DIY





Community Garden, Grass-Fed Beef, and Other Profiles

This installment of a regular feature includes profiles of a Save the Children staffer who established a community garden and a Virginia rancher who restored the biomass of his pastureland to raise grass-fed beef.

| July/August 1981

In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over.


Save the Children's Community Garden

Marney Smith, staff environmentalist with the Save the Children foundation, has established a 250-square-foot demonstration plot for biodynamic/French intensive gardening projects next to the organization's Westport, Connecticut headquarters. Her vegetable garden—which flourishes on a piece of land that was at one time blacktop driveway—has yielded a total of 1,090 pounds of produce over the past three years. Marny's project has played an important part in Save the Children's community development program too; staffers are currently being trained in "the method" in preparation for assignments as field instructors. In fact, the group just completed a program of teaching the low-energy/high-yield gardening techniques to the Carib Indians on the island of Dominica.

Among Ms. Smith's many credits is a booklet entitled Growing Your Own Food, which contains a two-year record of the demonstration garden and a section describing ways to apply the techniques used there in communities throughout the world. Marny's second book, Gardening With Conscience, is scheduled for publication sometime this summer and will be available from Seabury Press.—Carlie Quasnosky. 

Richard Allen: Grass-Fed Beef

A few miles south of Boswell's Tavern, Virginia lie 600 acres of rolling land, upon which Richard C. Allen has been breeding organically fed Black Angus cattle for the past 26 years. Since Allen doesn't approve of the chemical content of commercial feed and is dedicated to raising lean beef that's low in cholesterol, his animals feed only on hay in the winter and pasture in the summer and receive no grain fattening at all.



Richard's pasture-grass hay contains almost as much protein—12 to 13%—as the best alfalfa, but this wasn't always the case. When Allen purchased his farm back in 1955, the soil was in terribly poor condition, and—as a result—his beef-bearers developed every disease in the book. So Richard started enriching the earth, by spreading his pastures—once every five years—with a 10-ton-to-the-acre mixture of chicken manure and eggshells. His farmland soon became some of the finest in the area.

"After that," the 66-year-old rancher contends, "it wasn't necessary to have a veterinarian on the place for 15 years." And the health and vitality of Allen's herd are confirmed by the fact that his cows commonly bear calves, and nurse, until they're past 20 years old. This success, says the cattleman, can be attributed to one basic rule of thumb: First and foremost, fulfill the needs of the soil!—Paul Fleisher.  






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