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"One hears a lot about the rules of good husbandry; there is only one — leave the land far better than you found it."
- George Henderson, The Farming Ladder
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MOF&G Cover Fall 1997

 

 


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 Reviews – Fall 1997 Minimize


The Guide to a Sustainable Future
Video: Vegetable Farmers and Their Weed Control Machines


The Guide to a Sustainable Future
Will Sugg
$35, VISA/MC or check
Indicate preference for Mac or IBM edition
The Green Disk, P.O. Box 32224, Washington DC 20007; 1-888-GRN-DISK; e-mail greendisk@ igc.org; Web site: www.igc.org/greendisk

The editors of The Green Disk, a bimonthly magazine on disk (not currently publishing, however), have released a comprehensive guide for learning and taking action for a sustainable future. Included are four sections outlining the transformation of design, energy systems, agriculture and materials flow necessary for a positive future: Ecological Building and Design; Organic and Sustainable Agriculture; Wood Conservation and Alternative Fibers; and Renewable and Clean Energy.

Each of the four sections contains extensive background articles, news and resource listings. Included are: 232 full text reports and articles; over 1700 references; 563 Web sites, listservs, CD-roms, and databases; listings of 552 books, reports, videos and other resources; plus profiles of 377 organizations, agencies, projects, campaigns and companies that are the vanguard on the path to sustainability.

I looked at the sustainable agriculture disk for a couple of hours and found plenty to recommend it. It is divided into five parts: an Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture (five articles on problems with current agricultural practices and some solutions); Organic and Sustainable Agriculture in the News (nine articles from 1995 and 1996); Publications, Resources and Projects (including seed and supply companies as well as organizations and their publications; only phone numbers are listed, and MOFGA is not listed – but if you’re reading this newspaper, you know us); Computer and Internet Resources (such as the Practical Pollination Home Page; information on how to join the Sustainable Agriculture Network; websites for Cascadian Farms, the Environmental Working Group, organic gardening, permaculture, and much more); and a Calendar of Sustainable Agriculture Events (out of date by now).

This disk is valuable for someone who is just getting involved in sustainable agriculture and wants to know the basics, and for people who want a computerized directory of groups active in this movement. I liked a section called “What Can We Do?” and think an entire disk organized around these solutions would be valuable:

• grow biointensive gardens

• join a community supported agriculture project

• support a farmers’ market

• buy open pollinated seed

• invest in socially responsible companies, such as Odwalla and Whole Foods

• build and restore community

• buy organic cotton clothing.

The Guide to a Sustainable Future is published on disk in Macintosh and IBM editions, and includes interface for reading and keyword searching. It would consume 1400 pages of paper if printed. The disks, manual and packaging are all made from 100% recycled content.

– Jean English

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Vegetable Farmers and Their Weed Control Machines
Videotape, 1996
Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Cooperative Extension; Mary Jane Else, University of Massachusetts Agroecology Program
Produced with a grant from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Prog.

Heard of the Bezzerides Spyder or the Lilliston Rolling Cultivator, but didn’t know what they were? Here’s your chance to “visit” nine vegetable growers in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire and see, up close and in action, their weed control machines. Not all of the farmers are organic, but all are committed to minimizing their use of herbicides, and most aim to limit or eliminate, on some crops, hand hoeing.

Here you can see that Lilliston Rolling Cultivator, which can weed row crops and can be adjusted to hill potatoes; or Batwing shovels – refashioned old car bumpers – for single row cultivation; or the Buddingh Basket Weeder, which weeds but doesn’t throw soil into a crop of lettuce.

Several methods of flame weeding are shown, also, from hand-held units with the tank carried as a backpack, to a tractor-mounted unit that flames a 4-foot-wide bed. Liquid propane, which doesn’t supercool lines as gas does, is discussed, too. Growers find that flame weeding is very effective on newly emerged weeds but not particularly effective on grasses or larger weeds, although one suggested that flaming grasses a second time, after the growing tip was higher, may work. Some excellent information is presented about how to incorporate flame weeding into a mixed vegetable operation.

Not just machines, but philosophies of weeding are presented, from one grower saying he aims for no weeds in his field, to another saying he just tries to keep weeds at economic thresholds, believing that some weed population may be good for beneficial insects or other purposes.

This professionally made video is an excellent “course” in weed control equipment. Tools are shown in their entirety, and close ups of working parts, still and in motion, show just how (amazingly) these parts work. I’d love to see more videos like this] about cover crops, greenhouse construction and operation, and so on.

Vegetable Farmers and Their Weed Control Machines is available from the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Vermont, 590 Main St., Burlington, VT 05405-0059; send a check or money order for $12 made out to the University of Vermont. Check with your county extension educators in Maine, too; some have copies to lend.

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