Where is spring?

Maybe I’m impatient, but early spring is torture for me. Here I am, itching to starting digging around in the garden, and the weather just keeps defeating me. April has vacillated between cold, gray days accompanied by snow or rain and cool windy days with some occasional sun as the clouds scud by. Below average temperatures coupled with a few healthy doses of fog and over four inches of rain in the past week alone, have thwarted all attempts to prep soil or plant seeds. The soil temps are still too cold for seeds to germinate, just not enough sun. My garlic hasn’t even poked through the ground yet.

You’ve heard the old saying, “April is the cruelest month,” and I have to agree.

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Earth Day

First of all, I apologize for not posting this yesterday, so I guess it’s more of a Belated Earth Day. Unfortunately, I didn’t do much for Earth Day; it was a chilly gray day with steady rain and an abundance of mud. The ducks loved it, but our new puppy greeted her walks with howls of protest. Needless to say, I didn’t get out to pick up trash along our road; hopefully sometime this weekend that will happen. For a thinly populated, winding, gravel road in Custer County, our road collects quite a bit of litter, including a disturbing collection of Bud Light cans. Last year it was bottles, but the same brand.

Like any endeavor, the best work begins close to home. The best way to celebrate Earth Day is to take part in activities that make a difference where you live, like planting trees, picking up trash or recycling your aluminum cans. Perhaps if you live where spring has really arrived (temps above 50 degrees and some sun), you may even be able to hit the garden.  There is a benefit to the bigger, collective actions, but doing something local is eminently satisfying.

Here are a few “factoids” about waste to remind us all to reduce, reuse and recycle:

  • It takes glass one million years to decompose in a landfill;
  • Americans throw away enough glass bottles and jars every two weeks to fill up the twin towers of the former World Trade Center;
  • Americans discard 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour (it adds up to 22 billion annually);
  • Every person in the U.S. generates 4.6 pounds of garbage per day, which adds up to 1.472 billion pounds per day;
  • One ton of recycle plastic bottles saves 3.8 tons of oil;
  • Throwing away one aluminum can wastes as much energy as filling that same can half-full with gasoline and pouring it on the ground;
  • Every year, Americans throw away 25 billion styrofoam cups, enough to circle the Earth 436 times.

Update – Custer Farmers’ Market

Custer's the place to be on June 5

It’s official, folks. The Custer Farmers’ Market Grand Opening will be Saturday, June 5 at the corner of Crook and 7th Streets in downtown Custer.  There are five committed vendors and another six possible. Market founder Herb Ryan gave me the lowdown.

All the offerings will be local: no imported fruits, vegetables, meat or fish. Here are a few of the products on tap: organic bread, whole wheat honey bagels, free-range beef, lamb, pork, plants, nursery stock, vegan snacks, jam/jellies, and a whole lot of fresh, local produce.

Herb also mentioned strolling musicians and dancing girls (hmmm…) for the grand opening. It’s going to be a big time, folks.

If any of you are interested in being a vendor at the market, applications are available online at custerfarmersmarket.com.

Grocery Lists

In Amy Colter’s The Locavore Way, she breaks down local eating into steps, lists and activities, making it fun and approachable. She put together a list of crops to grow yourself in order to save money. And who doesn’t want to save money?

Grow to Save $$: artichokes, berries of all kinds, edible flowers (nasturtium, calendula, pansies), fingerling potatoes, garlic, heirloom or any unusual cultivar, heirloom tomatoes, herbs, leeks, melons, mesclun, perennial herbs, and shallots.

I don’t know anyone personally who has grown artichokes in this region, but for folks with a greenhouse, it might be worth trying.

Farm-to-School Update

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about S. 3123, which would amend the Child Nutrition Act in order to provide seed money to jump-start farm-to-school programs across the country. The Senate Agriculture Committee voted to up the funding to $40 million over the next 10 years, which is a significant improvement as the last Child Nutrition Act provided no mandatory funding for these programs. This bill will be offered as an amendment to the Child Nutrition Act once it reaches the full Senate. There is a companion bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4710, so that when both houses reconcil the larger bill, funding for farm-to-school will be addressed in both.

Stay tuned for updates as this issue moves foward.

Happy Easter

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter! May your hardboiled eggs and ham all be locally raised, may your bread and pie be home-baked. May the sun shine on your egg-hunt.