Mustard Seed Community Farm Newsletter: No Potluck Today, Potluck Schedule for August, Music Festival, and Team Invitation

No potluck this Friday, July 29th

Sorry, but we're a little short-staffed, have had some cancellations of potluck speakers, and this seems the best. Hope to see people next week, when our potlucks will start up again:

Potluck discussion topics for August

Potluck dinner at the farm (366 W Ave, Ames, IA, 50014) at 6, discussion 7-8PM

August 5th: Wangari Maathi, the Greenbelt Movement, and Catholic Social teaching

Discussion will be led by Ann Clifford, she'll talk about Wangari Maathi, her work on deforestation and women's rights in Kenya and around the world, and its influence on and from Catholic social thought.

August 12th: not yet decided

August 19th: Sustainability and Social Justice

This discussion will be led by a group of students attempting to bring more of a focus on social justice into sustainability discussions. They'll share why they think social justice issues need to be a central focus of sustainability issues and agriculture, share examples of specific sustainability and social justice issues, and invite discussion and reflection on the issues of social justice and agricultural sustainability.

August 26th: Why Work?

Alice McGary will lead a discussion about work, talking about various theories concerning work, what it means, and its importance. Come ready to talk about your work, what it means (or doesn't mean) to you!

September 2nd: Movie Night!

We're not sure of the movie yet, but hope to have a cool movie involving agriculture to project on the edge of our barn after what will be our last on-farm potluck for the year.


Sponsored by the Ames slow food people, maybe someone else, and organized by Alice McGary
3PM Porchstompers
4PM Stephanie Plant
5PM Food Gathering, Farm TOUR, Vegetable Chopping
5:30PM Potluck in a shady grove (these last two scheduled events aren't bands, unfortunately)
6:30PM Strong Like Bear

Would you like to join our team?

Below's the text from a poster I made up. If you live or might live in the Boone or Story County area, read below and see if you're interested!

We have a small CSA and grow food for the shelters, soup kitchens, and families in need in Boone and Story Counties. We're looking for new team members with skills and ideas to add to our efforts and who can help us better connect with these communities.

If you're interested in our mission, and any of the skills or projects below, give us a call or email, come to one of our planning meetings, and join our team!


You may already be involved with an organization in Boone or Story County, and could serve as a connection between the work of our farm and your organization.


If you're knowledgeable about a good range of vegetables and how to use them, you could help to make use of vegetables we bring to community meals or offer cooking classes to people who are getting our vegetables but don't know how to use them.


Post our needs on volunteer sites, correspond with individuals in other organizations, publicize our workdays and community discussions.

Carpool and Bike Leader

Help people share rides to our farm and ensure that people without cars can still be part of our farm.


Help our plants, farm equipment, and building projects.

to get on our listserv where we discussion our team stuff, send an email to and you'll be in the loop!

Potatoes and Workers

Not sure if we've mentioned the new people that are staying with us these summer months, but if not, here they are, in reverse chronological order:

Our most recent arrival is Noam, who got here a couple weeks ago, pictured here with potatoes we harvest this past Sunday: we finished digging up the Red Norland and also dug up all of our Yukon and some type of purple potato, in the chair next to Noam-the Red Norland and Yukon are on the ground.

Here is Lupe, a retriever-blue heeler mix, who was gotten as a puppy a couple months ago. Here he is on May 25th, in the foreground, while someone in the background mulches the potatoes that we just harvested so that the tubers wouldn't get exposed to the sun and turn green.

Lupe was adopted by our other two long-term guests, Looch and Emily. I ran out of potato pictures, so here's Looch waiting for a movie to start that we were projecting on the edge of our corn crib. The movie hasn't started so in the background of Luc's computer you can see a picture of Emily.

These workers have all been a great help, even though Lupe hasn't yet learned how to herd cattle. We're looking at how to get more people involved with our farm, both visitors and longer term community members. We'll likely come out with a post on this matter in ore depth shortly, but we're looking for help in farming, and also in connecting with the various communities in Boone and Story Counties.

Community Gardens

Two things about gardens

1. There is now a beautiful website largely made by Rachael Cox which likely shows all the community gardens in and around Ames, including the Mustard Seed Community Farm. In addition to the page I linked to, there's information on where to donate or pick up free food, how to start a community garden, and lots of other cool things.

2. This isn't directly related to our farm, but there will be an open tour of several of the community gardens the Saturday after this coming one: On August 6th, from 9:15 to 1PM. They won't be visiting our farm, but they will be seeing some other cool gardens, so if you're not busy on that Saturday, I think it'd be fun to check it out! See details in the flyer, below the jump!

Sugar Creek

ATTENTION: Midwest Catholic Worker Gathering, SUGAR CREEK 2011

September 16, 17, 18.

Dear all,

Soon it will be that wonderful time to gather together with friends old and new – Sugar Creek. Our small, humble, and sometimes disorganized team here at the Mustard Seed Community Farm CW will do our best to help this event happen, and we are grateful to know that our Catholic Worker friends will help it all come together beautifully.

Here’s the SCHEDULE we have tentatively assembled:

Arrive Friday afternoon and evening.

Spiritual Gifts and Garlic

Everything is growing so well on the farm this year!
Last year we had so much rain, and so many trials and tribulations, and this year, it's been raining an inch a week and everything looks beautiful.

this friday's pot-luck is about spiritual gifts, and our leaders are Tom and Heather Brumm.

our house so far

for those folks, mostly in my family, who want to know what our house looks like inside, here's one picture, from sometime this winter.

Our beloved bicycling superheroes:

here are some photos of the superheroes from 2 weeks ago.

This Friday's Potluck: Agriculture, Hydrology, and Water Quality

Tomorrow, July 1st, Nicholas Leete (me!) will be leading our discussion - dinner at 6, discussion from 7-8PM. I'm still working on what exactly it will be about, but the general theme will be agriculture's impact on on our water enviroment, in Iowa and around the world, and various measures that can or are being done to figure out some of the problems. I'll probably talk about my work with stream bank erosion. Maybe we'll talk about the DNR-IDALS power transfer, if someone comes who knows how that turned out, I haven't done the best job of following that whole thing. Maybe we'll talk about nitrate trading in New Zealand or stream buffers and the politics involving the promotion of different types of animal production. I'll have something prepared, though, and it should be a good discussion.

This Friday's Potluck: Natural Prairie

This Friday, Carl Kurtz will be talking about Natural Prairie. I couldn't find a picture of his farm, but it's largely covered with prairie. One of the jobs we did when we visited TableTop farm last week was plant prairie seed from Carl Kurtz on about a half-acre, and hopefully that area will look like the picture at right in 5 years. At the potluck (dinner at 6, discussion 7-8PM), Carl will likely be talking about his farm and the philosophy, goals, and results of planting and preserving prairie. Come along, bring a friend!

Sweet Potato Experiment

Another experiment we're doing, this one sponsored byPractical Farmers of Iowa and based on a discussion we had at the PFI cooperator's meeting, is on sweet potaotes. Sweet potatoes, like most all root vegetables, send out aboveground shoots to collect energy, which is then sent to the roots or tubers, usually in the form of starch or simpler sugars. We generally only harvest the central crown of the sweet potato plant, but because they vine across the ground, they often send ancillary roots down from their vines. These roots might help the plant get extra nutrients, and so we haven't been bothering with them, but some other farmers said that they remove these roots from the plant so that they didn't get sent any of the carbohydrates the leaves produce, with the idea that those carbohydrates would then go to the main crown, increasing the harvestable crop. So we're doing a random experiment with 10 rows, most of our crop for the year, removing the ancillary roots on half of the roots every once in a while throughout the season, then measuring how or if this affects our yields.

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