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Is the Economy Suggesting Container Gardening? – Yes!

Touch the Soil News #589 (feature photo – Carlos Delgado CC-BY-SA) We are doing a News piece here that also includes an endorsement for Kelp4Less products. But before we go there, there have been a number of mega-trends that we noticed in 2016. Trends that suggest the economy may have improved for some, but the economics of the larger portion of the American citizenry is going sideways or retreating. Most everyone out there is having “economic” jitters. If not for themselves, then for friends or someone in their extended family. Growing food is becoming a necessity much like it was for the Americans of 80 years ago.   Trend #1…

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Sole Food Street Farms – An Interesting Take on Urban Food and Social Enterprise

Touch the Soil News #220 A few years back, while on the lecturing circuit, Susan and I met Michael Ableman. Ableman is author of three books and has spent a lifetime working and developing local and sustainable farms. Much of his life has been spent working in non-profit food enterprises. Today, Ableman is involved in one of the more unique urban food enterprises in the world. Working in Vancouver, Canada, Ableman started Sole Food Street Farms. The enterprise is a non-profit, financing its operations not only with the sale of produce, but donations as well. This year, Sole Food Street Farms created an urban orchard of 500 fruit trees –…

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Reasons to Garden Are Escalating

Touch the Soil News # 153 There are hundreds of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) around the world drawing attention to the fact that food availability today – and moving forward – is not as it was. One source we have deemed credible is the World Resources Institute (WRI). The WRI has some 450 experts that crunch data in over 50 countries. The WRI maintains offices in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. With an annual budget of $65 million, the WRI is one of the world’s top resources in identifying hot spots and issues of ecological concern. While there are a number of areas the WRI focuses…

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Calcium – The Baseline of Soil and Plant Health

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For most of us, the simplest knowledge of gardening and soils was something our educational curriculums deemed unnecessary to know. Yet, there are few people who have not considered, tried, or are actively gardening to raise vegetables, fruit trees or ornamentals. But, when we look at a plot of soil, our mind goes blank – or drifts to retail fertilizers. At the baseline of gardening productivity is the presence of calcium in a plant-available form.  Calcium is essential for living organisms. Calcium in plants it drives sugar production, photosynthesis, nutrient density and the shelf life of produce once it is harvested. Interestingly, the fruits and vegetables from plants with adequate…

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Should Hydroponic Enterprises Be Allowed Organic Certification?

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The subject of hydroponics receiving organic certification is raging. On April 25, 2015, The Washington Post brought the issue to the mainstream public. While the debate has been going on for years, it has heightened recently. Jeff Moyer, longtime farm director of the Rodale Institute was quoted by the Washington Post as saying: [quote]“Those heads of lettuce that are grown indoors? Yes, they are beautiful. But it’s just a green leaf with water in it. They can’t possibly have the vitamins and minerals that lettuce grown in the soil would have.”[/quote] Moyers words hit the core of the debate – should soil-less forms of food production be allowed organic certification? There…

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Food Hardship – Is the Solution Food Gardening?

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) recently published its 2014 National, State and Local Index of Food Hardship. Food hardship is a state of being in which there is struggle to put food on the table.  According to the report, food hardship afflicted between 17.2 and 18.6 percent of Americans at various times over the last seven years – that’s between 55 and 61 million people. Here are some of the highlights: Mississippi has the highest food hardship rate of any state at 24.7 percent. About one out of every 4 people in Mississippi is food challenged. North Dakota has the lowest food hardship rate of any state at…

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Katie’s Krops – How One Girl Re-instates the Connection Between Gardening and Solving Hunger

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As much as we may try, the connection between eating and raising food is permanent. From subsistence farming, the world passed the gavel of raising food to farmers and now to industrial farming. In world almost exclusively organized around dollars, hundreds of millions of people have been externalized from the money it takes to buy from the farm via the grocery store. It took a nine year old girl to figure out that solving hunger was somehow related to raising food. Back in 2008, Katie Stagliano – a third grader, took on a school project to raise a cabbage. Her cabbage turned out to be a 40 lb. wonder. She…

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The Purchase of General Hydroponics by a Subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro (Part 2 of 2)

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Historically, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company focused on the do-it-yourself home gardener. Its move into hydroponics, via a young subsidiary called Hawthorne Gardening Company, means it is treading into new territory. Scotts is known for its Miracle-Gro, Ortho and Roundup brands. The Roundup is still owned by Monsanto, but the consumer version is marketed exclusively by Scotts. In conjunction with entering into hydroponics, Scotts is on a global goodwill mission to help sponsor more than 1,000 community gardens and green spaces in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. This corporate funding effort is branded GRO1000. This is a rather strange effort, considering Scott’s close ties with Monsanto and the product Roundup. Glyphosate, the…

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The Purchase of General Hydroponics by a Subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro (Part 1 of 2)

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The global focus on controlled environment agriculture includes hydroponics, a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. This form of production is one of the cornerstones of moving food production to urban settings. The practice of hydroponics has been successfully adapted to basil, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries and lettuce. Hydroponically raised food is no stranger to many of the grocery stores we shop at. At the heart of hydroponics is the nutrients put into the water solutions that feed the roots of plants. This is where General Hydroponics, one of the world’s leaders in supplying nutrients and water holding mediums in hydroponic settings, comes to the…

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Crosscurrents – Food/Gardening/Farm News Flashes

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Moving Away From Soft Drinks March 13, 2015 │ Burger King joined McDonalds and Wendy’s in removing soft drinks from its “kids” menu boards. Kids meals will come with the option of fat-free milk, 100 percent apple juice or low-fat chocolate milk. Soft drinks will still be available on request. Burger King, McDonalds and Wendy’s are in the top 5 restaurants in America by sales. Changing Grocery Shopping Habits March 13, 2015 │ According to a study by the Private Label Manufacturers Association shoppers aged 25-45 (1/3 of adult population) are increasingly loyal to their grocery stores. Sixty percent of this age group has shopped at their chosen grocery store…

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