Local, organic agriculture. Environmental education.

Conscientiously Growing 

The bright, yellow blossoms of the daffodils and forsythia are slightly visible amidst all the April snow. But you can see them, standing still despite the elements. The heavy, wet, unexpected snow has weighed down and snapped weak branches to the ground. It has caught us all off guard. But we scrape, shovel and hope for successful growing.

greenhouse sproutsThe organically growing seedlings in the greenhouse are kept warm with the aid of a wood stove, heat pads and collective efforts by the farmers in the controlled environment, that is double layered plastic hoop house. The cold temperatures will make it difficult for that heavy snow to melt. The sun, if it chooses to break the clouds, will help melt the snow and provide moisture for the tiny seeds already in the ground. But like the New Englander who is dealing with this weather, the farmer must continue to provide good, nutrient-rich soil, water and warmth for all these seeds.

organic seed packagesSo it is with great determination that I write about the need to be clear in what we are trying to accomplish at Holly Hill Farm. Thousands of farmers and even more home growers are choosing organic seeds for their efforts to grow healthy food, plants, flowers and produce. Recently, the Boston Globe wrote an editorial denouncing the bill in the state house that requires labeling of food that has genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The advance of the bill was sited as “good news for the food purists, but…an impractical and potentially burdensome solution that will cause unwarranted alarm and needless expense.”

As a teacher who promotes that students grow organic seeds, cultivate sustainable practices and have the chance to taste healthy food, it is a good lesson to practice. Kids get their hands dirty, see the growth of their hard work and take an active part in learning from where their food comes. Adults at workshops and attendees to any gardening green exposition are interested in purchasing organic seeds and growing vegetables and flowers in their home garden with compost, seaweed and a sense of responsibility and respect as a steward for the environment.

school garlic gardenThese efforts to learn and grow are indications that there may be an increase in budding food purists. I like to know what pure food I put in my body. I am focused on making sure pure garlic goes on just bread for a school wide garlic bread snack in November. I am thrilled that children can nibble pure spinach in a school garden. And I am delighted that community service teenagers and I can try and help provide and deliver pure leeks and potatoes to folks who depend on a food pantry for their majority of food needs. Why can’t engineers, scientists and enthusiasts who genetically modify seeds share their practices with everyone?

The growers who are using GMO seeds are interested, rightly so, in helping to feed the world, so they ought to label and clarify their practices. Organic growers are also interested in feeding the world, as we too are clear about our practices. Seeds, soil, water and sun: these are key elements for any grower and consumer and as a likely food purist, I fully disclose an upfront practice of growing healthy food for purists and anyone else who eats. Like the struggling yellow blossoms under the weight of all this snow and cold, the organic seeds are yet standing tall in the greenhouse, the garlic is above the ground and there are seeds still to sow.

© 2016, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm

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