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teachers/designers/writers

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I Go to the Woods Alone…

January 8, 2017

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend….

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned.

woodland walk – photo by Laura McKillop

I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

Mary Oliver

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A Great True story about Organic Soil

August 18, 2016
Tony Avent runs the wonderful Plant Delights Nursery - offering a diverse collection of plants and the catalog is a collectors' item

Tony Avent runs the wonderful Plant Delights Nursery – offering a diverse collection of plants and the catalog is a collectors’ item

On April 29, 2010 Anne Raver of the New York Times asked: “How does Tony Avent, the horticultural mythbuster, grow so many plants successfully in his garden?

Rule No. 1: he uses the same mix of 40 percent native soil, dug on his own land, and 60 percent compost for every plant.

logo”The soil for every plant we have is prepared exactly the same, whether it’s a pitcher plant or an agave,” ….

After he switched to organics, he said, ”it took about a year before everything started jumping. Our insect problems disappeared. It was just amazing.” ….”

This observation took me back to 1972 when I was a landscape architecture student at the University of Hawaii and minoring in tropical agriculture

The university farm was in Pearl City ( next to Pearl Harbor) and it was divided into one large section devoted to standard agriculture (agribusiness majors) plots and a very small section reluctantly relegated to organic gardens (run by us ‘hippie haoles’ who were studying tropical agriculture)…

I had come to Hawaii via Kenya and was very interested in saving the world through tropical organic gardening.
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This is me in Pearl City, Hawaii tending to my vegetable garden years ago – note the Kenyan Kikoy I was wearing..the latest in fashionable gardening clothes.. .:-)

The agriculture students got stipends for their seeds, fertilizer and pesticides…

the organic students got nothing….and you know what happened?

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Well, every semester the organic plots got better and better because the soil was being improved consistently with fish emulsion and compost ( a local health services organization was training mentally disabled students on how to make compost on premises)

while every semester the big fertilized plots run by the aggies got worse and worse…this was back when ‘organic’ was some weird, unrealistic approach to agriculture….and no professor back then would acknowledge what was pretty evident to the eyes. The crops treated with herbicides and chemical fertilizers were poor and weak….

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Of course, it didn’t help when the campus newspaper did a cover story on our ‘new organic plots’ at Pearl City..and they interviewed me.

I talked about how our crops were flourishing and about a new (ha!) organic pest control called BT -bacillus thuringensis. After that interview, I presented a report to a Hawaii legislature committee on why Oahu should use their sewage sludge in a soil fertilizer similar to Milwaukee’s Milorganite ….

they didn’t go for it but look at what is out there today:

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Now, almost 40 years later, I marvel at how long it took society to understand what we – the hippies – knew: Organic is the only way…it is Nature’s Way.

And look at what they offer at Pearl City today:

Organic Gardening!

Live demonstrations by UH Master Gardeners including Organic Gardening 101, Building Healthy Soil, and Composting! First demonstration begins 9AM -10AM, next session 10:30AM -11:30AM.

Composting Worms for Hawaii
Small-Scale Vermicomposting
Backyard Composting Recycling a Natural Product
Building Healthy Garden Soil
Organic Gardening Resources

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We have come a long way….

The truth is that true tranquility lies in compost and happy earthworms….

And if you live in Connecticut you should know about these people too:

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And you should know:

Authentic Haven Products - Compost tea

Authentic Haven Products – Compost tea

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Loren Eiseley’s Prescriptive for Our Times

July 17, 2016

“Let it be admitted that the world’s problems are many and wearing, and that the whirlpool runs fast.
If we are to build a stable cultural structure above that which threatens to engulf us by changing our lives more rapidly than we can adjust our habits, it will only be by flinging over the torrent a structure as taut and flexible as a spider’s web, a human society deeply self-conscious and undeceived by the waters that race beneath it, a society more literate, more appreciative of human worth than any society that has previously existed.

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That is the sole prescription, not for survival — which is meaningless — but for a society worthy to survive.”
Loren Eiseley, Firmament of Time
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For more excerpts from Loren Eiseley go here:
http://alexsheremet.com/8-great-passages-loren-eiseleys-firmament-time/

Blog, Teachers/Designers/Writers

Muhammad Ali’s Peace Garden Initiative

June 4, 2016
 photo courtesy of business wire

photo courtesy of business wire

The Muhammad Ali Center of Lexington, Ky and Yum! Brands Foundation launched the global Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardens project on September 21, 2010.

This coincided with the United Nations International Day of Peace.

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Peace gardens focus on using edible plants from different cultures to teach youth about the world through culinary delights.

They also teach children how to “nurture and care for other living things” and remind them about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diets.

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Through the process of growing food students learn about nature’s processes and increase their access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

What better way to create awareness about hunger than to have them actively involved in growing a garden, taking food home to their families, and giving to the community?

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The model for this idea came from the John F. Kennedy Montessori school. Children participated in all aspects of the garden including planting, nurturing, harvesting, cooking and donating food to the hungry.

The model garden consisted of different vegetable beds representing the different countries and the diverse cultures of the school.

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  • Squash and beans were grown in the United States/Native American garden and were used to make “3 Sisters Harvest Soup”.
  • Tomatoes, peppers and onions were grown in a Salsa Garden representing Mexico.
  • Sweet potatoes and black beans were grown in the Cuban garden bed
  • Edamame was grown in the Asian bed
  • Potatoes and cucumbers represented Russia.

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“The ‘Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardens’ program will sow the seeds of cultural respect by teaching children how to build gardens with plants from different countries,” said Greg Roberts, President of the Muhammad Ali Center.

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