Ever since I could remember my mother has grown sunflowers every summer in our old front yard sandbox. I never really paid much mind to them or heard a whole lot about them until we got our newest dog who is now two. As a puppy she would constantly roll in this small space often killing some of my moms sunflowers leaving a mess for my mom to come home to. Having two dogs you would assume like siblings, the younger would learn from the old and in a way try and see the things she should not do. Well that was not the case as my dog would do laps around the house when she got excited and this small patch of sunflowers and herbs was in her direct path. She has ran through this small patch in our front yard so much that at one point the sand that was in the sandbox and buried 10-12 years ago by my dad, brother, and I was coming back to the surface. This proceeded to happen and as the summer went on the sunflowers were all dead along with my moms mint, parsley, and thyme.
As a temporary solution my dad put chicken wire around the little plot to keep it from being further damaged but we should have assumed the outcome. The fence it did not work at all, not even a little bit as the first thing we see her doing is digging so she can wedge her whole body under the fence. Of course, we got their to late and she slipped from our fingers and we all watched her dig up the new soil and roll around. It seemed as if the fence gave her more of an incentive to try and get herself in that dirt by any means possible and she was not stopped. Unfortunately, my mom is now forced to grow these herbs and flowers in pots located on our deck, and my dog has made the old plot her own.
My Family have had rhubarb plants on our property for as long as we have lived there, and long before. My great Grandmother who lived until 100 years old planted them over 20 years ago. Rhubarb is a vegetable similar to celery that is used with fruit to create deserts like rhubarb pie. The plant can be harvested from anywhere between 8-10 weeks after it has grown for three years. The growth conditions for the vegetable is colder conditions. How thin the rhubarb is can show if the plant needs more nutrients.
The thing that I didn’t realize about the rhubarb plant that is still in my backyard is that many people in my community actually benefit off of the plant in my backyard. Many people in my town know we have the plants and will get rhubarb from my mother to make pie and cakes. With the readings that we have in Garden Memoir class I have a new eye for noticing this community aspect that the plants bring. Our plant allows others to receive a fresh vegetable that you can’t buy at all grocery stores. My parents told me that even my great Grandmother use to let people pick rhubarb from her plants when she was raising my father’s parents.
Community gardening is an amazing thing, just a few plants can allow many people to enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits strait from the garden. It cost my Mom and Great Grandmother almost nothing to have this plant. I am not the biggest fan of rhubarb but my family loves it. I am glad that my Great Grandmother chose to be apart of community gardening and that my parents deiced to keep it going.
From a very young age I remember driving roughly an hour from Pembroke MA to Yarmouth MA where my grandparents lived. I would go almost every weekend until high school and help out around the property. My aunt and grandmother would tend to the flowers near the front of the house while my grandfather and I dug for quahogs in the river behind the house. In the backyard next to the house my grandparents cultivated a glorious garden. It was full of tomatoes, cucumbers, abnormally large squash, zucchini, lettuce, the whole 9 yards. I was tasked with picking the fully grown produce and washing it off from the rain collector barrel attached to the garden. It was a large blue barrel that all the gutters from the roof led to so the produce could grow while also being cost efficient.
Times not spent in the garden were spent downriver in knee deep water and mud hunting for quahogs. My dad, grandfather and I would hop in the metal boat and race downriver to our spot for catching quahogs. We would rake through the mud looking for the most XL quahogs the river had to offer. If any seemed too small we had a tool to measure the size of the shell to see if it was the legal size to take. My grandfather, Dad and I would see who could scoop up the biggest quahogs as well as the most. The cooking of the quohogs was left to my mother and grandmother who had genuine experience with the shellfish. My time spent down the cape was always surrounded by nature whether it was on the beach or in the river which I will always remember.
(Not my picture but it’s a picture of the hotel down
the rover from my grandparent’s house)
My uncle Shawn lives about 5 miles from my house in the same town. Being my dad’s twin brother they are very close and as a child I spent a ton of time on their ten acres with chickens, horses, pigs, rabbits and at one point ducks. I wouldn’t describe what they have as a farm considering the neighboring dairy farms have hundreds of cows but they certainly had their hands full with a few of each species. My cousin Ellie she loved the horses and they were more or less her horses so my brother and cousin Josh had to hav your own favorites. Mine was always the pigs cause I thought they were funny to watch and for the most part were really easy for me to help take care of. These things basically had a huge section of mud/field to themselves and when they were little they were super fun to roam around with. As I got older my responsibilities to the pigs increased a little but the one responsibility that really taught me something was the harvesting of the pigs. My uncle asked me to be a part of it first when I was approximately 10 years old. It wasn’t necessarily a job I wanted to be a part of but as a young boy I definitely didn’t want to be considered a wimp. So I went along to be met by a group of guys I had never met before. I can’t recall exactly where they came from but there was three of them all speaking Spanish. Small town Vermont I hadn’t ever met people that were so different from me. As it turns out my uncle had these guys come every year to help him kill and butcher the pigs. Without going into the details these guys amazed me, they took home every part of the pig my uncle didn’t want. Of course he gave them some of the traditional meat but they took every thing but bones. They took the head of the pig which I guess makes head cheese which fun fact is nothing like regular cheese. They took intestines and organs that are never eaten or used in typical American culture but they used it all and they were beyond happy to do so. As a kid it impressed me that these guys left absolutely nothing to waste whatsoever. Its always stayed with me to not waste things especially when harvesting animals. I am no vegetarian but it taught me to respect the value of life and not to waste what someone worked hard to produce. After a couple harvests of the pigs I will always remember to understand that even if you don’t want something from your farm or garden to give it to those who do.
This subject may not at first seem like it connects to gardens, or farming, but give me five minutes and I’ll be able to connect it to both, I promise.
Growing up, I was a Boy Scout. I even made it to the rank of Eagle. Along the way, I was able to pick up some information firsthand about the outdoors. What kind of water is safe to drink, how to filet a fish with a sharpened stick, and how to start a fire in pouring rain with nothing but the damp woods around you. The key to that last thing is birch wood, in particular, the bark.
Birch bark contains oils that make fire starting easy, and since oils and water don’t mix, it won’t matter if the birch log is wet. I remember one time I was at the base of Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire at a scouting jamboree. I was in a tent by myself, and the early June rain made sleeping that night miserable. I had a cold can of soup my mother stuck in the bottom of my backpack, you know, just in case. (Side note, my mother will provide me with a can of soup, no matter what. I could be heading to my friends house for the night, going on a week long boating expedition, hell, even take the dog for a long walk and she say,”Here, take this in case you get hungry.” Anyway, I find a few pieces of birch wood, and after finding a piece of flint near the bed of a river, started a small fire that, as it grew, the group of adolescent boys also did. We shared stories, dried our socks, and heated our collective cans of over-protective-mother soup and had a pretty nice evening.
How does this relate to gardening? Or farming?
We were trying to clear our garden plot and our backyard of old growth from last year. We decided that a controlled burn was necessary. Only problem was, it was the last day our town allowed for burning, and it was a downpour. Luckily, by using some birch logs in the woods behind my house, I was able to get a blaze going, heightened by a couple old Christmas trees we had in the backyard. Thanks to the birch bark, we got what we need to get done, and we ended up with the best garden we’d had in years.
As long as I can remember my grandfather has had an obnoxious backyard. Let me explain. He lives on the edge of woods in Easton, Massachusetts. When you enter his property all you can see is trees and bird feeders. You think it is just a few but if I could say a number, I would put it up in the thirties. I don’t know why he keeps buying more, but it makes him happy looking out his porch and seeing all the birds and squirrels. It doesn’t just end with squirrels and bird, he has his residential turkeys and deer that make their rounds. Last time I remember there were eight turkeys and all their names were Tom. Even if he is out there replenishing their feed, all the animals watch from the distance ready to pounce once he leaves. It’s very interesting to watch.
Feeding the birds and other New England wildlife is just half of his wild backyard. His garden is something else. Once the new year pasts he fills his pots with seeds and turns his basement into a greenhouse. I believe one year he planted 50 pots with seeds. Something in his head kept telling him to buy more and more that one trip to Home Depot. Once it gets warm enough, it takes him a whole three days to plant them all. He has been doing this ever since my mom was young and still does it till this day. It makes him so happy to see his backyard in full bloom with the plants and animals. I think he likes seeing all the creatures walking or sprouting.
Recently I started working for a medical cannabis dispensary in my hometown, I assist in the growing and production of the plant for medicinal use. Now that Cannabis is legal in Massachusetts I have had the opportunity to work in this industry professionally, and am excited to be sharing the knowledge I’ve gained so far on the growth cycle of a cannabis plant. Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a psychoactive drug used for medical or recreational purposes. The main psychoactive part of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant that interact with receptors in the brain and body to create various effects. There exist hundreds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but THC is most widely known among these due to its abundance and euphoric attributes. While THC is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and has certain medical uses, CBD stands out because it is both non-intoxicating and displays a broad range of potential medical relief including help with anxiety, inflammation, pain, and seizures. These make CBD an attractive therapeutic compound.
Cannabis plants, like all living things, go through a series of stages as they grow and mature. It’s important for me as a grower to understand the changes a plant undergoes during its life cycle, as each stage of growth requires different care. Different stages call for different amounts of light, nutrients and water. The stages also help us decide when to prune and trim the plants, and overall health as well. The life cycle of cannabis can be broken down into four primary stages from seed to harvest:
The first stage of life for a cannabis plant begins with the seeds. At this point, our cannabis plant is dormant, patiently waiting for water to bring it to life. Between 5-10 days the seed should pop. Once the seed has popped, it’s ready to be placed in its growing medium. The tap root will drive down while the stem of the seedling will grow upward. Two rounded cotyledon leaves will grow out from the stem as the plant unfolds from the protective casing of the seed. These initial leaves are responsible for taking in sunlight needed for the plant to become healthy and stable. As the roots develop, you will begin to see the first iconic fan leaves grow, at which point the cannabis plant can be considered a seedling. When the plant becomes a seedling, you’ll notice it developing more of the traditional cannabis leaves. As a sprout, the seed will initially produce leaves with only one ridged blade. Once new growth develops, the leaves will develop more blades.
A mature cannabis plant will have between 5-7 blades per leaf, but some plants may have more. A healthy seedling should be a vibrant green color. We have to be very careful to not overwater the plant in its seedling stage, its roots are so small, it doesn’t need much water to thrive (reminds me of cacti and other succulents). Its extremely important for us to keep the environment clean and to monitor excess moisture. At this stage, the plant is vulnerable to disease and mold.
The vegetative stage of cannabis is where the plant’s growth truly takes off. At this point, we’ve transplanted the plant into a larger pot, and the roots and foliage are developing rapidly. This is also the time to begin topping or training the plants (we generally use bamboo). Spacing between the nodes should represent the type of cannabis you are growing. Indica plants tend to be short and dense, while sativa plants grow lanky and more open in foliage.
As the plant develops we also have to change our watering style. When it’s young, the plant will need water close to the stalk, but as it grows the roots will also grow outward, so we start watering further away from the stalk so the roots can stretch out and absorb water more efficiently (also helps things stay sturdy).
The flowering stage is the final stage of growth for a cannabis plant. Flowering occurs naturally when the plant receives less than 12 hours of light a day, in our case we grow inside so we just adjust the indoor light cycle. It is in this stage that resinous buds develop (the flower).
Once the buds have reached full maturity, it’s time to harvest.
My plans for the future are to someday own my own cannabis grow operation, and maybe even open up a lounge. I hope with the experience I am having at my work will pay off in the future.
Each year my parents and I grow edible plants and decorative flowers in Spring and Summer. We have a plot in a community garden down the street from our house, where other people in town also rent plots and grow whatever crops they want. I’ve learned by having this plot over the years that there is a sense of camaraderie and a lot of teamwork in a community garden. I see this in a couple different areas- in the upkeep of the community garden land, and in seeing excess crops being shared between gardeners.
There is always help needed at a community garden. At ours, there is regular weeding and mowing that needs to be done in the grass aisles in between each plot. Sometimes the fences need to be mended, the watering tanks need to be fixed, and gas needs to be put in the lawn mowers and rototillers. The organizer of the garden seeks help with all of these tasks from plot owners. Without it, no one would be able to use the land because it would become messy and unorganized, so community gardeners depend on each other to keep the land workable.
I’ve also seen lots of sharing between gardeners, especially in mid to late summer when plants are growing with copious amounts of fruit and vegetables. There’s a picnic table at the entrance to the plots where gardeners often put a basket or bag of excess produce that’s up for grabs. My parents and I have done that quite a few times, especially when our tomato harvest becomes too much for three people to eat and we’ve exhausted everyone we know with bags of them. Whatever is left on that table always gets taken, which is nice to see. You know that the surplus goods did not go to waste. I also see recipes and planting techniques shared between gardeners, which we do often with our plot neighbor, who’s a master farmer.
I think the bond between people in a community garden comes from not only needing to rely on others to have the land be functional and organized, but also because gardening itself is an act that’s all about giving. With a good harvest, you’re giving yourself and your family homegrown produce, and you could have excess crops to give to others who don’t have a garden so they can experience farm fresh food too. In a community garden, it’s all about teamwork to make the gardening season successful for all.
Last Thursday me and a couple other ESS students were huddling and working on our senior projects when we heard the news from our Professor: someone had heckled at a climate Cafe. In our minds this news had a bit more of significance because we were holding a climate cafe ourselves the night of March 14th. As an approach to talking about environmental issues, a climate Cafe can be utilized as simple as a round table discussion or it could be a multifaceted event with multiple speakers. In the case of the disturbed event, it was the latter and included many members of the environmental community and the commonwealth.
It was held in the Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts and was attended by hundreds hoping to listen to Anthony Janeto, a professor from Boston University, talk about his research on climate change. Shiva Ayyadurai, an independent candidate, like any other citizen was allowed to participate but soon became very disrespectful to both the audience and Dr. Janeto. He started to call the professor a “liar” and making unfounded claims about how climate change is hoax. This uncivil discussion escalated more and more which led to the police being called and the event was shutdown.
Shiva Ayyadurai is a product of the zeitgeist of Trump Era politics, In a similar manner to Trump he uses subversive language to attack his opponents. In addition Shiva has made questionable claims about his qualifications claiming to be the “inventor of email”. For those who are unfamiliar his most recent efforts was an independent bid for senate. Where he used similar tactics of “organic” publicity stunts and attacking the media to gain attention. He represents the new opposition to the environmental community and its ideals
I talk about this particular event because it encapsulates the polarization of environmental politics today. Which wasn’t mentioned a lot in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal,Vegetable,Miracle and or a lot of the other recent readings we as a class have read. The exception to the rule was the Food Chains where they talk about the nature of the opposition. The movie talks about corporate interests like Publix not coming to table to discuss both the importance of sustainable practices and workers rights.
A segment of our citizenry have their own skepticism when it comes to environmental policy-making and this is backed-up by data from the Pew Research center. According to the data seen below subscribing to a particular ideology has an effect on your perception of the effectiveness of environmental policies. Comparing these contrasting ideologies the data reflects that conservatives have little faith in these climate policies and that liberals more often than not support these policies. A healthy sense of skepticism is important for a democracy to flourish. It when the skepticism becomes toxic that is when we have a real problem on our hands. I hope in the near future that we are able to convince a lot of the climate skeptics that we are willing to include them in the conversation. But it’s more important for us as a citizenry to use that skepticism and constructive criticism to make these climate policies more effective. In the hopes that this sort of situation doesn’t happen again.
Growing up in a small neighborhood, all my neighbors had gardens except my house. While my parents were busy redoing our house, they finally dedicated a summer to planting and making our yard look prettier. Just like in the book, Farm City, it really took a small community to help plant our garden. My mothers best friends both had huge gardens at their houses and both loved planting, so they were thrilled when my mother decided to start planting in our dull yard. My mother and father had no idea how to start a garden. I remember my dad cleared out a flower bed in the front and back yard and surrounded it with wood. We then went to the local Home Depot to choose the flowers that we wanted to plant in our new gardens. When we got back that’s when everyone started to help plant. Even my neighbors came out to help make the days work go faster. After everyone was done planting my dad had a little corner he took out on the other side of our walk way. By the end of the day we were all out of flowers to plant and I was not able to help because I had sports games to attend. My father knew I was upset that I couldn’t participate in the days activity and he let me plant whatever I wanted in the little corner space that was left. As an 8 year old I had no patience to wait until the next day to pick out flowers so I picked all the dandelions in my backyard and buried then into my little dirt patch. That was my first gardening experience.