What are you eating?

Is your diet all organic? If not, you are eating Genetically Modified Organisms(otherwise known as GMO’s)!

If any food you eat contains ingredients produced from corn, soybeans, canola or cotton, it was likely sourced from genetically modified forms of those crops. Most of the GMO’s currently in use are so-called Round Up Ready crops. Use of the once non-selective herbicide Round Up have increased dramatically since these crops were introduced. Monsanto (maker of Round Up) wants you to believe there is no harm in the herbicide, that it does not cause any health problems in humans or livestock, that it has no detrimental effects on the environment. Don’t believe them. Inform yourself!

The Institute for Responsible Technology is a good site to link with on a regular basis. Check it out for further information.

Institute for Responsible Technology – Spilling the Beans – Current Newsletter

Roundup in city-dwellers’ urine

Studies have already found Monsanto’s toxic herbicide Roundup in groundwater, in streams, and even in the rain and air of US agricultural areas. It’s been found in our blood and even crosses the placental barrier to enter our unborn fetuses. So are we surprised that a German university study has now found significant concentrations of Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate in the urine of city dwellers?

Perhaps we should be surprised at the amount: all the samples had concentrations of glyphosate at 5 to 20 times the limit for drinking water.

Roundup is used on railway lines, urban pavements, and roadsides. It’s used to dry down grain crops before harvest. But the single greatest use of Roundup is on genetically engineered “Roundup Ready” crops – designed not to die when sprayed with the poison.

Wouldn’t it be good if we too were Roundup Ready, so we wouldn’t get sick or die due to the virtually omnipresent toxin? After all, studies now link it to birth defects, endocrine disruption, cancer, and abnormal sperm.

via Institute for Responsible Technology – Spilling the Beans – Current Newsletter.

The Farm in Winter

We can hardly say we’ve had winter around here – too much warm(ish) weather, not much snow. But still, it’s the downtime of farming life. Time to do a few other things that are not specifically farm related, like some sewing; Time to do some online research; Time to plan and order seeds for the coming year.

I know non-farmers, or really small farmers (or maybe not so successful farmers) don’t understand the planning process. And a lot of it I can’t totally explain since it’s largely subconscious. But the conscious planning is necessary for our CSA and vegetable production, even though we only grow about an acre of vegetables and herbs.

The gardens are divided into sections, or plots, which are numbered. We keep a complete history of the crops in each plot going back a dozen years or so. To avoid build up of insects and diseases, we need to rotate crops in the plots, so the same crop – or vegetable family, at least – does not grow in the same plot too often. I aim for at least 4 years in the rotation. But it’s not easy.

In our field crops, the rotation is 3 – 4 years and is pretty standard: clover for 1.5 – 2 years, then soybeans, then spelt or wheat. It doesn’t matter if the soil types are different in the different fields.

In the gardens, the soil type does matter, because some things don’t grow well in heavy soil, for instance, or because the heavier ground is too wet in the spring to be worked up for early crops and because it never works up fine enough for very small seeded crops like lettuce and carrots. So the rotation gets kind of complex.

And then there’s the seed ordering. What’s left from last year? How much to order this year? Any varieties we want to eliminate? What new veggies do we want to try? That’s mostly handled for 2012, except for a handful of herbs I might decide to try. A few seed varieties are still on backorder but I expect them to come in before I need them in the spring.

And then there are the plans for the CSA. We’ve been doing this Community Supported Agriculture thing for a few years now. Not on a big scale, of course, and not wanting to be. The first planning for the 2012 CSA actually begins in the fall when I have to decide if prices for shares need to change for the coming year. Once I’ve done that, it’s mostly a matter of setting a limit to the number of shares I want sell for the year and getting the word out. We don’t do a bunch of advertising and we don’t heavily promote our CSA because we want to stay small.

But there’s room for a few new shareholders. You can email me at whethamfarm@gmail.com if you live in Genesee Co Michigan and are interested in joining a CSA.

There is some crop planning for our other market, also. CSA Farmers Market is an online market that delivers to pickup locations in Genesee, Lapeer and Oakland Counties. Not everything we grow gets sold there (some things only go to our shareholders) but lots does. Check it out if you are looking for really good organic local food but don’t want to join a CSA.

New Respect for Bloggers

I have a real respect for consistent bloggers. Even those whose blogs I would never read. After a false start at this nearly 2 years ago, I’m trying again. I felt really bad about starting something and then abandoning the project totally. But I have now seen enough abandoned blogs to understand that I’m not the only one with good intentions who can’t keep up. A person does have to sleep, and keep family obligations, plus work for a living.

I check a number of blogs on a fairly regular basis. Most of them are recipe sites because I like to cook (and sometimes I just like to collect recipes).  This viewing happens mostly in the winter, when there is time. During the growing season there just is not much  in-front-of-the-computer time, because there are no employees here on our small organic farm.  Computer time  is reserved for communicating with shareholders (we have a small CSA) and marketing (keeping up with our products and our orders through csafarmersmarket.com).

The recipe search was originally intended to benefit our CSA by passing the recipes along to the shareholders so they weren’t in the dark about how to prepare some of the vegetables we grow. But time to pass recipes and hints along to shareholders is in short supply during the growing season, too. When we started the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, if you don’t know) I put out a weekly newsletter with all kinds of information. As the CSA grew the newsletter came out less frequently until I pretty much abandoned it.

So I’m hoping to keep up with this blog to replace that newsletter for shareholders and other customers. wish me luck.