By Jean English
Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Cycles are so pronounced in our cold temperate climate. Now, in winter, leaves have fallen, blanketing the forest and feeding the soil organisms that hold the nutrients that will later be released to help woodland plants burst forth in spring with renewed vigor, to photosynthesize and gather yet more nutrients to cycle back to the earth.
This cycle of nutrient building and sharing is mimicked in organic farm and garden soils as mulch or cover crops retain soils and recycle nutrients, as freezing and thawing promote some weathering and release of soil minerals.
Farmers and gardeners use this season for rest and renewal too. We have nutrients stored in our root cellars, freezers and canning jars until we need them. Then, often, we share our pumpkin pies and roasted chickens at our winter potlucks. How amazing that we can grow half the produce we need for a year in just a dozen 20-foot garden rows, as Jack Kertesz showed at MOFGA’s demonstration gardens this year (described in this MOF&G). How fortunate that we have hundreds of sources of Maine-grown food through farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture farms and local markets.
We share information too – at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show, at MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference and at the many other winter events listed in the calendar in this paper. A synergy comes from sharing. Life builds upon life.
In our volunteer profile in this MOF&G, forester Sam Brown says that we likely need a new economy – one that recognizes natural systems – so that we don’t destroy the resources that support us. Part of that new economy must involve cycles of sharing – of information, plant and animal genetics, markets and more. We see that kind of sharing throughout the year at events that MOFGA and like-minded groups convene, at farmers’ markets, at seed swaps.
What a difference from the likes of Monsanto, which, as we go to press, is being investigated by the Justice Department for possible antitrust violations; which hoards and manipulates genetic resources for profit, primarily; which forbids farmers’ traditional cycling of seed resources.
What a relief that the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements convened a crop and animal breeding conference last summer. In her coverage of that conference in this MOF&G, Terry Allan describes the sharing that went on there, sparking optimism that genetic resources can be developed and used more equitably than the biotech industry is doing.
Here’s wishing you a good season of rest spiced with a productive season of sharing – and hoping to see you at MOFGA Day, Jan. 12, at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show.