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Real Life / Spiritual Agnosticism
« Last post by Little Feather on April 27, 2016, 03:52:41 AM »


I am not today who I was yesterday.

Nearly five years ago, under the fading trees, I reached an important decision in my life. I left the church, never to return. I left because the church became more about absolutes and rules than it did about spirit.

Before the "rising" and the "setting" of the sun, I declared myself a Spiritual Agnostic, after much soul searching. (I am Spiritual, in the sense I feel our humanity connects us to each other [though we are different from one another, we are not separate from one another], and Agnostic, in the sense I am without knowledge in God’s existence—as a physical entity. I am also without belief in God’s existence—as a physical entity.)

I grieved the loss of my religion for quite some time, after I accepted the tenebrous fact I would never again see my brother in his physical form—only in his spiritual form. (Indeed, when he died, his atoms dispersed out into the universe. The Great Circle of Life is endless, inexhaustible, infinite. His spiritual form lives on.)

To Spiritual Agnosticism I was introduced by reading the ethereal Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke and You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe’s magnum opus. These books do not advocate for Spiritual Agnosticism, per se, but their themes (soul searching, ‘reality’, meaning of life) irrevocably do.

Letters to a Young Poet presented itself to me in the most donnishly possible way: on a dusty bookshelf, with its pages open, it cried for me to take it home.

I did.

In my personal library of 1,100+ everlasting books, my copy of Letters to a Young Poet is nestled, comfortably, between The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Mortality by Christopher Hitchens.

- - -

You may be wondering what Spiritual Agnosticism is. It is a philosophy that condemns the conservative “believe-or-burn” religious ideologies, places importance on actions, and maintains life is a mystery.

Donate to Atheist Republic

I do believe God is a spiritual energy that is ever-present. However, I do not think this spiritual energy needs a name. I have felt said energy. It is alive. That is all I need to ‘know’. A name would only anthropomorphize said energy, which is what spirituality is not; spirituality is above that. Spirituality is.

Regarding actions: my spiritual accountability comes from within. The good deeds I commit here will be rejoiced hereafter, while the bad deeds I commit here will be condemned hereafter.

The spiritual energy I speak of gives my life a deeper meaning. In nature spirituality thrives (nature and spirituality are symbiotic): for in nature there is a pulse, a rhythm, a meter; a musicality that binds all life together.

In the city I witness the construction of a skyscraper, but in nature I witness the growth of a Sycamore. In the city I witness an ever-expanding crack in a street, but in nature I witness roots digging into fresh dirt. In the city I witness an airplane flying overhead, but in nature I witness a Blue Jay flying, lithely, through the branches of trees.

I feel at home in nature.

When a street is abandoned, nature takes its course. The street itself begins to crack, through which grass emerges in time. Nature is the most powerful force, the wisest teacher.

Nature has revealed to me I am lucky to be alive, that my existence is as probable as a rock hitting an ant at random between Seattle and Miami. I, therefore, cherish every inhale and exhale of breath.
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FARMER'S FORUM / Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers Organic, plant Spring or Fall
« Last post by Little Feather on April 18, 2016, 06:55:10 AM »

What would you think about planting a crop for your livestock and never having to plant again?
Jerusalem Artichokes are a perennial tuber crop with edible tubers, leaves, stalks and flowers that contain up to 28% protein and come back year after year. Stalks will grow up to 10 feet tall with enormous yellow flowers on top.

The Jerusalem Artichoke is not a widely known plant in our country, but it can and does grow here from Canada to Florida. Each plant produces up to 10 pounds of tubers that are delicious and consumed by people the world over. They are even considered a gourmet food in Europe. The rest of the plant, and even the tubers, can be fed to every kind of livestock from chickens to pigs to cattle with favorable results. They are an extremely vigorous growing plant and once planted will completely take over an area so they should not be planted unless you desire them as a perennial crop. They are very hard to get rid of once planted.

The variety we grow is called Stampede, and is one of the most sought after of all varieties, which is why we grow them! They are superior in flavor and size to all other Jerusalem Artichoke varieties, some of which are barely suitable for human consumption. This variety is delicious.

Each tuber left in the ground over the winter will produce numerous new plants with each of those plants producing up to 10 pounds of tubers the following fall. This plant puts on tubers in November throughout the winter. The plants will grow in any type of soil regardless of whether it is sand, clay or mulch and can tolerate drought conditions without failing.

I sell the plants as both a livestock crop and for human consumption in home gardens. My family loves them. They are a bit like a potato with a nutty flavor. They sell about as fast as I can grow them, and that is saying a lot because these are extremely vigorous growing.

Order from:   www.shop.B40gs.com
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Why is the U.S. unwilling to pay for good public transportation?

By John Rennie Short, University of Maryland, Baltimore County   |   April 1, 2016 at 12:15 PM

Officials in Washington, D.C., said this week they may have to shut down portions of the Metro subway system for months because its piecemeal approach to maintenance is no longer sufficient.

The disclosure follows a shutdown of the entire Metro system on March 16 for 24 hours. Three-quarters of a million people use the system each weekday, so the inconvenience and cost were considerable.

The reason: frayed electrical cables discovered in at least 26 locations that posed an immediate danger. Closing the Metro was probably the safest thing to do.

Just two days previously, an electrical fire in a tunnel forced stoppages to busy commuter service. In September 2015 a train was stuck inside a tunnel, and passengers choked for over an hour as smoke from a fire was accidentally pumped into the train. One woman died. In the last six years, 15 people have died in seven separate incidents.

A system that opened to such fanfare in 1976 is now crumbling. It is a depressingly familiar story that is not limited to urban public transport. The United States has a major and growing infrastructure gap – though chasm is a more appropriate metaphor.

The quality of a country's infrastructure is directly linked to its competitiveness because it makes businesses more productive and improves the quality of life. Why has the United State let its public transit slip so far?

From First to Third World

The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation's infrastructure a D+. Its report from 2013 depicts a woeful tale of deferred maintenance. More than 70,000 bridges are in need of repair. We need around $1.7 trillion for our surface transportation alone.

The week that the D.C. metro was closed, I was in Zurich, Switzerland. The contrast could not have been starker. There, a ticket is good for rail, bus and tram. It is clean and efficient, a widely shared experience and a deep source of pride. Most people in the country use public transport in the cities to get around. It is a vital part of urban public life.

In international comparisons, the United States is falling further behind. To fly from either Seoul or Shanghai into Los Angeles airport is to make the journey from a First World to a Third World airport. To fly into New York's JFK from Zurich or most European capitals is to fly from the future into the past.

For people coming and going to Dulles – the main arrival point for international travel – there is no Metro rail station, which would shield travelers from road traffic.

And when you arrive in Los Angeles or New York City airports, the public transport connections are often nonexistent or inadequate. If you fly into Dulles, the main international airport for D.C., you will wait in vain for a train to the city (although buses are available). The Metro has yet to link the city to the airport, 40 years after the system opened.

Now Switzerland, which ranks at the top globally for overall infrastructure, may be a reach for the United States. But when the United States ranks 16th for infrastructure quality, easily outranked by countries such as France and Spain, then we should start worrying.

There are substantial costs to the decline of our public transportation system. Closures, accidents and inefficiencies cost individuals and companies and reduce the efficiency of our national economy. Poor infrastructure means Americans spend $120 billion each year in extra fuel and lost time.

To some extent, this state of affairs should be no surprise.

Our competitors are out-investing us in the vital infrastructure necessary to make our economy efficient and internationally competitive. Even when our public infrastructure spending is higher than our competitors, it is less well-targeted because decisions are more politically motivated than based on economic rationality.

We seem unwilling to pay for public services. Our declining road system, for example, is funded by the Highway Trust Fund, which is derived from a gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon. It has not been raised since 1993, and more fuel-efficient vehicles means less revenue. Raising the gas tax is not considered politically feasible, even in a time of declining gas prices.

What went wrong?

At least four reasons can be cited for the decline in the quality of urban public transportation.

The first is the early and continuing embrace of the private car as a form of urban transport. In Europe, expensive gas and restrictive land use measures kept people in dense cities, and urban growth followed along the lines of mass transit, reinforcing and consolidating their use.

In the United States, growth spread across a landscape of freeways and motorway exits, encouraged by federal investment in the national highway system in the 1950s. As low-density suburban sprawl spread, public transport became less viable. New suburbs and Sunbelt cities constructed in the last half of the 20th century were built around the private automobile.

Encouraged by the construction of the highway infrastructure, Americans moved out to the suburbs and started to rely more on cars, rather than public transit, to get into cities.

Over time, Republican-dominated suburbs came to see mass transit as a special Democratic interest and voted accordingly. For example, the mayor of Nashville's plans for public transport last year were blocked by state politicians and right-wing national interest groups.

Second, as cities were designed to meet the needs of the motorist, mass transit systems that had been owned by private companies were abandoned or effectively dismantled in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s because they were losing money.

As a result, many mass transit systems were taken over by municipalities. This led to a high-cost, low-revenue system dependent on the vagaries of federal, state and city funding. Meanwhile, car drivers were economic free riders, not charged for the social costs of their accidents, pollution and congestion.

The third reason is that all infrastructure ages and needs costly maintenance and continual improvement, yet funding is often constrained.

Even when new transit systems were built, such as in D.C., or existing ones were upgraded, as in New York City and Boston, they still had to be maintained, which takes up large chunks of public money without the benefit of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Building something new gives politicians a photo opportunity, replacing a frayed electrical cable does not. And there are many other claims on government such as pensions, schools, Social Security and a large military. Our infrastructure chasm is a quiet, slow-moving but relentless crisis only brought into focus when wires fray to the point of immediate danger.

Across the country, transit systems have a backlog of deferred maintenance. Chicago Transit Authority, for instance, spent $5 billion on infrastructure upgrades in the past five years, but needs another $13 billion. Cities in the United States have a repair backlog that amounts to $86 billion.

Private affluence and public squalor

Fourth, there is a deeper tension in the United States, first noted by economist Kenneth Galbraith, between private affluence and public squalor.

Many of us, it seems, have lost faith in the public realm. The private car is the embodiment of U.S. individualism. The decline of our cities' infrastructure is one expression of loss of faith in the public realm as a place of beauty and efficiency and an embodiment of what one journalist refers to as "our anger and our pessimism."

This thinking has made our cities less about shared experiences and more a place of different lives and separated spaces.

There is some room for optimism. A series of reports highlight the advantage of investing more in public transport. And as more people want to live in cities in dense walkable neighborhoods, the demand for public transport is increasing.

Ridership rates vary by city and with the price of gas, but the overall usage trend is upward. The top 10 transit systems carry 12.6 million people each workday.

And millennials lack their parents' and grandparents' love affair with the automobile. We may be at the cusp of a generational shift in attitudes to the car and mass transit. Cities and cars were never a good fit, something more people appear to be realizing.

Urban public transport may come to be seen as a more desirable, more sustainable, more equitable way of getting around the city. If only we can remember to ensure we have enough money to replace those electric cables before they pose a serious danger.
The Conversation

John Rennie Short is a professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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DIRECT FARM MARKETING / Vermont Farmer Opts Out of Regulated Beef Slaughter
« Last post by Little Feather on March 26, 2016, 01:07:56 PM »
  Vermont Farmer Opts Out of Regulated Beef Slaughter
 By David Gumpert on March 25, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Comments 24 | Affiliate Disclosure
JohnKlar

John Klar, with some of his cattle, in Vermont.

Many sustainable farmers have privately railed against state and federal rules that require cattle  to be slaughtered in regulated beef slaughtering facilities. Now, Vermont farmer John Klar has resolved to do something about his personal frustration, describing his plans in the article that follows.

Klar raises grass-fed beef and sheep in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. He and his wife have also raised chickens and pigs, and made raw-milk artisanal cheeses from cows’ and goats’ milk. Klar practiced law until he grew ill in 1998 from Lyme disease, which caused him to succumb to severe pain from fibromyalgia syndrome, which he still battles. The clean food and routine exercise provided by his modest farming efforts have helped him to improve over the years: stress and food additives aggravate his condition. 

By John Klar

The health of our children depends on the health of their food.

I raise grass-fed beef because I want to know what my animal has eaten, how it has been treated through life, and that it has been killed humanely. My customers wish for these same assurances, and understand that cheap meat bears other costs – of antibiotic and hormone contamination, risks of pathogens, and the suffering caused when 400 beef are inhumanely slaughtered every hour in horrific factory “environments.”

This is why I will face prison rather than comply with laws in Vermont that interfere with the ancient connection between animal, farmer and consumer. Vermont’s Department of Agriculture has interrupted this connection, at the behest of the federal government and profit-hungry agribusiness. It is time for consumers and local farmers to weld their connection tightly against such intrusions, in the interests of the welfare of both child and beast.

For years I have raised beef cows here in Vermont, slaughtered them on my farm, and processed them at the request of my customers at local custom processing facilities. Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture has decided to “protect” the public from this connection, even as our nation has consolidated animal “husbandry” into toxic CAFO’s and industrial slaughter-factories, increased the importation of unlabeled meats from dubious foreign sources, and authorized Frankensteinian experiments on man and beast alike. But as is happening in most every state in America, these laws “protect” corporate oligarchy, not human health and our vital food connection.

New laws mandate that I may no longer sell halves of beef to my longstanding customers, unless I route those animals to large slaughterhouses, file periodic forms, and pay a fee for the privilege. My customers do not typically purchase a whole beef, because of cost, family size, and freezer space (a half beef occupies a full-size freezer). The law permits me to slaughter a whole beef on-farm, and send it to a local custom processor: apparently this is not a health risk. But now we can only sell whole animals directly to the public; all others must pass through a large federally-inspected processor. Please take note: no one has ever been made sick in Vermont by on-farm slaughtered meat, and the federal government has no constitutional right to regulate intrastate commerce like that between me and my customers.

If I comply with the law, the following changes occur: The itinerant slaughterer who comes to my farm has been removed, as has the local custom processor; the animal that was killed without warning on the farm on which it spent its life must now ne herded onto a truck and shipped to a large slaughterhouse, at additional expense; the stress to the animal compromises the quality of the meat (stress increases cortisol levels); and the animal is exposed in the livestock truck, and again at the larger facility, to pathogens from sick or CAFO animals.

These laws, which purport to remove unfair competition, destroy local small businesses; and which purport to improve food safety, contaminate meat from small farms. These laws compel me to torment animals that I seek to treat humanely, add costs to my customers, swell government budgets for the employment of “inspectors”, and benefit large businesses at the expense of small.

I was visited last summer by a “compliance investigator” from the State of Vermont, who informed me that my business is illegal. I have now appointed myself a “Compliance Investigator.” As an attorney and small farmer, I know what the Federal and Vermont Constitutions require, and that those requirements exist precisely so that I may “police” the large corporate influences that hide behind regulators to protect “market share” from the growing local agricultural movement that is reconnecting the frayed relationship between consumer and local farmer. To use government to intrude into our business relationship is the exact opposite of a “free market.” It is also patently unconstitutional.

For government to regulate, it must have a purpose that is legitimate, and laws which reasonably achieve that purpose. These laws fail on both counts. No one is sick. My animals are antibiotic- and hormone-free, and graze on green grass. My customers pay for the animals to have been treated well. These laws achieve the exact opposite of their stated objectives: they impose unfair competition to make my products less safe, torment my animals, and increase costs to consumers.

What Wes Jackson aptly dubs “the feudal lords of corporate agribusiness” are pulling the strings of Vermont’s bureaucratic puppets. And we are on to them. Joel Salatin was similarly invaded by government mercenaries at the behest of corporate instigators, and observed: “That’s one of the things that fries me about these people. They can just waltz into your business and be cavalier about destroying your livelihood because they draw their steady paycheck, have the power of the police, and the authority of the attorney general behind them. No apologies, no feelings.” (Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, Polyface, Inc., Swoope, Virginia, 2007).

But Mr. Salatin is not an attorney: I am. I have the power of the Constitutions behind me, together with the authority of consumers and farmers who are not going to take this anymore. I have my animals behind me as well – for I will stand guard for their rights to be treated with moral responsibility in a profit-driven assault. All Americans must take heed: this is a national battle, and there is no sideline.
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Thoughts and Ideas / About Earth Hour.Org
« Last post by Little Feather on March 19, 2016, 07:41:21 AM »


As the world stands at a climate crossroads, it is powerful yet humbling to think that our actions today will decide what tomorrow will look like for generations to come. This Earth Hour, ​change your profile picture on Facebook and Twitter and switch on your social power​ to shine a light on climate action. This is our time to #ChangeClimateChange...our future starts today.
To watch Earth Hour unfold around the world, visit 'Earth Hour Live' here:    https://www.earthhour.org/earth-hour-live-watch-the-hour-unfold-around-the-world
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In the News / But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever.
« Last post by Little Feather on March 18, 2016, 12:03:38 PM »
No, Not Trump, Not Ever
[David Brooks]

David Brooks MARCH 18, 2016

The voters have spoken.

In convincing fashion, Republican voters seem to be selecting Donald Trump as their nominee. And in a democracy, victory has legitimacy to it. Voters are rarely wise but are usually sensible. They understand their own problems. And so deference is generally paid to the candidate who wins.

And deference is being paid. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida is urging Republicans to coalesce around Trump. Pundits are coming out with their “What We Can Learn” commentaries. Those commentaries are built on a hidden respect for the outcome, that this is a rejection of a Republicanism that wasn’t working and it points in some better direction.

The question is: Should deference be paid to this victor? Should we bow down to the judgment of these voters?

Well, some respect is in order. Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else.

Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.

And yet reality is reality.

Donald Trump is especially unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.

Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.

This week, the Politico reporters Daniel Lippman, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf fact-checked 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences. They found more than five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.

“His remarks represent an extraordinary mix of inaccurate claims about domestic and foreign policy and personal and professional boasts that rarely measure up when checked against primary sources,” they wrote.

He is a childish man running for a job that requires maturity. He is an insecure boasting little boy whose desires were somehow arrested at age 12. He surrounds himself with sycophants. “You can always tell when the king is here,” Trump’s butler told Jason Horowitz in a recent Times profile. He brags incessantly about his alleged prowess, like how far he can hit a golf ball. “Do I hit it long? Is Trump strong?” he asks.

In some rare cases, political victors do not deserve our respect. George Wallace won elections, but to endorse those outcomes would be a moral failure.

And so it is with Trump.

History is a long record of men like him temporarily rising, stretching back to biblical times. Psalm 73 describes them: “Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. … They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.”

And yet their success is fragile: “Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly they are destroyed.”

The psalmist reminds us that the proper thing to do in the face of demagogy is to go the other way — to make an extra effort to put on decency, graciousness, patience and humility, to seek a purity of heart that is stable and everlasting.

The Republicans who coalesce around Trump are making a political error. They are selling their integrity for a candidate who will probably lose. About 60 percent of Americans disapprove of him, and that number has been steady since he began his campaign.
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Worse, there are certain standards more important than one year’s election. There are certain codes that if you betray them, you suffer something much worse than a political defeat.

Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.

As the founders would have understood, he is a threat to the long and glorious experiment of American self-government. He is precisely the kind of scapegoating, promise-making, fear-driving and deceiving demagogue they feared.

Trump’s supporters deserve respect. They are left out of this economy. But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
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These 10 fertilizers come from natural sources and can help improve the fertility of your soil and the nutrition of your crops. Before you add a fertilizer—natural or otherwise—to your garden bed, it’s advised that you have your soil tested for nutrient levels and pH.

It’s especially important to know the pH level before adding phosphorous fertilizers because phosphorous is only available at a fairly limited pH range. Adding more phosphorous to an area with the wrong pH will tie up the nutrient in the soil and not make it available to the plants. Not too mention, excessive nutrients can add to run-off problems and create pollution issues.

If you’re an organic farmer, be sure the fertilizer brands you use are on the Organic Materials Review Institute’s approved materials list. However, for home gardeners or small-scale farmers who aren’t certified organic but want to use only natural fertilizers, all of the following fertilizers are considered organic, even if the particular brand you use isn’t on the list.
Compost makes a great soil amendment to help your crops grow organically.
Chesapeake Bay Program/Flickr
1. Fish emulsion and hydrolyzed liquid fish

Processing fish or fish byproducts with heat or acid treatments creates fish emulsion. Fish emulsion is generally a pretty stinky fertilizer, but it’s a good source of all three macronutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—with an N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) ratio of 5-2-2.

Hydrolyzed liquid fish fertilizers are created using enzymes rather than heat. The resulting product is not smelly and retains more trace nutrients and vitamins. The average N-P-K ratio for hydrolyzed fish fertilizers is 4-2-2.
2. Bone meal

A byproduct of slaughtering facilities, bone meal is created through the steam processing and pulverization of animal bones. Bone meal is an excellent high-phosphorus fertilizer with an average N-P-K ratio of 3-15-0. The phosphorous in bone meal takes a few months to become available to plants via microbial processes in the soil. It also contains calcium, another essential plant nutrient. Phosphorous is most available in soil with pH between 6.0 and 7.0, so be sure to test and adjust soil pH if necessary.
3. Compost

Both commercially produced compost and homemade compost benefit soil by adding organic matter, providing food for beneficial microbial life, increasing the soil’s water-holding capacity and gradually releasing plant nutrients. Composts made with high amounts of manure or biosolids (sewage sludge) may be high in salts and can burn plants, but composts made with primarily plant residues do not generally contain troublesome amounts of salt. A typical N-P-K ratio for compost is 2-1-1, though its exact nutritional content depends on many factors. Compost that smells like ammonia or is not yet fully decomposed should be allowed to finish breaking down to avoid damaging plants. Compost also contains many micronutrients essential for plant growth.
4. Manure

The nutrient content of manure is dependent on many factors, including its age, source and the presence of bedding materials. Because of potential pathogen exposure, raw manure should be avoided. Manure should be a minimum of 180 days old or fully composted before it’s added to growing areas. In addition to containing macronutrients, manure is also a great source of several trace nutrients essential for plant growth.

Most cattle and horse manures have an average N-P-K ratio of 1-0.5-0.5 while poultry manures tend to be better high-nitrogen fertilizers (3-1-1 on average). The nutrients in manure are not immediately available to plants and can take up to several years to be released by soil microbes. In general, about half of the total nitrogen is available the first year, with the rest being released slowly over several subsequent seasons. Manure is also an excellent source of organic matter but can contain weed seeds.
5. Rock phosphate

A mineral rock powder, rock phosphate is an excellent source of phosphorous, with an N-P-K ratio of 0-2-0. The phosphorous contained in rock phosphate becomes more available the second year after application, and phosphorous is most available within the soil when the pH ranges between 6.0 and 7.0. Be sure to test soil pH before adding rock phosphate. It is also a good source of calcium.
6. Cottonseed meal

Cottonseed meal is a high-nitrogen fertilizer with an average N-P-K ratio of 6-0.4-1.5. It takes several months to be processed by soil microbes and broken down so that it can release the nutrients it contains. Organic farmers should seek out organic cottonseed meal because cotton is often a genetically modified crop and many pesticides are used during its growth.
7. Alfalfa meal

With an average N-P-K ratio of 2-1-2, alfalfa meal provides plants not only with these macronutrients but also many trace nutrients. It takes one to four months to be broken down by the soil microbes and for the nutrients to become available.
8. Blood meal

A byproduct of slaughtering facilities, blood meal is a very high-nitrogen fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 12-0-0. Because of its high ammonia content, inappropriate use or over-fertilizing could cause burned foliage.
9. Feather meal

Although it takes four months or longer to break down and release its nutrients, feather meal is a great high-nitrogen fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio between 7-0-0 and 12-0-0. It is a byproduct of poultry processing.
10. Liquid kelp

Although the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium contained in liquid kelp are minimal, it is high in essential trace nutrients as well as plant growth hormones that accelerate plant growth and improve flowering. Liquid kelp is created through the cold processing of this ocean plant. It is mixed with water and applied to plants both as a soil drench and a foliar spray. The nutrients it contains are available immediately for plant use.
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FARMER'S FORUM / Landowner GIS mapping course and map packages
« Last post by alaliber on February 29, 2016, 05:38:40 AM »
Learn how to map your land using open source software and freely available data. This self-paced, video-based course on DVD is an excellent introduction to digital mapping tools (GIS) for landowners or permaculture designers. It will allow you to visualize the terrain of the land, perform site planning based on slope, aspect, and other features, and use GIS maps with open source software and Google Earth. You will learn where to obtain freely available aerial photos, topographic data, soil maps, and other spatial layers, and how to view and manipulate the data. Details at: http://www.earthmetrics.com/courses/
For those that prefer a final product, I offer different levels of map packages that include the finest detail mapping layers available for your property. The products can be customized to your land and needs, include free visualization software, and require no specialized mapping knowledge. Details at http://www.earthmetrics.com/landowner-mapping-services/

Andrea Laliberte
Brownsville, Oregon
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Eat Well / Aldi's Goes Organic And Bans Toxic Chemicals From Their Products
« Last post by Little Feather on February 19, 2016, 03:31:51 AM »
Aldi, the discount grocery store, recently announced that they will soon be supplying mostly organic products and will be banning many pesticides and toxic chemicals.


The chemicals recently banned from their products includes Thiamethoxam, Chlorpyrifos, Clothianidin, Cypermethrin, Deltamethrin, Fipronil, Imidacloprid, Sulfoxaflor and other pesticides. Aldi also announced that they will soon be stocking fresh meat and fish and will be closely analyzing the distributors that they purchase from.

Jason Hart CEO of Aldi said in a recent statement that, “At ALDI, we are dedicated to the well-being of our customers by providing high quality groceries at the lowest possible prices and offering foods shoppers can feel good about serving their families. Our decision to remove these ingredients from all of our exclusive brand foods delivers on our ongoing commitment to meet the evolving preferences of our customers. Since more than 90 percent of the products we sell are under our exclusive brands, eliminating these ingredients will have a real impact on the over 30 million people who shop in our stores.”

Phil Lempert, editor of SupermarketGuru.com wrote that this is a sign of a changing industry.

“Today’s shoppers are more involved with food than ever before. They want to know everything about their food and the companies that supply them – especially as it relates to ingredients and the impact on their families. ALDI is leading the supermarket industry in rightly responding to the science that shows the implications of these ingredients, and meeting the needs of the increasingly savvy consumers who don’t want artificial or potentially harmful ingredients in the products they buy,” Lempert said.


Aldi is best known for its low prices, in a recent price survey, it was shown that Aldi’s prices are 30% lower than Wal-Mart. Aldi is able to keep such low prices by ordering food through specific sellers, instead of buying a wide variety of brands. They also cut costs by limiting store displays and advertising.

They have announced that their new policy regarding pesticides and GMO foods will be effective as soon as possible.

Aldi currently only has select stores open in the US, but roughly 500 more stores will be built in the US over the next two years as part of a $3 billion expansion.


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