Who is the “Baby?”

(I posted the following on my Facebook page in early October, 2018. It seemed to resonate with many people, so I decided to post it here, too. I am transitioning toward spending more time with the blog and less time on Facebook, even though my FB posts seem to reach more people. I think that can change, and the blog will attract more people who want to engage these topics in more depth.)

Who is the “Baby?”

I attended a workshop on alternative eco-friendly communities at the Permaculture Convergence in Hot Springs a couple of weeks ago and the discussion moved around sustainable, Earth-friendly alternatives in farming and building. I suggested that we add alternative, sustainable economics and currencies, or natural economics without currency, to the discussion. I then went on to say that, rather than seeking to raise funding for green projects like these from wealthy corporate agents of the current economic system that is destroying life on Earth, we should work towards shutting that system down while we simultaneously create new, local, Earth-centered economic systems and cultures.

Soon, one of the other participants was evidently agitated by my suggestions and cried out that we should “not throw out the baby with the bathwater,” and then explained that we still need money and charitable funding from corporations for our green ventures at this point in time, implying that at some unknown point in the future we would somehow become able and willing to magically wean ourselves from dependency on corporate grants.

As often happens, I was unable to formulate an adequate “comeback” or useful response at that moment, but thought of something later, after the conversation was long past. My thought was, who is this precious “baby” that we must cling to and protect, without question, no matter what the consequences may be? The toxic, life-destroying, military/industrial capitalist system? Or is the ancient “baby” that we really must protect and serve our only source of healthy life—Mama Earth/Water’s interconnected natural systems? It can’t be both, because one will ultimately destroy the other.

 

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Hugelkultur bed planting, June, 2018

Here is a new video on techniques and a little perspective on planting in the hugelkultur beds. Helpers with the planting and recording were Cal, Bev, Jenni, my granddaughter, Cora, and my son, Noah (the scene where I was wearing my old wool hat).

Sources for Healthy, Non-GMO, Heirloom, Organic and Indigenous Seeds

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It is that time of year again, and many people are wondering where to go to get seeds that they can be sure are healthy and do not support toxic, industrial chemical agriculture, especially the GMO companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont and Bayer. Those companies have secretly bought out most of the popular seed companies that put their seeds in the major retail outlets, without changing those companies names, while replacing those old companies’ seeds with their own patented, toxic, pesticide and herbicide-compatible, genetically modified frankenseeds. I do not want to focus on them right now, since this is really a post about where to find the natural, healthy alternatives, but here is one good, reliable link to information on the above:   https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/Monsanto%20Seed%20Subsidiaries%20FS%20June%202014.pdf   (this is a downloadable pdf document) I will post a couple more links to sources at the bottom of this post.

Healthy and Indigenous, Organic, Non-GMO, Heirloom Seed Sources

(For the list of Indigenous-only seed companies , scroll down a ways.)

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

We really like this company and they have the best catalogue, in which they give credit to individuals, by name, for many of their sources for their seeds, especially Indigenous people. Lots of other good general background information on the seeds and their fruits, too.
2278 Baker Creek Road
Mansfield, MO 65704 non-GMO Safe Seed Pledge http://www.rareseeds.com/

Seed Savers Exchange (We have bought heirloom seeds from these people for years.)

http://www.seedsavers.org/

FEDCO Seeds      An organic and non-GMO seed co-op

https://www.fedcoseeds.com/

The Populuxe Seed Bank – Acquires, grows out, and redistributes heirloom and open-pollinated varieties to gardeners around the world; Documents seed histories to preserve the stories associated with the variety; Helps to educate other private growers on how they can save their own seeds, and start their own seed bank to help preserve biodiversity.    http://theseedbank.net/

Hudson Valley Seed Library (http://www.seedlibrary.org/) – We offer heirloom and open-pollinated seeds for vegetable, flower, and herb varieties. We have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, and we adhere to Vandana Shiva’s Declaration of Seed Freedom. As of May 2013, we are both a Certified Organic farm and a Certified Organic Handler (both by NOFA-NY LLC).

Eden Brothers
500 non-GMO veggie & herb varieties http://www.edenbrothers.com/

Garden Harvest Supply
2952W 500S
Berne, IN 46711

all of our herb and vegetable seeds for sale are certified organic and are non-GMO http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/

Renee’s Garden
6060 Graham Hill Rd.
Felton, CA 95018 organic, Safe Seed non-GMO pledge http://www.reneesgarden.com/about/

The Natural Gardening Company
P.O. Box 750776
Petaluma, CA 94975-0776 organic, Safe Seed non-GMO pledge http://www.naturalgardening.com/

Territorial Seed Company
P.O. Box 158
Cottage Grove, OR 9742 organic and open-pollinated sections of catalog, Safe Seed no-GMO pledge, Salmon-Safe certification http://www.territorialseed.com/about_us

Seeds of Change, “100% certified organic”

http://www.seedsofchange.com/donation.aspx

High Mowing (www.highmowingseeds.com ) – (25 packets/$5, 50/$10, 75/$15, 100/$20)  We have a friend who sells the corn he grows through this company

http://www.highmowingseeds.com/machform/view.php?id=7

Peaceful Valley (www.groworganic.com) – can request amount and specific types of seeds; should also request other tools/supplies they may donate as budget allows.

 

The following organizations work with Indigenous tribal peoples in helping to preserve and propagate their traditional heirloom seeds. Some of them also sell seeds and some of them don’t, so check out their websites to see if they are selling any now.

Upper Midwest Indigenous Seed Keepers Network – contact via http://welrp.org/

Dream of Wild Health – http://dreamofwildhealth.org/contact_information.html , Seed-Saving Our collection of more than 300 varieties of indigenous seeds were gifted to us by Cora Baker, a Potawatomi elder and Keeper of the Seeds.

– Terrylynn Brant at Mohawk Seedkeepers sometimes has traditional seeds to share (Six Nations Reserve): https://www.facebook.com/groups/846377065399516/http://www.mohawkseedkeeper.com/

Skaroreh Katenuaka Seed Bank https://www.facebook.com/SkarorehKatenuakaSeedBank/?fref=ts

– Indigenous Seedkeepers Alliance
https://www.facebook.com/IndigenousSeedKeepersAlliance/

Native and Heirloom Seed Confederation
https://www.facebook.com/groups/NativeAndHeirloomSeedConfederation/

Native Seeds Search     http://www.nativeseeds.org/

Really Cool Old Squash (the Gete Okosomin seeds, ONLY available in Canada from this source)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/112324438936493/

Northern Indigenous Seed Sovereigntynorthern-indigenous-seed-sovereignty@googlegroups.com

 

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For more information on the GMO seed companies to avoid:

http://deeprootsathome.com/4-ways-to-keep-monsanto-out-of-your-home-garden/

http://gardenseeds.org/monsanto-owned-seed-companies/

https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/where-to-buy-non-gmo-seeds

http://realfarmacy.com/printable-list-of-monsanto-owned-food-producers/

 

 

What do farmers do in the Winter?

This short video shows a couple of our Fall/Winter activities. It is our time to give something back to Mama Earth/Water for all the life that she freely gives to us. I will write about other things that we do in the Winter later.

One of our other Winter activities is pulling the kernels off of our dried corn, usually while watching movies or listening to music. Then we put the corn into containers and label them. The popcorn is usually dry enough first, and it is important to put that away before it gets too dry. It needs to have a little of its inner moisture remaining in order to pop. The red corn is ready next (about two to two and a half months after harvest), followed by the blue corn. One of our other Winter activities is grinding the blue corn and the red corn into flour and then putting it into storage containers. Some of it we put into paper bags for the market or for gifts to people, but most of the food we grow we just grow for our own consumption.

Thinking about the corn makes me want to insert here some of the beautiful photos of this year’s red corn that I posted on Facebook last Summer.

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LifeGiving Farm Mid-Summer Update, Part 2

As promised, an update on the older, more diverse part of the farm, that we did not show in part 1. I meant to talk more about the importance of biodiversity in this video, but sometimes I become so immersed in the now that I forget what I had planned to say. I’ll just say a little now. Nature is extremely diverse and everything is interconnected, which is how life is nurtured. There are no monocultures (vast areas of one species only, as in American commercial farming) in the natural world. That’s why monoculture has to be supported with chemical supplements (usually toxic) and why it works against life (including causing cancer), because it is the opposite of natural life. On a practical level, if we grow a wide variety of crops, not only do they increase each other’s health, but if one of them has a hard season, disease, or setback of any kind, you still have many other crops that are doing fine. You will not starve or “go broke.”

Extra bonus: beginning at 16:54 of the video you can see some unexpected bear/dog interaction that broke out during the filming!

Sorry about my memory lapse when I was talking about the many beneficial aspects of the wild plant in our garden called purslane. Here are a few online articles about the many health benefits of purslane that should make up for the lapse.

http://shareably.co/weed-to-harvest-not-kill/?utm_source=ltbl&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=ltbl

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/power-packed-purslane-zmaz05amzsel
http://wimastergardener.org/article/common-purslane-portulaca-oleracea/

 

Farm Update, July 2017, part 1

Well, its about time I posted some more examples of Earthways. In this real time, natural sound video you will learn more about the three sisters corn-planting techniques, the importance of having wildland interfaces next to your cultivated crops, welcoming and interspersing wild plants among your cultivated plants, and more. This video only covers about half of our cultivated land and a smaller portion of our crop diversity, since it shows the large corn areas. Part 2 will show the more diverse older part of the farm, along with a hugelkultur update. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and share your own stories about natural, sustainable, joyful, harmonious cultivation of crops.

Here is the link to the video on YouTube:

 

Hugelkultur Update, Early Summer, 2016

I am writing this on June 27, 2016. As a point of reference, here is a photo of our first hugelkultur mound at about this time last year (actually about the first week of July). (Sorry if it is disorienting for anybody that I put the captions up above the photos, instead of the usual below. It just seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I wonder.)

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After harvest and removal of the stalks and plant remainders, the terraced shelves kinda broke up and some of the soil slid down the sides. Our next task, then, was to rebuild and improve the mound.
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 Instead of the improvised, multi-level terraced arrangement we had before, I decided to go with a more structurally stable,simple, two-tiered system–just one upper level or shelf at the top and one lower shelf all the way around it. We also had previously decided last Summer to build the whole thing a little taller, to further reduce the need to bend over while working.
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So, we began with the lower shelf first, shaping and building throughout the winter, whenever the ground was thawed out enough to work with it. We had a climate change-enabled mild Winter.
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Lower shelf shaped and ready to be built up higher.
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Once the lower tier had acquired the desired height, I began raising the upper, center level. For both of these shelves, I built them up using only a combination of compost, fill dirt and bison manure. I also scraped down the sides of the mound with a shovel and moved some of that soil to build up the top and make the whole mound narrower.
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A narrower mound makes it possible to step closer to the growing crops, again reducing the need to bend and reach as much.
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Remodeling of mound #1 complete.
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Once we had hugelkultur mound #1 in shape, we were ready to go back to building mound #2 (on the left).
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A nice assortment of cottonwood and birch logs, plus plant scraps, moss and field dirt to build up the height of the mound and fill it with sponge-like absorbent material. More nutrient soil will be added when it gets to be about a foot and a half from the desired maximum height.
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We are shaping mound #2 to become taller and narrower than mound #1.
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Mounds 2 and 1 at present.
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Close up of part of the growing plants on mound # 1, so far this year: kale and radishes. Comfrey, catnip and other wild plants fill the sides of the mound and prevent erosion. When I trim those plants on the sides, I just toss the scraps on to mound 2, or drop them on the ground around mound 1 as a mulch. What a beautiful, easy, multi-nurturing system!
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Wetland Hugelkultur Mounds: a new experiment

Another thing that we began last Winter was building two new hugelkultur mounds in a shallow ditch-fed wetland area in the field to the east of our main crop growing area. I have not seen or heard of anyone doing hugelkultur in wetlands before, but I think it should work great. We’ll see. We have a connected network of ditches and little trenches and small ponds connected to our irrigation water source, the J Canal (administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs). These photos were taken back in December, 2015 and February 2016. (Sticking with the captions above the photos format, for now.)

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Here are a couple of photos of the birch and cottonwood that we used, which we found by a river. We did not cut down any trees, just selectively gathered some of the old, fallen wood from the ground, here and there, leaving some for the other species and for the land itself. As you can see, older wood that is already starting to decompose works best. As I mentioned last year, trees that grow by waterways which have soft wood that decomposes quickly after it is cut make the best wood for hugelkultur beds. Such trees include the cottonwoods, poplars, willows, quaking aspen and birches.

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Here is a video that I made on the day that I took these photos in December, 2015, which I had forgotten about until a couple of days ago (August of 2017). It will add some additional information that is not in these photo captions, plus a rare moment of me in front of the camera, with Barb’s help.

 

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The next three photos show one of the sources of dirt for the hugelkultur mounds, which is an overflow ditch from the spot where our irrigation pump picks up water from the canal. Besides the dirt, I also gather a spongy type of moss that looks like tangled tree roots. Not knowing its proper name, I call it “root moss.” I have to chop and dig through the root moss to get to the dirt, so it occurred to me very naturally to use the moss in the mounds as an additional means of holding moisture.

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Another angle…

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Due to the re-freezing of the ground and then having an extremely busy Spring semester, I was not able to work again on the wetland mounds until early June. It was at that time that I was able to dig some shallow little trenches to pull water from the wetland area over to and around the mounds. The mountains in the background hold the water supply for the whole Summer and early Fall.

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The water trenches, right after completion.

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From the other direction, facing west.

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Close up, showing the spongy “root moss.”

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One more angle, from the north.

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These two hugelkultur beds will be built up much higher throughout the Summer, in the two-tier style of the two beds shown earlier. I will update this again at the end of the Summer. I welcome any questions or discussion.

Here is a video that I made on the same day that I took the photos above, in June, 2016. Sometimes it gets very windy in western Montana. If the sound of strong wind on microphones outdoors is painful or very disturbing to you, please do not watch this video. I do not want to cause anybody any pain or make anybody more disturbed than they already are. But, if you are interested enough in hugelkultur that you think that you might be able to move past the wind noise and find something useful here, then go ahead and give it a try.