By LYNNE IRONS
I must have been a secretary of some group at some point in my life. I cannot resist the temptation to write up the minutes from our last meeting of Homegrown. About a dozen or so of us met last Sunday afternoon. As some of you may know, Homegrown is a group of gardeners and would-bes who meet once a month off-season to talk about home vegetable gardening. Abigail Higgins got us off to a good start by introducing the suggested topic of inexpensive mulch and soil improvements that could be done right now to the garden. We talked about possible manure connections and the application of any sort of organic material directly to the garden any time.
We then talked about possible real estate allotments. There were a couple of agents in attendance. We toyed with some possibilities that, in the slow market, land owners may be interested in some sort of sharecropper arrangement. Abigail mentioned that this is an idea very popular in the U.K. In fact, there are over 40,000 land share plots in that small place. We talked at length about community gardens, starting with the Victory gardens during World War II. Rebecca Gilbert at Native Earth teaching Farm mentioned that at her community plots, it is difficult at times to have gardeners follow through. I certainly identify with the character trait. I start every project enthusiastically but often lose steam mid stream!
Rebecca also mentioned the gleaning group which worked hard last year. They cleaned up Morning Glory Farm’s fields and were able to donate a great deal of produce to the needy. Hopefully that group will grow this year and include gleaning food for school lunch programs, the elderly food distribution project and the food pantry at the Christ United Methodist Church. For those of you who do not remember the biblical story of Naomi and Ruth. The landowner, Boaz, instructed his field workers to leave extra behind for the gleaners. The young woman, Ruth, had caught his eye. He wanted her to get plenty of food. Eventually they were the grandparents of King David.
As usual, I digress! We talked about basic equipment for seed starting indoors. There is no need to spend a fortune. Egg crates, milk cartons, newspaper plugs and basic plastic trays were some suggestions. There was a pile of seed catalogs strewn on the table. We mentioned that we want to support New England-based companies. They often subcontract some of their seed production to local farms, keeping us living local on another level.
As a side note — this just came to me — the use of chemical fertilizers skyrocketed at the end of World War II as the ammunition factories had extra ingredients that could be turned into fertilizer. Remember the terrorist bomb plots involve bags of fertilizer. As usual — follow the money!
Someone asked for favorite varieties, which opened up a whole new discussion. Honestly, Thalia Scanlon is a kick. She is so enamored by some of her crops. I believe she referred to one type of eggplant as “adorable” and actually remarked, “God bless Swiss chard.”
People threw names around and others looked them up in the catalogs and read the descriptions. We ended our lively two hours with blueberries, strawberries and grapes. We will meet next on Feb. 21 at the Agricultural Hall from 3 to 5 p.m. Would love to see you there!
I have been watching the news coverage of the horrific events in Haiti. I simply cannot wrap my mind around how those people must feel. I have never come remotely close to anything of that magnitude. In fact, I have never been hungry or thirsty a day in my life. I am neither proud nor ashamed of that fact. It has been my reality. It seems that it certainly is bringing out the best in people. The 90999 text Haiti has raised over 10 million dollars in 10-dollar donations to the Red Cross. Our President and government have stepped up to the plate. Way to go!