Seven and a Half Years #BAD11 (which is some kind of Tweet-speak about Blog Action Day)
Having just been let go from my Dream Job –oh wait, let me redefine that , of all the jobs I’ve done, all the work I’ve fallen into, everything I’ve been paid to do, the job I have loved the best was working at the Garden Center. It’s been leased now, and the new owners don’t have room for me… “Well, maybe next March or April” which is a soothing salve for my now-downtrodden ego, but doesn’t put chicken in the mouths of the woofers, or litter in the cat boxes, not to mention food on the table for this Winter- I find myself having to redefine myself all over again. (the shade of Yogi Beara sits on my shoulder for that sentence)
One of the things I was most passionate about with this job, and my new life of 7 & a half years in Oregon was food crops and organic methods of gardening. The town I wound up in, (a pin stick in a map from long long ago) is a very small rural town with old farmers and old hippies and young people yearning for a more natural life away from the sick smelly rat race. Or trapped here, there are those who say that too. It’s a slice of Rural America here. And as small as this town is, it has the pulse of “what’s important”. Because the stuff that’s really important gets steamed off into a thicker, more pungent gravy in a small town. A small town has less room to maneuver, less of a bumper, small decreases of economy hit harder in rural small towns. One business that goes under is one BIG domino.
So when the economy started showing signs of shivering and weakly pneumonia, I saw people who hadn’t planted gardens in years or never start coming down to the garden center to ask me about how to plant their gardens.. What to grow? Where to grow it? Why do my tomatoes have spots? Why does my peach tree have red blotches on the leaves? What’s this grey green fuzzy stuff? I didn’t get any onions last year, can you tell me what to do? And I did, I researched, and I read. My library of gardening, and gardening techniques, and organic methods is fairly hefty. Lots of old books with some outdated information, and some lost gems of wisdom.. And I took seminars, and pounced on every event that any supplier put on… Seed trials, soil improvement and elements of healthy soil, pest integration systems, anything everything that had anything to do with gardening naturally. I have learned a great deal about living, about growing, about what works, and why, and why not.
I discovered a lot of things, mostly through that age-old Task Master, “trial and error” . Gardening naturally is harder work –especially in a commercial business- than traditional chemical methods. This past year that has really sunk in, when we realized that white flies had taken root in a BIG way in the third greenhouse- the propagation house. The past ownership wasn’t much into doing anything beyond taking money for plants. CARE of plants, or greenhouse upkeep just wasn’t in their business plan. I sprayed daily, using Neem, pepper wax spray and Pyrythrin alternately, and we cleaned the house of all weeds, sterilized the benches, segregated the plants, and once Winter hit, I was going to drop the sides and bomb the greenhouses with a pyrythrin bug bomb. That didn’t happen, because the place got leased, and the new owners are chemical people. He’s registered as a pesticide sprayer. First day there, all the weeds were given their last rites with Round Up. The last 3 weeks I had purchased some white fly predators, and I gave them the last strip. So the white flies will not be given them any grief, I am sure. What pests escape the predators, the new owners will kill with pesticides.
So why did I make more work for myself? Because I was the one who had to do the spraying, and I do not have a HazMat suit to do this, and I don’t want to have chemicals around me. They are nasty, poisonous, deadly, and the garden center borders a drainage ditch of significance which drains straight into the Clackamas River. The water table is so high there, that you can’t even sink a toilet, you have to have a port-a-potty. All that poison drift, all the pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, all that goes straight into the river, and I didn’t want that on my conscience. And because we sell FOOD items, plants that make food for people, plants that will be living with us for a while until they find their new owners, and I don’t want to ingest poisons, and I sure don’t want to sell a food plant that’s been soaked or sprayed with poisons to my neighbors, because well, dang it, I sure wouldn’t want to grow a plant that I plan to eat off of that’s been loaded with toxic chemicals…
There’s enough of that around. We have seen way too much of the results of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as we have grown in this Country. We were given milk from cows who were saturated with bovine growth hormones, and fed grain which included the crushed up bones and meals of companion pets. And we wonder why little girls of 8 are going through menses, and why cows go mad with bovine encephalitis. We try to eat better, and get e-coli from our spinach because AgriBusiness doesn’t have enough port-a-potties in their fields, so their workers use “the bushes”, which leaches into the fields of “garden fresh” vegetables trucked direct to your table. And then the attacks on small organic farms by Monsanto, and the push to use GMOs as a food source for ANY living creature (don’t eat the popcorn at the movies, *dang!* cheap GMO corn) even tho in Europe, the studies have proven time and again to be linked to very bad mojo long term diseases…. Glyphosate Birth Defects ) I’m well past child-bearing years, (long story) but why would I chance ingesting a product which has been proven time after time after time to be poisonous? WHY would anyone trust a company who repeatedly settles out-of-court so they don’t have to state how many times they have been taken to court and LOST?? I’m just afraid now to eat stuff not locally produced by people who use organic methods of farming.
Consumers need to know this: We need to be actively aware of what we choose to purchase at our stores, we NEED to be proactive about our food choices.
Monsanto & Glyphosate Toxicity studies
GMO corn study reveals health damage and cover up
We are being fed a crock of unuseable compost regarding GMOs. Mad Cow disease is a result of using meat & meats meals rendered from all sources (pets, other animal stock, downed farm animals) and fed to HERBIVORES along with bovine growth hormones in order to produce more milk, more meat, bigger better more more more than we can sustainably ask of any farm animal or food source. And why, when there is a ban on feeding ruminants any mammalian byproducts, why hasn’t the USDA actually implemented and enforced the bans, the proposed laws and consumer protection? Instead, we get to have GMO corn pushed on us by the very people who are supposed to be protecting us. Is our USDA bought and paid for? WTH??? and the bee decline has been linked substantially to 1) re-sizing combs bigger to produce more honey -mites get in over the bodies of the bees who aren't big enough to block the re-sized combs- and 2) from wide-spread use of systemic pesticides where the bees gather the pollen off flowers which have been treated with this systemic, and the bees die as well as the bad bugs which feed off the plants.
I can see, actually, why someone who believes in the status quo, who believes that chemical pesticides and herbicides are the way to go, why someone like that would not necessarily be interested in hiring a person like myself. After all, chemical methods of plant care ARE more effective, short term. It’s the LONG TERM where their shortcomings and the dangers come from, and many people in the plant industry are not concerned about the long term. They are concerned with the short term, the plants and products they can sell TODAY, this week, and to hell with the cost over the long term. I can see it, because I know myself pretty well, and I’m a big mouth, especially when it comes to something I am passionate about. I won’t be silent, I will not comply, I am recalcitrant beyond measure, and stubborn beyond reasoning. And actually, in this economy, who can blame anybody for thinking about how they can survive TODAY??
I dunno. That’s why I’m redefining myself. That’s why I’m writing this, to raise my own level of awareness. I was a professional gardener. Now I’m just another natural gardening advocate. I wonder where this road will lead me.