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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.

Tabletop and Superheroes


This weekend we had two major things going on with our farm. First, as you might have read below, we had superheroes training here to go out into the world. You might read more about them from someone else later, or meet them off the internet and on the streets, but it was a fun training that some of us were able to join in, and the group was made up of lots of cool people we got to meet.
Also, this weekend, some of our farm team, some people from other farms, and some superheroes went to TableTop Farm, another vegetable farm that some of our friends started this spring. Chris Corbin, who our never-updated "Our Team" page has as part of our farm, has actually left our farm to help start TableTop farm along with Sally Gran, whose husband Luke you can see walking with Laughing Moon above. The superheroes were helping at our farm this Monday, and will be wandering Iowa for a while starting Tuesday.

bicycling superheroes, and other events...

There’s a lot going on at the farm these next few weeks, so I’ll try to give you the facts without overwhelming you with details. if you want the details, look at the end of this blog entry.

Quick summary: 1. We’ve had some changes to our pot-luck schedule – see below.
2. Superhero bike ride in Iowa, “Haul of Justice” is starting at Mustard Seed Community Farm, this weekend, and you are welcome to join in with some superhero training and/or service.

Asparagus Experiment

So this year PFI is sponsoring an experiment on a few Iowa farms that grow asparagus. We're not one of those farms, but they've kindly provided us with the plans for the experiment, and since they sounded like a good idea, we decided to just use the experimental approach on all of our asparagus, in a "see how it works" experiment. I rototilled the top few inches of our entire asparagus bed, to break up the weeds there. That's why the bed looks pretty bare in the picture at right. We then densely planted soybeans, which should smother out the regrowth of weeds and act as hosts for nitrogen-fixing bacteria, to increase the fertility of our bed. We'll see how it works. The main interesting result so far is below, where it appears I knicked the growing point of the shoot, causing its confused spiral.

Yoga and Spirituality

This Friday, June 10th, at 6 PM, we'll have a potluck on the our farm (366 W, Ames, IA, 50014), and then afterword, starting around 7, Rachael Cox will lead a discussion on Yoga and Spirituality. She's promised it will be a highly interactive presentation, so you might want to wear clothes for doing yoga in, though we won't be doing anything advanced, and everyone should be able to participate. Hope to see people there!

Cucumber Beetles


This spring, my friend Leslie brought us some melon varieties to try from Seed Saver's Exchange. One of them was Collective Farm Woman, which sounded like something we had to grow. Unfortunately, we had something of a plague of spotted cucumber beetles last week, which maybe carried a virus or maybe just straight up killed the plants, but anyway, the collective farm woman and lots of the rest of our melons, cucumbers, and summer squash have been killed. We're trying a few things to deal with this. we'll likely be replanting, as well as considering growing less melon-type crops in the future. We also have been trying out the white row cover seen in the picture above, pyrethrum sprays, and some kaolinite spray which is supposed to coat the plant and in some manner stop them from getting hurt as bad. We'll see what works, or doesn't.

Potluck this Friday: Today!

Dinner at 6, discussion at 7

Speaker: Carl Roberts, Happily retired ISU professor

Title: Whence democracy, and whither to?

read after the jump for more info!

pot-lucks again!!!!

Hello Everyone!

(if you are skimming - my summary is that there are 2 schedules in this email - 1. pot-lucks, and 2. Farm-labor-share work days. 2 events: this friday and saturday)

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