Sunday, December 2, 2007


(Back field of Leafy Greens at Boggy Creek Farm)

Boggy Creek Farm is an organic farm within the city limits of Austin that is a precious source of healthy, affordable food to untold numbers of us. I just got the following newsletter from Carol Ann Sayle, who runs the farm with Larry Butler. Please read this and lend your name to protect organic farmers TODAY -- it really can't wait, the deadline is tomorrow.

"Greetings Friends of All Small, Local Farms,

As is our custom, Larry and I regularly take a farm walk, not to pull weeds, but to take the pulse of the farm and make decisions about the future. The evening is cool and quiet. We pause in front of the Succulent Spinach, the kale and other brassicas -- the broccoli, the budding cauliflower, more broccoli, Brussels sprouts' ping-pong-paddle leaves, more cauliflower. To the left of this area, past the former cherry tomato fences, under the hoop houses, squatting lettuces hop scotch in various red and green hues, and arugula, in every stage of life, cohabits with the chicory family. They look healthy. There are probably a million leaves out there, undulating in rows of green to bronze to bluish to purplish. Ribbons of colors, set off by the rich soil. The colors of the winter harvest. So important are these leaves. They are Leafy Greens. The lifeblood of this farm in the cool season. My favorite season. The leaves of virtually everything we grow in the winter are edible and incredibly nutritious. Research shows that the leaves of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are powerhouses of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Last year, Leafy Greens in California's fields, irrigated by huge sprinkler systems, became contaminated by migrating cattle manure, and the leaves, mixed together in huge washing systems, shared the virulent strain of e.coli that caused sickness, and even death in those across our nation who later consumed the bagged salads. Hands were wrung over what caused this, how to correct it, and how to protect the eaters of America's salads.

Since the "official word" is that we will never entirely know how this all happened, finally (and, I guess, reasonably) it is decided that the responsibility to end all contamination rests on the bowed shoulders of the Leafy Greens farmers. Not just the corporate-sized farmers who grow 95% of the Leafy Greens, but all farmers, including those who grow very modest amounts. Proposals range from pathogen lab tests at every harvest to sterilizing fields so that no life lives in the soil other than the Leafy Greens.

Common sense has no power here. And, really, we may be too far down the path to a centralized system of food production, harvesting, handling and packaging to continue to allow small growers to produce for their local communities. For how can a small grower, growing three acres of Leafy Greens, pay for lab tests four times a week, for every variety grown, sterilize the soil, remove all vegetation around the growing area, and then persuade customers to buy two or three week old Leafy Greens, once they've passed the lab tests?

The proposals smell of the same type of regulations (NAIS) that are in line for the folks who own livestock. Eventually, if regulations become The Word, there will be few small farms left.

Information comes through the grapevine slowly, even in this computer age. So it is that in just the last few days, we find out that we are facing a huge threat to our collective nutrition. Monday it turns out, is the last day to comment to USDA if you are displeased over the impending regulations.

If you care to comment, here's a link: Handling Regulations for Leafy Greens Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. Select "Add comment" and fill in the required fields. Monday is your last chance.

Another option is to sign the petition BY DECEMBER 3RD at Organic Consumers Association petition page

There's more information available at The Cornucopia Institute

This winter may be our last chance to eat Leafy Greens produced on our local farms."

(Succulent spinach at Boggy Creek Farm -- please act to keep us from losing this!)


Liza said...

I love the new masthead!

Maggie Jochild said...

Thnx, Lize. It's of the Davis Mountains in far West Texas, where I spent some significant time as a kid. The other masthead had gotten hammered, space-wise, I couldn't figure out why, and, well, I'm itchy for variety. (Though I have no Gemini in my chart at all!) -- Mags

Blue said...

Thanks for the info, Mags. I flew into e-action. I LOVE Boggy Creek's newsletter.

kat said...

Shit, I didn't see this till day late....ugh