Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Shrinking Occupation: Farming

I was reading something today that I'd like to share with you, these points were written by Peter Holter, and in my opinion, more people need to see this.

"The average American farmer is 58 years old. The average cattleman is 61 years old.
According to Beef USA, 90% of all U.S. cow herds have less than 100 cows. So there is a declining population of people, with small herds, with growing challenges – and despite the current bubble — a disincentive to carry the ranch forward another generation, in the face of hunger and a growing demand for food.

The good news is there is a new generation coming on that wants to farm and ranch and they are exploring new paradigms – problem is they often can’t afford the land, and there are programs with land trusts, USDA and others to assist — and they desperately want training — not only in production but management to run a smaller, efficient, profitable healthy enterprise. And interestingly many are doing it. Many of them are women – 30% of the 3 million farms are operated by women – today, women are twice as likely to take over an existing enterprise or starting a new one than men."

“The Women and Food Agriculture Network has information indicating that – since 2002 – the agriculture industry has seen a 30 percent increase nationally in the number of women running farms and ranches.  If you look at demographic, social, and economic factors, they indicate that the number will continue to rise in the coming years.”

I have a banner on my Facebook page that says "No farms=no food".
It is true now more than ever with shrinking availability of land, fewer and fewer programs to help new farmers and a retiring group of farmers. The U.S is ahead of Canada in their efforts to try and help the next generation of farmers, and this needs to be rectified. Every country needs to help their farmers, and in the end, help stem the food crisis we all experience.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Micro Mesclun To The Rescue!

Today I got the urge to plant something, and I wasn't at all influenced by the fact that I was hungry.
I turned the soil in the pot that I had allowed the peas to die, (yes, I did that for a reason). After turning the soil and breaking the peas green matter up, I watered gently with rain water from my bucket outside. I scattered a generous sprinkling of mesclun seed over all this and gently covered with a scattered handful of Miracle Grow soil. (I'm waiting for another handful of compost to be ready, but in the meantime, a mini-farmer's gotta do what she's gotta do) Apparently I should see green sprouts in as early as a week. They can be, and will be, trimmed when they are anywhere between 1 and 6 inches high. My plan for these is simple. Add to salads, wraps, sandwiches...anywhere lettuce is used, these can be used as well. All the knowledgeable sources  say Mesclun is a "gourmet greens mixture", but I just like the way it adds variety to my diet. I like Romaine and Iceberg as much as the next person, but it gets boring after awhile. Mesclun doesn't need as much sun as Buttercrunch lettuce, so maybe, just maybe we'll have a shot at this growing our greens thing, even here.
Oh, and my plan in letting the peas die back? Between my compost bucket outside, the rainwater bucket and micro scale green manure plantings, I am trying to see if my plan for the bigger land can be reproduced  in a north facing apartment. Because if I can do it without a windowsill, so can others.

No matter what gardening books and websites will tell you, not everyone can grow their own salads. I'm here trying to find an alternative for even basement dwellers.

What are you growing this week?