some serious stuff and some fun stuff!
Time is flying folks! February normally feels like the middle of winter to me, with at least another month of windy cold ahead. Now that I’m in farm mode I feel like spring is just around the corner. We’ve been preparing the greenhouse for this year’s first seeds, which will be planted in their trays in just a week or two. Some folks have asked me what exactly we’ve worked on while I was there over the winter, so I took a photo of our task list for your enjoyment. Aside from this assortment of jobs, I was also coordinating the winter CSA program, and the restaurant orders (which are still happening.) There’s always lots to do.
As I look ahead to the spring and try to streamline my wwoofing plans, it feels even more like time is rushing by – partly because I finally booked a flight! On May 23 I’ll be flying out to Vancouver, meeting up with friends for a few days, then heading out to some farms on and around Vancouver Island. After that, I plan to travel to the Kootenays, and potentially make one or two stops in western Alberta before coming back to Ontario. I’ve since started to confirm dates for stays with host farms, been thinking of what to do with all my stuff, budgeting for the trip, making sure I have everything I need…I’ve never carried my life on my back for a prolonged period of time before! I’m looking forward to visiting farms and learning from like-minded folks, gaining some rad new skills, and of course traveling around places I’ve never been before.
Something I hope to learn more about: edible forest gardening! Mimicking the forest ecosystem, a form of companion planting which includes many perennials
One of the most valuable aspects of my internship was the opportunity to visit other farms; people were so open to sharing their knowledge and discussing innovations with us. I always felt invigorated and encouraged at the end of the day, with fresh ideas and ones that didn’t seem as difficult to achieve as they once had. I’m excited to expand on that this summer.
Something else cool I recently discovered: guerilla grafting! These folks in San Francisco graft fruiting branches onto the existing ornamental pear trees that line the streets, so they start producing fruit. Neat!
One other thing I wanted to mention is the passing of the “Ag Gag” bill in the US recently. Although this has not (yet) happened in Canada, it is very concerning to me. The bill, which has passed in Utah and Iowa, and is on the table in other states, makes it a misdemeanor to photograph or record footage of farms. This means that when farm workers, press, or members of the public witness abuse that happens to animals on farms, they can be imprisoned and/or fined for taking pictures or video to document this abuse. This is horrifying – as are the conditions on the vast majority of animal farms in North America – especially since animal ag is a largely self-regulating industry; it often takes outsider action, or whistleblowers within the industry, to enact any positive change. The fact that this bill even exists is an indicator of just how backwards the industry is when it comes to transparency (or lack thereof) and the treatment of the individuals it exploits. I personally have witnessed farmed animals who were visibly sick and injured on both large and small farms, without any proper treatment for their ailments; I have also observed animals standing in manure 6 feet deep, chickens in cages too small for them to spread their wings, and newborn calves kept alone in pens that allowed them just 2 strides of movement. Although it is deeply disturbing to see such things and know that this happens to billions of individuals daily, the truth cannot and should not be stifled, and exposing this truth via photos or video is a very powerful tool for change. If this bill is concerning to you, you can read more about it here. The Discovery Channel, Huffington Post and many other sites have also posted articles about the bill.
Now to brighten the mood: Farm Sanctuary and many other organizations recently rescued thousands of hens from an egg factory, after the farmer(s) abandoned it and left the birds without food for weeks. You are about to see the hens’ first ever experience in a safe and loving home, where they finally receive proper care. This is the first time they’ve ever had sunshine on their backs or soil under their feet. They’re now truly happy hens!
Just for good measure, here’s a photo of a young piggy taking an enthusiastic leap into a swimmin’ hole! Our dog Lucy used to do this too!
And one fun interactive thing! Do you know what plant this seed is from? USC has a fun seed quiz on their website. Try it!
Posted on February 28, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged ag gag bill, animal welfare, chickens, fruit trees, grafting, seed identification, turlock hen rescue, USC, WWOOF. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.