Climate Farming, the Agriculture of Hope

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“Carbon levels in most agricultural soils have declined over the past 100 years, from some 5 percent to less than 1 percent in many places. These oxidative losses have degraded the structure, productivity, and resilience of these soils and their capacity to infiltrate, retain, and sustain water to cool climates.” – Walter Jehne, Healthy Soils Australia

“A lot of farmers are being educated about the capacity of soil to sequester carbon. It gets them excited to think that they can contribute to a reversal of climate change.” – Kate Duesterberg, Farm Manager, Cedar Circle Farm, Vermont

Soil health and climate stability are closely linked.  In the atmosphere, carbon exists as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas warming the planet. But in plants, carbon forms a sugary liquid that is exuded through the roots and gobbled up by microbes. This infusion of carbon and the microbial activity it supports gives structure to soil, improves the nutrient density of food, and increases soil’s capacity to hold water.

A new and growing movement is inspiring farmers to produce food in a manner that can mitigate and even help reverse global warming. It is being called “climate farming, the agriculture of hope.” Techniques for climate farming include use of cover crops, no-till farming, and sequestration of carbon by returning carbon-rich material to the soil through composting.

With this in mind, we at Canillas asked Lebanon’s Department of Public Works for the leaves from Fall clean-up of Colburn Park.  Not only did they offer us the leaves , but they delivered them to our garden – three truckloads of dried leaves!  With funds from the Robert F. Church Charitable Fund, we purchased a leaf shredder, and yesterday, began the process of shredding those leaves. Some of the shredded leaves will be mixed with manure and added to the hugelkultur.  We will also experiment with a chicken wire,’silo’ of shredded leaves and manure, to be added to gardens in the springtime.

We have also purchased organic buckwheat seeds, to be used as a cover crop on raised beds  . . . a little too late to be useful this year (buckwheat likes warmer weather) but luckily, buckwheat seed is viable for many years.

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Shredded leaves!

Two articles on this topic, source of much of the above info: https://permaculturemag.org/2017/09/agriculture-of-hope/ http://www.globalcoolingearth.org/regenerate-earth/

Awareness of this issue has been heightened through the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition List Serve discussions. Formed in February 2017, the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition are mostly Vermonters, representing grassroots activists, enthusiasts, organizations and businesses that work with or for the land and water, all volunteers with an interest in shifting the paradigm of how people interface with the land. We operate under the premise that we can restore land water cycles by covering Vermont’s bare soil; nurturing photosynthesis and the biology underground.

To join our brand new, still-forming group, fill out this quick survey [http://bit.ly/VHSC_survey]. Then, follow the instructions in the email confirmations that you’ll receive to join the listserv.  If you have any trouble, contact Cat Buxton at catduffybuxton@gmail.com or Juan Alvez at jalvez@uvm.edu.

 

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Posted in Bright Ideas, Soil Health, What's New? | 2 Comments

Gratitude

A spirit of generosity runs through Canillas Community Garden. A few unsung volunteers maintain and enhance our garden. As the garden season is drawing to a close, we would like to acknowledge their contributions.

Cherry Angell is indeed an angel in our garden.  She weed-whacks the surrounding area frequently and weeds and mulches the pathways between beds. She fills the water bucket regularly. Cherry has created and maintains beautiful entryway flower gardens and helped create the new pollinator garden. Her presence in the garden makes her a greeter of visitors, to whom she often gives tours. Cherry donated the benches in our sitting area and helped pay for the large oak tree planted this year on Arbor Day. Her daily, behind-the-scenes work is a huge favor to us all.  Thank you Cherry!

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Liz Bickel and Cherry Angell

Liz Bickel has been a volunteer for years. She helps maintain many of the flower beds, including the spiral. Her advice, as a former professional gardener, has served us well. This year, Liz donated three raised beds to replace beds that were falling apart. She and Cherry have volunteered to replace three other beds next spring.  Thank you Liz!

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Helen Brody

Helen Brody has enhanced our garden with the creation of lovely entry way gardens, including the crabapple tree (especially beautiful when blooming in the Spring.)  This year, Helen maintained the herb garden and she and Cherry created a new entryway herb garden open to the larger community – anyone can pick parsley, basil, sage, mint, oregano, etc. ) Helen also organized and helped pay for the Arbor Day oak tree planting and celebration. Thank you Helen!

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Polly Gould

Polly Gould was the originator of the spiral flower garden which she maintains. In springtime, she grows and donates flowers and veggies for the spiral, the bean tepee, and the hugelkultur.  She orchestrated the building of our shed by the Regional Resource Center students in Hartford, VT. She and her husband Frank built the tepeee and Canillas Community Garden sign. Polly created the two garden people (ok, scarecrows, though they are too whimsical to really scare anything.) She donated the locally made bird bath and helped renovate it with mosaic glass and pottery shards (some of which came from the soil in the garden.) Polly and Cherry helped build and maintain the hugelkultur which currently is producing lots of tomatoes and winter squash to be shared with Canillas gardeners.  Polly was also involved in the creation of the new pollinator garden.  Thank you Polly!

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Suzanne

Suzanne Church has been instumental in the creation of the new pollinator garden at Canilllas. She has done research into the connection between pollinators, plants, people, and pesticides and is interested in promoting awareness of these issues.  Thank you Suzanne!

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Paula LaPlant

Paula LaPlant is new to Canillas this year and has been a welcomed addition to our weeding team; imagine, someone who enjoys weeding!  She is a hard worker and helped create the new pollinator garden in the pocket park behind Goss-Logan Insurance. Thanks Paula.

Thanks to CCBA for the land, the liability insurance, the keeping of the books, and the general support and partnership!

And thanks to all the others who have contributed to the success of the garden!

 

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Monarch!

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A welcomed visitor to the Canillas Community Garden today.  Zinnias seem to be monarchs’ flower of choice and this zinnia certainly adds vibrant color contrast to the butterfly. Don’t you love the polka-dotted body suit that coordinates with the wings?!

“Butterflies . . . flowers that fly and all but sing.” – Robert Frost.

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New Pollinator Garden in Pocket Park!

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Bird’s-eye view from Hanover Street bridge with Mascoma River in the background

Upper Valley Pollinator Partners have a goal of 100 new pollinator gardens in the Upper Valley.  Canillas gardeners have created a new one this year at Canillas and another in the pocket park at the west end of the downtown tunnel in Lebanon, behind Goss Logan Insurance. (The park had been developed as an Eagle Scout project of Jake Jasinski.) We have focused on long-blooming pollinator perennials that can take care of themselves: Purple coneflowers, bee balm, daylilies, black-eyed Susans, daisies, asters, cranesbill geranium, lupines. We are hoping when the Mascoma River Greenway opens next year, folks will enjoy a picnic lunch and the flowers, there by the waterfall. It is a wonderful spot!
Phase 1 Progress:
​August 12, 2017​ – no garden​


​​August 13 – ​Weeded and 2 sacks manure

​August 16 – ​2 more sacks manure and 5 coneflowers planted. Hard work – so many rocks and roots!​

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 ​6 more sacks manure (8/18) and yellow daylilies planted ​(8/19)

Hard-working Paula!​

​​August 19 – added 3 asters, 3 bee balm, 2 black-eyed Susans,
 12 portulaca​

August 28 – Added black-eyed susan, 2 daylilies, daisy, 4 purple coneflowers, dark mulch with compost.

August 30 – ​2 daylilies and 1 coneflower added​ – lupine seeds will be planted along the back in a few weeks and alyssum to be planted, curving along the front, in the spring.  (Spring will be lovely with all the crabapple and the black cherry trees in the park!)
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Highrise Bee House

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About 140 species of native bees make their homes in preexisting holes and woodpecker drillings; they are naturally drawn to the bamboo tubes in this bee house which faces the morning sun. You can see that female bees have laid eggs in some of these tubes, filled the tubes with nourishment,  and sealed off the entrance so the young can grow safely.

A female mason bee, for example, will back into one of these tubes, lay an egg, deposit pollen and nectar (food for when the egg hatches), and build a wall of mud to create a brood cell. She then repeats this process about 10 times, creating a cell for each egg.

Leaf-cutter bees build their egg cells with pieces of leaves. They build multiple egg chambers per nest hole and deposit an egg in each chamber with a bit of pollen, nectar and saliva to nourish the larvae. The varied-sized tubes attract different kinds of bees.

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The Wide, Wild World of Bees!

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Most of us grew up knowing the names of exotic animals:  lions, tigers, panthers, pumas, zebras, sloths . . .  animals we are unlikely to encounter in our day to day lives. Yet bees, how many different kinds of bees can we name or identify? Do you know there are more than 4,000 varieties of bees native to North America, and an estimated 200 different bee species right here in New England? They are everywhere and our pollinator garden project is making me realize how much I don’t know! Some live in colonies, some live solitary lives. Some specialize, such as squash bees which only pollinate squash and pumpkins; others are generalists. Some bees are aggressive, others are not. Only females sting; some, with barbed stingers, die when they sting; those with non-barbed stingers may be able to sting multiple times. Will I ever be able to identify a mason bee? A plasterer bee? A carpenter bee or cuckoo bee?  I’m working on it!  Check out http://www.nativebeesofnewengland.com/bee-diversity.html and add to the varieties you can identify!

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Pollinator Garden in August

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Our pollinator garden is flourishing and alive with a variety of bees. How lucky we have been to have kept these towering sunflowers from the resident woodchucks!

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