Friday, January 15, 2010

Buying Seeds for Your Garden: A guest blog

(This is a guest blog by Maya, from her green healing blog,

Having turned the corner through the dead of winter, our New England days are getting longer and everyone is dreaming about Spring and days that don't begin with a stoking of the fireplace. Seed and plant catalogues are a great way to feed the mind and soul during winter, with beautiful images of flowers and vegetables, herbs and exotic grasses. I recently found a great article from Mother Earth News that had links to seed companies all over America. This is a fantastic resource, because when you buy seeds locally you are accomplishing two things: you are supporting local business communities and your plants are more likely to thrive in your soil, having been bred for generations in that spot of earth.

When you are reading about seeds, you will come across the terms Hybrid (F1), Open-Pollinated (OP) and Heirloom. Hybrid seeds produce specially bred varieties that are often disease and drought-resistant, or have special production properties. They are also usually designed to create more seed buying and protect the seed company's economic interest in their stock, which means that they will not breed true: if you want the same plant next year, you'll have to buy the seeds again. If you try and use seeds you collected from the plant, they will grow into a different plant, generally with different fruit production, or not even germinate at all.

Open-pollinated seeds breed true, and are often organic or grown without pesticides. You can save seeds from an open-pollinated plant and expect the exact same plants the next year. Environmentally, they present a better heritage for our children because these seeds are dependable and safe. Heirloom seeds are generally considered open-pollinated seeds which have been growing true for over 50 years or plant generations -- these are the seeds of our grandmothers, and theirs. Some heirloom varieties are endangered, and I love knowing that I am preserving a little bit of istory by planting these varieties in my garden.Here in Connecticut, I chose to order from two companies. The first is Comstock, Ferre, which had many OP seeds to choose from, does a lot of their own growing, and is the oldest seed company in the United States. How cool is that?? The other is a small company just a few towns aways from me, in a really tiny town, actually, called John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds.

Another great resource for those of you who are serious about saving and using your seeds for next year is the fabulous book, Seed to Seed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Saving Heritage Breeds (A Guest Blog)

(This post is a guest blog from Maya's personal blog, Healing Green.)
Heritage Breeds are farm animals that have been around a long time, and in general are not used by large scale agriculture. These breeds are dwindling due to commercial unavailabilty or viability within CAFOs, but they are vital to insuring the survival of farming in the future.
For example: the modern turkeys that are used on most meat farms and sold in most hatcheries have been bred to have such large breasts that the males can no longer mount the females to mate naturally: they must be artificially inseminated. Many of the most commonly sold chicken breeds on the market no longer care to hatch and raise their own young -- quite simply, the desire has been bred out of them. Many animals have lost some of their natural foraging and mothering instincts, along with natural disease resistance. Pigs on large operations are being born with poor leg structure, because the breeding sows don't get to walk or even turn around in their cubicles while they gestate, and no one is noticing or caring that their legs are weak and being passed on to their young.
Holsteins have been bred with overactive pituitary glands which stimulate exorbitant milk production that is results in milk laced with similarly raised amounts of growth hormone -- making more milk than an average family could ever drink in a day.
For these and many other reasons, a lot of people think its important to assure the survival of the "old" breeds which may not be super-producers but tend to be more disease resistant and better suited to life on small farms or homesteads. Smaller cows such as Jerseys and Guernseys are easier to manage and produce milk in quantities that are better suited to family use. Pigs that know how to forage are better suited to pasture life and may feed themselves for free, especially if you have great stand of oaks for them to rummage through. Baby chicks that are reared by their mamas grow up to be good mothers, too, eliminating the need to buy incubators and monitor hatching.
Life on a farm, even a small one, is a lot of work: why not choose animals that help out and simplify matters wherever possible?
Even scientists are getting in on the action. Check out this NY Times article about a heritage breed sperm bank:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Winter Schedule at Earth Lodge

No classes and events at Earth Lodge for the month of January will be meeting.

Maya, our vice president, is expecting her new baby mid-month, and Sandra and the rest of the Earth Lodge staffers will be busy lending a helping hand, in addition to tending the animals and Earth Lodge throughout the cold and snow.

Events will resume in February:

Shamanic Journey Circle
The second Thursday of each month from 6-8 PM (2/11)

Reiki Share
(2/12, 2/26)
This community-inspired Reiki Share meets every other Friday from 11am-1pm and is open to all Reiki practitioners, whether you are a Master or just beginning. $10 Donation for use of the space, which is regularly cleared, empowered and blessed by the healers at Earth Lodge.

Drum Circle
3rd Wednesday of each month, 6 Pm (2/17)

Animal Healing Clinic
3rd Saturday of each monthly, 2-4 pm. (2/20)
The time for each session will be a minimum of 10 minutes. Sessions are $10, as these are introductory demonstration sessions by Sandra, Maya and Lisa.

Dream Circle
4th Monday of each month, 6 PM (2/22)

Course in Miracles Circle -- FREE DEMONSTRATIONS
Sandra is conducting free sessions to demonstrate the planned Course in Miracles Circle - contact us to set up your 2-hour demo.

Please see our full class schedule for more details.