An article was published the other day in the New York Times in the Opinion section detailing the crumbling structure of small farming in the U.S. It is titled “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers”.
You can find it here.
Being a recent college graduate myself, I enjoy the impending anxious conversations with my parents about making $500 a month as an apprentice. Our head spaces couldn’t be any different. I am trying to change the inequalities in our society through Permaculture; they are trying to impress financially secure qualities in me. I understand it of course, there is a monthly nut I need to be able to cover as I find myself in a more independent adulthood.
But I am too crazy for that.
The article suggests that there should be loan forgiveness for young farmers. This is a brilliant idea. If you can believe it, farmers are less valued than teachers. I mean hegemonically of course. Politicians will pine for votes on platforms of improving teachers salaries, but there is nothing about farmers. This is systemic. The truth is we’re in the same sinking boat, but farmers are slightly lower on the crow’s nest pole. The difference is teachers, in their relatively self sacrificing occupation, benefit from eventual loan forgiveness federally. This means that a teacher may find relief after a decade of service. Not too shabby if after a Master’s degree one finds oneself to be $35,000+ in debt on the basic principle, not to mention interest (or usury depending on your views). Though honestly, what kind of loan is that? Pay me more than I loan you to teach our populace. Joke.
The question we have to ask ourselves is “do we want less educated farmers?” That is the implication I personally see here. This is inequality. We’re living in the wealthiest empire ever to exist (yes empire) and we cannot even provide policy for food growers to be savvy philosophers to boot, without crippling them in debt peonage.
I consider myself to be an educated small farmer. I want to do Permaculture design but it is tough without another source of income, one I wish to find when I go back to a community college for graphic design. But the fact of the matter is that an Anthropology B.A. shouldn’t cost as much as the business B.S. This is not to mention the asinine view of a critical thinking discipline as an art and business as a science, lacking any real body of theory about the natural world we live in. An anthropology degree is of lower market value than a business degree, but the critical thinking and writing skills are essential for everyone to have access to without indebtedness. Why is the price the same?
Provide legislation to give loan forgiveness to farmers. It will provide farmers like myself with the freedom to pursue valuable polyculture research and to bolster local economies. It will provide a more educated populace equipped with the tools to break down inequality. And quite honestly, I think we can afford to give 1% of the population providing a need we have every single day a way to better themselves without unsheathing a double-edged sword.
Today was the first harvest day of the week. Mondays are our largest CSA pick up day and it was thunder storming this weekend. Rob, being the ever so weather conscious boss of ours decided to give us half the day off after the harvest was done. After purple potatoes, onions, tri-basil bunches, arugula, green cabbage, baby kale, and collards, the rest of the day was ours!
I took advantage and continued to read a copy of The Name of the Wind that was gifted to me by the other intern. I usually do not read fiction yet I enjoyed the break and my imagination was let out in a nice new world.
I also took time after our chicken and rainbow mashed potatoes lunch to continue a Permaculture Site Survey I have been working on at Sun One Farms. I am currently modeling the Survey on the Scales of Permanence laid out by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, which has been built upon the original by P.A. Yeomans.
I have gathered substantial data on landform and soils on the property, so I figured I would take a crack at climate. One thing is for sure: the NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) National Climate Data Center is technical. It is very technical.
The point of the exercise is to record patterns of variation and location elements. Patterns of Variation are temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, and precipitation. Location elements are latitude, terrain, altitude, and nearby water bodies and currents.
My goal is to grab the relevant data from the NCDC and create graphs and discuss the relevance to a Permaculture project. Yet the website turned out to be a lot to take in at once.
Perhaps I will need to dive in on another half day after more familiarity with the NCDC web page.
I thought that I would share a plan outline for a small Permaculture project (<1/3 acre/0.1ha)
Simple. Few Species. Clear intent.
- Articulate Goals – Goal Articulation ; Summary Exercise only ; Simple goals. (1-2 hrs)
- Base Mapping. (16 hrs)
- Analyze and Assess Site – Simple, quick, sketchy ; Three bubble diagrams and simple summary ; Existing & desired species analysis. (4-8 hrs)
- Design Concept – A few options. (1-2 hrs)
- Schematic Design – Few options & iterations. Single instant succession to a horizon. (4-8 hrs)
- Detailed Design – Small number of species and guilds. (4-6 hrs)
- Patch Design – Four or five patches of low to moderate complexity, with some repetition. (4-10 hrs)
Total time to spend on planning and design : 4-7 days.
Remember…design is intention.
Black Cherry, Black Walnut, Black Locust, with a tree house between them.
Not safe for livestock.
Grafted, nut-producing trees are available from several nurseries operating in the U.S. Selections worth considering include Thomas, Neel #1, Thomas Myers, Pounds #2, Stoker, Surprise, Emma K, Sparrow, S127, and McGinnis. Several older varieties, such as Kwik Krop, are still in cultivation; while they make decent nuts, they would not be recommended for commercial planting. A variety index and characteristics guide is available from Missouri Extension.
The extraction of the kernel from the fruit of the black walnut is difficult. The thick, hard shell is tightly bound by tall ridges to a thick husk. The husk is best removed when green, as the nuts taste better if it is removed then. Rolling the nut underfoot on a hard surface such as a driveway is a common method; commercial huskers use a car tire rotating against a metal mesh. Some take a thick plywood board and drill a nut-sized hole in it (from one to two inches in diameter) and smash the nut through using a hammer. The nut goes through and the husk remains behind.
Plants Observed Growing Under or Near Black Walnut*
- Japanese Maples, Acer palmatum and its cultivars
- Southern Catalpa, Catalpa bignonioides
- Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis
- Canadian Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis
Vines and Shrubs
- Clematis ‘Red Cardinal’
- February Daphne, Daphne mezereum
- Euonymus species
- Weeping Forsythia, Forsythia suspensa
- Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus
- Tartarian Honeysuckle, Lonicera tatarica, and most other Lonicera species
- Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia
- ** Pinxterbloom, Rhododendron periclymenoides
- **’Gibraltar’ and ‘Balzac’, Rhododendron Exbury hybrids
- Multiflora Rose, Rosa multiflora
- Black Raspberry, Rubus occidentalis
- Arborvitaes, Thuja species
- ** Koreanspice Viburnum, Viburnum carlesii, and most other Viburnum species
- Pot-marigold, Calendula officinalis ‘Nonstop’
- Begonia, fibrous cultivars
- Morning Glory, Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’
- Pansy Viola
- Zinnia species
- Squashes, Melons, Beans, Carrots, Corn
- Peach, Nectarine, Cherry, Plum
- Prunus species Pear-Pyrus species
- Bugleweed, Ajuga reptans
- Hollyhock, Alcea rosea
- American Wood Anemone, Anemone quinquefolia
- Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum
- European Wild Ginger, Asarum europaeum
- Astilbe species
- Bellflower, Campanula latifolia
- **Chrysanthemum species (some)
- Glory-of-the-Snow, Chionodoxa luciliae
- Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica
- Crocus species
- Dutchman’s Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria
- Leopard’s-Bane, Doronicum species
- Crested Wood Fern, Dryopteris cristata
- Spanish Bluebell, Endymion hispanicus
- Winter Aconite, Eranthis hyemalis
- Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis
- Sweet Woodruff, Galium odoratum
- Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum
- Cranesbill, Geranium sanguineum
- Grasses (most) Gramineae family
- Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus
- Common Daylily, Hemerocallis ‘Pluie de Feu’
- Coral Bells, Heuchera x brizoides
- Orange Hawkweed, Hieracium aurantiacum
- Plantain-lily, Hosta fortunei ‘Glauca’
- Hosta lancifolia
- Hosta marginata
- Hosta undulata ‘Variegata’
- Common Hyacinth, Hyacinthus Orientalis ‘City of Haarlem’
- Virginia Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum virginianum
- Siberian Iris, Iris sibirica
- Balm, Monarda didyma
- Wild Bergamot, M. fistulosa
- Grape Hyacinth, Muscari botryoides
- Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata ‘Yellow Cheerfulness,’ ‘Geranium,’ ‘Tete a Tete,’ ‘Sundial,’ and ‘February Gold’
- Sundrops, Oenothera fruticosa
- Senstitive Fern, Onoclea sensibilis
- Cinnamon Fern, Osmunda cinnamomea
- Peony, **Paeonia species (some)
- Summer Phlox, Phlox paniculata
- Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum
- Jacob’s-Ladder, Polemonium reptans
- Great Solomon’s-Seal, Polygonatum commutatum
- Polyanthus Primrose, Primula x polyantha
- Lungwort, Pulmonaria species
- Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis
- Siberian Squill, Scilla sibirica
- Goldmoss Stonecrop, Sedum acre
- Showy Sedum, Sedum spectabile
- Lamb’s-Ear, Stachys byzantina
- Spiderwort, Tradescantia virginiana
- Nodding Trillium, Trillium cernuum
- White Wake-Robin, Trillium grandiflorum
- Tulipa Darwin ‘White Valcano’ and ‘Cum Laude,’ Parrot ‘Blue Parrot,’ Greigii ‘Toronto’
- Big Merrybells, Uvularia grandiflora
- Canada Violet, Viola canadensis
- Horned Violet, Viola cornuta
- Woolly Blue Violet, Viola sororia
*These are based upon observations and not from clinical tests.
**Cultivars of some species may do poorly.
Notice that there are 4 vegetable plant families under the “non-toxic” list. That allows for a full rotation according to usual planting practices. Jerusalem artichoke is also in there.
Karl Hammer: Compost Master
For that kind of intensive shoot pruning management (coppicing), it is important to select trees species that store adequate amounts of carbohydrates in the roots to provide the energy for resprouting and rapid regrowth of above ground parts. Shoot regrowth from other less intensive shoot pruning (pollarding or lopping) could be energetically supported from carbohydrate stores in stems and roots of the pruned tree stump.
The implications for associated crop management are several. Since shoot pruning removes competition for light between the tree and associated crop, it also provides a time window of almost one month when no competition in the soil can be expected between tree and crop roots for plant available nutrients. Transplanting of crop seedlings can then be made at shoot pruning to aid the early growth of seedlings. Depending on the needs of the crop, another shoot pruning of the agroforestry trees may be needed during the life of the crop, preferably before the onset of the reproductive phase of crop development.
Handarayan et al. (1997) suggested that the nitrogen mineralisation rate of prunings may be manipulated by mixing different quality materials such as high quality tree prunings of G. sepium and low-quality legume tree prunings such as Peltophorum dasyrachis (Miq.) Kurz. Pruning two weeks before transplanting vegetable seedlings and mulching with pruning may confer more efficient nutrient use on the agro-ecosystem.
The delay of hedge pruning until after the annual crop is established could result in greater water utilisation by the hedges and consequently, reduced evaporation.
Marc Bonfils is a spiritual mentor of mine, and little did I realize that he had done some strange work on fodder trees. I’m including a number of documents of his as well.