Thursday, October 6, 2011

Meeting The Author Of Mini Farming: Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

Last night was our monthly Gardeners Roundtable. I have mentioned it here once or twice. We discuss a myriad of subjects:gardening (obviously),composting,canning,chickens,and other self sufficiency topics.

Sometimes we have guest speakers,and last night our speaker was Brett Markham,who with his wife own Markham Farm in New Ipswich,NH. New Ipswich is south west of us,near the MA border.Stephanie Piro,who organizes the meetings (and who is a cartoonist who does some pics for the "Chicken Soup For the"..... series)mentioned his book "Mini Farming Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre" at our Sept meeting. It sounded intriguing,as we only have .68 acres,and that he is a fellow Granite Stater. I ordered the book on Amazon a couple days after that meeting.

It was nice to read a book by an author who is in the same state,let alone the same hardiness zone (5a).
He discusses raised beds,soil composition,composting,seed starting,extending seasons,raising chickens,and other related topics.

Last night,he discusses how growing your own helps save money and creates healthier people. He used the example of large agri-business.They are in it for profit,so they use various non organic things such as certain weed killers,fertilizers,etc.This is cost efficient for them,but not necessarily in the best interest of people. By growing our own food,we control what we use in our gardens, what goes into our bodies,and we know it will be healthy. Cost effective,and health effective.

Most of the meeting was question and answer . A good portion of it was regarding his compost system. He uses what he describes as "fairly controversial"- thermophilic composting,or hot composting. He composts everything-chicken guts, chicken feet,things from his garden,etc.He says that by the compost reaching 140 degrees,this kills off anything nasty,because nothing can bad can survive in 140 degrees. He says this has worked great for him. We compost as well,but we don't compost animal parts.

He talked about how he grew up on a farm in southwestern Virginia. His grandfather didn't have a drivers license,and they were waaaaayyy out in the middle of nowhere,so they ate what they grew. Family members all shared one big piece of land,each with their own house. It was like that with their neighbors as well. It was a community. If one had something,they all had it. People worked together. It reminded me of what Shannon Hayes wrote in  "Radical Homemakers."( If you haven't read it,you should.It really opened my eyes) The function of the family was as producers,not consumers. They produced what they needed,and shared it with each other,either by bartering,selling,or just giving.They helped each other out. Someone needed food,and folks helped. There was no need for welfare.Times have changed. Too many folks are  self centered and don't care about who their neighbor is or what plight they may be suffering.Today it's "what can I buy and how much of it" and "screw everyone else."

Mark was very open and friendly. He spoke in terms we could understand.  We have had speakers that get so clinical that my eyes glaze over and  after a few minutes it's all gibberish.His book is very easy to understand as well. He had his books for sale and we could have him autograph them if we wished. I had him sign mine,and thanked him for joining us. He has three more books coming out next year.I am sure they will just as informative.

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