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This should matter to us all...
_ On January 31, family farmers will take part in the first phase of a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which contaminates organic and non-GMO farmer’s crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. In many cases farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy. Please join us in standing up for family farmers everywhere against Monsanto's abusive seed monopoly.
Click on the link below to sign the petition-
Sorry for the radio silence. Or blog silence as it were. Things have been in upheaval here at the farm and blogging fell fast to the bottom of the to-do list. 2011 was an insane year and honestly I am very grateful it is over. That level of stress is unsustainable over long periods of time. Although I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have learned.
For those of you who don’t know, Siren Song has moved to a new home much closer to Portland. We have 45 acres of some of the most beautiful land we have seen here. This year we are starting slow and will get the land into production at a more moderate pace. We love our new home and it is a much healthier situation for us and the animals.
The cows, goats, chickens and ducks are loving it so far.
The website will be completely re-worked over the next couple of weeks so check back in and see what I have come up with. We will be much more art based this season so the focus of the site will be shifting. Look for more classes and events this season as well. We have many friends making plans to come out here and create and it would be a shame to miss it. We also have some fabulous local chefs revving up to come out and cook.
Aby will be focusing more on her art and I have accepted a job teaching Permaculture at Pacific University. So the farm will exist in a different way this season as we won’t be farming full time. There are other farmers here at the farm so don’t despair.
Keep in touch with us over the coming year. We hope you can come out and be a part of the creation at the farm. We are so very grateful for all of your love and support over this last year. You made it all worthwhile. I keep asking why we went through such a tough year. What were we supposed to learn? What is the silver lining? And after some deep thought and time spent on the trampoline, what I have come up with is YOU. We have met some amazing people this season. Friends we will have forever. Farmers, chefs, gardeners, educators… You all make Portland such a wonderful place to live. We are so glad we got to play a small part in your lives this year.
So I hope you all had an amazing New Year. We certainly did!
I wish you all happiness and health for 2012.
Lots of Love-
Last market of the season
This week was our last market of the season. Normally we would continue until the market closes in December but as we are moving properties mid-season that is just not going to be possible. We started moving plants and working on the new property months ago but the transition is still affecting our productivity. Saturday was as wonderful a market as we could have asked for. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm but not hot. The people were happy, not as common an occurrence as one would think. We got to talk to many of our CSAers, which was fantastic. We got to be near our Olympic Provision friends and our dear friend Alyssa at Divine Pie. (You may have noticed Aby selling vegan pie at the Saturday Market, she tends to wander off and watch the stand while Alyssa is away.)The market music was good and loud enough to hear. We ate the to die for caprese sandwich from the wonderful cooks at Love Joy and some delicious cookies from Two Tarts. We traded for some mouthwatering vegan pie from Divine Pie. Almost all of our favorite regulars came by to see us and we finished the day talking with some new friends. It was perfection. We will miss all of our market friends and working with the amazing market staff but it’s better to end on a high note rather than limp through the end of the season.
What more can you ask for?
Sunchokes, the best of the root fruits…
This season we went a little nuts growing Sunchokes.They are the most interesting crop. We tried out two different varieties. I tried to find purple ones but they were more trouble to track down then they were worth. Besides they looked brown not purple and as you know Aby and I don’t do brown we specialize in purple. So for those of you who were wondering about Helianthus tuberosus also know as Sunchokes, or Jerusalem Artichokes, or Girasole, or Sunroots, or Earth Apples or Topinambours… or whatever you know them as. Essentially Sunchokes are the rhizomous roots of a plant in the sunflower family. They are native to North America and are good for you too! They have 650 mg potassium per 1 cup (150g) serving. They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.
So you take a cutting from the tuber and plant it in the ground. Up grows a sunflower stalk and eventually a small yellow, chocolate scented flower appears at the top. At this point you can start harvesting but your yield will be low. It’s best to let the stalks die back in the Fall and harvest the tubers over the winter and spring. The biggest problem is that if even the smallest piece of sunchoke is left in the ground then the plant will come back and spread. Each year that it is grown in the same spot the soil is depleted and the nutritive value decreases. So they really need to be moved from year to year.
We like to eat them grated fresh on a fresh garden salad. They also cook up really well with other root crops. So they are yummy, look beautiful in the garden, bees love them, they can be used as animal feed and are a nice starch free substitute for potatoes.
They really are the most interesting of the root fruits!
Sacred Tree Circle
Sacred Tree Circles
Last summer Aby and I were taking a permaculture class with Tom Ward from Siskiyou Permaculture. One of the things Tom talked about sacred tree circles and how they are found all over the world. If was a fascinating lecture on creating sacred spaces, building community and the importance of seasonal festivals. Now that we are moving to a new home it seems only right that we plant our own sacred tree circle at the farm. We already have many amazing trees there so we may try and incorporate some of them if possible. The one thing that was really missing from the last farm, besides any sort of soil fertility was the inclusion of any sacred space. We have several amazing willows and oaks that would incorporate well into a sacred space and with 40+ acres to play on it should be fun choosing a space.
Here are some of our tree choices and their meanings…
Birch Beginning, Renewal, Youth
Alder Endurance, Strength, Passion
Willow Imagination, Intuition, Vision
Ash Connection, Wisdom, Surrender
Hawthorn Contradiction, Consequence, Relationships
Oak Strength, Stability, Nobility
Holly Action, Assertion, Objectivity
Hazel Creativity, Purity, Honesty
Apple Beauty, Love, Generosity
Blackthorn Discipline, Control, Perspective
Elder Transition, Evolution, Continuation
Fir Clarity, Achievement, Energy
Poplar/Aspen Victory, Transformation, Vision
Yew Transference, Passage, Illusion
Potatoes and the mole
Potatoes and the mole
The seasonal potato harvest is almost done here at Siren Song Farm. We have been frantically digging up blue, purple, red and even yellow potatoes all week. It turns out that the soil here kind of sucks so the potatoes are not what they could have been but they taste great. It seems like my horseradish spray may have helped somewhat with the potato scab but it’s hard to really tell. Next season I look forward to incorporating horseradish, comfrey leaves and leaf mulch into our potato growing practices.
We are also discovering that we have shared quite a bit of the harvest with our new friend the mole, who kindly took one bite out of many of the potatoes and then moved on. At first we saw his intrusion as a war on the crops but now we are realizing that actually it was a trade. Mr. Mole or that little sh** head, as he is sometimes called, is eating our potatoes but in exchange he is also eating the slugs and honestly the slugs eek me out way more than a nibbled on potato. The potato trials are also yielding interesting results. It seems that the higher yielding potatoes are not the ones with the most compost amendments or the biggest container but the ones most true to their south American origins. I am rather excited that nature seems to be yielding stronger results than us just messing around with the potato genome.
Here is an interesting article I thought I would share with all of you wonderful people! We are growing everything on the list except brussel sprouts. Which I am sorry to say I will not be growing in the near future. Last season they were so infested with aphids that I had to throw them all out. Simply too upsetting to be repeated.
Top Ten Most Nutritious Vegetables and How to Grow Them in Your Garden
by Colleen Vanderlinden on 02. 8.11 Food & Health
A perfectly ripe, juicy tomato, still warm from the sun. Sweet carrots, pulled from the garden minutes (or even seconds!) before they're eaten. Growing your own vegetables is one of those activities that balances practicality and indulgence. In addition to the convenience of having the fixings for a salad or light supper right outside your door (or on your windowsill), when you grow your own vegetables, you're getting the most nutritional bang for your buck as well. Vegetables start losing nutrients as soon as they're harvested, and quality diminishes as sugars are turned into starches. For the tastiest veggies with the best nutrition, try growing a few of these nutrient-dense foods in your own garden. And don't let the lack of a yard stop you - all of them can be grown in containers as well.
1. Broccoli Broccoli is high in calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as Vitamin A, B6, and C. In fact, one cup of raw broccoli florets provides 130% of your daily Vitamin C requirement.
3. Beans (especially navy beans, great northern beans, kidney beans) While snap beans (green beans/wax beans) are a great addition to any garden, it's the beans we grow as dried beans that are real nutritional powerhouses. Dry beans, in general, are high in iron, fiber, manganese, and phosphorous.
More About Growing Your Own Food:
Siren Song Farm Pastured Poultry
Pasture raised on local organic grains (no corn / no soy),
salad greens, fresh raw goats milk, and kelp!
What is pastured poultry?
Pastured poultry is a way of managing the flock outside on fresh pasture that requires no antibiotics, no artificial hormones and no medicated feeds. The birds are able to graze on insects and fresh greens day and night to supplement their high quality; whole grain feed which makes for a distinctive and tender broiler.
How do I order?
Frozen poultry are available for direct farm sales in Forest Grove, OR.
To order call 503-423-7835
Naomi's Organic Farm Supply-
As you may or may not know, Naomi's Organic Farm Supply's lease is up May 31st. The community went crazy and have been begging Les Schwab (landlord) to let Naomi's stay. Go to Friends of Naomi's facebook page to read some of the letters. We all will be very sad to lose this gem!
Jen Henry is a Permaculture Designer, horticulturist and visual artist. As well as a massage therapist, herbalist, painter, chef, glass blower, writer and market gardener. She is grateful that her English Degree has finally come in useful for something.