© 2014, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm
Let Us Entertain and Sustain You
The rake leans lazily behind the garbage can in a dark corner of the cellar. The push mower, a bit rusty, barely has the wherewithal to roll anymore. The thrill of a back pack leaf blower allows for greater mobility and more efficiency, when tackling a large lawn of colorful, windswept leaves. Cut wood from local pine (perhaps removed for a new housing development) can hold soil better than gathered rocks from the field, rocks that could have blocked roots of plants. A bale of straw from the local feed and grain store, grown perhaps in Canada, covers and warms a bed of recently planted garlic.
But so too does collected seaweed from unwanted sea shores and sandy beaches. The seaweed, full of nitrogen and nutrients, can slowly decompose, while still protecting the garlic for its long Winter’s nap and early March germination.
Well-made compost, once turned and dispersed on a garden bed can offer a lot to re-invigorate the soil, after a long season of growing crops. Scooped and mucked horse and chicken manure also, at this time of year, can go a long way towards invigorating the soil. It helps to have some lovingly cared-for nearby animals who daily provide such amendments.
Seeds saved from sunflower heads, amaranth blooms, radish gone-by, bean pods and even rotting tomatoes can help us teach about from where seeds come and have some ready for next year. Carefully dug up dahlia and gladiola tubers and bulbs if well-stored and remembered, will be a Spring treat to plant again next year.
The bucket on the tractor can haul more items than a two wheeled wheelbarrow, but to what end? So too a tractor can till a field faster than six high school students with garden forks. But what sustains us and our planet, if we depend entirely on machinery, international or local oil and gas? The shortcuts to farming are essential for a busy farmer and many a hard working parent who seeks to get that weekend chore accomplished.
It does pay off to have a smart phone and camera that can photograph a bad bug or a leaf rot in the field and to then trot back to the office to match it up with the all knowing world wide web, so as to better grow organic produce that feeds us and sustains our web of life. Little acts of sustainability, mentioned here, can be beneficial for physical activity, our pocket books and wallets and our peace of mind, not to mention the piece of mind that enjoys quiet on a Sunday afternoon as opposed to leaf blowing parades.
Many kind acts took place recently on the Farm to grow and sustain a new farm garden for students at the South Shore Educational Collaborative. Seaweed was hauled by wheelbarrow. Compost was carried by bucket and spread by hand, around the still burgeoning chard. An unused section of goat fence was stapled and nailed to upright ancient cedar posts. An old, idle compost bin was re-established by two green committee high schoolers, so as new old plants can be added. The tired yet bountiful tomato plants were pulled and the bed was newly hand-tilled and turned and bordered with nearby rocks. The rakes that hang in a prominent spot in the tool shed are easy to get to and use for the remaining leaves yet to fall. And after all that work, many were ready for a crunchy kale salad from the garden and a chair to sit for a moment, reflect and feel part of a sustainable effort.