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Organic Gardening

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by Debbie Silverstein

Last week's SUN carried the first of these columns. In case you missed it I'll explain it's intentions again, This column is an outlet for news of what's happening out in the fields of our community. Interest and enthusiasm for farming and gardening continues to grow. Since most of us are relatively new to the task of providing our own food, our knowledge of the area's resources is limited. Sharing what we know is vital to the task both of raising a garden and building a stronger community.

I've already suggested some good, comprehensive sources of written information that are readily available. I failed to mention one of our most valuable resources - the local farmers. These people are part of our community, too. Most of them, I think you'll find are really pleased to see so many young people showing an interest in farming, which is their lives' work.

If they respond to you with initial skepticism just remember that they've spent their lives struggling both with nature and with this society to hold onto their land. Most of them are no longer free to grow what they want, but must grow what the government tells them. The small farmer can no longer make a living off the land alone. He can't compete with the major food corporations and is forced to "earn his living" elsewhere, usually in a factory.

On my way back from Washington I ran out of gas and bought some from a farmer whose land had been cut in half by the Pennsylvania turnpike. He was really pleased when we told him we'd just come from protesting against the government. He told us that when he'd heard of the Capitol bombing a few weeks before, he wondered why they hadn't waited till all the Senators were in the building! Go out and meet these people, they are our friends. You can meet them at the Farmer's Market every Wednesday and Saturday mornings. (The Food Coop needs people on its weekly Saturday runs to the market. Call Peggy at 761-1709.)

There are a few other printed sources of information you might want to familiarize yourself with. The OLD FARMERS ALMANAC is a must. It's filled with facts and philosophy -- all of which can be taken with a grain of salt. According to the Almanac we're supposed to be in the midst of a rainy spring. It might not be a bad idea to get together with some friends and experiment with some rainmaking one night this week. Watch out though -- the latter part of this month is predicted to explode "with hail stones the size of chicken bones."

A subscription to the Michigan Farmer costs only $2.00 a year.

Don't forget about the Community Organic Garden out on North Campus. They'd like to have your help. Let us know what kind of work you're doing, what kind of help you need, and especially what kind of help you can give. I can be reached at 662-4201 or through the SUN.