeting due to the posting of an incorrect address on Roots Down posters). The neighborhood workshop will focus on non-toxic methods for insect control and labor saving weeding techniques.

And on Friday, we strongly encourage folks to check out the One Earth Concert and Garden Night Too, part of First Fridays New Bedford. As part of the celebration there will be a plant swap; so bring your extra seedlings or show up and receive free compost and free seedlings.

Hope to see you at one of this weeks events.

*Roots Down - New Bedford is part of the Safe Soils for Healthy Food Project presented by Brix Bounty Farm and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House&Garden Museum and is made possible by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts - SEEAL Fund.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Know Your Vegetables - Summer Schedule and Next Workshop: May 18 2009 6:30PM @ Brix Bounty Farm

Our next Know Your Vegetables workshop will be held this Monday evening at 6:30 PM at Brix Bounty Farm (858 Tucker Road in Dartmouth).

We'll be focusing on weed control strategies on organic farms/gardens: stale bedding, cultivation tools and techniques. We'll be covering a bit of everything: weed identification (got a weed you aren't familiar with? bring it along), cultivating tools (again please bring along your favorite tools - we'll be demonstrating the use and technique of all kinds of hoes, stale bedding techniques to make weeding more effective, and more.

The attached photo is a field of Potatoes in early june 2005 at Norton Farm on Martha's Vineyard; one of the farms where I managed field production before starting Brix Bounty Farm.

Know Your Vegetables is a free monthly conversation series hosted by Brix Bounty Farm focusing on small-scale vegetable production. Conversations are usually held the third Monday of every month. We invite farmers, gardeners, and anyone interested in learning more about growing healthy food to join us.

Note: During the months of March, April, and May we will be available from 6:00-6:30 right before Know Your Vegetables to answer questions about soil testing. We can review testing techniques, different soil testing labs, and help you to understand what information your soil test report includes. Come with specific questions or general interest.

Upcoming Dates and Topics
(all of the following Know Your Vegetables are at Brix Bounty Farm at 6:30 PM) this summer we'll be focusing on techniques used to improve the nutritional quality of crops...

June 15, 2009: Alternative Soil and Tissue Testing in the Field - Monitoring Soil Conductivity (ERGS), pH, and Brix of Plant Sap
July 20, 2009: Foliar Fertilizers: Compost Teas, Biodynamic Preparations and Foliar Sprays to Increase Production and Improve Disease Resistance
August 17, 2009: A Celebration of Summer - Know Your Vegetables Community Potluck

On a separate note; today's Standard-Times has a nice article about the new wind turbine raised at Silverbrook Farm on Chase Road. Silverbrook is one of a number of local farms with alternative energy generation on the farm (Round the Bend Farm and Sylvan Nurseries are two others with wind turbines).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Recommended Article Focusing on Food Justice

Will Allen demands action (on a local and national level), asking for renewed focus on increasing food security for all in his recently published article, "A Good Food Manifesto for America". Well worth the read! For those that don't know Will Allen; he is the director of Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is a recent recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant. He'll be one of the keynote speakers at the 2009 NOFA Summer Conference, aptly titled "Know Food, Know Freedom".

For more on the food justice movement - check out the Growing Food & Justice for All Initiative and the Community Food Security Coalition's website.

Get inspired on the Southcoast by checking out Tem Blessed "Green Anthem" Video.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Green Youth Brigade Urban Agriculture Apprentice Position with Brix Bounty Farm

Help urban agriculture grow new roots in New Bedford. Brix Bounty Farm is hiring a seasonal urban agriculture apprentice as part of the planned Green Youth Brigade Summer Job Initiative coordinated by Northstar Learning Center, Positive Action Against Chemical Addiction (PAACA), and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Office of Campus and Community Sustainability.

Position will start the week of May 25th, pending the release of funding support for the project. This is a 40 hour per week position, covering 15 weeks (through the end of August).

Please send a letter of interest, resume, and list of references to Derek Christianson at Brix Bounty Farm. Resumes are due by Wednesday May 13th.

For more information please see the Urban Agriculture Apprenticeship Announcement.

New Garden Resources Added

I've added a couple of new Brix Bounty Tip Sheets to the Farm and Garden Resources list on the sidebar of the Blog. If you haven't checked out the Brix Bounty Resource list before I would encourage you to do so. The list includes a number of pdf files that were developed in conjunction with our Know Your Vegetables and Roots Down New Bedford workshops.

Community Gardening Organizing Seminar - Wednesday May 6th

The Victory Garden Project at Freedom Boulevard invites the community to a free seminar focusing on community garden development presented by Betsy Johnson. Betsy Johnson is a nationally recognized authority on community gardens and serves on the executive board of the American Community Gardening Association . Additionally, she is the president of the South End/Lower Roxbury Open Space Land Trust, which manages 16 community gardens and pocket parks in Boston. Betsy has been active in the community gardening movement for more than 20 years and previously worked for Garden Futures and the Boston Natural Areas Network.

The seminar will take place at the warming house at 224 Brock Ave. in New Bedford at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, May 6th. Community Members interested in a garden plot at the Community Victory Garden at Freedom Boulevard and those involved in other community garden projects are especially encouraged to attend.

The Victory Garden Project at Freedom Boulevard begin in 2008; when community members took the initial steps, including testing to assure the safety of the soil, to develop a garden at Victory Park in the south end. New Bedford resident Chuck Dade, interim garden steward for the project, is acting as an agent to follow through with last year's efforts. With a focus on expediting the development of a garden at the site, Mr. Dade contacted Betsy Johnson and invited her to visit New Bedford and share her expertise with the community. One hope for Wednesday’s seminar will be to identify community members interested in taking leadership roles in the new garden project(s) and to get volunteers to help prep the land for planting this June.

Community Gardens are springing up throughout the Southcoast as a step to increasing food security in tough economic times. Spurred by the recent installment of a vegetable garden at the Whitehouse, gardening continues to enjoy a revival throughout the country. Additionally, gardeners can produce food with the knowledge of exactly how their fruits and vegetables were grown; and thereby address growing food safety concerns.

For additional information please contact Chuck Dade, Interim Steward, Community Victory Garden at Freedom Boulevard, 508-999-0691, cdade@newbedfordopen.com.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Roots Down - New Bedford, 4PM Tuesday May 5th

Roots Down - New Bedford will continue next Tuesday afternoon with a presentation focusing on: Starting Your Own Seedlings and Using Transplanting and Crop Succession to Increase Production. This meeting is part of our monthly workshop series and will begin at 4PM at the Lawler Branch Library on Rockdale St. in New Bedford.

Succession planting is an effective way to increase yields with limited garden space; we'll review techniques and timing of seeding/transplanting different crops throughout the growing season. We also encourage folks to bring soil test results and/or general vegetable gardening questions as we'll set aside time at the conclusion of the presentation for technical assistance.

Whether you are looking for peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, cucumbers or flowers, now is a great time to purchase seedlings from your local nursery.

Other upcoming Roots Down - New Bedford events: Monday May 4th at 6PM we'll be presenting a neighborhood workshop to the Cove St. Neighborhood Association at New England Demo and Salvage (73 Cove Road). The public is invited to a presentation focusing on: an Introduction to Organic Gardening, the Benefits of Soil Testing, and Container Gardening.

Have an idea for a topic for Roots Down, or a neighborhood in the city where you would like to host a workshop? Please contact Brix Bounty Farm at 508-992-1868.

mmm... crunch - local lettuce season has arrived in gardens throughout the Southcoast.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Film Viewing - Flow (a focus on the 21st Century Water Crisis)

While we may take fresh water for granted here in the Northeast; there is growing concern about struggles and conflicts over fresh water. Join the community for a viewing of Flow at UMass Dartmouth, this Tuesday evening April 28th at 6:30 PM at the Library Browsing Area.

While, Flow, will likely focus more on the privatization of water and corporate control of a basic need; the growing water crisis will impact our communities in many ways beyond drinking water. Drought conditions are severely impacting agriculture in California right now; and will likely lead to higher grocery store prices for produce this season. Perhaps, another great reason to support local farms and gardens.

Water is quite a huge issue, with many different viewpoints focusing on a range of solutions. One call for a balanced response to the California crisis was posted last February on Civil Eats: California Drought, Climate Change, and Recommendations for Action. Flow is just one of a number of recent films focusing on Water; see also Blue Gold: World Water Wars and a list of water related films from foodandwaterwatch.org.

Every time I've seen a Poland Springs truck drive by the farm this past year; I've wondered how many more years we will see such a tremendous use of energy transporting bottled water to communities that have high quality tap water...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Answering the Call of Good Work

Planting the seeds of future wealth; Brix Bounty Farm is pleased to announce the development of new apprenticeship, internship, and research opportunities for the 2009 growing season. I've compiled a very brief list of local agricultural opportunities. For more information about specific positions with Brix Bounty Farm please contact Derek, 508-992-1868.

The work we carry out on the farm and in our community aims to increase working knowledge of vegetable production and contribute new insights into sustainable vegetable production. The backyard garden and local agriculture renaissance is well underway. It provides our towns and cities a response to a deeper understanding of peak energy's impact on future food production and the current economic crisis (or opportunity). Growing more healthy food locally, is only one part of the mosaic.

This month we'll be presenting a springtime bounty of garden workshops through our Roots Down - New Bedford series; our next monthly workshop focusing on New Garden Bed Production, Rejuvenating Existing Gardens and an Introduction to Container Vegetable Production will be held at 4PM this Tuesday at the Lawler Branch Library in New Bedford. Our free educational offerings include an expanding list of neighborhood workshops that will begin with a workshop focusing on soil testing and soil biology basics at 5PM this Wednesday April 8th at the potential community garden location on Brock Ave. at Victory Park in the South End of New Bedford. We encourage you to join us at one or more of our Roots Down workshops in the coming weeks. Workshops will provide information for new and experienced gardeners, with a focus on growing healthy foods using safe, sustainable production methods.

While we focus on this Spring and the opportunities that lay directly before us, we are reminded the importance in considering the long view of the great work that lies ahead. As we confront the realities of a rapidly changing foodscape and slowing world monetary economy; we embrace the call of good work and real economy. Last week, The Post Carbon Institute released a timely paper; The Food and Farming Transition: Toward a Post Carbon Food System. Well worth the read.

Along these lines; mindful of the future, in the coming months we hope to be involved in efforts to initiate Transition Planning for our region on the Southcoast of Massachusetts. Interested in getting involved in a real economy renaissance, the mosaic of good work? Be in touch with the farm for details about tranisition town planning, plans to begin a regional community food security assement (based on the Center for Whole Communities - Whole Measures Tool), and other opportunities focusing on elements of a healthy local food system. Embrace the Spring of 2009.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Exciting News, New Ag Commision in MA and Nutrient Density Field Trainings

Massachusetts will soon receive new agricultural commissioner this past week, as Scott Soares was appointed to replace the recently retired Doug Petersen. Scott grew up here in Dartmouth and has been a great champion of local agriculture (including organizations like SEMAP); his appointment is good news for the Massachusetts Sustainable Agriculture community.

Politically minded? Interested in keeping abreast of action in Washington impacting sustainable agriculture? Check out the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition an organization that formed from a recent merger between the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture and the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. One political issue that will be a major focus in 2009 is the Child Nutrition and Wic Reauthorization Act. Read the recent publication; Nourishing the Nation One Tray at a Time for a perspective one this important legislation.

On a different note, NOFA-Mass has recently announced a series of Nutrient Density Field Trainings that will be held throughout 2009. Folks looking to build their working knowledge of techniques used to grow high quality nutrient dense foods are encouraged to attend.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Opening Day at Sharing the Harvest and Local Resources

Pinkletinks or Spring Peepers are calling and the beginning of the baseball season is right around the corner, but the opening day that I'm referring to is the start of the volunteer season at Sharing the Harvest, our local community farm at the Dartmouth YMCA. Volunteer drop in hours begin this coming week and will continue throughout the fall; hours are: Wednesdays 9-11AM, Thursdays 3-5PM, and Saturdays 9-11AM. For more information contact Donna Edberg at 508-993-3361 x13. Dan King has recently taken the reins as the new farmer and will be joining Donna in stewarding Sharing the Harvest for the 2009 season.

Sharing the Harvest is now in its 4th season of utilizing the volunteer work of hundreds of community members to produce high quality fresh produce for hunger relief efforts on the Southcoast. No previous farming or gardening experience is necessary. Volunteer, sink your hands in the soil and help your neighbors in need. All of the food grown at Sharing the Harvest is donated to the local community, through a partnership with the Hunger Commission of Southeastern Massachusetts (a project of the United Way of Greater New Bedford).

Helping out at Sharing the Harvest is a great way to pick up new gardening skills; other avenues for the beginner or experienced gardener to continue their education abound. In addition to the free workshops presented by Brix Bounty Farm - Roots Down New Bedford and Know Your Vegetables and the resource sheets on our blog, folks can check out Laura McLean's weekly article "From the Ground Up" in the Standard-Times. This season, Laura will be presenting the "fundamentals of having your own vegetable plot, from planning through harvest" every other week in her local column. Still looking for more opportunities to learn? Avant Gardens in Dartmouth has a series of workshops focusing on everything from pruning, dry stonewalls, to The Cook's Garden.

Spring has arrived, opening day is near, providing a wonderful time to get in touch with our soils.

Monday, March 23, 2009

RJD Lectures on Channel 17 - New Bedford

New Bedford Cable Access is currently airing a series of 3 Spring Gardening Lectures that I presented at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum during the month of March.
Topics covered included: soil testing, seed selection, crop rotation, succession planting, and an introduction to nutrient dense food production.

Missed the lectures or don't have cable television? Then join us at one of the upcoming Roots Down - New Bedford workshop series. We'll be co-hosting neighborhood workshops in collaboration with community organizations throughout the Spring. The schedule is still being finalized, but a current schedule of workshops is now available and will be updated in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Event: Improving Regional Food Security - Sustainability Exchange

Wednesday March 25th 9AM-1PM at Woodland Commons, UMass Dartmouth.

Join in the series of regional sustainability exchanges presented by SRPEDD and UMass Dartmouth's Office of Campus and Community Sustainabilty. This month's exchange will focus on "strategies for improving regional food security and how to support a sustainable local food system."

For more information download the flyer or contact Louise Hardiman at SRPEDD, 508-824-1367.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Know Your Vegetables - Seed Starting: 6:30 PM, Monday March 16th at Brix Bounty Farm

Interested in getting a head start on the growing season by using transplants? Want to learn tips and techniques for healthy seedling production? Join us next Monday at our March installment of Know Your Vegetables focusing on Starting Your Own Seedlings: Greenhouses, Cold Frames, Potting Soils, Sowing and Germination Techniques. At Brix Bounty Farm we use a low-tech combination of heating mats, unheated greenhouses and cold frames to produce transplants. Compared to past production seasons, our scale is rather modest; while in New York, I oversaw a larger greenhouse operation that included the production of 3000 flats/year. For the home gardener who wants to ensure their starts are grown in organic methods to professional growers looking to increase efficiency in their gh systems we'll host a conversation that can help 2009 be a more productive season.

Note: During the months of March, April, and May we will be available from 6:00-6:30 right before Know Your Vegetables to answer questions about soil testing. We can review testing techniques, different soil testing labs, and help you to understand what information your soil test report includes. Come with specific questions or general interest.

Know Your Vegetables is a free monthly conversation series hosted by Brix Bounty Farm focusing on small-scale vegetable production. Conversations are usually held the third Monday of every month. We invite farmers, gardeners, and anyone interested in learning more about growing healthy food to join us.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Local Food and Health

We at Brix Bounty are continuing our effort to bridge the connection between healthy soils, diet, and health. To this end, I've put together a Health and Nutrition Book List, focusing on material that I've found enlightening since I've started farming. Personal and environmental health are two of the foremost areas of consideration when we make decisions here on the farm; our work aims to build soil health and vitality that is capable of producing healthy crops. This work focuses on the chemical, biological, and physical components of the soils.

Regarding soil biology, I've recently been learning more about the role of mycorrhizal fungi the soil. Mycorrhizal fungi have an association with many of our vegetable crops that help the roots access more nutrients in the soils. This season we are including mycorrhizal inoculants as part of our fertility plan. I just started reading Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets. Too early to give it a full recommendation, but it definitely presents some intriguing possibilities; especially around the area of mycoremediation of contaminated soils.

Healthy soils are the foundation for productive farms and gardens; and productive farms and gardens can build a foundation for community health. Looking ahead to the summer, it's not too late to sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) share for the 2009 season. Local options include: Forbidden Fruit Farm and Silverbrook Farm in Dartmouth, Kettle Pond Farm in Berkeley, and Lucky Fields Organics in Rochester.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Roots Down - New Bedford

Announcing Roots Down - New Bedford a free monthly series focusing on sustainable gardening techniques. This series aims to help new and experienced gardeners gain a deeper understanding of methods used in healthy food production.

In an effort to help build local food security for our community, Brix Bounty Farm and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House&Garden Museum will be presenting Roots Down - New Bedford* beginning at 4PM on Tuesday March 3rd and happening the first Tuesday of the month throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

The workshops will be held at the Lawler Branch Public Library at 745 Rockdale Ave (NE Corner of Buttonwood Park). The Lawler Library is accessible by SRTA bus routes #6 and #10.

Our topic on March 3rd will be: an Introduction to Organic Gardening - Understanding Soil Basics (and local resources to help you grow). For a list of upcoming topics see our Spring 2009 Schedule.

*Roots Down -New Bedford is part of the Safe Soils for Healthy Food Project and is made possible by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts - SEEAL Fund.

Can't make it to one of the workshops ? Contact Derek (508-992-1868) at Brix Bounty Farm to be added to the Roots Down - New Bedford mailing list to receive workshop materials and announcements of upcoming events. In addition to the monthly event at the Lawler Library, we'll also be co-hosting a series of spring workshops in different neighborhoods throughout the city. These dates and locations will be announced in early April.

We hope the Roots Down - New Bedford series will provide an opportunity for community members of all experience levels to learn something new and to share their knowledge with others. Over the course of the year, the series will present information that can help you gain confidence in growing great food without the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides. We welcome your suggestions for workshop topics for the summer and fall session.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Wealth

Below is the text of a post that I drafted in mid-January and shared with a number of folks more intimately connected with the world of economics then myself. This morning I spent time watching Chris Martenson's - The Crash Course to gain a deeper understanding of the roots of our current economic situation. I would highly recommend reviewing The Crash Course as Chris does a great job of tying together many of the underlying factors and pressures we face looking ahead. I reckon investments in sustainable forms of wealth production (including education) will be necessary as we transition our communities beyond our current era dominated by artificially "cheap" energy sources. As I look to the future, I remain hopeful that our community will embrace our inter-dependence and celebrate the rich relationships that will result from this reliance. In that spirity, we invite you to join us for our next Know Your Vegetables on the 23rd of February.

As we dwell in the stillness that winter presents, I have been pondering future paths and new opportunities created by our current global economic period. I consistently return to two critical considerations so often left off the balance sheets of today's economic indicators: the very real physical implication of economic "externalities" and the primary creation of real wealth.

Externalities abound within our current agricultural system, nitrogen run-off is perhaps one of the most noted examples. On a national scale the dead-zone at the mouth of the Mississippi river, estimated at more than 8,000 square miles (to put this in perspective, this is 4/5ths of the size of Massachusetts), is enhanced by heavy fertilizer use on industrial farms. Economic systems that don't address externalities, may reach a reckoning when their tangible affects are experienced by the enviroment and our society.

Our farmers are one of many industries that don't pay the full-cost of doing business. Unfortunately, our current economy has valued their products (especially the commodities of industrial agriculture) so low that bearing such costs would spell even greater economic peril for farmers. Revisiting a discussion regarding agricultural and raw material parity will be a necessary step in improving economic conditions on farms and thereby providing greater opportunity to address their negative externalities.

I've assembled a list of brief articles and ideas that I feel are important to consider as we examine the generation of "new wealth":

1. An article by Jonathan Rowe, "Our Phony Economy" from congressional testimony he delivered in March 2008.

2. Herman Daly brings light to the current fiscal crisis on The Oil Drum. Herman Daly is one of the many economists who promotes consideration of Ecological Economics, here is a brief introduction to Daly's work published in The Social Contract.

3. The late Al Krebs, author of Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness, wrote an informative article, "Creating 'New Wealth'" in the Progressive Populist in 2004. More background information about A.V. Krebs can be found on the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project website.

Another visionary from the westcoast who has focused on the power corporations wield in the economy, David Korten has authored a new book that will be published in February, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth.

Charles Walters of Acres U.S.A. has also consistently raised the importance of agricultural parity, the "birth" of raw material economics is briefly described on the National Organization for Raw Materials site.

And finally, here are a couple of blogs and organizations that I've found enlightening over the past few months: Dollars and Sense, Sudden Debt, and the New Economics Foundation.

A few more thoughts and ideas relevant to this discussion can found on an October post, "Green Jobs Now...". I would welcome learning about economists, books, and blogs that are examining our current financial crisis with a lens focused beyond the traditional economic considerations; especially those that are considering the forms of "wealth" development.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Kale and the Nutritional Possibilities of Healthy School Lunches

I recently returned from an all too brief trip to Italy, where I attended the first Spannocchia Symposium: Food, Landscape, and Community in Tuscany and New England.

Cavalo Nero, Toscano Kale was ever present and featured in a number of wintertime dishes. We have many varieties of kale to choose from when selecting seed. In addition to Toscano, growers in the northeast often plant Winterbor or Red Russian as their varieties of choice. Here on the Southcoast many gardens feature Couve Tronchuda or Portuguese Kale; which has a flatter cabbage like leaf.

Kale has long been heralded as a nutritional workhorse (its high in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and more vitamins and minerals) and should merit inclusion in any garden plan. I wonder how often kale finds its way into the school lunches served up in our region? Its ability to withstand cooler temperatures would make it an ideal ingredient in dishes served throughout the fall and early/winter.

Alice Waters and Katrina Heron (co-producer of Civil Eats) have authored a timely editorial published in today's New York Times, "No Lunch Left Behind". I've been considering the importance in reinvesting in our school lunch programs, especially in light of the current economic situation. To me, it just makes plain sense that in a time when families are struggling to afford healthy nutritious food that we would increase our school lunch budgets, thereby providing our children with a healthy and nutritious meal during every school day. No doubt there is a lot of work ahead of us, on the policy-front the time to act is upon us, Congress will be working to reauthorize the Child Nutrition and WIC Act in 2009. Read Debra Eschmeyer's recent post Dear Mom-in-Chief for a more detailed plea for action.

Know Your Vegetables - February 23 2009 6:30PM @ Brix Bounty Farm

Signs of spring are becoming more numerous, garden plans are well underway and the sun is beginning to bring stronger energy to our fields.

Brix Bounty Farm invites you to our February installment of Know Your Vegetables focusing on Tools for the Vegetable Garden, Small Farm and Different Approaches to Tillage.

Nearly every small scale vegetable producer or gardener I know has a few favorite tools that they rely upon to help them in their production. I'll hi-light a few of my favorites including different types of hoes (including the collinear, stirrup, and wheel hoe) and suppliers who have them available. I encourage others to bring along any of their favorite tools to share with the group. Depending on time we can also discuss the development of tool-sharing groups; to off-set costs for gardeners. Wondering what is the "best" way to turn your soil? Which equipment or tools to use? Our discussion on tillage will focus on different theories as well as techniques for the garden or farm.

Know Your Vegetables is a free monthly conversation series hosted by Brix Bounty Farm focusing on small-scale vegetable production. Conversations are usually held the third Monday of every month. We invite farmers, gardeners, and anyone interested in learning more about growing healthy food to join us.

Note: Starting in March we'll be beginning our Roots Down - New Bedford series focusing on a similar array of topics, though focused more toward garden scale production. Our first session is scheduled for 4PM on March 3rd at the Lawler Branch Library (745 Rockdale Ave, NE corner of Buttonwood Park) in New Bedford. The topic for March will be: An Introduction to Sustainable Vegetable Gardens; The Basics and Local Resources. More information will be available next week.
Roots Down - New Bedford is part of the Safe Soils for Healthy Food Project presented by Brix Bounty Farm and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House&Garden Museum and made possible by Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts - SEEAL Fund.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Listening, Sharing and Learning

I'm in the midst of a flurry of opportunity to engage wonderful minds, ideas, and visions for the future. Just about a perfect recipe for winter as a vegetable grower. I'm buoyed by the bounty of potential for our communities as we face the very real difficulties brought on by current economic conditions.

I have recently begun a year-long fellowship with the Environmental Leadership Program. At the end of January, we had our first retreat in Harvard, MA where we met the other fellows from the Northeast region. The weekend was filled with time to contemplate the history of and present opportunities in the environmenal movement. It was a hope-filled experience, as we begin to share our collaborative visions for a sustainable future built upon greater diversity within the environmental movement.

While back in SE Mass I was given the opportunity to teach a class to New Bedford youth as part of their I Thrive Green Alive program. We spent the evening listening to some food-inspired songs, including work by Wil Bullock "Time for Change", Greg Brown "Canned Goods", and Dead Prez "Be Healthy" and discussing the different energy resources used in our current food system. One question presented, could we exist without sugar? Absolutely not. I'm not talking oreos and coca-cola, but rather the sugars that are produced through the process of photosynthesis. These sugars are just one part of a critical foundation for life on our planet.

How to help the earth develop soils that are truly capable of growing healthy plants (and therefore optimal levels of photosynthesis and the resulting sugars) was a focus of this past weekend, when I attended a 3-day seminar with Arden Andersen hosted by NOFAMASS. The seminar provided a great opportunity to continue learning about sustainable techniques used to produce high brix/nutrient dense foods. It was exciting to see a number of familiar faces in the room, but also to meet and connect with farmers and food producers throughout the Northeast interested in focusing on the quality of their products. I'll continue to incorporate some of Arden Andersen's messages into our Know Your Vegetables workshops here on the farm as well as the new monthly workshops we'll be hosting in New Bedford starting in March.*

* Tentative Date and Location for the 1st NB workshop will be 4PM, Tuesday March 3rd, at the Lawler Branch Library, 745 Rockdale Ave in New Bedford (hopefully the branch libraries won't be forced to close as a result of pending budget cuts!). We'll have more information available about this project in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow, I'll board a plane for Italy where I'll be joining a symposium "Food, Landscape and Community in Tuscany and New England" hosted by the Spannocchia Foundation. It will surely be another terrific opportunity to listen, share and learn. The willingness to share ideas and information is perhaps one of the greatest assets within the agricultural movement today.

We are bound by limitations of natural capital; though sustainable agriculture is working to build new capital including humus and soil organic matter (see recent Acres USA article about the role of mycorrhizal fungi and glomalin in building soil carbon levels). However, natural capital is only one part of the equation; we also rely on human capital (knowledge, skills, and energy). This capital is potentially limitelss, and its wonderful to experience the growth and development of human capital that results from a sharing of ideas, breaking of bread, and listening to others.

Right now, I'm feeling blessed by the richness of community and the connections with others that I've enjoyed during the first 5 weeks of the new year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Know Your Vegetables in January 2009

Our next Know Your Vegetables will be on the 19th of January (MLK Day) at 6:30 PM here at Brix Bounty Farm, we'll discuss Seed Selection and Varieties for 2009; Succession Planting and Crop Rotation.

Alderbrook Farm in Russells Mills has a Johnny's Selected Seeds rack and Marvin Grain on Cove Road in Dartmouth is another popular local seed reseller.

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Organization (MOFGA) compiled a list of Organic Seed Sources. The list was published in 2002 so some info may be out of date, but it is still a useful resource. For commercial quantities of seed, I've enjoy
ed supporting the following companies: Fedco, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Johnny's Selected Seeds . For smaller quantities of interesting varieties: Baker Creek, Seed Savers Exchange, and Turtle Tree.

Other upcoming events to consider adding to your calendar: Winter Study for Farmers and Gardeners beginning this Wednesday evening here at Brix Bounty Farm, NOFAMASS Winter Conference on January 17th in Worcester, Mass, and the Shrink Your Footprint Series also on the 17th of January, sponsored by SEEAL and other local organizations, at the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford.

To receive monthly reminders about Know Your Vegetables please contact Derek Christianson.