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Letter From the Daily Table

To: South Shore Organics

Dear Pam,

daily-table-2Thank you for your generous donations to Daily Table in 2016! Through those donations, we were able to continue offering affordable and nutritious food to our community. In recognition of your support, we are pleased to award  you a key supplier certificate.

2016 was a big year here at Daily Tbale. Last June, during our one-year anniversary celebration, hundreds of customers shared with us how the food they bought at Daily Table had positively affected their lives. Over and over again we heard how delicious the food was and how our shoppers appreciated our healthy products at affordable prices. One customer said:

“I shop at Daily Table because there is always a different selection. Daily Table takes all the stress out of shopping because I don’t have to compare prices or make sacrifices–and I know its always healthy!”

Her observations are reflected in the numbers. We are now averaging 300 different items in the store (as compared to only 100 when we first opened). Our average daily customer count is up by 100 over the previous year. We have rescued almost one million pounds of food, to date, selling more than 15,000 servings of healthy and affordable food every day this year in our upbeat, clean, and friendly retail store in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Together, we are providing a meaningful, and dignified, solution to food insecurity.

2017 promises to be an even bigger year. We recently signed the lease for our second location, in the Dudley Square neighborhood of Roxbury, expected to open early summer. We are excited through our continued partnership to bring nutritious products at truly affordable prices to a new community.

Your donations make all the difference. Thank you again for being a key supplier for Daily Table.

With gratitude and wishes for a happy and successful New Year,

Doug Rauch, Founder and President

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About Daily Table:

Daily Table is a not-for-profit retail store that offers tasty, convenient, and affordable “grab-n-go” ready to eat meals, and a selection of produce, bread, dairy and grocery items all at prices designed to fit within every budget.  The store is clean and friendly, and open to everyone in the community.  We can offer these daily values by working with a large network of growers, supermarkets, manufacturers, and other suppliers who donate their excess, healthy food to us, or provide us with special buying opportunities. In this way, Daily Table keeps prices affordable for all our customers.  Our meals are priced to compete with fast food options, making it easier for families to eat healthier within their means.

About Our Donations:

We made weekly donations of fresh fruit and veggies from local farms all year long in 2016. Daily Table is essentially an oasis in what is considered a food desert, we love their mission, and are delighted that on behalf of our customers, we could support their mission to improve access to healthy food. We made a difference.

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Staff Review: Smoothie Mix Micro Greens

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Reviewer:  Pamela Denholm

Micro greens have the reputation of being a wonder  food. They are potent, offer as much as 100 times more beneficial enzymes in than in regular veggies, contain 10 times the anti-oxidants, and are rich in minerals and vitamins that are easy for us to absorb. Essentially, sprouts and shoots contain everything needed for (new) life.

Micro greens from 2 Friends Farm look so fresh and green and vibrant, I was dying to try them and eventually settled on the Smoothie Mix to bring home last week. The same last week of Friday the 13th, and a full moon.

I have to say, right off the bat, that the smoothie portion is generous. If you are adding a handful of micro greens to your smoothie each morning, the clam shell they offer will last about a week. And although it is the ‘smoothie mix’ – it looked like such a nice blend of different micro greens I decided to try a couple different things with it:

  1. Sandwich – I put the micro greens  on a wrap, with cucumber, cottage cheese, grated carrot, and green beans.
  2. Salad – I didn’t have salad greens so added grape tomatoes, cucumber, left over roast chicken, and a drizzle of olive oil to a handful of micro greens for lunch
  3. Smoothie – an orange (peeled), frozen banana, micro greens, and 1 inch peeled ginger

Of course, as I eluded, it was Friday the 13th, the moon was a full, brightly lit round orb. ‘The Wolf Moon’ no less. And guess what? My Vitamix gave up the ghost. That is, it kicked the bucket and went to blender heaven. What the heck!?!  I was committed (to doing this, not to an institution) so after a couple minutes of mild panic and dismay at my recent loss, I threw all the ingredients in my regular blender which made it a little lumpier than usual, but still very enjoyable.

img_4457I really enjoy smoothies, but I am fussy about the flavors. I don’t like it when they taste too ‘grassy’, which can sometimes happen with greens. And I don’t love it when they taste like peas either, which is why I tend not to use pea shoots in smoothies – it is a difficult flavor to mask. But these micro greens which are a blend of pea shoots, baby kale, and other micro greens, were just perfect and not at all overpowering. My smoothie may not have been very ‘smooth’ (RIP Vitamix), but it did go down well and I am eager to make it a morning ritual because it is a no fuss way to get those nutrient dense greens in! They were equally enjoyable in the salad and on the wrap – no need to limit yourself just because the label says ‘smoothie’.

Now I’m off to get on to Vitamix to see if we can do an emergency air-lift. Cross fingers that a full recovery is possible, otherwise I’ll be back on Craigslist hoping somebody’s  New Year’s resolutions dissolved into a ‘Vitamix for sale’ post.

About 2 Friends Farm:

Two friends, who share passion for fresh young greens, sprouted the seed of an idea into a busy, indoor farm growing organic microgreens and wheatgrass  in rich, fertile soil year-round!

“We are organic farmers, consciously growing fresh, beautiful microgreens and wheatgrass, promoting a lifetime of health for your family and ours,” say Ashley and John, Founding Friends.

About Pam:

I believe the healthiest thing for you, is a healthy relationship with food. I enjoy cooking and trying all sorts of things, and have a kitchen full of life that needs sustaining from scoby’s to yeasty bread starters. It is a real treat to have good quality micro greens in my kitchen too, without having to add a tray of young sprouts that would also require maintenance and care.

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The Meaning of Life

By Pamela Denholm

I just finished a book by Catherine Goldhammer, who lives here  on the South Shore, titled ‘Still Life With Chickens’ (see, even my authors are local). I enjoyed the book very much, it was a quick, light, relatable read, and the perfect thing to pick up at this time of year. For me anyway.

The business climate during the last quarter was one of the most challenging I have experienced, ever. It felt like the elections consumed every airwave and soundwave, it was saturating to the point where we had no choice but to be submersed until the the tide receded allowing us all to breathe again. Speaking about it to a long-time farmer, he nodded sagely, confessing that in his 30 years of growing, election years were always his worst business years. So I was very happy to welcome 2017, not an election year.

It did make me think, however, about what a wonderful gift a New Year is. It is a clean slate. A reset button. An opportunity to open the door. And in the Northern Hemisphere, it coincides with the very beginning planning stages of the growing season. Another reset button. Farmers are amazingly resilient, optimistic creatures. Despite last years late frost, severe drought, winter moth infestation, seeds that failed to germinate, aphids that dined on Brussels sprouts, borers that attacked roots, farmers eagerly await seed catalogs and thumb through packets of saved seeds dreaming of possibility.

The very act of planting a seed, is one of hope.

On hope, Catherine Goldhammer writes, “…maybe that’s all there is. Maybe that’s what Yo-Yo Ma gives us, and Bach, and Puccini, and the faces of our children, our friends, our families, good work, the ocean, the moon rising over the pond, the havens of our homes.”

And seeds. And a new year.

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About Pamela

From the highveld of southern Africa to the low lying marshes of the South Shore, Pam has learned that regardless of what lies before you or behind you, if you have a seed to plant, the face of a child to gaze upon, or a rising moon, you have tomorrow.

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OCTOBER COOKING CHALLENGE : Week 1, Meal 1 – Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Calzones

These are easier than you think, and quite delicious! I decided to do the calzones first because I didn’t want to keep the pizza dough too long. This recipe uses a bunch of the greens, and it is a good idea to prioritise use of greens first.

I asked my driver to deliver my order to my home on Friday, and I brought it inside later in the day when I got home. I did this because I wanted ‘the customer experience’. These greens have been sitting in my fridge since Friday. One of the reasons they keep their freshness is because they are stored in Vejibags. Greens in plastic bags never work, but wrapped in soft, organic, wet cotton toweling they will keep for at least ten days.

Ingredients:img_3861

1lb sweet potatoes

1 bunch swiss chard

1 head lettuce

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes

1 lemon

1 green pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1lb pizza dough

4oz Atwells Gold cheese

8oz Poblano Farm pasta sauce

4 tablespoons olive oil

Step 1 – Prepare Vegetables (10 minutes)

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Before you begin, preheat oven to 475 degrees

 

Peel and dice sweet potatoes

De-stem and chop up chard

Slice cherry tomatoes in half

Shred lettuce by hand

Cut half a lemon into wedges

Mince garlic

Core and dice pepper

Dice cheese

Step 2 – Sauté (15 minutes)

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Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat

Add sweet potato and garlic, sauté for ten minutes

Add swiss chard, keep over heat until wilted

Add 1/5 the jar of pasta sauce and remove from heat

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3 – Assemble Calzones (10 minutes)

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Dust flat surface with flour, divide dough into four balls

Roll ball out flat until it is about the size of a side plate

Dust baking sheet with flour, lay out flat dough

Spoon sweet potato and chard onto one side, add blocks of diced cheese

Fold over, and press edges closed with a fork

Tip: I assembled these on the baking sheet so that I wouldn’t have to move them once assembled because they are soft

Step 4 – Bake Calzones, Assemble Salad (18 minutes)

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Bake calzones in heated oven for 16 to 18 minutes

Add tomatoes and green peppers to lettuce (I had some left over cheese, so added that as well)

For the dressing, mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil with juice from lemon wedges and season with salt and pepper

I had enough time to clean up, stack the dishwasher and wipe down the counters once the salad was made so the kitchen was clean before plating the food

 

 

Step 5 – Plating The Food (2 minutes)

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Four plates – each get their own calzone and dressed salad

Divide the remaining pasta sauce between the four plates for dipping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Analysis

Assessment: Terrific Meatless Monday meal. It was very filling, everybody cleaned their plate. The dipping sauce was nice to have because the parts of the calzone without filling were very dry. I barely tasted the chard which is a plus if you have fussy kids like me. I loved the salad dressing, but then lemon, olive oil, and pepper are one my go-to favorites.

Total time: 55 minutes

Mess factor: one large pan and a baking sheet (and lots of bowls if you are photographing the process LOL)

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Waste: I saved the chard stems, garlic peels, pepper core and stem, and the sweet potato peels for a veggie stock later in the week.

I composted the cardboard pint container, lemon tips, and outer lettuce leaves.

I put the elastics from the chard and the tomatoes in my office drawer to reuse.

Not featured is the glass jar from the pasta sauce – it was in the dishwasher!

It was just the plastic the cheese was wrapped in, and the bag the dough came in that needed to be recycled.

 What’s Left Over for the Week?

1 spaghetti squash

4 ears corn

1 bunch radishes

2lb sweet potatoes  1lb sweet potatoes

1 bunch brussel sprout leaves

1lb sweet peppers 2 sweet peppers

1lb green beans

1 fennel bulb

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes

1 green leaf lettuce 1/2 a green leaf lettuce

1 bunch swiss chard

1.2lb chicken thighs from Feather Brook Farm

8oz Atwells Gold cheese from Narragansett Creamery 4oz cheese

16oz pasta sauce from Poblano Farms

1 lemon 1/2 a lemon

8oz of garlic 6oz garlic

1 bunch of cilantro

1lb pizza dough

1 can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

10oz GMO-free lo mein egg noodles

1 can organic coconut milk

Veggies That Keep On Giving

seed-packetAdapted from Berkshire Organics Newsletter

Many of our customers switch to a fruit basket in the summer, because they have bountiful gardens producing lovely fresh veggies—nothing is more local than that! We often see a frantic flurry of activity at the beginning of the growing season asking about where to buy the best seed, especially seed that is non-GMO, but why not get ahead of the curve this year and save seeds from your delivery and garden for next season’s garden? Whether you’re cleaning & storing the seeds from your favorite heirloom or cherry tomato, or a crunchy sweet pepper, seed saving is a fun way to take part in your own cycle of food growth and consumption!

Although you can save seeds from almost any plant, some are easier than others. Many plants need to literally “go to seed”—where the plant has moved its energy from growing into producing the pod—before you can start to harvest seeds. Biennial plants (such as carrots, beets, cabbages, and parsley) require a second year in the ground for a seed pod to sprout, making it a bigger challenge to save the seeds. Others, however, are quite simple:

Peppers: These are the easiest. When the fruit changes color on the vine, it is fully ripe and the seeds are ready to harvest. Simply cut the pepper open, scrape out the seeds, and let them dry.

Tomatoes: The gelatinous coating on a tomato seed actually acts as a barrier to prevent sprouting inside the fruit, so it must be removed before drying. To do this, the seeds need to ferment inside a closed jar of water for about a week. Swirl the jar twice daily, and by the end of the week your seeds will be ready to rinse and dry.

Melons: Whether muskmelon, honeydew, or watermelon, these seeds are super easy to save! Simply remove them, rinse in a bowl with water (although some experts recommend a dash of natural dish liquid to fully remove the sugar from the seed), and then let dry.

Cucumbers: To harvest cucumber seeds, you first need to leave the fruit to ripen for several weeks. Cut the ripe fruit in half and scrape seeds into a bowl. Scrape them gently against a sieve to remove the coating, or use the fermentation method described above for tomatoes.

Summer Squash: These, too, need to be ripe in order to save the seeds. Once the skin is no longer tender! Cut lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a bowl. Wash them well, drain, and dry.

Potatoes: Keep the latest potatoes of the season; store them in a dry, dark, cool place for the winter where they still have airflow. In the spring, they will start to grow ‘eyes’ which can be cut out and planted individually.

Beans: Allow pods to brown and dry on the vine, about 6 weeks after you’re done eating for the season. If there’s a frost threat, pull the whole vine (roots and all) and hang in a dry, cool place until the pods brown. Crack them open to remove dried beans.

For the best results, experts recommend that you plant open-pollinated and/or heirloom varieties, as they will grow more consistently than a hybrid. It’s also worth remembering that planting 2 or more varieties may result in cross-pollination, so try to keep your plot as far from the neighbor’s as possible—especially if they’re growing GMO seeds. Finally, only collect seeds from your heartiest plants; doing so will help perpetuate a continual line of healthy specimens, resulting in the best produce.

Saving seeds is an important act, and so is sharing seeds. Save more than you need so that you will have some to share, swap, or trade for other seeds you don’t have. Heirloom varieties of seeds came about in just this fashion, through saving and planting and sharing, and it is the best way to preserve the genetic integrity and variety of crops we grow for food.

“Save Vegetable Seeds in Your Backyard.” Mother Earth News. Sept/Oct 1977

“Basic Seed Saving.” International Seed Saving Institute. 2016.

“Beginners Guide to Seed Saving.” Rodale’s Organic Life. 20 May 2015.

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Drought Resistant Gardens

I know, I know. If I use the word ‘drought’ one more time in an email or a newsletter, I am going to push people over the edge. I’ve been unrelenting!  But with good reason. I speak to the farmers several times a week, and the updates I have been receiving as the season progresses have not been good. We’ve gone from ‘dams and ponds are at a very low level from minimal snow fall’ in June, to ‘the well has gone dry and we are on town water’ in July. My own garden too is not looking healthy, some plants are holding their own with the dry weather, others might not make it, and I have been taking notes as to which is which. The latest update that came this week, is that the soil is bone dry down to 12” – in other words anything with a shallow root system is going to either go dormant, or die. Like your lawn.

One thing I have noticed, the ant population in my lawn has more than quadrupled this season. I started looking for ‘organic’ ways to get rid of the ants, but soon realized through my research that I would be interrupting nature’s hard work. Those ants, who thrive in hot, dry conditions, were building hundreds of miles of tunnels below ground, and those tunnels help water infiltrate the ground more quickly when it rains. Actually, ants are drought remediation.

The second thing I noticed is that you where the soil in my garden is crumbly in texture, some grains, some small clumps, the plants are faring better. They call this texture aggregate. Crumbly aggregate allows water to travel through the soil more easily, and the soil actually retains water better. Aggregate is closely linked with organic matter. The more organic matter you have in your soil, the better your aggregate is likely to be. Soils that are tilled regularly, or fed with nitrogen based fertilizers instead of organic matter (compost), have their aggregate diminished.

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The desired crumbly soil aggregate that retains water best.

To build up better soil, and to build a garden that can weather just about anything, here are some quick tips:

  • Nurture the soil in your garden, feed it compost and manure and AVOID chemical fertilizers (particularly nitrogen and phosphorous), because they have a toxic impact on decomposer organisms and break down good soil aggregate.
  • Use perennial plants and grasses whenever possible. Plants that live longer lives provide better shelter and generally have deeper root systems, which is vital in drawing carbon deeper into the soil and reaching for water when the surface is dry. Deeper roots also keep plants well rooted in high winds.
  • Only use annuals in 10% of your garden for accents, or only use them for temporary cover crops to cover up bare soil (mulches can also be used for this purpose).
  • Use no till methods in your gardens
  • Work towards a biodiverse garden, the more different plant species you have in the garden, the less hard hit your garden will be if you lose a species due to extreme weather one year.
  • Add carbonaceous materials to soils, such as biochar.
  • And of course, create water catchment areas, create basins, gulleys, and swales.
  • Install rain water and grey water catchment systems.

OUR LAWNS CAN BE A PRIMARY TARGET

We all know we should reduce lawn spaces in our gardens.  There are more acres under residential garden and lawn, than farmland in the U.S. – think for a moment on the ramifications of that statement.  We hold our farmers to a high standard, but each of us can have just as big an impact.  Lawns create useful spaces for families to enjoy being outside, so, we have included an info graphic of root systems for your information.  The most common lawn grass planted today is Kentucky Blue Grass, featured far left.  See how short the roots are?  It is not a very efficient carbon trapper, nor is it particularly drought resistant.  It is popularly promoted by grass companies who know you will be coming back for seed year after year.  Compare it to the Buffalo Grass on the far right, which is easily mowed, very drought resistant, and excellent at carbon trapping.

Prairie-grass-roots-2-credit-smallChanges like these are subtle, you do not need to sacrifice beauty for hardiness.

Glyphosate: Not So Easy to Escape

From Berkshire Organics

First releasedround up commercially in 1974, glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, as well as DuPont’s Abundit and BASF’s Extreme brands.  After the introduction of “Roundup Ready” soybean crops in 1996, other glyphosate-resistant crops soon emerged—and its corresponding use increased dramatically. Over 20 years later, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in commercial agriculture, and the second most widely used in home gardens—in part due to the misinformation provided by its producers, who have touted their products for years as being rapidly biodegradable and safe for humans and wildlife.  In fact, it was this very promise of safety that kept it from being monitored by the USDA or the FDA. In March 2015, however,  the  World  Health  Organization’s  International  Agency  for  Research  on  Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Perhaps in response to this information, the FDA plans to begin testing corn and soybeans within the food supply for glyphosate residue—for the first time ever.

It’s safe to say that these “Roundup Ready” crops will contain glyphosate; however, given the extensive use of the herbicide, it’s also likely to be found in other foods as well. In an effort to get a jump start on this process, the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) USA used an accredited independent laboratory to test both organic and conventional versions of 12 popular breakfast foods and ingredients for glyphosate residue: flour, corn flakes, instant oatmeal, bagels, yogurt, bread, frozen hash browns, potatoes, cream of wheat, eggs, non-dairy creamer, and dairy-based creamer. The testing showed that 10 of the sample ingredients (instant oatmeal, conventional and organic bagels and bread, whole grain oatmeal, conventional and organic eggs, organic dairy and organic soy coffee creamer) contained detectable levels of glyphosate, although most were well under the EPA allowable daily intake (ADI) of 1.75 mg per kg of bodyweight.

However most critics are quick to point out that the EPA’s ADI for glyphosate is almost 6 times higher than that of the European Union. Surprisingly, the highest levels of glyphosate residue were found on foods that have no direct contact with the herbicide, including both organic and conventional eggs and dairy-based coffee creamer.  Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director for the ANH-USA states that this is likely evidence “…that it’s being passed on by animals who ingest [glyphosate] in their feed.”

Based on the fact that producers have long touted the chemical as being highly biodegradable, she goes on to state that “This is contrary to everything that regulators and industry scientists have been telling the public.” Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that all of the wheat products tested (including those labeled organic) showed detectable levels of the herbicide.  The ANH said that these findings indicate that glyphosate is being sprayed on crops which are not designed to withstand it—but which for some reason are.

It’s also worth noting that glyphosate was up for its 15-year toxicity reassessment by the EPA in the summer of 2015, but action was postponed for one year.  Furthermore, the FDA has stayed conspicuously silent when questioned by the press about the WHO report released last year, and is dragging its heels on the testing of corn and soy products. Meanwhile Roundup, Abundit, and Extreme are being sprayed on a multitude of crops…and subsequently finding their way into every corner of our nation’s food supply. After reporting on the ANH-USA’s findings, naturopathic medical doctor Alan Kavish at the Center of Health recommends the following: “Continue to eat organic foods, and petition the EPA and your government officials to take an interest—not a donation from Monsanto—in reducing our maximum levels of exposures to EU standards.” To this, South Shore Organics would like to add how important it is to know where your food comes from. Supporting local farms and pushing for non-GMO ingredients allows us to continually strive to offer foods that we can all trust are clean.

Gillam, Carey. “Private Tests Show Cancer-Linked Herbicide in Breakfast Foods; FDA Mum on its Assessments.”
The Huffington Post. 19 April 2016.
“Glyphosate Levels in Breakfast Foods: What is Safe?” The Alliance for Natural Health USA. 19 April 2016.
Kadish, Alan. M.D. “Herbicide (Glyphosate) in Your Organic Eggs and Creamer and More.” Center of Health. 20 April 2016

Regenerative Landcare

biocharAdapted from Dan Bensonhoff’s article in the NOFA July 2016 Newsletter

Doing less damage is no longer good enough when it comes to addressing cascading challenges like climate change, habitat loss and soil loss. To address these issues, many ecological farming practitioners have been touting the idea of “regenerative agriculture.” But what does it really mean? It stands in clear juxtaposition to the more widely used term, sustainable agriculture. There’s no question that the land and water we are now working with has been massively degraded through decades of unscrupulous industrial practices, ignorance of basic ecological principles, and human folly.

Specifically, in New England, we have inherited numerous overgrazed pastures, polluted rivers, and de-mineralized hay fields. So, as North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown asks: “Why would we want to sustain a degraded land and soil?” and the answer is, we don’t. We want to restore it. But how?

Roughly 6,000 years ago the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin developed a technique that allowed them to sustain intensive agriculture on soils generally considered to be extremely nutrient-poor. By applying biochar made from excess vegetation in an oxygen-less burn, they were able to continuously plant crops on the same land year after year, whereas those that weren’t using biochar generally had to allow land to lie fallow for a decade or more before it was considered ready for agriculture again.

Since the discovery of this Amazonian “Terra Prata” (literally, “dark earth”), research on biochar has found that when biochar is carefully made and integrated into farm systems, the resulting farm system can actually be carbon-positive, meaning that the system captures more carbon that it emits (on a farm, carbon is emitted through tillage, motorized equipment, plastics, etc.). Biochar is reported to have a half-life ranging from decades to millennia, depending on the feedstock used to make it, meaning that once it’s in your soil it will stay in a stable form much longer than other plant material.

Even more impressive, biochar can be made using cheap agricultural or forestry by-products. These materials, which include wood chips, nut shells, manure, bones, and much more, would otherwise be burned or left to oxidize, thus adding carbon to the atmosphere. Through pyrolysis (oxygen-less burning), those by-products become much harder for soil microorganisms to break down, hence why they have a longer half-life.

The pyrolysis process also imbues a spongy, porous structure to the biochar. Those pores then become ideal habitat for bacteria, fungi, and nematodes, which in turn mineralize (make available) the nutrients that crops feed on. Other major advantages that biochar offers farmers and gardeners include…

enhanced water retention

moderation of soil acidity

increased cation exchange capacity

less leaching of nitrogen and other water-soluble nutrients

Biochar is not the only way we can restore soils, we can also restore soil by planting cover crops, or, where you have ground cover, increasing the diversity of grasses you plant. By seeding diversified stands of cover crops or ground cover, your soil will reap benefits that a monoculture stands of rye, fescue, or oats cannot achieve. This technique, often known as cocktail cover cropping, combines the services of a number of different types of cover crops simultaneously. By mixing together grasses, legumes, and other broadleaf plants, the cover crop will produce more overall biomass and nitrogen, tolerate adverse conditions, increase winter survival, provide ground cover, improve weed control, attract a wider range of beneficial insects and pollinators, and provide more options for use as forage. Essentially, this technique mimics natural grasslands, which are never composed of one plant family, much less one or two species.

Riverland Farm Meet Your Farmer: The Lynch Family

riverlandRob Lynch: I grew up in Scituate, MA, eating Twinkies and hot dogs when my mom wasn’t looking, but it the back of my young mind I knew that people including myself need a stronger connection to where their food comes from. When I was in third grade, my parents brought me to Sturbridge Village (maybe you’ve been there – it’s one of those places that people are living the way rural New Englanders did in the early 1800’s). I met a woman who was tending her garden and I was hooked. When we got home, I made my mom bring me to the hardware store and we got some carrot seed. It was probably September but I planted them anyway…what did I know? I was in third grade. So I experienced my first crop failure at the ripe young age of 8. I didn’t let it get me down. Throughout high school, I was always into growing things so much so that I ended up majoring in Plant and Soil Science at UMass Amherst, never really thinking that I would become a farmer. Before I graduated, I started working at the Food Bank Farm in Hadley, where I met Michael Docter, Meghan, and a slew of other soon to be very important and influential people in my life. The farm became my inspiration and education. I learned volumes about growing vegetables, operating and fixing tractors, and what it meant to eat good food. I worked there for 3 years with a one year hiatus as a grower/instructor at Maggie’s Farm (The Farm School) in Athol, MA. After The Food Bank I worked for a friend and former Food Banker, Ben Perrault, in the inaugural year of Mountain View Farm in Easthampton/Hadley, MA, before starting at Riverland in 2007.

Meghan Arquin: My interest in farming began after taking a class at UMass called Nutritional Anthropology. We were given a project that led me to volunteering at The Food Bank Farm in Hadley, MA. My first task was to pull massive fall storage beets out of the ground. I fell in love with the sights, sounds and smells of farming almost instantly. I met an amazing community of people working there. The following season, I became an apprentice at The Food Bank Farm and began to condition my body and mind to a life of farming. I learned so much in that first season about plant identification: the ones you pull out of the ground as weeds; and the others that you let stay and to grow and harvest from. I witnessed the cycle of a season where the soil comes to life, flourishes, and then goes dormant for the winter. Since I was sure that farming was the life I wanted to pursue, after that first season, I decided that I should get a little wanderlust out of my system before I put my own roots down. I saved some money and bought a ticket to Italy for 8 months. I found a few farms to work on through a program called WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). This is a great way to travel and see the food culture anywhere. I fell in love with the landscape, the people, the language, and of course the food. Upon my return to the U.S. I found myself back at the Food Bank Farm for another season. This is where I met Rob. We worked together up at the Farm School in Athol the following season, and I stayed for another season after that. In 2006 I came to work with Scott and Ferdene at Riverland, where I met the community that supports the farm, and our neighbors.

Rob and Meghan live right on the farm and were married in the farm fields in 2009. They welcomed their first son Cayden into the world in the summer of 2011, and then their second son Charlie in the fall of 2013. Cayden and Charlie help remind them even on the hardest days, and there are some really hard days, why they do the work they do is important.

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Where Flowers Bloom . . .

The world makes sense to me when I am at work, and I am thankful for that. Especially in a week like last week where some difficult to watch scenes played out in the media. It all stayed with me, lingering while I tried to make sense of the senselessness of it.

This week is a new week. And as we stride out to get the harvesting and delivering cycle of our baskets underway and we interact with our farmers and our customers, I am reminded of all the good people in the world. None of us wants to see somebody hurt, profiled, or victimized. We are fundamentally compassionate, and inclusive as human beings and it is the minority that feels differently.

One of our first stops today, was to pick up flowers for our Tuesday Flower Share from Colchester Neighborhood Farm. The farm is a special place. Adults with intellectual and developmental challenges that make day to day life far more challenging for them than for you and I, come to the farm to work in a community setting growing food and flowers. Here is an example of fundamentally good. And the pride these hard working individuals take in what they do, is heart warming.Colchester Farm Flower Crew

It is for this reason, that we are so proud to offer their flower bunches for sale to our little delivery community. We can’t all get to the farm, but we can acknowledge the pride and care they take in their work, and support an initiative that gives these hardworking souls so many opportunities, and they are flowers! Organic flowers, locally grown!

At the end of last week, I signed up for a share. I decided that I would give my bunch of flowers away each week, to a friend, to a stranger, because of a birthday, an illness, or just because. Lady Bird Johnson (First Lady of the United States 1963-1969, wife of the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson) is quoted: “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” She initiated many upliftment projects through public plantings, highway beautification programs, and wildflower protection legislation.

So, thanks to Phil Nichols, the Farm Manager at Colchester Neighbourhood Farm, and a special thanks to Janina Busch Amhrein for spearheading the flower program and her care in packaging and labeling the flowers, and lots of gratitude to all the workers on the farm who seeded, watered, and nurtured these bouquets with love, care, and pride,  just so they could bring a little joy and hope to somebody else.

R - Bouquet 2