BFA Newsletter: June 2015

A note from the Founder

Summer is upon us, and the weather, at least here in the Northeast, at last seems to be collaborating. We had dry weather in April and much of May, and I heard similar reports from as far away as at least the Midwest, but now the regular mix of hot and thunderstorms seems to be helping stressed crops catch up.

Extended periods of dry weather and dry soil when crops are young really inhibits the establishment of large root systems and thriving microbial communities. Dry soil prevents soil life from existing to a large degree and that keeps the plants from being able to access the full spectrum of nutrition that they would like to thrive.

Check the brix readings of crops and conductivity of soil. Low brix probably means that the plant does not have enough sugar being made to feed the soil life as much as it should, and that can be easily remedied through the application of molasses or sugar at a quart to a gallon to the acre. Dilute in irrigation water to give a little boost to the soil life.

Low conductivity from reduced levels of soil life dissolving minerals can be readily addressed through the use of sea water or rehydrated sea salt added to the irrigation system. 5 or 10 gallons of sea water added to the system per acre should give a nice boost if low conductivity is an issue. We have been getting some real drenchers with 2+ inches at a time, and that will also have the effect of draining out nutrients from the system.

I always suggest talking to your plants and asking them what and how much they want, so please take their suggestions over mine :)  Of course, there are a bunch of different treats that they may want, from a weed tea to essential oils to some interplanted herbs.

For those who are under-stimulated and looking for some good summer reading, Horst Marschner's "Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants" is The text on what minerals plants use at which points in their development process and what the classic symptoms of deficiency are. A bit expensive, but a wonderful handbook to have on hand to help identify causation underlying classic issues.

In this Issue
  1. A Note from Dan
  2. Biochar Workshop
  3. California Workshop
  4. Seed Project
  5. Soil & Nutrition Conference
  6. Soil Profile Project
  7. Steve Westin: In Memoriam

   Upcoming Workshops

Biochar Workshop

Coming very soon, on July 11-12 here in North Brookfield, the BFA will be hosting Gary Gilmore, a state forester from Pennsylvania on the broad topic of biochar. I have been following the topic for years, and finally feel like I have found a presenter to cover the full gamut of biochar as it applies to farmers and smallholders. Gary will be teaching not only how to make biochar with different styles of burners, and use it in the soil, but how to make diesel that can be used in a tractor, gasoline that can be used in a car, and gas that can be used in a grill, as well as hot water for heating hoophouses etc from biochar. For those who have been intrigued by the topic, but never looked deeply, I think this might be an opportunity to take advantage of. Apologies for getting the word out so close to the date of. We have a bunch of steel 55 gallon barrels on hand that can be purchased for $10 each, so that any attendee can go home with their own burner or two from this course if they so wish. Cost for the two days is $150 or $125 for BFA members. See for further details and to register.

High Bionutrient Crop Production Workshop

We've received many requests to bring our High Bionutrient Crop Production Workshops to the west coast, and after an overwhelmingly positive response to intro lectures in the Bay Area, we are pleased to announce our first California workshop — in Sebastopol on July 22-23. So exciting to see the viral spread of interest and eagerness to learn more about this form of biological farming and gardening. This two-day workshop is designed to teach the basic principles and practices to achieve higher quality crops — better taste, pest and disease resilience, and shelf life, plus higher levels of nutrients beneficial to human health. Visit to learn what the excitement is about!

Biochar Workshop
with Gary Gilmore

July 11-12, 2015
@ Kittredge Farm in North Brookfield, MA

Register today!

A brief Q & A

Intrigued? We posed a handful of questions to Gary about the upcoming workshop...






High Bionutrient Crop Production Workshop

July 22-23, 2015
in Sebastopol, CA

Register today!

   New: Seed Project

Seed is a topic that those who have attended the BFA courses will have heard me rant on, and finally it seems that we will be making some steps towards doing something about it. We understand that the health and vigor of the mother has a great deal of effect on the health of the child, and the thesis is that seed crops grown with conventional fertility programs do not necessarily have the inherent pest and disease resistance that correlates with high levels of health and vigor, so we should not expect it in the seed that we buy. Most of us buy seed, and so if the objective is to close the loop on systemic weakness and shortcomings in our crops, addressing this seed issue is critical.

Angus Baldwin, a knowledgeable and thoughtful farmer from Vermont, and I were going on about this topic a couple of months ago, and I challenged him to write up a plan of action moving forward that the BFA could undertake. Visit to learn more about Angus’s thoughtful suggestions for how we can move forward, and submit your contact info if you feel inspired to engage in the process laid out. We will contact those who express interest by the end of July to see how we can take advantage of this year’s growing season before likely doing any serious work this winter. Thank you, Angus, for writing this up for us.

Sign up to learn more about this exciting endeavor!

Seeds are an obviously critical limiting factor.
Join us in creating a seed bank whose foundation is the fruit of a bionutrient-rich genetic pool.

BFA Seed Project

Summer reading

"Review on Effect of Seed Size on Seedling Vigour and Seed Yield" - published last year in Research Journal of Seed Science

   Soil and Nutrition Conference

Save the date on your calendar for the fifth iteration of our annual Soil and Nutrition conference. February 8-9, 2016 at Kripalu in Stockbridge, MA. This year's conference will have two tracks: one on soil, for the growers in the audience, and one on human nutrition for the consumers, nutritionists and those in the healing fields.

Our agenda is to follow the life cycle for each track. What does human seed need to be viable and healthy, and plant seed and animal seed. What does the birth or germination environment need for the baby animal/plant/human to thrive, etc on through early childhood development, puberty, reproduction, and healthy adulthood. We hope to flesh out the similarities and most importantly the steps to supporting organisms systemically through the entire life cycle in an effort to deepen our understanding of the life that we are working with, whether it be our children, plants, animals, or some combination. More updates will certainly be coming in future editions of this newsletter.

Soil and Nutrition Conference

Feb 8-9, 2016
at Kripalu Center
in Stockbridge, MA

Mark your calendars
and stay tuned for
more information!

   Update: Soil Profile Project

With all the fanfare with which we shared the upcoming tour of the Northeast by John Slack to assess underlying soil mineralogy and sources of local amendments, and then its postponement, we finally have nothing yet to report. John is moving from Ontario to Quebec, and two of his daughters had children in the past month, and so he was unable to make the ten day trip around the region that we all hoped for. We are still waiting for a window in his schedule that we can share as the time he will finally come and begin this exciting project.

   Steve Westin: In Memoriam

Steve Westin, the star of our RBTI two-day course in April, unexpectedly passed three weeks after coming out from Michigan to share his wisdom and experience. Many excited plans were already made for his scheduled return trip in August, with a master class, in-field explications of the Reams principles, and a wide-ranging discussion on topics from Reich to Schauberger and beyond. Steve, in the short time that we were able to spend with him, piqued much interest with his wealth of knowledge and understanding. It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of another elder.

It has been said that even after people pass we can still access their spirit with our consciousness if we so choose. Perhaps that is the deeper opportunity that we are reminded of. Verbal communication is not the only form we are limited to. We have the capacity to commune with all of life around us, perhaps if we hone our skills, we can commune with all that is.





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