Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Spring and Socialism?

Please note* The following is the opinion of the writer, Chelsea, and does not necessarily represent the business Manoff Market Gardens.  

Easter (the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ),

Passover (the remembrance for the Jewish people of their liberation from slavery and exodus from Egypt),

Isra and Mi-raj (April 13th this year; the ascension of the prophet Muhammad when heaven and hell were revealed to him with other revelations),

With these holy days coming I am reminded of how often our religions align with the seasons and the corresponding symbolism. Symbolism is a reflection of reality that shows human desire for nourishment of the soul. For some, winter is a time of contemplation and hibernation until the busier season of spring, with the rebirth and relief with which we start a season of planting and harvesting. The fact that one season flows so seamlessly into another is a cooperative act between us and nature; one for which I am thankful for when we have food for every season.

I am always struck by those who go without food, who haven't had the same privilege to not know hunger. Tomorrow we will be donating bushels of apples to the local food pantry, Braeburn, of which we have an excess of and are still crispy and sweet. Here in Bucks County we think we are isolated from the crippling poverty that is endemic to the United States, because of the stories that are spun of our successes and the very real successes that we can see in pockets of wealth here. We are not as isolated as we think; when we think about who works in our local restaurants serving and doing dishes, who pumps our gas (in Jersey), who works construction through the winter, who does every other job that greases the wheels of our leisure and daily necessities. Even with esteemed professions like teaching, some can barely make ends meet, and yet we blame the people who "chose" these jobs, that well, it was their choice to be poor. Then there are those who are elderly, who are on welfare or disability, who are homeless due to any number of factors:

Factors such as, lack of funding for social services for drug rehabilitation, veteran rehabilitation and support, and general disinterest in empowering communities that have been subject to systemic neglect and poverty because of economic failure, racism, unequal education, inaccessibility to fresh food or food at all, etc. Social services lack funding however, on a legislative level, policies could be changed which no longer serve or protect people, but rather create a cycle of criminal behavior and poverty. For example, for a person who gets prison time for a misdemeanor which goes on one's record, he or she consequently can't get a job which creates a cycle almost impossible to self-alleviate.  All of these contributing factors and more are part of a bigger issue that we have been unwilling to address in this country. We think that any degree of socialism will cripple our economy, our society, but if we look at the trajectory that our country has taken, maybe we should look at socialism as a negotiable space within our government language. We don't have a problem using socialist language in our every day interactions with people, in fact, socialist language can be seen in all religions, "help your brother as you would yourself" and in this case, your symbolic brother, all men, women etc.  

As our society here in the U.S. becomes more and more secular, where is the safety net for those who have none? It's easy to be critical of privilege, my point is not to judge those who have or have not; my point is that on a small scale we can do things like donate food, volunteer our time; but as a people of the United States it would behoove a smarter way of being in the world to start thinking about how we can correct these issues and prevent them for future generations. How we act with our privilege and the laws and money behind policies can affect real change for the have-nots, and have-some's. I am optimistic, for spring, but also, that the heightened awareness of issues that face current and coming generations due to the transparency of knowledge because of the speed, accessibility, and exponential growth of the internet, will create a catalyst for change. Whether this change will create better equality, greater opportunity, more resiliency and less hunger, a rebirth, if you will, we will have to seek and see.

Book List:
On black communities in the U.S. and endemic poverty and empowerment: James Baldwin The Fire Next Time (Written in 1963 and tellingly still applicable today). Sister Souljah The Coldest Winter Ever (1999, fictional perspective but written from experience, really examines empowerment and what that means with limited opportunities). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2012) by Michelle Alexander.
Information technologies: The Medium is the Message (1967) by Marshall McLuhan. Anything by Lawrence Lessig, Code: And other laws of cyberspace (2005), Free Culture (2006). The Master Switch (2010) by Tim Wu.  

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pruning 101

         The pruning class for apple and peach trees had a great turnout. A few farmers and customers cracked some jokes about us using the class as a way to get our pruning done...but as simple as the concept is, I'm sure the people who showed up for the event soon realized, it takes practice and know-how to prune accurately. To help Gary a few veteran pruners come out, Brett, Buffy, and Maher, so the group of 20 or so students that day split up into manageable groups to get the basics, but also hands-on experience necessary to understand what each tree needs, based on age, variety, and type of fruit tree. The day was bitter, right before that 6 inch random snow we had last week, so around 11, the troupe came in for a coffee break by the fire, then continued until after lunch.

For those of you who missed it, the basics:

Have sharp equipment, depending on how tall your tree is, may need a pole saw to reach those top cuts. Large shears.
-First step, renewing cut. This is where you take out the overly large branches that are at the top or near the top of the tree, while leaving a leader branch at the utmost top. The purpose of this step is to keep the tree clear of old thick wood that isn't fruitful. Peach trees should look like a bowl to allow sunlight to filter into the middle of the tree. Apple trees should look like a triangle with larger supporting branches on bottom and thinner fruitful branches leading upward. 
-Second step, clearing out the muck, remember, two-year old wood fruits so don't prune too many branches that have buds, and leave some for fruiting next year. The purpose of this step is to make room for you to access and pick the fruit, but mostly, so that sunlight can reach all the fruit on the tree after bloom. This will give you riper fruit with a better blush (color).  












Search for it on Amazon for used copies or

By Michael Phillips

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Seeds of knowledge?

                There are reasons why we use metaphors like, "sowing the seeds of knowledge," our history is intimately linked to the food we produce. Agriculture was the fuel for the rise of civilizations, a scientific and scholarly hypothesis popularized by Jared Diamond in Collapse (2011), where cultivation of grain crops enabled our nomadic ancestors to settle, grow a surplus of food, which led to an increase in population, division of labor, and leisure time for specialized crafts, arts and culture to flourish. Notably, most civilizations followed an exploitative path for both their environment and their workers creating hierarchy rather than equitable distribution of benefits, hence the title of Diamonds' book Collapse. However, in the BBC documentary Lost Kingdoms of South America (2016) it highlights civilizations that pre-date the Aztecs.[1] From the archaeological records as well as current indigenous people that carried on core beliefs and traditions from these early time periods, we can see how their cultures followed a more equitable path and engineered an agriculture that altered the environment without destroying their natural resources. Early trading between cultures was based on natural capital, strengthening cooperation between tribes and different cultures.
                In this new age where globalization favors big companies and offshore accounts, many have taken to their communities, with the message, Buy Local, Support Local. This has been proven to be true; the circulation of one dollar spent in a community will circulate many times rather than funneling into a company with deep pockets and charitable smile.[2] To be sure, globalization is just a bigger word for international trading, but too often it is linked to western ideological expansion and capitalization of developing governments and economies through corporate exploitation and financial aid incentives. I am not saying, that we should stop drinking coffee, 'cause it is grown on the backs of indentured laborers and destroys the rainforest', but maybe if I know how coffee grows,[3] if I know there are bad practices out there, then I will choose to buy from a local supplier who sources their cocoa from smaller certified growers in the supply chain (Homestead Coffee Roasters, Upper Black Eddy, sold at Manoff's; Folk City Roasters, Point Pleasant; Pierre's Chocolate, New Hope, select items sold at Manoff's). There is more knowledge and power contained in a seed than there is in an army.