Saturday, April 24, 2010

Awesome Upcoming Events!

Saturday, April 24th

~Earth Day celebration at COM!

~Slide Ranch’s Spring Fling, celebrating earth day on the farm, volunteers and fun!

Sunday, April 25th

The Greenhorns and the Green String Farm Band present the Young Farmers Mixer!

More Info to come...

Wednesday, April 28th

Field Trip to County Line! - h

Saturday & Sunday, May 1st- 2nd

Occidental Arts & Ecology Annual Plant Sale!

Saturday, May 8th

Annual Edible Schoolyard Plant Sale 9-2pm

Saturday, May 9th

Mother’s Day Plant Sale at the Edible School Yard

Saturday, May 15th

Freestone Fermentation Festival

Saturday May 22nd

Volunteer Day at Indian Valley Farm!

Spread the word!

Wednesday, May 26th

All Day Celebration on the Farm!!

Sunday, June 13th

Come to Green Gulch for mediation, a tour, lunch and a class on flower production with Wendy!

Saturday, June 19th

Sonoma County Solar Fair, Finley Park from 11-5:00

Happy Earth Day! Hope your Saturday plans will be spent outdoors. Stop by College of Marin, Kentfield Campus , for the Food Forum and Earth Day celebration today. It starts at 2:00 in Olney Hall. Sorry for the delayed blog post, it’s been a very busy week, getting back in the swing of things after spring break!

There was a delicious discourse in class Wednesday. Once again we were faced with an abundance of ideas and topics woven together in harmony, through the genius of Wendy, Steve and Anita Saibel of Marin County Department of Agriculture and Marin Organic Certified Agriculture.

I’m really happy we had an introductory integrated pest management lesson from WendyJ When it comes to IPM, we must assume a wide spectrum of engagement, and discernment; observation is our first defense against pests in the garden. What we can physically see, such as the tattering and tearing of the lettuce from the birds, or the removal of the heart of the radicchio plant from the deer, to the hole strewn beet greens from tireless consumption of the cucumber beetle, if we want to save our plants we act compassionately, yet are watchful warriors.

One must know what kind of pest they're battling before acting, because one wrong move such as the implication of an herbicide, could wipe out both beneficial and pestiferous insects. IPM is about mindfulness, presence and persistence. Wendy's anecdote of wrapping pieces of pvc with copper at the Edible School Yard to keep the snails from the plant starts, or her experiences drowning mollusca with beer, really shows how integrative organic pest control can be.

Providing the lowest level of chemical intervention, as a last resort a farmer adhering to organic principals of farming should use botanical sprays,Pyrethrum spray is toxic to all insects including beneficials. The most powerful way to keep ones garden healthy is by diversifying, by planting beneficial plants that will attract beneficial insects or that will deter the pests from going after your crops. As Anita pointed , post World War II farming, especially large-scale industrial farming has become input specific, or manipulated, treating every problem as if everything within the scale of production were to die tomorrow. Farmers Pre-WWII, used "organic" IPM methods. It’s imperative, farmers of today seek out t knowledge of their predecessors; treating the garden or farm as a temple, in the same manner in which we should be treating our bodies; acting in an proactive instead of reactive way.

All things aside, no matter what the skeptics say, organic is better for many reasons. Reducing pollution through the elimination of pesticides on the farm and in our watersheds, maximizing the naturally occurring and organically enhanced nutrient quality of the soil, which is transferred to the plant and then to us. Beneficial plants create diversity on the farm and help mitigate pests. By going organic, we are supporting a sustainable future. Yes, Anita, I agree with you, that word can sometimes be overused and misinterpreted, however, the word is meant to describe a system of balance and optimization for all living beings .

Under a local, organic food system, everyone and everything, benefits. There are farmers that have been organic since the beginning, but refuse to get the certification for one reason or another. The farmers that have maintained their integrity to organic, and those who have chosen to switch to organic, are building a future filled with tremendous capabilities and social justice for all living beings. By growing your own food and supporting local, organic farmers we’re creating a cycle, for which all life, guaranteed a healthy, safe and bright future.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Vote every day!

The Indian Valley Farm and Garden is competing to receive a complete fruit orchard provided by the Dreyer's Fruit Bars brand and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

As sacred as silence

Outside hearing the heavy cascade of rain, we shall unequivocally send our gratitude to the universe for the abundance of water we’ve received this winter. Wednesday was a very educational day on the farm. Patty from Harmony Farms joined us to talk about irrigation. She is extremely knowledgeable, and has thankfully worked with Henry to implement a structure, which help to mitigate our water usage, while making sure we irrigate our crops, shrubs and trees properly. Our farm is in it’s infantile stage, making it even more important that we pay close attention to the treatment of every plant. Patty and the rest of the team up at Harmony Farms in, have an extensive knowledge and supply of just about everything us busy farmers need. When it comes to some of the challenges we face such as irrigation, it’s really comforting to know we have them as a resource, thank you!

On more of a macro level, water is finite, irreplaceable life force . I was reading an article in Common Ground saying that according to Greenpeace around 100 million tons of plastic are produced each year, 10% of which, end up in the ocean. And according to the United Nations Environmental Program ,90% of the developing world’s wastewaters are still being dumped into the ocean. What does this mean for aquatic life and for ourselves, destruction!!! We are polluting our waters at a very steady pace while only 1% of the total water on earth, is drinkable!

Over the years, it’s been determined that the aquifers of California’s Central Valley and Sierra Nevada have lost enough water to fill Lake Mead! Attempts to privatize the water will make it even more difficult for people to access it. Citizens must take action to preserve and reuse water. You can increase the accumulation of water in your garden by irrigating efficiently; build rain gardens, swales and ponds, rainwater catchment systems and other really cool stuff like Atmospheric Water Generators (AWG’s). To learn more go to Of course all of these remedies require a lot of resources so as Maggie suggested in class, less developed countries can use Clay pot or pitcher irrigation.

As we've learned about in class, Katherine Cook and Brock Doleman are other influential crusaders for the protection of water. Check out Slow It, Spread It, Sink It…The Alchemy of Watershed Restoration

Upcoming Events:

April 16th & May 1st -9am-5 Occidental Arts and Ecology Center Plant Sale

April 17th- Plant sale at Wendy’s house (I’m not sure what Wendy’s address is?? If anyone knows can you post it please? She is in Muir Beach!)

April 22- Earth Day!

April 24th

  • Earth Day celebration at COM

  • Slide Ranch’s Spring Fling, celebrating earth day on the farm, volunteers needed!

April 28th- Field Trip to County Line

May 8th- Annual Edible Schoolyard Plant Sale 9-2pm

May 15th- Freestone Fermentation Festival

June 13th- Come to Green Gulch for mediation, a tour, lunch and a class on flower production with Wendy!

Friday, April 9, 2010

3.24.10 Farm Class Photos

Cabbages and Lettuce

Planting our grafted apple and pear trees!

It takes a village to raise a tree?

Check out those roots!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


First! Upcoming and exciting events!

Saturday April 10th
Steve's Open Hand Farm Crop Mob! Work Party, refreshments, complimentary lettuce starts, fun for all!

Saturday April 17th
Wendy's Dragon's Bend Coastal Plant Sale!
"organically grown plants for sale in Muir Beach. 1795 Shoreline Highway, Muir Beach. 10am - 3pm."

Sunday April 25th
The Greenhorns and the Green String Farm Band present the Young Farmers Mixer!
More Info to come...

Saturday May 22nd
Volunteer Day at Indian Valley Farm!
Spread the word!

There's a lot of talk about upcoming gatherings. Ideas are blooming, the future is blossoming, and all the while we're drawing on the strength we find in our ancestral roots. Through our teachers, knowledge transcends time and is reborn through renewed perspective. A conglomeration of everything our teachers have learned, from every teacher they've been taught by, is transferred to us, and is transferred through us when we teach to others.

Today as we dreamt of the future, we touched the past too; we watched a video called "Garden Song" about Alan Chadwick, Wendy's mentor. It's fascinating to trace the lineage of knowledge in this way, to get a glimpse of the man who we owe many thanks to. Would this class exist if it weren't for him and his teacher's before him? Alan Chadwick's lessons were captured only in part. He never wanted to be recorded or filmed. I think he valued the nature of personal experience and impromptu interaction; he was a man of the theater, after all. Nonetheless, this small glimpse was enlightening. He used what is called the Biodynamic French Intensive method. It's said to feed 15 people per acre, in comparison to the 4-person yield in one American farm acre. It's time intensive but more efficient. There are predictions in that movie about the future, how in the year 2000 there will be 1/3 of the land available for agriculture. It was a call for change then, and there's a call for change now. We've got to take a well rounded approach to stability and sustainability. This kind of approach calls for a closeness to all sides of an issue, all directions within and outlining and beyond the garden plot.

Steve drew up a cool lesson on the importance of the space between the plots. The ruts are "areas of discontinuity," where life happens. Where would we be without these borders between realms, markings of integration and separation? Lines of segregation shock the system, causing our perspective to shift to include a new set of details, yet keeping us in balance at the same time. The ruts can be utilized, working not just as a pathway between the farmed land, but also as an air conditioner, oriented to work in conjunction with coastal winds to cool and cleanse the rows. The ruts are an example of how to integrate the elements with a garden plan, taking into account the need for moisture in the earth, as well as the need for drying out and soaking up the sun. The fire, the earth, the wind, and the water all shape a specific place, the plants create microclimates under the shade of their leaves. Learning and knowing the delicacies of the land we work with helps us give and receive the most.

Yet again, our class took place right in between a pelting of rain. As I write this entry, I wonder about the brassicas that we planted today.  Hopefully, our carefully planted rows of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower will withstand the powerful storms and flourish in their new home. I brought home some starts for myself and got to work in my own garden a bit before the storm passed over again. I can wait to plant those suckers in and watch em' take hold of the juicy land that's waiting for them. I salvaged a pea plant from the farm last week, which is awaiting its transplant as well. All is well. The rain is wonderful. Have fun, take the time for yourself to laugh, be foolish, and enjoy spring.

In light of the immense power of this stormy weather, in honor of Mister Chadwick, and of course for this auspicious April First:
"We play the fools with the time, and the
spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and mock us." -Shakespeare, Henry IV
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man doth know himself to be a fool." -As You Like It

A good farmer makes a partnership with the earth and acknowledges that nothing can control the force of nature. It is foolish to work against the natural forces, but to understand our place as partners in the earth's mutualistic balance is the key to harnessing the abundance of these forces. Work with the earth to enhance its power and your garden will flourish!

Homework assignment:
If you've haven't already, write about what the growth of one edible plant does for you and for the world,
Also, write one page about the teachers who have influenced and inspired you.