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Archive for August, 2009

timemagazinearticle

The Rock Star Farms crew was on our way to Roots Farm in Athens, GA on Friday night for a slow food dinner (which by the way was STELLAR!) and passed 3 Burger King’s, all with signs that read $1 double cheeseburgers.  I thought to myself, “No way. How can they make a profit, and if they are, what kind of wretched ingredients are they putting in there?” Its becoming more and more apparent everyday that for the average family in America its cheaper to buy greasy and nutrient void fast food than healthy nutrient rich vegetables and animal products. Or is it?  Once you take into account the affects of food production on the land and the people,  energy used to ship said foods, treatment of the animals that are harvested for the foods, long term effects and health concerns, that $1 double cheeseburger ain’t as cheap as it seems.

Here’s a great article from Time Magazine by Bryan Walsh, that will explain all of this a little bit more.

Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won’t bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He’s fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he’ll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That’s the state of your bacon — circa 2009. (See TIME’s photo-essay “From Farm to Fork.”)

Click here to read the entire article.

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Biodynamic Farming – Its not some form of new age spiritualism or witchcraft, its an ancient form of farming that goes farther back in history than we can imagine. Way…way back in the days when there were no radio waves, carbon emissions, VOC’s, radioactivity or any of the other atmospheric “abnormalities” that engulf us today we were intuitively, naturally in tune and in balance with the earth and the planets. We just “knew” to plan our life activities around the cycles of the moon and the movement of the planets, no thinking about it, we just did it. Today, most of us need a little reminder, a little bit of help remembering that we do not begin where the soil ends – we are part of it all, earth – stars – planets – sun – moon.  When this is considered in our farming practices, its simple – we get healthy soil, bigger and better crops, and become a part of healing the earth.  That’s why we are learning the practice of Biodynamics here at Rock Star Farms, thanks to the help of many mentors, including our friend and brother Jason “Buffalo Boy” Harris from the Josephine Porter Institute.
 
 To get more information and inspiration, check out this excerpt from an article about that wonderful biodynamic farmer, KK Haspel.
 
KK and Ira HaspellMeet, K.K. Haspel. She  runs “The Farm” located on the north fork of Long Island, where she practices a type of farming known as biodynamics, which is kind of like organic farming taken to a whole new level. “It’s spiritual,” Hayden explains. “It’s going back to the Native Americans. You follow lunar planting cycles, purging the earth of any impurities, planting frankincense, myrrh, all this stuff that goes back to the Bible—it gets a little wacky.”
 
 But its not her wacky farming practices that prompted Gerry Holden, owner of the North Fork Table & Inn, to start buying her produce. What convinced him at first were her tomatoes. “Her tomatoes were the real deal. They were ugly and gnarly, but delicious. At the time she had a very small crop. If you go over there today she’s growing the entire seven acres with raised beds, three greenhouses. She makes her own compost, and it is like black gold. She grows everything from edemame to fresh ginger root. Her farm is unbelievable.”
 
Read more on the NY Tourism Website
 

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 “In our society growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest, one that can…and will…overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world…we change ourselves.”  Jules Dervaes

I found this video while doing a little research on-line today. It’s 9 minutes of pure inspiration. One family, tired of the seemingly hopeless world around them, took it upon themselves to change things…from the inside out.  If you want to change the world – go plant a garden and learn to feed yourself… for we are not farmers….we are revolutionaries.

If you want to find out more about this amazing family, check out their website at www.pathtofreedom.com

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robber fly with house flyAfter rolling out of bed this morning to welcome the day with a cup of coffee and contemplation I decided to head out to the garden and inspect the pest “situation”. A few days ago I noticed a group of strange insects copulating on a tomato. They were having a good old fashioned insect orgy in the middle of my heirloom tomato plant. Let me correct myself, several of my tomato plants. I had never seen a bug like this before. Probably, I never took notice, because they weren’t messing with my big plans of Italian stewed tomatoes, tomato sandwiches, tomato pie, salsa and a wide variety of other tomato dishes I was was determined to enjoy. After about an hour of asking the Google, “just what is this bug”, I got an answer – they were leaf-footed bugs and they like to eat garden fruits, which meant they had to go.

I turned on the main valve from the rainwater cistern, walked up to the garden with my 5 gallon bucket and garden gloves and then turned on the hose at the garden gate.  I was going to drown as many of those little trouble makers as possible.  I filled up my bucket with water and got ready for battle. One thing I had not considered, was the fact it was mid morning and the sun was getting high in the sky. It was already 80 degrees outside. Apparently by this time of day, those leaf-footed mother scratchers are wide awake and ready for action. Oh yes, and did I forget to mention, they fly…fast.  For every one I caught, three more flew away and most of the time I was in their direct flight pattern.  I moved through the garden dodging left and right – stomping – squealing…ha! I’m sure I would have looked like a crazed farmer lunatic to anyone passing by.

leaffooted bug

I was beginning to get frustrated at my inability to capture all of the leaf-footed bugs when a very large flying insect buzzed by my head and landed next to me on one of the bamboo stalks I use to prop up some of the heavier and droopier pepper plants.  It didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence, because it landed within inches of me and stayed there – still.  It was about 3 inches long with big giant black eyes, clear wings and a long pointy body, much like a dragonfly – striped black and yellow and sort of fuzzy. But it was definitely no dragonfly. It appeared to be mating with another smaller insect which I thought might be its female counter part. But, no…glory be it was one of those leaf-footed bugs and my new friend had it pinned to the bamboo stalk. Hot Damn, the infantry had arrived! It had a large protruding pointy thing coming off of its face it had used to  pierce completely through the body of the leaf-foot. I smiled knowing that I now had met the king daddy of beneficial insects and moved over to the other side of the plant to get a closer look. I then discovered that the flying bug was sucking out his victims juices and I could see his abdomen pulsing in and out.  Death by sucking! Where was my video camera? I was reminded of that scene in the old movie Starship Troopers when the Star Academy recruits had to visit the bug planet and these giant bugs were stabbing and killing people with giant claw like daggers that came off of their faces. So, this is where science fiction writers get their inspiration…in the garden!

I had to find out what this thing was. So, after worshipping at the virtual feet of the almighty Google…again (What did farmers do before they had instant global resources at the touch of a button?) I discovered the name of my new garden battle buddy,  he is known as the Robber Fly and officially, Promachus Rufipes. It was definitely a national geographic moment. So my advice to you as a new organic farmer is keep your eyes open in the garden because there is something new and pretty freakin cool to learn every minute!

And, here’s a few interesting tid-bits about those crazy Robber Flies, if you want to find out more, click on the images above.

Characteristics: Robber flies eat biting flies and other flying insects. They chase them in flight, overtake them and suck out the victim’s insides after stopping on a branch or leaf.They make a loud whirring noise as they fly because they beat their wings so quickly.

 

General Adult Size (Length):
13mm to 19mm (0.51in to 0.75in)

Identifying Colors: white; black; gray; brown

North American reach includes (may not be limited to):Arizona; New Mexico; Texas; Mississippi; Alabama; Georgia; Florida; South Carolina; North Carolina; Tennessee; Kentucky; Virginia; West Virginia; Oklahoma; Arkansas.

 Category: Fly
Common Name: Robber Fly
Scientific Name: (Promachus Rufipes)

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