I heard that the Farm Gathering was a delight. Unfortunately, overbooked-I was unable to see it for myself. Hopefully I will meet you all at the next one! We will announce the date soon.
Your CSA's are going to change radically over the next few weeks. Lee spent a few moments touring me through the bounty that is beginning to bear on Monday while we sharpened our hoes. We were clearing weeds from the pepper fields.
Reigned by Rain
This spring, high volumes of rain have put corn and soy farmers behind schedule. The crops are beginning to catch up, but according to the USDA, 20% less corn and 30% less soy have sprouted this year as compared to last years mark.
When did rain become a nuisance? More importantly, why did it? To answer these questions, we'll have to think about what things have changed since rain was a reason to rejoice.
The first thing to look at is the tools that are being used. “Traditional” farming happens on a very large scale and (the variety of farming that has become standard over the last 100 years) relies MAMMOTH machines. As I drive by corn fields on my way to Eater's Guild, my eyes mount combines that are larger than many houses and trip over tractors with fifty foot wingspans. These weapons weigh tons. And they are one of the biggest barriers to farming during the rainy season. The Kalamazoo Gazette, reports that large equipment can compact soil, hampering root development in young plants.
The second thing to look at is methodology. “Traditional” farming relies on herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides (new in the last seventy five years), which prohibit diverse, organic matter from being churned into the earth, creating a soil that has very little ability to retain water. When big rains and spring thaw flows run onto the landscape, water puddles and ponds, making planting impossible. Standing water patches can create “short spots” or drown out plants, and wet spots can cause disease to occur, especially with soy.
Unlike “traditional” farming, organic farming happens at a small or medium scale (ideally) and does not require intensely large machinery. At Eater's Guild, we use small and medium size tractors to till the soil and sow our plants. We use small rigs and hoes to cultivate our crops. We can get in the field when conditions are not ideal because we weigh less. We move more numbly. We can use more moments being productive when others are waiting for the right time to get started.
Organic farming also offers physical benefits because of the methodological process. It allows a diverse assemblage of life forms, both within and without the plant class, to live and parish on the land. The material left behind by these lifeforms degrades variously, on the surface of and under the surface of the soil. These differing materials create a soil structure that retains water deeply, not at the surface, so it is more able to absorb the deluges of spring and work as a more effective reservoir in the heat of the summer.