Thursday, April 17, 2014

Open Source Seeds

Finally, finally, finally.....Open Source Seeds! While, of course, seeds have for millennia been "open source," with the rise of the seed industry at the start of this century plant biotechnology has become increasingly proprietary. This very well may be the way forward against the intellectual property masters of the farms and fields of the world.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Political Economy of Chicken

Here's a recent piece on Tyson and the political economy of poultry. While the biological events described are truly disturbing, this was my favorite part:

"During the 1960s, Tyson Food realized that chicken farming was a losing game. When Tyson executives examined operations at the company, they saw that farming was the least profitable, and most risky, side of the business. When they looked to invest in the future, they decided not to invest in farms."

Alas, is there no middle ground between socialism and serfdom?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Ecotone Sheep: Dorpers

On Wednesday, Jasper and I went up to Ben Binkley's house to pick up four young Dorper ewes, born this January. We're going to keep them in the barn at night until they're used to us so as not to be as skittish as our last flock. Here are a few photos Jessica took last night; while I'll try to get more detailed shots soon, you can also see the newly installed garden fence -- after five years of planning!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jasper's Orchard 2

Every year since its initial planting to commemorate Jasper's birth, I've added to the orchard. This year was the largest addition since 2011. Here's what was added, as well as those earlier unreported:

Flying Dragon Citrus (x4) - 2013
Sweet Lifeberry Gogi (x1)
Big Lifeberry Gogi (x1)
Rosehips (x1) - 2013
Cornelian Cherry (x2)
Bush Cherry (x2)
Goumi (x3)
Pucimol Medlar (x1)
Supermol Medlar (x1)
Regent Juneberry (x2) - 2013
Celeste Fig (x1)
Chicago Hardy Fig (x1)
Taytwo  Pawpaw (x1) - 2013
Pennsylvania Golden PawPaw (x1)
Starking Delicious Plum (x1)
Wilson Delicious Apricot (x1)
Redhaven Peach (x1)
Hardy Giant Pecan (x1)
Stark Surecrop Pecan (x1)
Hardy Illinois Pecan (x3) - 2013
Fingerlakes Filbert Hazelnut (x1)
Chinese Chestnut (x2)
Carpathian English Walnut (x2)
Hall's Hardy Almond (x2) - 2013
Arapaho Thornless Blackberry (x6)
Natchez Thornless Blackberry (x6)
Bristol Black Raspberry (x6)
Allen Black Raspberry (x6)
Latham Red Raspberry (x6)
Heritage Red Raspberry (x6)
Pink Champagne Currant (x1)
Red Lake Currant (x1)
Black Consort Currant (x1)
Anna Hardy Kiwi (x2)
Issai Hardy Kiwi (x1)
Hardy Kiwi Pollinator (x1)
Native Persimmon - Male (x1)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

From Liberal Arts to Liberal Artisans 1

In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, Scott Samuelson - a philosopher at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa - captures perfectly the aim of a liberal arts education: the enrichment of experience:

"Thinking of the value of the humanities predominately in terms of earnings and employment is to miss the point. America should strive to be a society of free people deeply engaged in "the pursuit of happiness," not simply one of decently compensated and well-behaved employees.

A true liberal-arts education furnishes the mind with great art and ideas, empowers us to think for ourselves and appreciate the world in all its complexity and grandeur. Is there anyone who doesn't feel a pang of desire for a meaning that goes beyond work and politics, for a meaning that confronts the mysteries of life, love, suffering and death?

I once had a student, a factory worker, who read all of Schopenhauer just to find a few lines that I quoted in class. An ex-con wrote a searing essay for me about the injustice of mandatory minimum sentencing, arguing that it fails miserably to live up to either the retributive or utilitarian standards that he had studied in Introduction to Ethics. I watched a preschool music teacher light up at Plato's "Republic," a recovering alcoholic become obsessed by Stoicism, and a wayward vet fall in love with logic (he's now finishing law school at Berkeley). A Sudanese refugee asked me, trembling, if we could study arguments concerning religious freedom. Never more has John Locke—or, for that matter, the liberal arts—seemed so vital to me.

I'm glad that students who major in disciplines like philosophy may eventually make as much as or more than a business major. But that's far from the main reason I think we should invest in the humanities."

I'm going to continue posting passages and photos that attempt to capture these and similar sentiments.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Food, Farming and Education

If you know me or have eaten food from Ecotone, you probably have noticed how I avoid the terms producerconsumer, and customer. I find the abstract, commercial nature of such words inadequate to the relationship between farmers, eaters and food. I feel similarly about education, philosophy and the liberal arts, which is said well here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Plato and Progress

As someone who came across philosophy first through Plato, I found this piece nice.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Remembering and Forgetting 1


“As a society, we live with the unbearable by pressuring those who have been traumatized to forget and by rejecting the testimonies of those who are forced by fate to remember. As individuals and as cultures, we impose arbitrary term limits on memory and on recovery from trauma: a century, say, for slavery, fifty years, perhaps, for the Holocaust, a decade or two for Vietnam, several months for mass rape or serial murder…

In The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera writes that ‘The struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.’ Whether the power is a fascist state or an internalized trauma, surviving the present requires the courage to confront the past, reexamine it, retell it, and thereby remaster its traumatic aspects… to the extent that bearing witness reestablishes the survivor’s identity, the empathetic other is essential to the continuation of a self.” 

Susan J. Brison
Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self, pp. 57-9