This local chapter is located in/near Westchester/New York City, NY.
To contact/join this chapter, please see the contact info on the left.
To learn a little bit more about this Chapter and it's history, click here for a conversation with co-leaders Doug DeCandia and Ellen Best.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 from 6 to 8pm
Where: Sugar Hill Farm (homebase of Westchester Land Trust)
403 Harris Road, Bedford Hills, NY [map]
Topic: Growing Microgreens - presented by Anna and Joe.
Bring a potluck dish to share - no limits: vegetarian, meat, whatever!
To RSVP or if you have questions contact Ellen Best at firstname.lastname@example.org or Doug Decandia (cell 914-494-6986)
Future ideas for meeting topics: plant swap, growing mushrooms, climate change gardening, chickens, fruit trees. If you have other ideas or presenters in mind, please let us know.
Planning your garden, here’s something to think about:
SRI (System of Rice Intensification) is a practice (not just with rice, but most crops) that expresses much of what we are talking about at the BFA (giving plants space to breath and grow, etc.). It challenges the "conventional" idea of planting lots of plants closely (and not getting to really care for each one), rather than planting less/further apart and being able to care for each one better… with an increase in production.
Also, check out this book, “How to Grow World Record Tomatoes,” showing how tomato plants were planted with plenty of room and thrived! Dan Kittredge (BFA founder) references it in his workshop.
Healthy Yards is an initiative of Bedford 2020 that was mentioned at the meeting – yards without chemicals, using leaves and connecting to the local ecology.
The Pollinator Pathway is a local plan to connect the land in area communities via a pathway of pollinator and ecology-friendly native plants. This is a good way to diversify your garden.
If you haven't had a chance to hear it yet, check out Doug’s podcast interview with Acres USA at https://www.acresusa.com/audio/tractor-time (episode 16)
Notes from Past Meeting
Healthy Soil Healthy Plants Healthy People
This simple principle, when understood and put into practice, connects the health of people directly with the health of the land. What we eat is a reflection of where it comes from. If we want our community to be healthy, if we want our neighbors, ourselves and our children to have access to high quality food and medicine, we all need to do what we can to support the growth and distribution of healthy food, starting with intention and moving into caring for soil, plants and the life that live within and upon them. Food and medicine growing in mineral balanced, biologically diverse soils contain the elements that people need in their diets. It is up to growers to care for soil and plant health through life-promoting practices; it is up to consumers to demand and source these foods from suppliers and support local growers by helping to cultivate awareness and markets for their high quality produce.
Good food, and good farming, is medicine for the body and mind and spirit of human beings, and the earth. We can only be fully well when we eat well, and we can only eat well when plants grow strong in healthy soil.
Addressing Limiting Factors
People have basic needs (food, water, shelter, air, Love, movement...) just as plants and soil have basic needs (air, water, carbon, biology, minerals). Dis-ease arises when these basic needs are not met. We see and hear everyday about the struggles the World faces. One's well-being and dignity is compromised when they become completely dependent on other people and things outside of themselves; just as plants loose their innate vitality when they become dependent on fertilizers, pesticides and people to manage them. Dis-ease is not a pre-determined, definite, existence, but something that is created and maintained. A disconnection from understanding, and trusting, basic-life functions is a source of much suffering. We don't need to have a lot of money or live in palaces, but we do need a place to keep warm and high quality food. Plants don't need synthetic, salt-based, soluble fertilizers, but whole, insoluble and available minerals and diverse biology. Micro-organisms don't need to be killed in order to grow plants. Much of what we do, acting upon what we think we need, creates the conditions of dis-ease. By addressing these conditions ( or "Limiting Factors") we can help to create an environment that promotes health and well-being, rather than sickness.
Air — life needs air to breath and receive energy from. Compact soils create an anaerobic environment that does not support the growth of healthy plants. Mulching, applying carbon-rich materials (compost, humates, biochar, etc.) and rock dusts, and growing healthy plants that Photosynthesize efficiently (turning carbon dioxide into oxygen and complex sugars or soil carbon) are ways to address some limiting factors.
Water — water carries memory and sustenance. Without water Life cannot function. An "enlivened" (energetically vibrant), clean (free of sterilizing chemicals) and consistent (moist but not wet) source of water is necessary for soil biology, minerals and plants to have what they need to live well.
Carbon — humified compost, humates and biochar are some amendments that can be added to increase the Carbon and Carbon-creation in the soil. Carbon is part of what holds nutrients and water from leaching through the soil, maintaining them for micro-organisms to utilize and make available to plants. In the form of sugars and carbohydrates (from the plant into the soil, through photosynthesis), Carbon is a source of food for plants and biology, that plants create themselves through photosynthesis. The structure of carbon-based material creates space in the soil for air and water, and biology to live. Growing healthy plants (photosynthesis) and amending with natural, carbon-based material can help address issues of leaching, drainage (extremes of wetness and dryness) and mineral availability.
Biology — living organisms in the soil (and on the plant surface) act, in many ways, like the digestive system of the plant. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and many other forms of life living in the soil and on the plant surface forage minerals/elements, digest them and make them available to plants. Biologically rich and diverse soils have the capacity to help provide all that plants need to grow strong, so long as the basic elements (minerals, water and air) are also present.
Minerals — whole, insoluble and available. Whole being in the form of rock (applied as rock dust) or sea minerals. Insoluble and Available being nutrients not solubalized in water before being "force-fed" to plants, but made available to plants where and when they need them, through biological processes. In agriculture we are essentially speeding up natural processes - growing annual plants from seed and feeding these plants and soil with rock dust (it takes plant roots and organisms a long, long time to turn rocks into dust and soil/plant food).
Enzymes and Trace Minerals
The "Macro" minerals (Phosphorus, Calcium, Potassium, Sulfur, etc.) make up the bulk of nutrition. Trace minerals (boron, cobalt, molybdenum, selenium, etc.), many of which are enzyme co-factors (the core minerals of enzymes), provide an essential means for these macro-minerals to enter and become available in the body. At the workshop he gave last year, Dan K. illustrated enzymes acting like a socket and wrench. When one is building a greenhouse, for example, one uses a certain-sized socket and wrench to put together the structural "bones" of the greenhouse, and when one is taking apart a greenhouse, they use those same tools. Enzymes, like the tool, put together and take apart compounds that bodies need to develop.
Though Trace minerals are needed in small amounts, they are essential to nutrition and basic life function. For example, Vitamin B12 is a collective term for a group of cobalt-containing compounds that assemble to form cobalamins (see attached document for more information). Vatamin B12 (and Vitamins in general) is required in the diet of humans and micro-organisms, especially B12 dependent micro-organisms that assist in Nitrogen fixation.
Pests and Disease
Insects, molds, and weeds that overtake and outgrow our garden plants are not the diseases themselves, but are rather the indicators of dis-ease; of imbalance. Dan K. mentioned that insect larvae are not attracted to eat plants that are healthfully producing complex sugars, carbohydrates and other compounds because those insect larvae do not have a digestive system (they lack a liver) that can assimilate those compounds; but they can digest the simple sugars produced by sick plants, and so are attracted to those. In his book, Tuning into Nature: infrared radiation and the insect communication system, Dr. Philip Callahan writes about insects ability to detect, with their antennae, a plants "emissions" (in the infrared) which contain information about that plant. Thus, an insect and other "opportunists" make decisions and are attracted to what they and their bodies can utilize efficiently.