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February 2005: News

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News from the Mini-Farm, Friends and Colleagues

Ecology Action's current Certified teachers are:

Basic Level:
Cindy Conner
12398 Ashcake Road
Ashland VA 23005

Allan LaValier
707 W. Maple Street
Stillwater MN 55082

Karla Arroyo Rizo
Las Cañadas
Huatusco, Veracruz
C.P. 94100 MEXICO

Scott Weaver
1624 Winnebago Street
LaCrosse WI 54601

Intermediate Level:
Steve Moore
1522 Lefever Lane
Spring Grove, PA 17362.

We have received two great bits of news from Common Ground Store, our Ecology Action project in Palo Alto, California: The store was recently honored with an award from State WRAP (Waste Reduction Award Program) for cutting waste, conserving resources and protecting the environment. The store was also a co-sponsor, along with Valley of Heart's Delight project, the City of Sunnyvale, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District, of a "Grow Your Own" conference in February. The conference was an opportunity to network with local residents wanting to grow organic food gardens. Workshops on related topics were given, and Mas Masumoto, third-generation organic peach farmer and award-winning author, gave a talk.

These are excerpts from a report written by Cindy Conner, certified basic-level GROW BIOINTENSIVE teacher in Virginia:

My rice harvest was fun. Everyone is amazed that I could grow rice, although they shouldn't be that surprised since we had another VERY wet year. The rice had to sit until after Christmas until I had time to figure out how to hull it. I made a hulling plate to replace the stationary grinding plate on a Corona grain mill. . The plate is made of 1/4" plywood covered with rubber taken from the top of a barn boot. I used Gorilla glue to attach the rubber to the plywood. I used a curved file to bevel the edge slightly around the hole where the grain comes out, so it would fall away from the plate and not get caught where the rubber meets the wood. To make mounting on any table easier, I attached the mill by its clamp and by bolts and wingnuts through its holes, to a board that measured 9"x9"x3/4". I can take it anywhere and clamp it to a table using C-clamps on the board.

In December I completed another idea I'd been thinking about. I divided my chicken pen into 3 pens. . Now the chickens come into the middle pen which is now a compost pen. It is filled with leaves and will get lots of things we normally put in a compost pile, including goat manure. The other 2 pens will be grazing pens based on the Balfour method John Seymour mentions in his books. . I broadcasted rye, knowing it would grow when the temperature warmed again. . We have just had another frigid week, but the chicken pen is green (under the snow and ice). Before this project it had turned to mud. I will probably broadcast white clover in there this spring for a permanent grazing crop. My plan is to grow comfrey along the fence on the inside of the pen, plant vine crops along the fences and put a fruit tree in each grazing pen. I have noticed that when given the choice, chickens always run to the fence rows to seek out bugs and such. Hopefully the grazing pens can provide them with interesting things to eat, and since their movement into them can be limited as need be, the plantings won't be devastated.



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