Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September News

News from a grower growing growers
My favorite month of the year is here and the fall garden is growing beautifully. From now until long after Christmas we can grow beautiful crops without pressure from diseases or pests and most of the weeds seem to take a vacation. We are all planted up with beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, kale, lettuce, turnips and spinach. All of these crops can tolerate the cold weather that is coming and many of them are even grown outdoors right through the winter.  Good soil nutrition is one of the keys to healthy winter crops.  If you would like to learn more about how to have fresh winter veggies (and a whole lot more) you might consider registering for our October Training Session. We still have October openings but the November session is not available. The schedule for next year has not been finalized, but it is likely that we will only offer our week long sessions 4 times in 2016. Now is a great (and beautiful) time of year to get the training you need for food security and great gardening success.  Check out our program here
I took this photo of a spider web suspended from a phone line 20 feet above some broccoli. It is an amazing example of engineering, but it is also an example of the benefit of toxin-free growing. Using strategies of plant selection, plant nutrition, crop timing, trap-cropping and avoiding toxic sprays so that we don't harm beneficial insects we have had great success growing our food and have not had to spray anything (not even organically certified sprays) for the past four years.
Last month we had the pleasure of hosting ten students and five faculty from the West Virginia University School of Medicine for a week while they were participating in a "Rural Immersion" program to acquaint them with the unique problems and resources of practicing medicine in rural areas. We shared our perspective that healthy people require healthy food from healthy soil.  Lynnita prepared plant-based meals from our farm for them and when they left the consensus was that the highlight of their very active week was the vegan dinner she served them.  We really enjoyed housing this group and are already making plans to have a group again next year.
I like to experiment with new crop varieties every year and this open-pollinated organic flint popcorn caught my eye. It is called Glass Gem and is as beautiful as the name implies. I grew a small abount to increase as seed for next year. I am waiting for it to fully dry so we can pop some and see how it tastes. I'll report to you later, but if nothing else it is a treat for the eyes.
DVD Training Series
Our two new high tunnels are completed and will give us more capacity for season extension, but we even have success with growing outdoors. The planting to the left of the greenhouse is brussels sprouts that will be harvested in January.
An answer to prayer arrived in our community a couple of months ago and we have a new friend, Michael Maslanka.  Part of the challenge maintaining a big, old, school building is that when problems arise they can be big too.  Such was the case with our main electrical service panel. It is located in a small room off the main building that also houses the well for the water supply. For thirty years a chlorine injection system was used to make the water "safe" for the kids, but the chlorine tank was in the same room with the electrical panel. (We use a different well with pure, un-chlorinated water now.) Chlorine is terribly corrosive, and the main panel suffered. Replacement and upgrade estimates were over $13,000.  We prayed for months over this and then Michael, a master electrician and lineman came to us.  He was moving to the area and needed our parking lot for a large moving truck for a few days. He asked if there was anything he could help us with in return. We said yes, and he dove right in. His moving truck even contained the parts we needed to secure the system. A few days later we had a new friend, a repaired system and a bill for a couple of bags of fresh veggies!
The view of our farm right now is peaceful and beautiful. The view of the world is not.  We are ever grateful for the blessings of country living and the opportunities to serve that come our way.  We want to be of help to you as well and share the knowledge and satisfaction of food security and health.
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Blessings to you all and happy growing from Bob, Lynnita and Jordyn
Copyright © 2015 Berea Gardens Agriculture Center, All rights reserved.

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