Thursday, January 5, 2012

Summer Flowers

The main theme of this blog has been and still is about growing the fruit and veggie crops that add amazing flavors and nutrients to our food supply. Raising food plants has been at the core of our gardening focus, but there’s more to the garden; there are the flowers.

Flowers are food for the soul; what would life be without them? Through the summer I capture digital images of the blooms for no other reason than that they are there and colorful and interesting. And not just photogenic, but they are ideal subjects for photography. They don’t act camera shy nor do they stick out their tongues at that critical nano second before the shutter clicks. The most that happens is a bee crawling out of the middle of a flower as the picture is being taken.

What is not caught in the click of the camera, or in bytes, however you want to think of it, never shows up in the picture and is left to the imagination. There are the aromatics, the scents- most notably those that of the roses. And there is often the shy slither of garden snake hidden in the vinca, the melodic voices of birds, and the loud and constant buzzing of bees. As you squat down to get a better angle on a bloom you see that Mr. toad is wiggling his behind into the dirt, and you find that a garden spider has been busy because your hair is getting full of sticky strands of web. And you hear the indistinguishable whir of hummingbird zooming by. There’s lots going on there, and the mere image of a bloom is far from the whole picture.

I like to look at the flower photos in the middle of the chilly season. I can see how beautiful the flowers were, and more than that, the images spark memories of the constant hum of activity all around them. I can almost smell the roses. -jmm

Jens Munk rose
Siberian iris
Maidens Blush rose
3 kinds of roses
Stone pathway
Snowball bush
The Yellow Rose of Texas

Heather and an ancient tree stump
Alba Alba roses
Apothecary rose and Feverfew
Bearded iris
Bellflower and roses
A groundcover mix

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Food & Water Watch

Food & Water Watch is a national non-profit based in Washington D.C., dedicated to ensuring that we all have clean water and safe food. I became familiar with them when I started researching GMO's (genetically modified organisms) and companies like the Monsanto Corporation.
Recently, a local branch of Food & Water Watch hosted a potluck dinner for interested people to get together and catch up on local Watch activities. This was held at the home of Mark, his wife, and their rescued greyhounds in East Waterboro.
We talked about a range of topics including local control of aquifers, damage to water sources by fracking, organic gardening, labeling of GMO's and even the recent declaration that pizza in school lunches is a vegetable because it contains a little tomato paste.
Though our conversations covered many themes, a couple of our topics are close to my heart. By growing most of our food, we are able to avoid chemicals and GMO's that are prevalent in much of the commercial foodstuffs on the market. And, though we have safe, chemical free water here, this is not the case for much of the world's people. It's not enough for us to merely homestead to care for ourselves. Consumers are often not aware of sources of their food and of the dangers of the additives in many things they eat. Water in many places is becoming privatized and placed in the hands of corporations more concerned with profits than public safety. Since the corporations that control such a large percentage of food are not willing to voluntarily label products that contain GMO's, we are for legislation that requires them to. We support indigenous people in Bolivia and India that are trying to take back local control of their water rights.

GMO's are in many grocery store products, especially in processed foods. Problem is, there is no requirement to let consumers know that they are in so many foods. The multi-national corporations that produce the majority of packaged and processed foods send their lobbyists (with boat loads of contributions) to convince politicians that the public doesn't need to know what is in the food they produce and market.
As consumers, we want and need to know what is in the food we eat. Only then can we make educated choices about what ends up in our shopping carts and on our dinner tables.
There is legislation to require clear labeling of food products to let us know when genetically modified ingredients are in them. The GE Food Right to Know Act, sponsored by Dennis Kucinich, has been introduced in the House of Representatives. This act MUST be passed. Contact your representatives in Congress to support this legislation. Here in Maine, our House Representative is Chellie Pingree who has experience with organic farming. Thank you, Dennis and Chellie.
Our water, also, must be kept out of the hands of corporations that want to extract and put it into plastic bottles that end up in land fills. Clean drinking water is becoming scarce world wide. Climate change and population growth, among other things, are affecting its supply. Future wars will be waged over water, or its lack. We're fortunate here in Maine to have adequate water supplies and we need to make sure that this continues. Local communities are working to ensure that control of water stays local. Communities like Shapleigh- two towns over- have prevented multi-national corporations from extracting their water.
We can't allow politicians, who are often bought and paid for by these corporations, to give away this precious resource. We need to act now, while we still have an adequate water supply, to be sure we always do. Our Maine politicians need to know that our drinking water must remain a public resource.
For our part, we need to be educated about factors involving food and water, share this knowledge with others and let politicians know that the 99% of us are paying attention, speaking up and voting for those that share our values. Getting involved with organizations like Food & Water Watch may take a little bit of our time, but can go a long ways in helping to protect our access to healthy food and water. -G.H.