Magazine article reading online is growing in popularity. According to Marketing Analytics, authoritative research firms (Nielsen and Mediamark Research Inc.) found that an average of 83 percent of visitors to the Web sites of 23 large-circulation monthly magazines access those magazines’ content solely online.
That may be true, but some things are lost in the online posting. One is a new gimic from the current issue of Newsweek magazine. Häagen-Dazs is running an ad embedded with flower seeds that can sprout as the linen-based paper decomposes, according to a brief in the Merced Sun-Star. The connection? The ad is part of a company effort to combat colony collaspe disorder of bees. As reported in this blog in February, the ice cream maker provided $250,000 for colony collaspe disorder research to UC Davis and Pennsylvania State University, and started a "Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees” Web site at www.helpthehoneybees.com.
Now Newsweek readers can tear the Häagen-Dazs ad from the magazine and plant it in their backyards to grow wildflowers that make nectar for bees. But the online readers are out of luck.
Honey Bee ice cream
I've written a bit about gardening as an important part of civic engagement in American life. Not only in the past, as reflected in Victory Garden programs, but in contemporary American society. Programs such as The Food Project in Boston engage youth through gardening/urban agriculture, providing not only practical skills, but valuable life skills, as well. These kinds of efforts engage youth in creating a food future that is sustainable, healthy and just.
I call this "coming back out onto the front porch."
When I was a small child growing up in a bucolic community outside of Philadelphia, the return of warm weather each spring brought the screen door out from winter storage. The front door remained open nearly all summer, even late into the evening. The front porch was a favorite gathering spot. There, the business of the neighborhood, whether negotiating playdates, exchanging pleasantries or courting (I had older siblings) was transacted.
Each Fourth of July, our front porch became the staging ground for our family's participation in the neighborhood parade. In retrospect, it was a pretty simple thing: bikes, wagons and all the kinds of contraptions kids could create, decorated in red, white and blue. When I was five, I led the procession down our block, wearing a tall Uncle Sam hat. The day seemed to last forever, with lots of good food shared among neighbors (including tomatoes from our garden, salted watermelon, and incredibly sweet berries). Everyone came out onto their front porch to participate in the collective life of our block.
Two weeks ago, our CSA piloted delivery of our midtown Ventura produce boxes to my front porch. It was a great trial run. Two of the families to whom boxes were directed are close friends. The mother of the third family works at my daughter's school, and I know her. One box was to be claimed by a woman who is a friend of a friend. The other boxes were destined for individuals I had not previously met.
We left the front door open, and throughout the course of the late afternoon and into the evening, people dropped by to pick up the boxes. It was nice to say "hello," talk about the great food we had received, and just re-connect. Natalie and I stepped out onto the front porch into "deep community," where we shared with neighbors and new friends our intentional decision to participate in a different kind of consumption pattern.
Contents of our box included farm-fresh eggs, fresh-baked bread, lucious blackberries, fennel, carrots, potatoes, cherries, apricots, lettuce, squash, and the largest onions I've ever seen. Good stuff all. An extra box was left for sharing with neighbors and friends, and was distributed by early this morning. We had extra fennel...did a neighbor want it? No, but she'd call another neighbor and see if they did.
A lot can happen when we step out onto our front porch. Even more can happen when we move into our yards and garden.
Warmer weather provides a great opportunity to start a garden of some sort. Take advantage of the longer days, the slower pace, and reconnect with the soil. Grow something for yourself, something to share with a neighbor, or something to donate to a local food bank.
And after you've planted your garden, come onto your front porch, and see what happens. Community happens around gardens.
"A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in a Garden."
In his play, The Tempest, Shakespeare said, "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows." If the Bard had met UC Davis plant pathology professor Pamela Ronald and her husband Raoul Adamchak, he might have written, "Love acquaints strange bedfellows." Ronald studies genetically altering plants and Adamchak is an organic farmer at the UC Davis certified organic farm.
Together the couple wrote a book, Tomorrow's Table, that today was featured in a Q&A style US News & World Report article. The authors believe the marriage of genetic engineering and organic farming is key to feeding the world's growing population, the article said.
Much more information on the book is in a UC Davis news service release, so I will close this short post with another proverb from Shakespeare: "Brevity is the soul of wit."
Calaveras County UC Cooperative Extension director and farm advisor, Ken Churches, was praised in a Union Democrat article published yesterday about the county's leadership program ag tour.
"Ken does a great job," the story quoted leadership program participant Bill Schmiett, the owner of Mountain Ranch Realty.
Churches took the new leaders to visit a variety of the county's agritourism destinations, reported staff writer Sean Janssen.
"Agriculture and agricultural tourism are a very significant part of the economic engine of Calaveras County," Churches was quoted. "Murphys, you can see, was built entirely around agricultural tourism. It's the diversity in agricultural tourism that makes Calaveras County a wonderful place to live."
The group visited California Cashmere, Al-Rafiq Farms, Rancho NC Alpacas, Calaveras Nursery, Trinitas Olive Oil and Golf Course and Twisted Oak Winery.
The photo with this post, which shows Churches in the early years of his tenure, is from the UCCE Calaveras Web site.
A few news stories published recently typify UC Cooperative Extension's hand on a diversity of environmental issues in California.
The California Farm Bureau's newspaper AgAlert includes a story about research efforts aimed at helping strawberry farmers grow a successful crop in the wake of regulations that severely limit the use of the fumigant methyl bromide.
The story says UCCE soils and water specialist Husein Ajwa have had some success in reducing fumigant emissions either by applying the material through buried irrigation drip lines or by using a more effective tarp material to keep the fumigant in the soil. The research is being conducted at the Monterey Bay Academy test fields outside Watsonville.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that the Tahoe Resource Conservation District and UC Cooperative Extension gave away Jeffrey pine tree seedlings to area residents effected by the Angora fire. The tree giveaway also allowed the agencies to provide the landowners home-landscaping guides and "Living With Fire" guides.
Range management help
UCCE and the Amador County Resource Conservation District are hosting a workshop designed to assist regional ranchers in the productive management of their rangeland, according to the Amador Ledger Dispatch. The story noted that open rangelands in the county are cared for in most cases by local ranchers, whose agricultural use of the land provides the rest of the county's residents with beautiful scenery. The June 16 workshop will also touch on direct marketing of meat.