Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Craig Floyd, Coogan Farm Manager

Description: Do you garden? If so, have you ever wondered what the potential of a single non-hybrid tomato plant could be? My guest this week, Craig Floyd, manages an 11,000+ square foot acre garden for the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic CT. Passionate about sustainable farming; he gives us detailed advice about soil health, water needs and practical tips for any level gardener. It’s exciting to meet folks like Craig who are out there walking the talk, growing fantastic gardens. He relates how troubled children, teens and those with disabilities are transformed by walking in his gardens, how the soil heals. Fascinating? Definitely!  I hope you will join us and leave your comments. They are appreciated.

About My Guest: Craig Floyd. Farm Manager for the Coogan Farm in Mystic CT. Craig manages 11,000 sq feet as part of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. He’s passionate about using his extensive farming experience creating a sustainable, healthy no-till,, no-spray garden in order to give quality food to the needy. He watches children with emotional and physical handicaps change as they roam the garden. It works for adults too. I encourage everyone to put the Coogan Farm and Nature Center Trails on their to-do list this year. It’s worth it. and if you have the time, why not lend a hand? Volunteers are always welcome.

Transcript: #47 Craig Floyd (1)

#47 Craig Floyd (1) Craig Floyd potting soil mix

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Mark Shepard, Founder of Restoration Agriculture Development

Description: This is exciting! Folks out there are working diligently every day to protect, build and maintain viable healthy ecosystems and produce food. Meet Mark Shepard who founded Restoration Agriculture Development, RAD, in order to save viable ecosystems while growing nutrient-rich food. His approach with his team is to imitate the structure and function of the specific ecosystem’s natural plant communities while utilizing the appropriate agroforestry and water management techniques to produce an agricultural yield. While restoring carbon sequestration, water purification, and infiltration, nutrient cycling occurs while supporting, maintaining and preserving biodiversity. Individually, taking steps to support biodiversity, adds up to big results. I am excited to learn more about how company’s like Mark’s educate and support better agriculture development and maintain various ecosystems we desperately need today.  This is hopeful, positive progress. Please share!

About My guest: Mark Shepard with RAD: Restoration Agricultural Development:
RAD is a full-service environmental consulting, research, and development firm committed to developing agricultural ecosystems that provide nutritious food for humankind while enhancing the life-supporting ecosystem services of planet Earth. Mark Shepard has over 30 years of experience in environmental consulting, production agriculture, and real estate development. Together, RAD has worked on 100+ projects in multiple climates across 4 continents. Through active ecosystem management, RAD combines ecological restoration with agricultural development to improve your landscape.

Transcript:  #46 Mark Shepard (1)

Blog: Gift Ideas for the Gardeners You Love

Tis the season for giving. Any gardeners on your list? Or perhaps you have family committed to helping the environment in some way. Maybe concerned about climate changes we are all facing? Gardens build diversity. Weeds supply nutrients. Trees create an invaluable ecosystem, complex and intriguing.

Why I love this book:  We enjoy a meal with artful presentation, right? From icings on cakes and cupcakes to garnishes on our main dishes, each flower or fruit carved into a garnish excites more than just our tastes. But, did you know there are flowers that can be added to recipes such as teas, salads, yogurts and cheeses that may be out of the ordinary? Yet these flowers are commonly found in our gardens. Rosalind Creasy, in the Edible Flower Garden, marries good cuisine and gardening. Her flowers/plants are arranged alphabetically which makes it an easy yet colorful guide. She includes How to grow along with How to prepare for each plant. In the end, she shares her favorite recipes.
Any surprises? Yes, for me I did not know that lilac blossoms can be added to yogurt. Something to think about in the Spring.

Why I love this book: In a word, COLOR. The author offers a color wheel and then lists plants by color to create a delightful and rewarding palette for anyone’s landscapes. He gives practical design tips, how to connect colors inside and outside to establish a flow between architectural designs, color schemes, and your favorite palette. I had an opportunity to create a larger garden off a deck. Mr. Smith’s book gave me ideas on how to implement the client’s needs with his inside view across a deck to a garden a bit below.deck level.
His plant lists alone are worth the cost of the book but there is so much more to enjoy.

Why I love this book: the table of contents makes it easy to find a plant family category and then look up problems. He uses an easy to read format I wish I could keep in my garden. Fun illustrations, graphics with a sense of humor and highlighted tips make it a treasure for the whole family. Plant suggestions, composting and recipes, this book contains so many worthwhile solutions, it’s a must.

Why I love this book: I appreciate weeds! They are often maligned and zapped with harmful chemicals yet they are often powerhouses of nutrients. Their gifts are many, some are edible and are nutritious, some are medicinal and offer a helping hand to what ails us. And, weeds tell us about the health of our soil too. Ever wondered why your cucumbers did great but not the tomatoes? The weed that is growing in the garden bed next to it could be trying to get your attention and let you know what the soil needs, what the soil might be missing, what could be at too high levels.

Mr. Pfeiffer ( 1899-1961) pioneered biodynamic farming in the US. He discusses weeds that appear each season and shows us what minerals are high or low. This is a new book for me, One I intend to take into my garden, investigate and observe more keenly what my garden is saying to me. Seems like I’ll be engaging in a new kind of conversation with my garden and I can’t wait!

Why I love this Book: Did you know trees talk among themselves and help each other out? I did not know until recently how complex the forest’s ecosystem is in managing nutrients and survival. Trees produce thousands of seeds so one can survive and thrive to maturity. There are older trees that maintain the forest and when we unknowingly cut them down we destroy the invaluable aid and gifts she gives to the others in her care. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? And it’s holistic too. What happens to one affects the whole.
Tending a forest for over thirty years in Germany, with keen observation skills, means we benefit. The author takes us through the life of a tree and shows us how gentler management yields more abundant results. He highlights in many ways how trees communicate and help each other. If one is stressed, the others through complex underground signaling, send some relief. I highly recommend this book not just for gardeners but for those who deeply care about this earth we live on.

Why I love this book: One author is a geologist and his wife is a Biologist and together they marry the world of soils and gut health. And they garden and wanted to create healthier soils. Anne developed a serious disease which gave her the impetus to dig deeper. ( Yes pun intended) Together their collaboration gives us, the reader, an in-depth look at soil and how that relates to growing healthy, nutrient dense foods which ultimately brings us better health. A must for the gardener and those who choose sustainable practices in our landscapes.

Why I love this book: John brings us into the energy and spirit of nature that has helped him co-create beautiful gardens. While his gardens are Australian based I enjoyed his practical advice about paying attention to nature. Nature speaks to us in many ways. Working in the garden with mindfulness, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you feel. So many of the gardeners I know can’t wait to get back in the dirt, plant and tend their gardens where a feeling of peacefulness, some magical connection stirs us.
His book covers many bases from composting, mulches, pond building and working with nature spirits and more. Practical yet poetic, a must for the beginner and the advanced.

Disclaimer: I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn small fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliate sites. Thank you so much for supporting these efforts to pass on worthwhile and invaluable resources. And as I said before I love books. It’s a pleasure to share with you my favorites, especially for the gift-giving time of year. Enjoy. Judith

 

Blog: Korean Natural Farming: An Introduction

Nature heals itself. If we give crops, plants, everything they need to thrive we reap the benefit of vitally strong, healthy plants some of which are the foods we eat. My guest this week, Nigel Palmer, soil and garden consultant for The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition, mentions Korean Natural Farming or KNF. Curious I decided to do some research and found out it’s a farming model based on holistic principles. This system encourages us as gardeners and even large-scale farms to use what’s close at hand. Nearby forest compost, weeds cost nothing, making it easy to obtain and use.

This short documentary gives clear explanations of some of the fermented products used and why they are loved by plants. When we ferment with natural sugars, which mimics natural plant exudates, plants thrive. This system has recipes that create specific products such as IMO’s, which means  Indigenous Micro-organisms using rice, sugar, plant materials. I know I am going to make something, maybe only one product but hopefully more for my next growing season. I am going to look into what I can apply to my garden beds, closed down now, in preparation for the New England winter.

Easy, economical, using plant materials indigenous to our local area supports the plant kingdom’s needs and ours, truly holistic.
Have any of you looked into KNF? I would love to hear from you.

Remember to please like, share and comment. It’s appreciated.
Enjoy. Judith

Blog: Small Farmers Make a Big Difference

 

 

 

 

 

My guest this week, Gunther Hauk and I talked about the detrimental effects climate warming is having on our planet. His farm is based on biodynamic principles. I had the privilege of visiting Spikenard Farm, Honeybee Sanctuary a few years ago. Set upon a hilltop in the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by an organic farm, forests, creates a safe haven for many critters and plant species including honeybees. These folks create a deep reverence for nature and all its species. Here’s a link to an upcoming biodynamic farming class.

However, we ask tough questions: Are we doing enough?  Are we doing enough in a timely enough fashion to make a difference?

I trust and hope my podcast series: Holistic Nature of Us is making a difference in some measure to remind all of us how precious nature is to us. There is a hidden genius and an intelligence in nature that we have ignored as we focused on building a strong economy, developing an industrial based society. Today we need to look at the whole, how everything we do impacts everything on this planet.  ( photo, courtesy J Dreyer, Spikenard Farm, Beehives)

Enjoy this short yet informative video about how small farmers contribute to the solutions we desperately need now.

Remember to like and share. All comments are appreciated too. Thanks. Judith

 

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Gunther Hauk, Biodynamic Farming

Description: The earth is a living being. How well do we take care of the soil, air, water? Biodynamic farming is a regenerative, sustainable set of principles and practices for farming that rebuilds, restores soils. This system encourages crop diversity, building compost for soil regeneration and more. Meet Gunther Hauk, retired Waldorf school teacher and founder of Spikenard Farm, a Honeybee Sanctuary located in Floyd VA. He teaches many classes and is a part of the Documentary: Queen of the Sun.

About My Guest: Gunther Hauk is a retired Waldorf school teacher. He is the founder of Spikenard Farm, Honeybee Sanctuary, located in Floyd, VA. He is also the founder of the Pfeiffer Center in Spring Valley, NY. Both farms operate on biodynamic principles. Gunther is featured in Queen of the Sun documentary where he joins with others highlighting the issues and the grave concerns many have over the honeybee population declines.

Transcript: Gunther Hauk