January 15th, 2012

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Embarras Valley Farm & CSA

We went to a coffeehouse gather today and I saw a flyer for Embarras Valley Farm & CSA.  In addition to the main website you can read their farm blog or read their entry on Local Harvest.  The farm has a Charleston, IL address so this is an ideal option for people in Coles County.  They also sell produce at the Charleston Farmer's Market on the Square on Wednesday mornings during the growing season. 

Community Supported Agriculture is crowdfunding for farmers and food shoppers.  You buy a share during the winter, the farmer buys seeds and grows crops, then you get a package of seasonal produce every week.  You share the risks and the rewards of farming; you get to know who produces your food; and it's fresher, better food than the supermarket offers.  This CSA has a 20-week season beginning in mid-May.  They are open for memberships now.  (Most CSAs sell memberships in winter and will be fully booked by spring.)  Embarras Valley Farm & CSA uses organic and heritage seeds, not genetically modified organisms and it looks like they favor open-pollinated over hybrid varieties.  Organic farming methods protect the soil and environment, and produce healthier, tastier crops.

CSA food is a good value if you have several people to feed, especially if they like different things.  Vegan and vegetarian folks, go nuts.  It's great if you have more time than money, because you're getting raw ingredients with which to cook what you want.  You can dry, can, or freeze some things for use later so they can just be heated quickly -- I do this in summer, shopping the farmer's market to make huge batches of spaghetti sauce divided into cartons that then take 5 minutes to defrost when I want to make spaghetti.  (Some CSAs have a 'stock up' option where they will plant varieties intended to produce mountains of the same thing all at once.)  This is also fun if you want to experiment with new flavors or if you've made a resolution to eat more healthy foods.  It's not so great for people who have a narrower taste range and/or prefer quick-fix box meals.  If you're feeding only 1-2 people there's likely to be too much produce to keep up with, although some CSAs offer half-shares (most full shares are intended for 4 people).  But you can always go splits with a friend.

If you are looking for a CSA in this area, check out the websites mentioned above.  Elsewhere, I recommend the search function at Local Harvest to find a CSA or farmer's market near you.  If you don't like the corporate food supply, you have alternatives.  Plus this helps put America back to work, because farming requires skilled hands.  Use your folding vote where it will do some good! 

Do you belong to a CSA in your area?  If so, please feel free to share information about it, in case anyone else in the audience wants to check them out.
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Library Patrons Want Ebooks

Readers want to be able to check out ebooks at their libraries.  But big publishers balk, either not releasing titles as ebooks at all, or putting obnoxious restrictions on them.  Libraries are struggling with low budgets and skeleton crews.  The result is frustration.

This is a trainwreck.  But it's also a tremendous opportunity for alternatively published authors and small presses.  Go talk to your local library.  Offer them ebooks for free or at a discount.  Offer them ebooks they can lend as many times as they want, to as many patrons as want to read them.  Look at all those eyeballs just waiting to roll over your words!  You did list your other books and contact info in the ebook file, right?  Those readers may want to buy the same book in hardcopy or track down your other books.  Everybody wins.  Well, except the big-house publishers who are being stupid but they deserve to lose market share for being stupid.

What I really wish is that somebody would start up a clearinghouse for ebooks that could be made available to libraries or schools on favorable terms.  Instead of librarians and teachers having to fight with publishers, or authors and small presses having to fight with distributors, people could go there.  And maybe include a way to connect people for author appearances or other events.  Come on, the mainstream approach is made of FAIL right now.  Surely we can do better than this!

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Precedents in Trespassing

Recent cases have ruled that particulate matter, such as pesticides or pollen, can constitute illegal trespass if it damages crops. This means that organic farmers whose crops suffer from pesticide drift or GMO contamination can sue the people responsible for the damage.

It's about damn time.  If your neighbor's cows get into your field and ruin your crop, your neighbor is liable.  Same should hold for your neighbor's chemicals or pollen.  I hope Monsanto gets sued into oblivion, after all the harm they have done to farmers and other people.
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Read About the Rising Sign

[personal profile] my_starz has posted another essay dealing with the rising sign or ascendant.  This is the astrological sign that was on the horizon at your birth, which reveals certain expressions of your personality and which affects the houses in your natal chart.  Comment, subscribe, and/or linkback to encourage more posts in this crowdfunded astrology project.