Kansas Rural Center conference notes, Nov 17-18, 2017

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Sun, 11/19/2017 - 19:43

Keynote: "What can one person do? The perspective of a long-time activist" by Denise O'Brien, Atlantic, Iowa

  • (ran for Iowa secretary of agriculture in 2007?)
  • Why farm? for family, for physical activity and connection to nature. Also to set a good example, amid ample bad examples.
  • Distinguish between agribusiness and agriculture, because agribusiness gives nothing back to the ecology or culture, but real farmers participate in the community.
  • Finding a niche market for organic products is crucial.

Notes from Fuller Field School, August 17-18, 2017

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Tue, 08/22/2017 - 16:25
  • videos will be on Vimeo.com
  • first field school was about how to cover crop, and what it could do for soil.
  • focus on nutrient dense food led to focus on local organic food during conference.
  • Aug 29 field day in Holton, KS, free of charge but please register.

"Healthy Soil, Healthy Humans" - Gail Fuller, G&L Whole Food

  • in 2000, farming 3200 acres of corn & soy
  • 2011, Ray Archuleta came to see farm, said it was too big, 5-600 acres at most.
  • Today down to 800

Illustrated audio garden tour, 2017

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Fri, 07/07/2017 - 09:12

In June of 2017, I gave an informal tour of our urban farm for a few members of the local garden club. In addition to my voice, you'll hear my wife Jessie and local farmer Tim Nicklin. Rather than record it as a video, I've made a slideshow to accompany the audio using photos from all 9 years we've lived here, as well as some from the weeks after the tour took place. See the slide descriptions for the timestamps when they are described in the audio.

Audio recording of the tour

Soil tests after 9 years of no-spray no-till

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Thu, 03/02/2017 - 10:23

In August, 2008, we moved into our house on a 1/10 acre lot, and I began gardening with a single sheet-mulched plot in the front yard. I took a baseline set of soil tests from the front and back yards in January, 2009 and began a regimen of no-till, no-spray (i.e. no chemical amendments), no-manure gardening, using only plant-based mulch to maintain soil fertility while harvesting as many as 75 crops for market each growing season. The soil tests were done by our local university extension agency.

notes on Oklahoma Native Plant Society Indoor Outing, Feb 3, 2017

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Sat, 02/04/2017 - 22:22

Gardening with Oklahoma Native Plants: Steve Owens, Bustani Plant Farm

Soil preparation is not as important for native plants: they like the soil the way it is! Some even like to be stressed. Try growing them in cracks between landscape elements.

Wildflower meadow gardens are great for pollinator habitat, but study your site first. Consider microclimate and choose plants accordingly. Contrasting white flowers can help break up the uniformity of a meadow garden.

Rethinking circular keyhole beds and mandala gardens

Submitted by Ben Stallings on Wed, 12/14/2016 - 17:28

I'm a big fan of the late Toby Hemenway's book, Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. I own both editions, and for many years I used it as the curriculum for the intro permaculture courses I taught. In my opinion it's a classic right up there with Mollison's big black book.