"Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the Earth, the Earth heals us."
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants
Summer solstice sunrise from the pasture! The final celebration of the days of growing light before the slow transition to winter darkness.
Abundance in Relationship
Summer is the time for abundance, deep green plants, flowers turning to fruit, and all of the brilliance of life on full display. We see it in the large flushes of shiitake mushrooms after a deep soak of water, in the rows of black raspberries bent over with the weight of purple fruit, in the orchard where "weeds" are covered in honeybees drinking their heart's desire of nectar, and in the pasture where trees are stretching 3 ft higher in a little over a month of growth. We are feeling a great deal of gratitude for some of the abundance that we have helped to cultivate here and the abundance that occurs if you don't get too much in the way with nature.
In the pasture, it has been a remarkable transition the last four years. When we began grazing four years ago, our field was a yellow-green mix of sparse grasses and weeds, lacking in fertility and stressed from the 40 years prior of conventional tillage, monocropping and herbicide use. There really was not much life in the soil. Within a month from our start at grazing, dung beetles appeared and began to work the cow-pies in the field and transport all of that fertility down into the soil where it could be used to jumpstart the plants, fungi, insects and bacteria that call the soil home. The second year, the grass began to thicken and we did not have to mow weeds off as much. We also seeded some clover that begin to put more fertility in the soil due to its remarkable association with bacteria that converts nitrogen from thin air into usable plant fertilizer. In the third year, the pasture took off with a thick stand of clover, grass and newly planted trees (thanks to all of our helpers!) that probably doubled the total forage from when we started. And this year, the new benefit has been the growing presence of birds, especially tree swallows, in our pasture. Each day when we move the "flerd," dozens of tree and barn swallows swoop in and around our animals picking off flies mid-air and performing some impressive acrobatics. There are fewer total flies on our animals then ever before, the presence of birds means more free fertilizer falling from the sky, and the birds provide a great deal of entertainment to us as they are quite fun to watch. All we did was make multiple bird houses (huge shoutout to Pappy and his craftmanship!), place them all along our fenceline, and rotationally graze so that the grass is abundant and our cows and sheep are happy! The swallows did the rest.
These sorts of partnerships with nature are so important to recognize and cultivate as they provide multiple benefits for our farm, increase the overall biodiversity and abundance of wildlife, and foster deeper connections with the land we derive our sustenance from. It is a constant reminder to us that when we slow down, listen to the wisdom of the natural world around us and try to understand and emulate its patterns and relationships, we can live in a more beautiful world that has more life and much more connection. We cannot grow food that is nourishing if we abuse the land in the process. When we look out across the road at the end of the day to the monoculture of corn of our farming neighbors it exemplifies this. Whereas our fields and gardens are lit up with a remarkable light show of fireflies flicking on and off in the thousands, there is barren silence and emptiness in those fields across the way where the land has been treated as a means to an end. When there is violence done to the land, violence done to our neighbors and violence done to ourselves, we sever those relationships that provide the capacity for love, relationship and abundance. Nature works by making connections. And as we continue to learn and be in relationship with the rest of the land we live on and each other we hope to see greater diversity, abundance, and joy expressed in these places. I hope the same for the land and people you are in relationship with these next few months.
Lots of Food Available for Sale!
We have lots of eggs, pork, beef, (a little) lamb, and shiitake mushrooms for sale on the farm, at Lancaster East Side Market, through the Horn Farm, or at one of our drop-off locations in Elizabethtown or Lancaster! Bulk pricing is available if you have the freezer space. Give us a call, email, or stop on in!
The newest members of the farm! This duck "disappeared" for a month to sit on eggs in a hidden location on the farm. We never found her until she appeared with this cute little entourage.
Food and Justice
This issue of our newsletter we would like to highlight the international organization, La Via Campesina. The name directly translates to "the Peasant's Road", or as they refer to it, "the International Peasant's Movement"! The group formed by representatives of farmers from four continents in 1993 in Mons, Belgium, as a way to fight global agricultural and trade policies that were threatening small farmers' land and human rights. They hold women and children's rights as top priorities to fight for, recognizing that they make up most of the worlds farming work force while being oppressed by capitalism and patriarchy. Here's a fine description fromLVC's website:
"La Via Campesina is an international movement bringing together millions of peasants, small and medium size farmers, landless people, rural women and youth, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. Built on a strong sense of unity, solidarity between these groups, it defends peasant agriculture for food sovereignty as a way to promote social justice and dignity and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture that destroys social relations and nature."
Using a decentralized structure in grass-roots lead movements, "La Via Campesina comprises 182 local and national organisations in 81 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist, multicultural movement, political in its demand for social justice while being independent from any political party, economic or other type of affiliation."
La Via Campesina uses a variety of tactics to meet their three main goals: 1) Defending Food Sovereignty, Struggle for Land, and Agrarian Reforms; 2) Promoting Agroecology and Defending Local Seeds; and 3) Promoting Peasant Rights and Struggle Against Criminalization of Peasants.
- The use and release of "gene drives" which have the ability to completely eliminate certain animal and plant species by altering just a few genetically-modified individuals and releasing them
– The modification of international rules and regulations that prevent the right to reject genetically-modified plants and animals forcing them instead to accept new genetic engineering techniques
– The allowance of free and unlimited access by a few transnational corporations to the genetic sequences of living organisms. This gives them the ability to patent seeds, farm animals, medicines, and other industrialized products derived from natural biodiversity
We at Rising Locust recognize that we directly benefit from the pillars of oppression created by hundreds of years of ongoing settler colonialism. Although we too identify as peasants, we know we're still a part of the ruling class in this country, as well as others that have been colonized through white supremacy. We are doing our best to use our privilege as a tool to shift those structures that will hopefully topple the pillars sooner than later, redistributing the power back to the people. One way to do this is by supporting La Via Campesina's mission. Examples include donating resources to any of their regional organizations, learning about their causes and telling others, or taking part in organizing one of the solidarity events listed on their schedule.
Jono herding the "flerd." Summer is the time to move the flerd everyday so that the grass can rest and reinvigorate itself before it is munched on again. This rotation of 30-45 days allows the roots and shoots to regrow dramatically before being grazed again. Each time an area is grazed it receives a healthy dose of cow poop fertilizer that helps build the soil and improve our pasture!
We have been quite busy here at the farm, with lots of garden work, planting trees, shrubs and herbs, tending the mushroom logs, and taking care of animals, including the new arrivals - lambs, chicks, ducklings! We are awaiting the arrival of piglets too - due in early July. We held an Open Farm Day on May 26, and have several Reading Roundtables, and a Potluck/Movie Night (thanks to Sue and Damon Wagner-Fields for leading a great discussion on the movie The Economics of Happiness!) We will take a break from Reading Roundtables for the summer.
Here's what's happening this summer:
Intro to Lacto-fermentation Workshop - Thursday August 2, 6:30-9.
Register by July 30th, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested donation: $5-$10 no one turned away for lack of funds.
Lacto-fermentation is the ancient art of preserving vegetables using salt. The use of salt inhibits pathogenic bacterial growth and allows only the lactic acid bacteria to thrive, converting the natural sugars of the produce into zingy, tangy, sour, umami! This ain't like those vinegar pickles!
This is a very interactive workshop for the newbie fermenter and will begin with priming your palette with SAMPLES of some recent fermentations made by the facilitators while discussing the health benefits of lacto-fermented foods.
You will learn both brining and salting techniques to begin making your own pickles, krauts, hot sauces, and kimchis. You will then have the opportunity to make a small-batch ferment of your choosing. You will leave not only with a ferment of your own creation, but enough knowledge and confidence to continue to experiment with fermentation using all kinds of produce at home.
Feel free to bring any favorite kitchen implements, knife, mandoline, box grater if you desire.
Please Register by July 30th, space is limited! Please register by emailing email@example.com so we can have the appropriate amount of produce and other materials for the workshop.
Justina Wenger-Pfarr and Donna Volles are two fermentationistas who love to talk food (with food in their mouth!), nutrition, and ways to create health-conscious comestibles. These ladies aren't afraid to experiment with flavor!
How PV Works: Demystifying the fundamentals of photovoltaic systems - Saturday, August 25 (time to determined)
Are you interested in setting up your own simple solar system? Or are you just curious about how they work? Join us as Dr. Kurt DeGoede from Elizabethtown College explains the fundamental functionality of PV modules, and Inverters, the use of several great online resources, and batteries/charge controllers for off-grid systems. This will include some hands-on measurement.
We will send out an email by the beginning of August with further details about the time and length (and it will be posted on our website and Facebook page.)