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"Perhaps the most radical thing you can do in our time is to start turning over the soil, loosening it up for the crops to settle in, and then stay home and tend them."
- Rebecca Solnit
MOF&G Cover Winter 2008-2009
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  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerWinter 2008-2009Better Campaign   
 Editorial: A Better Campaign Minimize

by Jean English
Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener

In the midst of fall’s big stories – economic turmoil; a drawn-out political campaign; the ever-present war – day-to-day life for most of us was surprisingly unchanged, especially when it involved harvesting our own food, for economy, nutrition, health, taste – and for the simple pleasure of doing something quiet and productive outdoors. At the moment of picking a blueberry, filling a box with apples, digging potatoes, we are happily disconnected from the “real world.” We live gloriously, fulfillingly in our more-than-real world.

What if politicians, instead of repeating the same promises ad nauseam – many of which are important, but we don’t need to hear them 100 times – used their media opportunities to promote day-to-day actions that would help individuals and, as Russell Libby notes in his editorial, the real economy, the home economy. Each day, for 100 days of a political campaign, let’s hear candidates offer a smart idea that anyone can do regarding growing and eating good food, saving energy, making solid investments, raising children.

Here’s one such idea: Plant a couple of apple trees and eat an apple every day. Heather and Francis Young (featured in this MOF&G ) sent an email about Mark Christensen of the New Zealand Tree Crops Association, who discovered the ‘Monty's Surprise’ apple. The mother tree, some 90 years old, was growing by a remote road where Christensen and his friends happened to stop just when the enormous red apples were at their peak of flavor. Locals recalled a roadwork gang camp on the site in the 1890s; ‘Monty's Surprise’ may have originated from a discarded seed.

‘Monty’s Surprise’ and many other seedling and heirloom apples turn out to be far higher in cancer-preventing compounds, such as antioxidants, than many modern, supermarket varieties. “Christensen was so convinced that a Monty's Surprise apple tree should be growing in everyone's back yard that he managed to gain the support of local health authorities and the Wanganui Council and was able to offer 500 free trees through a local plant centre,” say the Youngs. (See http://www.treecrops.org.nz/resrch/apple/applecanc06.html)

Wouldn’t it be great to hear a politician promise that anyone who wanted to plant a couple of apple trees could get them, subsidized by local health authorities?

It’s the stuff of dreams, and applesauce.

Speaking of applesauce, a MOFGA member reports that this summer she had the most delectable applesauce ever, made from ‘William’s Pride’ apples. A friend who grows this tree (neither heirloom nor seedling, but still worth planting) and made the sauce says it’s a “really nice tree to grow,” ripening in August, but not all at once, with apples lasting a good week or more off the tree. The fruits are “gorgeous on the tree – big, pretty red with a purple blush,” they don’t bruise easily and they show little pest damage. The trees are easy to grow and produce regularly – at a time when no other good, local apples are available; and the big apples produce “tons of applesauce.” The Fedco Trees catalog has even more good words for ‘William’s Pride.’

For more about the transcendent world of apples, read John Bunker’s keynote address in this MOF&G, about his decades-long campaign to learn about the apples of Palermo, Maine, and spread the good apple word – a refreshing word after a long political season.


    

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