Wednesday, December 28, 2016

End of the Year News

News from a grower growing growers
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We have had a full Fall season here on the farm with lots of activity and also some heartache.  I lost my 92 year-old Dad at the end of September and spent some time back in California with my Mom.  The sadness was tempered with the joy of visiting with family and the knowledge that  a very full life had been lived. When I returned we did a major task that we spent three years planning and saving for;  we re-roofed our gym building (my barn now.)  It is wonderful to have the amount of space we enjoy with this place, but when there is a project it is always large!  Another major project was the installation of an underground waste-water system for our main building. We can now abandon the large wastewater treatment pond that has been both expensive and time consuming to maintain.  We enjoyed an unusually mild Fall and the crops have done very well.  We are still harvesting a lot of rich, green goodness.  Helping hands from our neighbors and my cousin visiting from Washington State have made the time go by pleasantly.  Mom also came for a few weeks in October and helped with our last training session.
We hosted another group of students for an afternoon this year from the West Virginia University Rural Immersion Program. These are people headed into the medical profession that spend a week in our county learning about the needs and resources in rural areas.  We were able to share with them our perspective that healthy people begin with a healthy diet that begins with healthy soil.  After we talked for a few hours  the group helped us harvest some potatoes and were rewarded with one  of Lynnita's fabulous plant-based meals.
Another project we will be taking on in 2007 is in association with "Grow Appalachia," a community oriented education project sponsored in part by Berea College in Kentucky.. Although we share the name "Berea" we are independent of each other except for the selection of the name.  (If you are curious about that you can find the source of the name in the Book of Acts in Chapter 17 v.10,11)  The project involves providing education, tools and seeds for families to begin home gardening.  I will be mentoring an Americorps VISTA worker and providing community training for a five county area in our region.  The objective is to improve health and economic opportunity.  We will also encourage participating families to grow enough for themselves and to sell their surplus produce in area farmer's markets and other outlets, such as Farm to School.
This is the sixth selfed-generation of a hybrid we crossed between Butternut Squash and the Amish Neck Pumpkin.  After one more selfed-generation, when the characteristics are fuly stabilized, we will have a new open-pollinated variety.  One plant produced five of these squash and the one I am holding weighs 42 pounds! In a couple of years we will add these to our Open Source Seed offerings.
Lynnita, Jordyn and I want to wish all of you a blessed  New Year.  May we all keep each other in prayer as we face the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Our On-Farm Training schedule is now published on our website and we are ready to take reservations for 2017.  We look forward to another season of sharing our experience with people from all over the country. We limit each session to ten people, so that means there are only 60 openings this year.
Our committment to community involvement must go beyond words, and I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with our local elementary school by helping construct two high tunnels for students to learn about gardening and the value of fresh foods.  The staff at Arnoldsburg Elementary recognizes the value of agriculture and its role in education.  I will be mentoring both staff and students as they develop this school and community garden project in the coming year.  I am very pleased with the enthusiasm that the children, their parents, and the teachers are exhibiting for this.  The third grade class presented me with a "Community World Changer Award" during a school assembly and I am honored to be a participant in this great project.
From January  25 to 28 Lynnita and I will travel to Camp Kulaqua in Florida for the third annual Adventist Agriculture Association Conference.  I, along with many others, will be presenting a series of classes  for hundreds of people that recognize that agriculture is not only about growing food, but also about growing character.  These conferences are an outgrowth of meetings that we held here at Berea Gardens back in 2009 and 2010 organized by  Bob Jorgensen. The Dysinger family from Tennessee with the help of others has carried  Br. Jorgensen's legacy to a whole new dimension by organizing the conference for the past three years and expanding the group into a large, world-wide  association. I am looking forward to this meeting of like-minded people and am grateful for the chance to teach and visit Florida in winter. 
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