Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rainy Afternoons

OK, so Mia Vermillion’s “In the Dark” set’s the mood for a smooth afternoon listening to B.B. King’s Bluseville on the satellite radio. Farmers usually love August rain and I am no different, but do for different reasons. For me, it’s a chance to work in Fred without the brutal heat. I have some aphid collecting to do and get to try out my super duper bug sucker (leaf blower vacuum).

We have learned many valuable lessons with this year’s crop and continue to learn more every day. We are starting our fall crops and look forward to testing the limits of Fred this year. The tomatoes are starting to produce and the green beans have received good reviews. The Tyria’s have been a big hit at the market and their size certainly has been a fun conversation piece. We have learned much with regards to our cantaloupe. I think we may choose a different variety next year. We are loosing a very high percentage of these very fragile melons. We have started another row of Yellow Squash and Zucchini and hope to have some by the beginning of Oct. We are starting our spinach, basil and cilantro next week.

One a more personal note, it was a beautiful drive to Northern Virginia to help my oldest daughter Michelle move for her new job at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A big thank you to my nephew Joe for his hospitality, from a parent’s perspective, it is comforting knowing that your child still has family around who can help if needed. So thanks to Joe, Lesa, Jules, Adeline, Missy, Bill, Kerry & Joe (jr) for having the insight to move to the DC area all those years ago. I have no doubt that my little girl’s new career will take off and her new employers will see her value quickly. Those who know me, know that I have never let a little geography get in the way of being with my daughters and I look forward to more trips to our nations capitol.

I also look forward to more rainy afternoons and Mia Vermillion can sing the blues for me anytime.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Role Reversal with Channel 7

I want to thank Jessica Dean and KATV for the opportunity to talk about organic farming. While I do wish that more of what I said could have been shown, I understand that television news stories have to fit within given time slots. It was a pleasure meeting Jessica and showing her the farm and talking about the value of organic foods.
You can see the story at the following link:

For over 20 years in the IT arena I have been on the side of science and it was interesting seeing me as the emotional defender when in fact there are many issues with the science the report was based on. The report from the United Kingdom was based on the evaluation of published studies over a 50 year time frame. I can say from a methodology perspective, this is bad science. The inconsistent data sets and lack of standard quality controls for collecting this data puts it in question to begin with. In fact, more recent U.S. studies that track antioxidant levels in plant based organic foods show completely different results. Keep in mind that it’s only been in the last 25 years that we even knew what an antioxidant was. Finally the study focused only on nutrient density and did not take a holistic approach. Any one who knows me, knows how I feel about making decisions based on only one piece of information, it’s not a good idea. Especially if we are talking about purchasing food!

Organic food is not just about the nutrient levels, it’s about the processes used to produce it. Organic farming is about sustainability and health. From a health perspective, not using petro-chemicals or any other synthetics in our process prevents any possibility that an accidental human error could cause an overdose to the plants or product. Recent studies have shown that plant based organics have higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of nitrogen than there conventionally grown counterparts. The higher nitrogen levels are a real health concern. The fact is we don’t know what the long term effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are because they have only been in wide production for the last 40 years. From a sustainability perspective, we simply can’t continue to over fertilize and over water and hope to stay on the top of the food chain. Organic products are produced using natural fertilizers and management practices that can be sustained. Organic Farmers have to have a soil management plan that prevents fertilizer runoff and builds soil fertility. The fact that our soil gets better with use extends the life of the farm.
Certified Organic farmers are inspected by USDA certified auditors who verify our practices and test our soil. This 3rd party audit is an assurance that we are following the rules.

Here is a link to the recent report regarding higher levels of antioxidants in plant-based organic foods:

Granted, I have a vested interest in organic foods, but the reason I chose to grow organically was because of the science, not the emotion.