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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Organic Agriculture Attracts a New Generation of Farmers, Nobody Said It Was Going to Be Easy

Cryptogon.com | Jun 7, 2014

There’s no app for that.

Individuals might consider vertical cells for salad greens, strawberries and some other crops and larger containers on the ground. I like vertical and containers because you’re minimizing the amount of effort required for keeping weeds down. You can compost the spent soil and recharge it with whatever fertilizer you might have on hand (worm wee, fish emulsion, sea weed, livestock manure, humanure etc.) Spuds and the like can be done in barrels, buckets, bathtubs, tires.

Grubbing around in the soil is grim, backbreaking work. I love the guys in the video, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t see that happening on any sort of scale. More people are going to have to grow more stuff for themselves rather than leaving it up to a small number of farmers.

For NZ: I was looking at a well rotted ponga fern trunk and noticed that sawing it into rings produced what seemed like perfect cells for growing salad greens. These could be set in a shallow tub and flooded with whatever nutrient bath one wanted to use. I haven’t tried it yet, but what I was wondering is if the plants would be able to use the ponga as a growing medium without adding any soil at all??? That old ponga seemed like a compost pile that had been formed into a cylinder. Also, might capillary action keep plants perfectly hydrated if the base of the ponga “pot” was left submerged in the nutrient bath?

Anyway, if you toil in the soil enough, try to keep your organic matter up, try to put enough nutrients in, try to keep weeds down, turn the soil over each season (sorry, tried to make no-dig work for years), eventually, “There has to be a better way,” is a phrase that will get lodged in your brain like a splinter.

Via: Los Angeles Times:

By 9 a.m., Jack Motter had been planting peas for hours.

He pushed a two-wheeled contraption that deposited a seed every few inches along neat rows at Ellwood Canyon Farms, just outside Santa Barbara. As clouds gathered overhead, he picked up the pace to avoid losing days of work to the fall rain.

Timing can mean the difference between profit and loss for the 4-year-old farm.

Motter and his business partner, Jeff Kramer, are part of a growing crop of farmers — many of them young — choosing to produce food without pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. As consumers demand more fresh and local food grown with minimal environmental effects, a new generation has taken up organic farming.

The two Brawley, Calif., natives, both 30, have learned that small-scale agriculture is neither easy nor lucrative. Their days on the 15-acre farm start at dawn and end with exhaustion.
Aging crop of farmers

“There’s nothing romantic about it,” Kramer said. “It’s hard work and long hours for little pay.”

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