Dear Mother: April/May 2009

Letters from our readers about farm policy, gardening with biochar, NAIS and more.

| April/May 2009

  • dearseeds
    Seeds swaps can be a fun — and free! — way to try new plant varieties, plus meet more of your neighbors.
  • biochar
    Several readers wrote in with some great suggestions for making or finding biochar if your neighborhood has a no-open-burning policy, including using backyard barbecues or purchasing lump charcoal.
  • pappy
    Small farms are endangered by NAIS requirements that penalize small ranches and farms but offer exemptions for large corporations. You can go to FarmAndRanch for more information, or write your congressperson or President Obama about whether or not NAIS should be implemented.
  • liverwort
    Inspired by the “brilliant” reader photos in We See You, Helen Moss sent in shots of a liverwort plant from Australia.
  • soybeans
    Mary Miller wrote about her disappointing experiences growing GMO soybeans versus heritage varieties, and to warn about the problems she’s discovered with planting GMO crops.

  • dearseeds
  • biochar
  • pappy
  • liverwort
  • soybeans

The Sweet Success of Swap Meets

I saw your information on your website about putting together a community seed swap! Great! I wanted to tell you about something I started in my community. Every May, around Mother’s Day, I sit at the top of my road. I set out tables and bring buckets of plants from my yard. My neighbors bring what they have, as do people who’ve read my flyers. It’s a great way to meet people, see old friends and make new ones. The best part? It’s all free! We trade whatever we have for whatever anyone else brings. It’s so much fun! Grow the plants and they will come. Much love to everyone — share and share and share!

Keoma McCaffrey
Laytonville, California

We are continuing our offer to help you organize swap meets in your communities. If you send us your announcement, we will relay it to other readers in your area. Visit our  Community Seed Swap  page for details. — Mother

Food Policy Over Farm Policy

The Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness is the most frightening article I’ve read in a while. Mother Earth News needs to send it to every congressman in Washington, D.C. I’ve already sent excerpts and a link to my delegation. Michael Pollan was correct in his editorial to President Obama in the New York Times : We don’t need a farm policy in the United States, we need a comprehensive food policy.

Rick Kennerly
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Speak Up About Proposed Animal ID Plans

Mother Earth News has been a steadfast supporter of small farmers and homesteaders. You have been particularly helpful by warning about the dangers of the U.S. government’s proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). (Read The Truth About the Animal ID Plan.) Unfortunately, the latest step toward a mandatory NAIS is a proposed rule that would mandate premises registration for federal animal-disease control programs. We need your help in opposing this rule.

NAIS calls for anyone who owns even one livestock or poultry animal — as a pet or for their own food — to register their property with the government, individually tag each animal (in most cases with microchips or radio frequency identification tags), and report a long list of “events” to privately run, for-profit databases.

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