Wicked Cool World of Organics - Edition 65

This week's dose of organic headlines, updates, resources, goodies, and recipes courtesy of dsnodgrass...

Via Sam Fromartz, with something you should know about.

The judge in that case has issued his decision, and it's a mixed bag. In essence, the judge appears to be aiming for a compromise position which looks to give farmers who are growing genetically modified sugar beets the time frame of a growing season to convert to non-gm crops.
Six years ago, the Virginia Avenue Community Garden, just a mile or so away from the US Capitol, was a deserted lot, with a broken playground, a ramshackle building, thriving drug activity, and not much else. But it was decent land, with full sun and lot of potential. So a few hardy gardeners on Capitol Hill took on the task of creating a community garden, working with the parks department, getting initial grants, trucking in compost and soil and slowly turning the park into an urban oasis that now is home to 60 gardening families, a fruit orchard, a fig tree and blackberry brambles -- all of it organic.

I'm one of those gardeners who joined in year two. The soil was hard, and about six inches down was hardpan clay that you couldn't break with a pick axe, let alone a shovel. So for years, I've added compost, even hauling composted manure from an organic farm in Maryland. It's been successful, I've learned a lot and I've also grown a lot of food -- in fact, around half of our produce from around May through October comes from this garden. 

Now all that work is under threat. Under master plans being pursued by the U.S. Marines, the park and garden are being viewed as a perfect location for new barracks. The Marines currently have barracks and parade grounds nearby, a historic location that dates back to 1801. But the main living facilities are inadequate because of their tight quarters and close proximity to the highway. So they need to move. 


The Marines have been a great neighbor. They open up the parade grounds to the public on summer nights to hear military marching bands, the young men and women jog (okay, run) around the neighborhood (at times, in formation, with flags), they helped tend the park at one time, and to their credit the brass has at least been listening to the community about their plans.

If you're on Facebook, here's where you can be involved - Save Virginia Avenue Park.


This is a good read, Eastern and Western culture come face-to-face at an organic farm in Laos.

Beccy and I didn't feel like ingesting opium tea or marijuana pancakes, featured menu items in Vang Vieng, a backpackers' mecca in northern Laos. We had just arrived on a bus from Vientiane, the lovely Laotian capital, and we already wanted out.

"Can you take us to Vangvieng Organic Farm?" I asked an idling tuk-tuk driver.

He didn't need directions. Since 1996, Vangvieng Organic Farm has promoted sustainable food systems near a riverside town notorious for drugs, booze and inebriated inner-tubing. About two miles upstream on the Nam Song ("Song River") from Vang Vieng, the farm produces goat cheese, tea and mulberry wine for restaurants in Vientiane and the UNESCO World Heritage site Luang Prabang. Farm staffers serve meals and teach organic techniques to Laotian farmers and curious travelers. We had come to volunteer for a while.

The tuk-tuk (a motorized rickshaw) sped north on a bumpy road, the main highway in this poor, landlocked country. Ten minutes later, our driver turned left onto a dirt road and stopped near an outdoor pavilion with bamboo railings.

We shouldered our packs and looked around. Tourists were slurping mulberry milkshakes at picnic tables. Behind them a December breeze blew through a field of baby mulberry trees. A half-moon illuminated the Nam Song and adjacent limestone cliffs.

A boon to the ban-the-bottle brigade in Washington, D.C. 

MOM's Organic Market is getting in on D.C.’s anti-plastic push with a decision to eliminate the sale of water bottles from its six regional markets.

As part of its “Battle the Bottle” campaign, the grocer plans to add water filtration machines in stores, allowing customers to fill their own bottles with up to a gallon at no cost. The new system should be in place within the next few weeks, Scott Nash, the founder and CEO of MOM's, said.


Pollution and fears over potentially harmful chemicals in plastic bottles have helped drive anti-plastic sentiment in recent years.

In January, D.C. added a 5-cent tax on plastic bags that has forced a dramatic drop in their use.


Residents of the state of New York who prefer organic lawn care companies may soon have some assurance.

The state is creating its own seal to help consumers sort out organic lawn care companies from those that use potentially dangerous chemicals to keep out weeds and pests.

And the state label could help stimulate creation of such businesses in the Capital Region, which currently has no solely organic lawn care firm.

"It's an incredible opportunity for someone here," said Carrie Mendez, a Ballston Spa expert on organic flower and garden care who gives more than 100 consultations a year around the area.

Under the "Be Green Organic Yards" program announced this week, the Department of Environmental Conservation will promote training and licensing to lawn care companies that use organic methods.

The Capital Region lost its only such business, Green Conscience of Saratoga Springs, after the company switched from green lawn care last year to sell organic building materials and home and garden supplies.

Related Reading:

What is the Future of UK Development Policy?
Producer/Director Gene Rosow Talks "Dirt"

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  • Posted on June 11, 2010. Listed in:

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