What’s killing our soils (and us)

The farm is a busy place these days (what else is new?!). What amazes us more than anything, though, is that we’re past the half-way point into the 2014 growing season. Farming at this altitude begins in April. That’s when we start putting seed into the ground and into flats for later transplanting, and that’s when we start receiving batches of baby chicks and turkeys that are later put onto pasture. So, in mid-July we notice a real peak in activity. Our last batch of broiler chicks arrives this Friday, which means that by next week, we’ll already be emptying the brooder. The garden is mostly planted, except for some successive plantings of head lettuce, carrots, salad greens, kale and other hardy fall crops. (Of course, the weeding is a never ending job … done lovingly and thoroughly by hand on this organic farm … read on for more details about the other, much darker side of this weeding coin.) Our baby goats are sold and will be off the farm tomorrow. And, we just made an appointment with our favorite pig processor in Dove Creek for an early fall butcher date.

Wild and crazy in the garden: Some sweet pea crowns!

 

Unfortunately, we’re still awaiting the onset of a serious monsoon here in the NW San Juan Mountains and valleys. Rainfall has been spotty, at best. Hiking yesterday in the Dolores Range revealed beautiful wildflowers, yes, but also a dry, crunchy undergrowth.

 

Wildflowers in the Dolores Range … peaking, but it’s dry out there! Bring on the rain!!!! But get out and see nature’s glorious colorful display of these flowers while you can.

 

The National Weather Service has placed the entire region in the “abnormally dry” drought monitor category, after having been removed off the list during the relatively wet spring. Of course, it could be worse, as in California, where most of the state is rated in the “exceptional drought” category, the highest drought ranking that exists. We were all made aware of just how dry conditions in the west currently are, as evidenced by the hazy skies of the past week — which turned out to be smoke from the large wildfires in the state of Washington.

Fortunately the reservoirs are still mostly full and Wrights Mesa overall still has plentiful water resources. In fact, the second wave of water is being released at this time for irrigation purposes, which will keep the pastures green and verdant. There’s a glut of hay on the mesa right now, but it will come in handy during the winter when ranchers use it up to feed their cattle.

What’s in your box …

Beets (they store beautifully in the fridge! Trim off the tops, which you can cook like spinach. Store the bulbs in plastic bags.)

Chard (look for a Chicken and Swiss Chard Enchilada recipe by clicking here.)

Head Lettuce

Fennel (has a lovely licorice-like flavor, that can be saute’d, braised, grilled or put in salads, soups or stews)

Scallions

Zucchini (Friday and Saturday distribution this week, Tuesday next week … here they come!)

Basil

Pastured eggs for all egg shares

Pastured poultry for all chicken shares

Organic bread and/or addictive granola for bakery shares

Glyphosates kill weeds, help destroy soils (and reportedly kill us)

Last week we discussed the importance of microbiomes that reside in and on our bodies. Those are the microscopic organisms that inhabit our digestive system, our skin, and our organs, that are ultimately responsible for keeping us healthy. They are kept healthy in our bodies from a diet of organic foods, pastured meats, eggs and dairy, organ meats, grains and lots of veggies. We explained the link between healthy soils and healthy microbiomes, which is a field of study that is being paid attention by researchers on both sides of the Atlantic.

This link is broken by, among other things, the use of glyphosates, the chemical found in the popular herbicide Roundup. Glyphosates not only kill “weeds” but they also contribute to the killing of the micro-organisms in the soil that are ultimately so essential for our good health.

The use of Roundup has increased dramatically since the introduction of genetically modified organisms in seed, mostly corn and soybean here in North America. Roundup, marketed by corporate giant Monsanto, is now distributed throughout the world, making it the most popular herbicide. Farmers are sold on the notion that if they use these GMO seeds, they can effectively use the Roundup spray to kill of weeds without damaging the food crop. (As an aside, there are now several types of so-called “super weeds,” Pigweed among them, that have grown tolerances to glyphosates and have these farmers scratching their heads as their fields are overrun.)

According to a recent article in Truthout, two activist groups, Moms Across America and Thinking Moms Revolution, asked the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recall Monsanto’s Roundup, citing a host of adverse health impacts in their children from the herbicide, including failure to thrive, leaky gut syndrome, autism and food allergies. The Truthout article also addressed the issue of Roundup being linked to a fatal kidney disease among farmers in San Salvador and Sri Lanka. This kidney disease is the second leading cause of death among men in San Salvador and in Sri Lanka, over 20,000 farmers have died. (For the complete article, please click here.)

GMO labeling may make it to the state ballot

To this end, an effort is underway nationwide to begin addressing the problem of GMOs in our food supply. In Colorado, a petition is being circulated that seeks to label food products as containing GMOs. Make sure you sign this petition! If we can get this ballot measure approved by voters, it will be the first step toward eliminating GMOs from our diet. Consumers will begin to be educated about the dangers of GMOs (and, in turn, glyphosates) and then make informed choices at the grocery store.

Long-time resident and one-time Telluride physician Dr. Judy Ingalls, is leading the charge locally to collect as many signatures as she can from registered voters. Look for her on Fridays at the Telluride Farmers Market, just above out market stand on Oak St.

Even if approved by voters, the hard work will remain to actually see GMO labeling come to pass. Vermont voters approved, and the governor recently signed, a law requiring GMO labeling by July, 2016. But guess what? A lawsuit has been filed by various organizations, some funded by Monsanto, to block its implementation.

Our busy, busy working bees loving the Lamb’s Ear blossoms. Bees are particularly sensitive to pesticides, which have been found to be contributing to their rapid decline in the US.

 

Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, defended the Vermont law, saying 60 other countries either have banned GMOs or require mandatory labeling of foods that contain them.

“Every U.S. citizen should be concerned when a multibillion dollar corporate lobbying group sues in federal court to overturn a state’s right to govern for the health and safety of its citizens,” Cummins said.

He said the lawsuit was a way to intimidate other states considering labeling laws.

This may be a fight for the ages. Nevertheless, please sign the petition and then vote “yes” on the measure: Our human health depends on it!

And that’s the view from the farm on this glorious, warm summer day!

Hope you’re all well.