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An organic tomato grower summed it up like this: "The soil is like a farmer's bank. You've got to keep making deposits into it all the time. If you withdraw from it until it's empty, you'll be out of business."
Gardens are not static any more than are farms, landscapes and lawns. These are in constant flux; changing, growing, blooming, drying and wilting. They are alive, and connected to a larger unit: the earth. As such, you'd think it would be obvious that we have to treat our land with the care and attention any other living entity deserves.
Soil is a living organism that provides nutritional support for people but also has its own nutritional needs. For those who think of soil as nothing more than dirt, it may take an attitude adjustment to view soil as a living group of organisms and minerals with other bits of living material: iron oxides, unicellular bacteria, actinomycete filaments, flagellated protozoans, ciliated protozoans, nematodes, amoebae, root hairs, fine roots, elongate springtails, and mites.
While learning how to care for these creatures may sound overwhelming it's as simple as not pouring chemicals on them, watering them, feeding them with organic matter. Even the cost savings of not using chemicals make the natural approach a joy.
Among the items people are now putting on their lawns and gardens to kill weeds is Monsanto's Round-Up Ready. Sadly this has the effect of killing all the living organisms in the soil. This creates dead soil in which nothing BUT weeds are able to thrive. As well this leaks into the water supply and rivers further contaminating living creatures such as fish, and infecting the land itself for a long period of time.
Atrazine is another weed killer primarily used corn and turf, such as golf courses and residential lawns.Atrazine is the most common chemical contamination of ground and surface water in the U.S. It's a potent endocrine disruptor that has shown ill effects on wildlife, laboratory animals and humans. Overuse of Round-Up has resistant broadleaf weeds, and the development of whole new weeds.
So what do we do? Look for alternatives and build that soil up. Be a constant gardener.
According to Wood River Valley-based organicsoil expert, rancher, farmer, service dog trainer, irrigation expert, and organic soil amendment expert Bill Pereira, these following 5 simple tips can make difference in our health and the health of the planet. Bill was recently a guest on Julie's radio program Our Health Culture (KDPI).
"1. Grow and eat organic - Regenerative, organic agriculture helps build fertile soil-one of the most important components of farming and a vital ally in our race to stabilize the climate. Not to mention the damage done by synthetic fertilizers or toxic pesticides to mammals, which includes Man.
2. Choose 100% grass fed- pasture raised animal Animals raised in CAFOs are fed grain-mostly corn and soy-grown using a fossil fuel intensive blend of fertilizers and herbicides. Meat from these animals have less nutritional-value as pasture raised animals.
Eat fresh, unprocessed foods - Processed foods are often derived from genetically engineered crops (GMOs), which are primarily designed to produce pesticides and/or withstand direct applications of herbicides, disturbingly disrupting the endocrine system and the planets health.
Buy Local and In-Season - The average conventional food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store. That is a lot of greenhouse gas emissions to get to your plate, and usually an inferior product in terms of health.
Compost and reduce food waste - Food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste. It is compacted so tightly and wrapped in plastic that it becomes anaerobic creating methane gas."
We have a booth at the Ketchum Farmers Market eachTuesday. Our booth features items as sauerkraut, crackers, Asian chicken salad, hummus, seed pates, macaroons and other raw deserts. As at the store, all our foods are organic and as locally-based as is feasible.
Stock up for your picnic later that day at Ketch 'Em Alive.
Additionally, we are a sponsor of Hunger Coalition's SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program aka food stamps) program at the Farmer's Market. This will allow more people to enjoy and reap the benefits of organic and locally grown foods.
Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance Builds and Links Seed Network
Gardeners, foodies, native plant lovers, and sustainability advocates in the Rocky Mountains have cause to celebrate. Bill McDorman, Belle Starr, and John Caccia have formed of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance (RMSA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening seed and food security in the region. The project, located initially in Ketchum will help train and support a regional network of community-based "seed stewards" to grow, store and distribute seeds for a wide variety of edible vegetables, grains, herbs, native wildflowers and grasses.
The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance will hold a reception and screening 6 p.m. Thursday, July 10 at the nexStage Theater in Ketchum.
The new documentary will be screened at7:15 p.m. The film explores the national and international issues surrounding seeds and features McDorman, Starr and their acclaimed
Seed School educational program. A Question and Answer period will immediately follow the screening.
The reception is free to the public; tickets for the film screening will be $10. Tickets are available at the reception or online at Rocky Mountain Seeds
People everywhere are beginning to realize the need for regional solutions in order to build and support resilient food systems. All food systems depend upon seeds. The mission of RMSA is to help connect and build an alliance of seed growers, distributors, educators and advocates throughout the region to assure an abundant and diverse supply of seeds for gardens, farms and restoration projects through out the Rocky Mountains.
Initially, RMSA will conduct a series of 1-day Seed School workshops throughout the region to begin the process of identifying seed savers, seed programs, seed growers and wild seed collectors in the Rocky Mountains. Local seed stewards will be identified and empowered to help set up a network of community seed banks.
The goal is to inventory seeds from around the Rocky Mountain region so a back-up copy can be collected eventually for safekeeping at secure locations in the region using international standards as is being done in countries around the world. The organization will partner with the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, which will house RMSA's primary collection of regional seeds. Other collaborative projects will include seed trials and testing on the SBG grounds, as well as seed saving educational programs and workshops.
"We need seed from our own region rather than depending on growers thousands of miles away," Idaho's Bounty co-founder and Onsen Farm owner James Reed said. "I'm excited by what the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance will do to help organize and support local food producers like myself."
McDorman and Starr spent 3-years as co-directors of the internationally recognized seed conservation nonprofit Native Seeds/SEARCH,Tucson, Az. While there they developed acclaimed educational initiatives and nurtured the organization to financial and programmatic McDorman, a Sun Valley native, has been intimately involved in the world of seeds for more than 30 -years. He helped found several seed companies including Garden City Seeds in Missoula; High Altitude Gardens in Ketchum, and Seeds Trust in Cornville, Az. He also developed the International Seed Saving Institute,still utilized as a source for basic seed saving information. McDorman is also one of the co-founders of the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, just south of Ketchum.
Starr's background is in media, public relations, community organizing and non-profit management. She was a co-producer of the seminal sustainability festival Sol Fest in Northern California for 7 -years, and in the early 1990s she produced and hosted the nationally syndicated environmental radio feature, theEnvironmental Action Report.
Caccia is an accomplished silversmith and owner of the Golden Door Gallery in Ketchum. An avid gardener and long time environmental activist, he' s a 2010 graduate of McDorman and Starr's Seed School program. He serves as manager of the newly formed Wood River Seed Library and is co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance.
For more information, contact Belle Starr firstname.lastname@example.org, or (928) 30-7989.
Julie on the Radio
Julie Johnson hosts a radio show on the Wood River Valley's only community radio station, KDPI 89.3 FM. Her weekly show, Our Health Culture, can be heard live on 89.3 FM or streamed live at KDPIFM, 10-11 a.m.Thursdays.
The show delves into health and nutrition, local farming and sustainability, why people pursue healthier lifestyles, and how we work energetically in those pursuits.
Check the KDPI twitter account @kdpiradio orFacebook for updates