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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

The Independence Days Challenge is back!

…yeah, I must be the only one who signed up who didn’t even realize that Independence Days is apparently one of Sharon’s books. I’ve been reading her blog for years now, but have yet to read one of her books. (Please don’t throw something at me, Sharon. Unless it be one of your books, heh.) With the advent of this challenge, now would be an excellent time for me to purchase the book, except that I have a large to-be-read pile right now as it is, thanks to both my library card and relatives who buy books off my Amazon Wish List for me for Christmas. (Gracias!) That said, the amount that would have once taken me maybe a month to read through will now likely take me all year, as one’s reading pace tends to slow when one has a near-toddler underfoot. As in, I started Joel Salatin’s Folks, This Ain’t Normal in the very early days of January, and I’m still only about halfway through it. Parenthood, thy name is picture-filled board books flung at thy knees!

Enough of my babbling. This challenge. It has categories that you’re supposed to report back on each week (Fridays, in this instance). If I recall correctly, they are:

Plant something.
Harvest something.
Preserve something.
Waste not.
Want not.
Eat the food.
Build community food systems.
Skill up.

If you go over to Sharon’s Independence Days post, you can read up on what each of the categories entails (it can be as simple as gathering eggs from a hen… or learning to crochet… or composting… she has lots of suggestions), as well as sign up in the comments to let her know whether you’ll be checking in on her blog or reporting on your own, as I will (attempt) to do. I figure if I can at least hit two categories a week, I’ll be good. Oh yeah, and blog about it. Because we all know just how hit-or-miss I am with that these days. (The good news is, home internet connection may be looming in our near future, which would mean no more typing on a cell phone keypad. Praise the Lord and pass the peanut butter!)

On a related note, I have an e-mail subscription to Preparing Your Family, which is a blog that focuses on… err… preparing for emergency situations. With… your family in mind. (Sometimes my explanations are so profound that I amaze even myself.) Anyway… one of today’s posts was Five Prepper Skills To Pick Up This Year, which I thought was rather timely and thus am including it as inspiration for my fellow Independence Days Challenge participants. Because, you know… there’s that whole “skill up” category, and if you’re anything like me, you love lists.

Aside from posting over at Sharon’s blog, if you decide to participate and will be blogging it, please leave a comment for me here under this post, as well. I love to make connections with my (few) readers and would love to be able to follow what you’re doing for this challenge!

Now, I am off to muck stalls before the Wee Goon awakens from his nap!

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So, you know how I posted Murphy’s Law of Tomatoes?

Turns out I lost a whopping… wait for it… TWO.

Now, I shan’t complain, because lots of folks farther east than I lost entire crops to Irene when it cames through. I lost a couple of tomatoes to overripening. Big whoop. That said, I found myself staring at this big bowl of tomatoes on my counter, at a loss. It seemed like too few to can. But too many to dice up for salad (whose greens, I might add, have long since gone to the wayside). Hrm.

Soup!

So I added a lil’ bit o’ this, a lil’ bit o’ that… and had homemade tomato soup for dinner!

So, that constitutes today’s on my mind: the big bowl of soup that I’m about to eat.

What? You didn’t think I would be organized enough to take pictures when I first made it, did you? In fact, I made the mistake of mentioning said homemade tomato soup in my Facebook status and ended up getting questioned on my recipe.

…recipe? You mean, like, measurements? Oh, dear.

What do you think? Should I recreate my soup – this time using measurements – so that I can share it with the world?

Furthermore, can y’all point me to a good tomato sauce recipe that cans well? Turns out, I still have quite a few green tomatoes joining the ranks, and I’m determined to can some of them. Thanks muchly!

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Murphy’s Law of Tomatoes
All of your green tomatoes will ripen during the week that you are vacationing with your in-laws three states away. Because that’s how they roll. Err… ripen.

(I’ll let you know how well this law plays out when we return from the ocean.)

How about you? What “Murphy’s Law” of gardening have you discovered this year?

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I apologize for the lack of a creative title at the moment. The brain’s a bit sluggish this morning as it flounders through the mire of H.R. 875. I cannot help but view my circle of “foodie” and “homesteading” websites and blogs with jaded eyes. To keep vision from turning to cynicism would be valuable at this point. I was revisiting II Timothy 1:7 this morning, as a reminder against my fears.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Aye. And I know that ultimately He is in control, but that does not negate how small I feel at this point, against H.R. 875. It was somewhat heartening to access the NoNAIS.org website this morning and see that they had already posted some information on the bill. After all, if this bill passes, NAIS becomes a moot point. It’s wrapped up head to tail within this bill. All we have fought against for years, sneaks in the back door. Perhaps it is taking the passage out of context, but I found it to be simply one more affirmation of the agrarian lifestyle found throughout the Bible, when I read the following verses:

The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. (II Timothy 2:6-7)

How’s that for backup? 😉 Or at least encouragement? And last but not least, I thought Herrick had a few good things to say in his latest post:

My guess is that the disorder in agriculture will be pretty severe this year, especially since some of the world’s most productive places — California, northern China, Argentina, the Australian grain belt — are caught in extremes of drought on top of capital shortages. If the US government is going to try to make remedial policy for anything, it better start with agriculture, to promote local, smaller-scaled farming using methods that are much less dependent on oil byproducts and capital injections.

Once again, I’m dubious of government doing any such “remedial policies.” Our government has become a tool of the corporate interests. Such interests do not have any desire to promote small-scale, localized, sustainable agricultural practices. It’s not gonna happen, at least not by government influence to any significant degree. In fact, government will be a hindrance and stumbling block to such proactive and worthwhile change.

But remedial practices are exactly what every person and family in America needs to initiate and undertake on their own. As the complex industrial systems unravel themselves in the days ahead, one thing is certain—you will still need to eat, and the system may not be able to keep you supplied. Bearing that in mind, the most prudent remedial practice you can undertake is to grow and supply as much of your own food as you can. If you can not do that, then it behooves you to develop personal relationships with people in your area who are producing food.

Food…a place to grow it, the knowledge and skills to grow and preserve it, and the tools to do this may be worth far more than inflated and devalued fiat money in the days ahead.
Economic Redundancy, the Decline of Complex Systems, and “Remedial Practices” (The Deliberate Agrarian)

It makes me wonder what will happen if this bill does pass, and our economy continues down the road it’s on. BigAg cannot be sustained. What happens when it collapses? Most small farms, homesteads, gardens, and what have you, will either have been shut down by red tape or with “operate underground” as much as they can. So what of those who manage to somehow afford to acquiesce to the fulfillment of these “minimum standards” (which – and granted, I only skimmed parts of the bill – I did not see what those minimum standards would even be within the bill)? BigAg collapses, and right there under their noses is the provision for the government to come in and sieze what you’re growing. Heck, whether it’s “for the good of the people” or they say that something is unsafe and sieze it – what’s to keep them accountable? Not to mention siezure of anyone operating illegally – or rather, those who don’t register their premises with the government.

It’s an insidiously legislated way to control the food system. There are enough people who won’t toe the line for a Chavez version of food system control, so let’s bring it in through the back door.

“For safety!” has become the cry of the oppressor. Many are tempted to stretch out their hands and take into their arms this “safety” of the government, and to them I offer the timeless words of Benjamin Franklin:

Those who would give up Essential Liberty
to purchase a little Temporary Safety,
deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

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So, I finished posting about H.R. 875, and came across this video. He’s reading an article that is written by someone far more eloquent than I am. If you’d rather read than watch, you can read it here.

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I don’t even know where to start. I’ve been sitting here, staring at the screen and shaking my head in disbelief, for the last half-hour. From the moment I started reading H.R. 875, the bill introduced to the House on February 4th, 2009, my heart started to sink. Those who know me well know that my normal course of action when I come across something I consider to be unjust, immoral, or just plain lacking in common sense, is to become riled, but I could not muster even a hint of such ardour at the sight of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009.

Well, when the CPSIA was passed, no one was minding the store.  Only Ron Paul and a few other cranks raised a complaint.  Apparently on this bill, only a few blogging cranks are minding the store.  I’ll barely add to the number of cranks, but the FSMA has not yet passed, so there’s time to prevent the damage.  The Food Safety Modernization Act, as currently drafted, will ruin most of the farmer’s markets in America.

Without going into a detailed textual analysis (click the link above), the FSMA requires all “food establishments,” which means anyone selling or storing food of any type for transmission to third parties via the act of commerce, to register with a new Food Safety Administration, to keep copious records of sales and shipment by lot and label, to subject themselves to at least annual inspections by FSA inspectors, and to provide detailed handling instructions for safe processing of food.  That may work for Nabisco and the people who supply McDonald’s, but it’s probably not going to work at, for instance, the farmer’s market I visit without fail every weekend beginning in late March.  The place is infested with hippies and rustic sorts who couldn’t fill out a spreadsheet and can’t afford legal advice on how to farm, but know a thing or two about growing good peppers.

Nor will the more detailed recordkeeping and lab testing requirements, and the monthly inspections, to be required of farmers’ markets which offer delicacies such as bacon or cheese, both of  which I purchase at my own farmers’ market because I trust the farmers involved, and because I won’t give up absolutely fresh tomatoes even if I’m not assured they were audited by the government.

As the CPSIA illustrates, the problem with “one size fits all” regulation of business activity at the federal level is that one size, in fact, doesn’t fit all.  Lead paint testing requirements, which are just a cost to be passed on to millions of customers by a Mattel or GAPKids who see little increase in price per unit because they test in bulk, simply kill small, artisan toymakers or small-lot clothing producers.  The mandates of the FSMA likewise will cause little trouble to Hormel, but may be onerous indeed to the smallscale family farmer in Louisburg North Carolina from whom I buy sausage on saturday mornings.  Even though the small farmer’s operation is cleaner than a factory slaughterhouse, and even though his pigs live in far healthier conditions than those from a factory farm.  (I know because I’ve visited them.)

This bill can be fixed, and it should be.  We’re currently undergoing a media frenzy on contaminated food, just as in 2007 we did with stories of lead paint, but farmers, even small farmers, are much better connected and have broader support than thrift stores or small crafts businesses.   If you enjoy fresh food from farmers’ markets, and don’t want to eat processed glop from Big Food at every meal, contact your congressman, particularly if you live in an agricultural district, and ask about this bill.  Encourage lawmakers to consider the effect this will have on family farms and farmers’ markets, and to ask themselves whether we need yet another federal food agency.

Do it for the tomatoes.
You Are Why I Cannot Eat Good Things (PopeHat)

So, I went and looked it over, hoping that perhaps things weren’t as they seemed. I read through their definitions of the categories of “Food Establishments”, and subsequently, of “Food Production Facilities”.

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.
text of H.R. 875

I, foolishly, held up a glimmer of hope at the fact that food production facilities were defined under a different section than food establishments. Perhaps it meant an exemption? Then I came across section 206. And then I realized that no where in their definition of a food production facility did they define exactly what a “farm” or “ranch” or “orchard” technically was. Oh, wait. Yes, they did. They prefaced it with “any”. So think about that as you look at Section 206. Bold text is my emphasis. Red text is my notes. Under H.R. 875, this can be done to any:

SEC. 206. FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITIES.

(a) Authorities- In carrying out the duties of the Administrator and the purposes of this Act, the Administrator shall have the authority, with respect to food production facilities, to–

(1) visit and inspect food production facilities in the United States and in foreign countries to determine if they are operating in compliance with the requirements of the food safety law; (will your farm fall under the requirements of food safety law?)

(2) review food safety records as required to be kept by the Administrator under section 210 and for other food safety purposes;

(3) set good practice standards to protect the public and animal health and promote food safety;

(4) conduct monitoring and surveillance of animals, plants, products, or the environment, as appropriate; (so, they get free rein to watch what they want, when they want, as long as they deem it ‘appropriate’ first?) and

(5) collect and maintain information relevant to public health and farm practices.

(b) Inspection of Records- A food production facility shall permit the Administrator upon presentation of appropriate credentials and at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner, to have access to and ability to copy all records maintained by or on behalf of such food production establishment in any format (including paper or electronic) and at any location, that are necessary to assist the Administrator(better hope you’re not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of person – they want records)

(1) to determine whether the food is contaminated, adulterated, or otherwise not in compliance with the food safety law; (those records better match up with their ideas, too) or

(2) to track the food in commerce.

(c) Regulations- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and representatives of State departments of agriculture, shall promulgate regulations to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production of food by food production facilities. (“science-based minimum standards” – in other words, you put on our pesticides, you plant things the way we want them planted, you feed your animals the antibiotics we want you to – all in the name of something based in “science”, the same science that brought us  our current broken agriculture system that results in the sort of food scares we’re having in the first place? Anyone think maybe something is wrong with that kind of “science”?) Such regulations shall–

(1) consider all relevant hazards, including those occurring naturally, (guess I can no longer drink milk from my goats, and the neighbors can’t drink milk from their dairy cows – after all, it hasn’t been pasteurized, and therefore contains naturally-occurring hazards!) and those that may be unintentionally or intentionally introduced;

(2) require each food production facility to have a written food safety plan that describes the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards;

(3) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water; (*twitch* So, what did I just say a few paragraphs ago, about “science” dictating pesticides, et cetera?)

(4) include, with respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal’s health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption; (what do you want to bet requirements involve antibiotic-laced feed to “prevent outbreaks”?)

(5) provide a reasonable period of time for compliance, taking into account the needs of small businesses for additional time to comply;

(6) provide for coordination of education and enforcement activities by State and local officials, as designated by the Governors of the respective States; and

(7) include a description of the variance process under subsection (d) and the types of permissible variances which the Administrator may grant under such process.

(d) Variances- States and foreign countries that export produce intended for consumption in the United States may request from the Administrator variances from the requirements of the regulations under subsection (c). A request shall–

(1) be in writing;

(2) describe the reasons the variance is necessary;

(3) describe the procedures, processes, and practices that will be followed under the variance to ensure produce is not adulterated; (okay, so you don’t want to follow their standards – you’d better have a detailed description of what you’ll do instead – and heaven forbid that you learn as you go, and work specifically according to your piece of land and your strain of animals – you know… adapt? That would mean operating outside of the procedure, process, and practice that you gave them in your report. That’s okay, maybe they’ll let you file an amendment that will allow you to change your plans after they’re reviewed it and a month later told you it’s okay to do) and

(4) contain any other information required by the Administrator.

(e) Approval or Disapproval of Variances- If the Administrator determines after review of a request under subsection (d) that the requested variance provides equivalent protections to those promulgated under subsection (c), the Administrator may approve the request. The Administrator shall deny a request if it is–
(1) not sufficiently detailed to permit a determination; (oh, you didn’t give them enough information)
(2) fails to cite sufficient grounds for allowing a variance; or (or they think you’re supposed to follow their minimum standards regardless)
(3) does not provide reasonable assurances that the produce will not be adulterated. (in other words, Big Brother can’t keep a close enough eye on it)

(f) Enforcement- The Administrator may coordinate with the agency or department designated by the Governor of each State to perform activities to ensure compliance (quite frankly, it unnerves me that they don’t specify this beyond “perform activities to ensure compliance” – does that not scare anyone else?) with this section.

(g) Imported Produce- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall promulgate regulations to ensure that raw agricultural commodities and minimally processed produce imported into the United States can meet standards for food safety, inspection, labeling, and consumer protection that are at least equal to standards applicable to such commodities and produce produced in the United States.

Wow. Then we’ve got Section 401. “Prohibited Acts”. Yay?

SEC. 401. PROHIBITED ACTS.

It is prohibited–

(1) to manufacture, introduce, deliver for introduction, or receive in interstate commerce any food that is adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise unsafe; (I do love that terminology- leaves such leeway for them to simply say “oh, that is unsafe, we said so”)

(2) to adulterate or misbrand any food in interstate commerce;

(3) for a food establishment or foreign food establishment to fail to register under section 202, or to operate without a valid registration; (this certainly isn’t voluntary, now is it?)

(4) to refuse to permit access to a food establishment or food production facility for the inspection and copying of a record as required under sections 205(f) and 206(a);(we don’t need a warrant, we want to see it)

(5) to fail to establish or maintain any record or to make any report as required under sections 205(f) and 206(b); (better hope your record-keeping system is up to their snuff)

(6) to refuse to permit entry to or inspection of a food establishment as required under section 205; (didn’t they already say this?)

(7) to fail to provide to the Administrator the results of testing or sampling of food, equipment, or material in contact with food, that is positive for any contaminant under section 205(f)(1)(B);

(8) to fail to comply with a provision, regulation, or order of the Administrator under section 202, 203, 204, 206, or 208;

(9) to slaughter an animal that is capable for use in whole or in part as human food at a food establishment processing any food for commerce, except in compliance with the food safety law; (I guess I need to go process all of my rabbits and chickens before this bill gets passed, and hope that the finite number will sustain me forever, because I won’t be able to process them except in compliance with food safety law in the future – and you know the ARAs at H$U$ and A$PCA will get their slimy mitts on this one)

(10) to transfer food in violation of an administrative detention order under section 402 or to remove or alter a required mark or label identifying the food as detained; (no more giving extra eggs to my grandparents)

(11) to fail to comply with a recall or other order under section 403; or

(12) to otherwise violate the food safety law. (I love it. “If you do something to find a loophole, and we just plain don’t like it, we’ve gotcha.”)

SEC. 402. FOOD DETENTION, SEIZURE, AND CONDEMNATION.

(a) Administrative Detention of Food-

(1) EXPANDED AUTHORITY- The Administrator shall have authority under section 304 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 334) to administratively detain and seize any food regulated under this Act that the Administrator has reason to believe is unsafe, is adulterated or misbranded, or otherwise fails to meet the requirements of the food safety law. (Who needs Chavez’ version of controlling the food system when you can do it this way?)

(2) DETENTION AUTHORITY- If, during an inspection conducted in accordance with section 205 or 208, an officer, employee, or agent of the Administration making the inspection has reason to believe that a domestic food, imported food, or food offered for import is unsafe, is adulterated or misbranded, or otherwise fails to meet the requirements of this the food safety law, the officer, employee, or agent may order the food detained.

Of course, then you have the penalties. As if having them sieze it wasn’t bad enough.

SEC. 405. CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES.

(a) Civil Sanctions-

(1) CIVIL PENALTY-

(A) IN GENERAL- Any person that commits an act that violates the food safety law (including a regulation promulgated or order issued under the food safety law) may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator of not more than $1,000,000 for each such act. (But don’t worry, we’ll keep it under the million-dollar mark.)

(B) SEPARATE OFFENSE- Each act described in subparagraph (A) and each day during which that act continues shall be considered a separate offense.

(2) OTHER REQUIREMENTS-

(A) WRITTEN ORDER- The civil penalty described in paragraph (1) shall be assessed by the Administrator by a written order, which shall specify the amount of the penalty and the basis for the penalty under subparagraph (B) considered by the Administrator.

(B) AMOUNT OF PENALTY- Subject to paragraph (1)(A), the amount of the civil penalty shall be determined by the Administrator, after considering–

(i) the gravity of the violation;

(ii) the degree of culpability of the person;

(iii) the size and type of the business of the person; and

(iv) any history of prior offenses by the person under the food safety law. (I would love to know what a homesteading “repeat offender” would look like in a report… “perpetrator admits to repeatedly giving excess eggs to neighbor, and keeps slaughtering chickens without permit” or something…)

Previous quotes have been primarily excerpts, but Section 406 is quoted below in its entirety. Yes, it’s that short. This part screams “states’ rights!” to me:

SEC. 406. PRESUMPTION.

In any action to enforce the requirements of the food safety law, the connection with interstate commerce required for jurisdiction shall be presumed to exist.

Just in case you were wondering – no, your state cannot protect you from the Feds. Oh, and you have no legal recourse against someone who turns you in for selling them a dozen eggs from your driveway, either, thanks to Section 407, entitled “Whistleblower Protection”:

SEC. 407. WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION.

(a) In General-

(1) PROHIBITION- No Federal employee, employee of a Federal contractor or subcontractor, or covered individual may be discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against, because of any lawful act done by the employee or covered individual to–

(A) provide information, cause information to be provided, or otherwise assist in an investigation regarding any conduct that the covered individual reasonably believes constitutes a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or that the covered individual reasonably believes constitutes a threat to the public health, when the information or assistance is provided to, or the investigation is conducted by–

(i) a Federal regulatory or law enforcement agency;

(ii) a Member or committee of Congress; or

(iii) a person with supervisory authority over the covered individual (or such other individual who has the authority to investigate, discover, or terminate misconduct);

(B) file, cause to be filed, testify, participate in, or otherwise assist in a proceeding or action filed or about to be filed relating to a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; or

(C) refused to violate or assist in the violation of any law, rule, or regulation.

(2) DEFINITION- For the purposes of this section, the term ‘covered individual’ means an individual who is an employee of–

(A) a food establishment;

(B) a food production facility;

(C) a restaurant;

(D) a retail food establishment other than a restaurant;

(E) a nonprofit food establishment in which food is prepared for or served directly to the consumer;

(F) a fishing vessel; or

(G) an agent of any of the above.

I feel a little better than I did when I began this post. I’m no longer shivering. I think I have relocated my stomach. I don’t have the fight left in me to do much more than post tonight, but that will change after I’ve had some time to sleep on this. I don’t know if we can defeat this entirely (heck, NAIS has been around for years), but at the very least we need to change the language of this bill. There is no exemption for the small farmer, the homesteader, the .. anything! And as we have seen with CPSIA, lack of expressed exemption doesn’t mean it’s just assumed. It means you’re included. Whether you like it or not.

To be quite frank, I’m scared. I openly admit it. This. Bill. Scares. Me. But I won’t run scared. I’m going to stand.

Spread the word and sound the battlecry… something tells me this one isn’t going down without a fight.

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The increase/decrease proposal will thus shift significant funds from charities chosen by taxpayers to government-chosen charities that are politically connected (or at least politically correct). Charities that want to share in the increased government largesse will need to ensure that their goals and activities are the ones the government wants to support. Civil society is weakened and government empowered.

Taxpayers who might otherwise choose to opt out of the 39.6 percent tax — by increasing contributions to charitable, educational, and religious institutions they want to support — will thus find that exit strategy blocked by the 28 percent deduction limit. Any increased contributions will necessitate an 11.6 percent toll charge to be paid to the government along with the contribution.

Audacious, no? If you are a taxpayer and think you can choose to support worthwhile charities instead of paying more money to the government, Obama is here to tell you: no, you can’t. If you are a charity and think that, as a private institution with private support, the government cannot affect the direction of your activities, Obama also has a response: yes, we can.
The Obama Double Tax Whammy (Rochester Conservative)

Okay, I lied. I’m posting before I go to NJ.  I hadn’t planned on it, but this one got me riled. You know, that state that I get in where I’m nearly twitching? One of these days someone’s going to think I’ve contracted rabies and they’ll take me out and shoot me. I digress.

One of the things I found ironic was that I was becoming more involved in the realm of grassroots politics shortly after I started taking a course via the SUNY Learning Network entitled Community Organization. Fascinating stuff. One of the requirements is that each student work on an individual project. Mine focuses on food security in a place-based/relational setting. This basically means that I’m focusing on trying to raise awareness for food security via my church. What that will end up looking like, I am not sure. It’s still in the making-contacts-and-figuring-out-strengths stage (and no, that is not the technical term for it, but when have I ever been technical? Well, okay, other than those times?). Some ideas include holding informal “classes” or “meetings” where I have local knowledgeable folks come in an speak on ways to garden, the merits of backyard chickens for eggs and meat, or having a fruit tree. Another idea someone in our congregation had was to plant a church garden (we have around fifty-five acres surrounded by farm land, see) to benefit the congregation and the community. I still have to look into the legalities of adding produce or home-canned goods to the food pantry, though.

So, that was my planned individual project. Now here I find myself in th midst of the Tea Party hullaballoo, and I realize: well, technically this is grassroots activism, another form of community organization. Well, I’ll be darned! It just sorta happened.

And now, the two connect. I read Rochester Conservative’s charming little summary of what Obama plans to do in regards to charitable giving and taxes and I see the issue of food security in yet another light. Especially when you take a peek at what’s happening to Venezuela’s food system. Obama and his cronies are looking for government dependence on your part. Forget the charities – he’s taxing them out, as it were! Never you mind the food insecurity, Government will take care you. It’s what they’re there for, right?

I’d like to challenge you here, folks. Don’t just hold up signs in city streets. Get a little dirt under your fingernails. It can be done. Just look at the Little Homestead in the City, which produces six thousand pounds of food annually. On 1/10th of an acre. Yeah. You read that right. The stats are on the left sidebar of their page. Go read up at Freedom Gardens, “an online social community of gardening enthusiasts who are fed up with foreign oil, frequent food miles and high food prices.” There are plenty of people who are willing to help you get started.

Never organized a rally before? People are doing it now.

Never gardened before? People are doing it now.

Matt Mayer published a good article yesterday that asks what a home garden is worth. Folks, it’s about far more than the money (though he certainly takes the time to address that). It’s about taking back liberty. It’s about looking to the government and saying, “I don’t need you to bail out my neighbor’s mortgage. I don’t need you to tell me what charity to donate to. I don’t need you to tell me what medical procedures to have. And I don’t need you to feed me.”

Over at Hen and Harvest, they’ve got a good post I just came across. It’s a challenge.

For all his charisma and leadership, Barack Obama can’t fix this problem. Tom Vilsack won’t fix it either. Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver and Wendell Berry can’t even fix it. Fixing it is up to me, and you ,and anyone else we can influence.

This is why we are challenging you, right now, to turn your passion into something bigger.

It’s no secret that food pantries all over the country are struggling right now. As the economy falters, soup kitchens, shelters, and other under-the-safety-net entities are getting fewer donations and more clients every day. But… If we were to collectively donate ten percent of our harvest to our nearest food banks, soup kitchens, or other appropriate organizations, think of all the positive benefits. The people with the worst access to healthy food would at least get a little delicious, fresh, local produce. Kids whose only fault has been bad luck will get nutrition from something other than a box. Chances are very high that we’d get to meet some wonderful, dedicated people. We’d have one more excuse to get dirt under our fingernails and sunshine on our faces. And our gardens might even have fewer weeds if we’re doing it for a cause, rather than just killing time on the weekends.
Garden Challenge! (Hen and Harvest)

Of course, I wouldn’t have made the statement about Obama’s charisma and leadership. Arrogant confidence, perhaps, but … our political stances aside, Edson makes a good point, especially in light of what Obama is doing to tax the charities. Fight back. Of course, there are many of us – myself included – who don’t have a garden, but who are tempted to start one this year. To us, Edson says,

We’re challenging you to give at least one tenth of your produce to some worthy cause. If you can’t find a charity or other appropriate organization, see if a school cafeteria can use it. Or even your neighbors. Maybe it’ll inspire them to start a garden of their own. Food security is food security. And if the economy keeps going down the path it’s on now, food security is going to become more important all the time.

If you’ve never grown a garden before, we’d suggest you not worry about donating this year, and just get your hands dirty. Learn from the rest of us, and aim for donating next year. And if you get a bumper crop of something the first time out, find it a good home.
Garden Challenge! (Hen and Harvest)

Another good resource is Sharon Astyk over at Casaubon’s Book. Again, I don’t agree on the political spectrum, but when it comes to food security, I believe she’s spot on.

So, folks, what’s it going to be? Are you willing to do more than dump a little tea? Are you willing to start caring about where your food comes from, and where it’s going? Are you willing to tell Obama and his friends that we don’t need the government to wipe our noses for us? Are you willing to replace mowing that nicely-mowed suburbanite lawn with something a little more useful? Something that will leave a little dirt under your fingernails?

Then let’s do it.

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