AcresUSA.com links

Community Seed Network

For farmers and gardeners who practice the time-honored tradition of preserving seed and trading with neighbors and friends, the swapping circle just got a whole lot bigger.

Logo for Community Seed NetworkA collaboration between the Seed Savers Exchange and USC Canada has launched an online resource for seed savers of all experience levels known as the Community Seed Network (CSN). The website (communityseednetwork.org) is designed to serve both as a database with tools for seed savers, community organizers and seed librarians as well as a platform for users across the continent to connect and swap seeds.

In recent decades, community-organized seed preservation has resurfaced as an alternative to purchasing packaged seeds every year from major seed companies. Organizations like the Seed Savers Exchange and USC Canada have long supported grassroots efforts to take back seed sovereignty, but the internet affords a unique opportunity to vastly multiply access to vital skills for seed preservation and to develop community infrastructure. Continue Reading →

Planting By the Moon

The practice of growing food and raising livestock is a calling that urges us to become stronger and hardier. The variables present in natural systems can be overwhelming, and it is only those who are willing to face hard truths and adapt that can truly turn it into a lifestyle.

The top of a scarlet turnip in the ground

Scarlet turnips seeded on a root day develop robust roots instead of leaves, flowers or seeds.

From the outside, the natural world looks extremely chaotic and unpredictable, and to a certain degree, it is. Even the best laid plans can be nullified by unseasonable weather, accidents, disease and a deluge of other unforeseen obstacles and losses. It takes a willful person to persist through these challenges and adapt in ways that lead to success.

The overall effect of this persistence pays off in countless rewards of spiritual and physical importance. To tune oneself to the natural rhythms of this planet with dedication and discipline is to gain insight into how this seeming chaos provides for order and how ambient rhythms guide all life through a cyclical journey here on Earth.

Observation

One of the most important tools a grower can use to become more successful is observation. We must learn about the ecology of the land, in the soil, on and in the plants, in the water and in the air, all while also being able to take these individual pieces and fit them into a broad awareness of the greater natural system as a whole. Continue Reading →

Poultry Hacks for the No-Fuss Flock

Lately, I have been seeing a lot of articles and even entire books written about what are called “hacks,” bits of wisdom and common sense that tend to accumulate around one subject or another. In other times it might have been called lore, the experience and the essential skills and knowledge that have grown out of a particular calling or pursuit.

Chickens standing in a fieldYes, even concerning chickens, there are practical hacks — hacks and what old-timers might call tricks of the trade. One that comes to mind is the practice of wing clipping to prevent fully feathered birds from flying up and over enclosures.

Wing Clipping

Most know to clip just one wing to make the bird unbalanced and un­able to get aloft, but which is the best wing to clip? Can it possibly matter? Clip the bird’s left wing. The internal organs on the left side of a chicken’s body are generally more developed, making that side of the body a bit heavier. By clipping that wing the rea­soning is that the bird is made more imbalanced for flight. Continue Reading →

Book excerpt: Rebirth of the Small Family Farm

Front cover image for the book Rebirth of the Small Family FarmThe book “Rebirth of the Small Family Farm” is a concise handbook for starting a successful organic farm based on the community-supported agriculture concept. The authors, Bonnie and Bob Gregson, illustrate how they – two self-described “middle-aged novices” – made a decent living on less than 2 acres of land.

This is not just a theory book — it details specific tools, techniques and how-to information, which can be utilized by beginning and advanced farmers alike.

The excerpt below comes from Chapter 3, titled, “Key Factors to Success.” The authors go into detail for each of the 10 identified factors, including having like-minded partners, organic growing, physical ability, ongoing education, direct marketing, location close to consumers, value-added products, and more. Continue Reading →

Remembering Dennis Piluri

Dennis Piluri, age 69, of Scottsdale, Arizona, passed away on January 5, 2019, in Phoenix. At the time of his passing, he was the proud owner of Great Western Sales, along with his brother, Robert. Dennis, Robert and Great Western, an organic fertilizer distributorship, have long supported the eco-agriculture movement. Their product, Organic Gem, has reached farms around the world.

Dennis touched everyone he met with his warm wit, loyalty and exemplary character. Continue Reading →

Clay Bottom Farm Turns Lean Principles into Profit

It’s a frigid March day in northern Indiana, but inside Clay Bottom Farm’s hoop house, Ben Hartman is planting onion sets. The work is done quickly with a Japanese paper pot transplanter — a wheeled cart with a slanted chute.

Ben Hartman waters plants in his hoop house with his young son.

Ben Hartman and his son Arlo work in the hoop house at Clay Bottom Farm.

A tray holds a honeycombed square of paper pots that unspool as a linked chain of seedlings slides down the red chute as Hartman wheels it down the bed.

“Origami designers developed this tool,” he explains, as each paper pot slips into the soft furrow at evenly spaced intervals, to be tucked in by the transplanter’s slanted rear wheels.

At the end of the row Hartman tears the damp paper linking the pots and turns the implement for another pass. The first seedling in a row gets planted by hand, but the rest are hands-off. “You’re supposed to use a used chopstick,” he says, staking the first paper pot with tongs to keep the line in place, “but we didn’t have any on hand.” Continue Reading →