Nature and Environment

Because at 160,000 years, the party is just getting started.

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7/31/2015

Community farming is about the necessary renewal of agriculture through its healthy linkage with the human community that depends on farming for survival – a human community that engages with farming out of intelligence and free will, rather than corporate or governmental mandate or manipulation.

CSA is also about the necessary stewardship of soil, plants, and animals: the essential capital of all human cultures.

At this juncture of the 21st Century, such a thesis runs the risk of earning my latest book on CSA farms, Awakening Community Intelligence, critical condemnation as pie-in-the-sky agri-fantasy. That’s the sort of thing critics said when Trauger Groh and I wrote Farms of Tomorrow. Back then, in 1990, there were only about 90 CSA farms. Now thanks to hundreds of economic and environmental factors and thousands of pioneer people, there may well be as many as 12,000 CSAs in the USA, according to the USDA, and growing, and many thousands more worldwide.

CSA is not fantasy. It is vision brought to life by communities of human beings all over the world. Likewise, the possibility of a global population of hundreds of thousands of CSA community cornerstones, many of them networked and associated, is not fantasy either. It’s also vision – vision that arises from a wide, multicultural global community of intelligent human beings, and that is based on necessity, experience, and possibility.

Perhaps by the time we get to the 22nd Century the concept of Community Supported Agriculture will have become quaint or irrelevant. Perhaps by then we human beings will have evolved a basic level of wisdom about our life-support systems: our water, land, food, and the farmers who touch the earth for us. Perhaps by then we will have awakened community and corporate responsibility for stewarding it all. Such realizations are devoutly to be wished.

But right now, in this still-early phase of our intensely distressed 21st Century, we do need CSA farms and we need hundreds of thousands more of them.

CSAs and CSA networks can serve as healing and strengthening cornerstones for communities through an era of essential transformation. They can anchor networks of human beings to the land in a matrix of healthy, supportive relationships with plants, animals and soil, and orient them in positive directions.

Such community cornerstones represent intelligence in action.

Photo courtesy NASA via Wikipedia Commons: Full Sky – Nine-year WMAP Microwave data of Earth.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



7/31/2015

 

Sometimes it is just good fun to send in a blog about my unprofessional observations made while working outdoors in our remote mountain area. Thoughts that others processing through their hectic day may not think about or even care about. Things which I have learned from observing wildlife and the birds and insects sharing our small homestead with us. It is sometimes fun to then compare them to our human behavior. While most of my blogs are informative or experience driven there are also simple observations that seem worth passing along for others to ponder if they choose to do so.

For the past several years we have had a family of flycatcher birds nest in the exact same area under our deck. That is also where the tractor is parked so I am under there with the tractor often and get to watch the mother bird sitting on the nest to hatch the eggs. She has become accustomed to my going and coming and stays on the nest even when I am present. Next I see the tiny birds in the nest totally helpless being fed by their parents. They spend nearly the entire day catching insects to feed to the young hatchlings. Then the little birds slowly grow feathers and can hold their heads up with wide mouths open to receive food. Finally when I see the baby birds exercise their wings in the nest I know they are about ready to find their own freedom in the bird world. Then the nest is empty which they don’t return to. Last year one baby bird was reluctant to leave the nest. The parents stopped feeding it which was inspiration to fly away.

We humans have developed a new term called boomerang kids. They leave home only to come back to live with us parents again. The baby birds have no expectations from their parents other than to be independent and fly freely. After they leave the nest the parents even give them instruction on how to catch their own food and then they are on their own to experience their freedom and live freely as productive little birds. They are also on their own to survive or fail because the parents have cared for them and started them on their way and it is now up to the baby bird. In no way am I remotely suggesting that children as adults shouldn’t come back home to live occasionally. Not all young adults mature at the same rate and often it is better to err on the safe side of life. It seems to me however that the parent birds have it down pretty well and equip their babies and then turn them loose.

Then there are the multiple hummingbirds that come to our two feeders. We have two species that spend the summer at our home  which are Broadtail and Rufus species. The male rufus  hummingbirds are defensive of the feeders and chase the other hummingbirds away. We noted how one Broadtail will lure the Rufus away by being chased a considerable distance and the others will then zoom in for some quick nectar before the rufus can come back. The one hummingbird bullies the others driving them away  also seems to parallel some adults and children who like to get by through bullying. The hummingbird flies around frantically trying to drive other hummingbirds away from feeding at “its feeder and its territory ” but in the long run only tires itself out and is generally outsmarted and all the other birds which are on the other side of the house tanking up without harassment.

As I work around our property and observe these birds/animals/insects I can see how they relate to certain  aspects of human behavior. I find it quite amusing and note that while we are totally different species we do share some similarities. I often wonder if we really are smarter than the small hummingbird. When I read that hummingbirds which weigh less than 0.7  of an ounce, can remember each flower in their territory and after feeding how long it then takes that flower to refill with nectar. They remember year to year each location of each feeder. They remember specific feeding locations along a migration route. They accurately fly that migration route each year without benefit of a map or GPS sophistication. All very remarkable considering I usually can’t remember where I left my keys and have to rely on maps to get around. Then I ponder what if we humans could remember like the hummingbird and how remarkable we would be with that ability..

Just some random thoughts that flit through my mind as I work outside where I can see and observe nature every day. I thought it worthy to share with readers so maybe next time a hummingbird or flycatcher is observed there will be a new sense of appreciation regarding them and how remarkable they really are.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their mountain lifestyle go to McElmurray's Mountain Retreat.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



7/28/2015

Fenway Ballpark Gardening 

When it comes to name association, urban farming and baseball traditionally haven’t gotten the same recognition as peanut butter and jelly, but with the up-and-coming trend of ballpark gardening it’s a duo that has the potential to become infamous. More and more baseball teams are turning toward sustainability as they embrace the concept of growing your own food in your own space, which for them just so happens to be the ballparks.

When Fenway Park opened its doors to Fenway Farms, a 5,000 square foot rooftop oasis located behind Gate A, it became the fifth and most recent major league ballpark in the country to incorporate a garden into its scenery. Following in the footsteps of others, such as the Giants, Rockies and Padres, the Red Sox began their urban farming venture with a goal of providing sustainable food and educational opportunities for the community.

Although the concept of slow grown, sustainable foods may seem odd in the world of fast-paced, hot dog-loving baseball, the idea is proving to be a home run in more ways than one.  Ballparks are using the homegrown produce in their concession stands and restaurants, cutting down on imported goods as well as giving game-goers a taste of culinary delight grown right in front of their eyes. In addition, the gardens are being used for educational purposes, including tours, children’s activities and community programs, all geared toward teaching the value of sustainable, local food sources.

Ballpark gardening isn’t a completely new trend, however. Several teams throughout the years have embraced the idea long before it became popular, often planting vegetation inside their bullpens. The Mets, Padres, Orioles and Red Sox have all reportedly maintained a bullpen garden sometime during their history. And with an increased awareness throughout the country toward health and the environment, experts foresee the trend in ballpark gardens spreading as teams continue to announce plans to work toward a healthier, more sustainable future. You can learn more about urban farming in the MLB by reading The Urban Farming Trend That's Taking Over Major League Baseball.

Photo by Fotolia/vivalapenler: Baseball teams across the country are taking steps toward sustainability by making urban gardens a part of the ballpark experience.



7/28/2015

Egg Shells 

Inconvenience is no longer an excuse for food waste, at least not in the New England region.  Spoiler Alert, a recently developed app for food disposal, is providing a convenient, hassle-free way for companies to get rid of surplus inventory.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the app connects producers, retailers and suppliers with non-profits, or in the event that the food is no longer edible, animal feed and fertilizer companies, and enables arrangements for a donation or sale.  Founders Emily Malina and Ricky Ashenfelter created the app in the hopes it will reduce the amount of food that winds up in landfills.

Imagine the benefits of a relationship between business and non-profit, in which one has a need to rid itself of extra food and the other can’t wait to take it off their hands. This simple partnership can reduce disposal fees for the company, as well as food waste and hunger for the nation, and hopefully the world. The app currently serves the New England region, but is planned to go national. Organizations in 10 countries have also expressed interest in the app, so it could possibly be used on an international scale sometime soon.  Although the app is currently available only for Apple users, Android and Web versions are also in the works. 

To learn more about this innovative new app, click here.

Photo by Fotolia/zlikovec: Nearly 1/3 of all food inventories go to waste every year, according to a report by the United Nation Environment Programme and the World Resources Institute.



7/27/2015

This octopus gets his creative juices flowing and demonstrates just how easy finding shelter can be – if you have a coconut on hand.

Video originally posted on YouTube by: Poussin Diver



7/27/2015

A compilation of some incredible nature shots. Our planet is such a beautiful place, take some time and go exploring to see for yourself.

Video originally posted on YouTube by: Michael Shainblum



7/27/2015

Stanford researcher Paul Ehrlich says evidence shows beyond any significant doubt that our planet has entered into a sixth mass extinction. Find out what classifies a mass extinction and how it could affect all of Earth’s inhabitants.

Video originally posted on YouTube by: Stanford












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