Thursday, June 27, 2013


                Ah Flava! What else is there to live for if it is not Flava!
                Perhaps I should pause here. It just occurred to me that my use of “Flava” might be misconstrued, as maybe a misspelling of “Fava”, as in the bean, or even “Lava”, as in the molten variety, but that makes no sense at all. Anyway, before I get too far lost in this entry… “Flava” is a colloquial derivation of “flavor”. Egads but I have started this entry out on an awkward note…
                Flavor! What else is there to live for if not…
                Yeah, yeah, yeah, we have already been annoyed by that!
                Okay, let me jump into this a little more quickly. So, here it is, the farming season of 2013. The year has been untypically cool to start, which has many crops weeks behind schedule. The farmer’s markets are weeks underway, and as some of the field crops are starting to come in, some early crops, in particular strawberries, have led to some comments… which has led to this entry, “Flava”, which should probably have been entitled, “Flavor”.
                Only a few customers got to experience the asparagus that we grow at the farm. It is an uncommon variety, known as Connover’s Colossal asparagus. There are too many asparagus growing issues to properly describe here, but nonetheless, those that were able to “enjoy” the asparagus did so to an extreme level, at least that was what was referred to me. The statement recurred…”I have never had such great asparagus!”
                Before the reader jumps to the conclusion that I am bragging about this, I will quell those thoughts. You see, there is little reason for me to brag about something that nature brings about with little assistance from me. I do admit that there is a LOT of labor involved in growing organically, and the choice of variety that is grown is also important, but all in all it is the vegetable’s interaction with nature that does the talking… with little help from me.
                Once the farmer’s markets started, there was little to offer at my stand by ways of produce, other than early greens… and strawberries! I have already posted an entry about those strawberries. Amazing! But that is my opinion. And my opinion does not count. Even though…  I will move on.
                At our farmer’s market there are a handful of us vendors that offer strawberries. Personally, I feel no competition in the matter, not that I feel any competition at any time. The thing is, whether my produce is organically raised and another farm’s is not, if that is an issue, that is up to the customer to decide. My decision to be one hundred percent organic is one I have decided to live with for over a decade now. And I stand by my practices concretely for many, many reasons, but this has been a digression…
                So the strawberries were for sale at the market by numerous vendors. Many customers were excited by those strawberries, and who wouldn’t be? However, some of those customers proved to be “shopping sleuths”, if you will. They went to each strawberry vendor and tasted the berries. I have the memory of one lady in particular who had traveled to each booth with strawberries doing a “taste test” particularly in mind. She returned to my booth to purchase quite a few strawberries, because mine were the best tasting by far at the market…
                Hold the phone! (Wow, but how antiquated that statement has become… now that almost everyone has a personal cell phone… but I have digressed again…) Why were our strawberries so much better tasting than the other vendors’? Again, I reassert, I would not be writing this if the number of similar comments were not given to us by other customers. Our strawberries were apparently without equal in the arena of taste.
                I will mention Lori here. Lori has just moved into the area from western New York state, where the climate is much different… usually. Anyway, she is helping me at the farm and is quite used to farmer’s markets in general. She witnessed the comments about the strawberries and we discussed why that could be at the market.
                From my perspective, strawberries are quite different than, say, tomatoes. While there are thousands of tomato varieties, strawberries tend to have much fewer, and on top of that, those of us that grow strawberries in a certain region, tend to grow the same strain… purchased from the same nursery. I mention this because for the most part, we grow the same plants… only using differing farming techniques. So, why did our strawberries taste the best?
                There were a few reasons that came to mind, such as, perhaps we harvested them when they were more ripe, thus sweeter to the taste. Perhaps we DO grow different varieties, but I find that one hard to believe. It is true that no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides are used on our strawberries, and I strongly doubt that the use of such chemicals adds anything to the taste of the fruit. Beyond that, the soil in which the strawberries grow on the farm has been nourished organically for well over a decade now, and that is where my thought lingers the longest.
                As has been my experience, the tastiest fruit/vegetables result from the healthiest soil. This year in particular has up to this date related that to be true. When fruits and vegetables thrive in a soil, with the proper moisture, sun, temperature, etc., their flavor reflects the health of the plant. It is how nature works. If a plant is malnourished, or lacking certain aspects that make it thrive, the produce will lack traits, especially flavor. I realize that in our current age of chemicals and such, what I just wrote is considered absolute hearsay, but historically, that is, before the age of chemicals, that was typically considered the truth. Now, with such age old wisdom deemed veritably heretical, all one can seemingly arm oneself with… is the tastiest produce!
                Lori and her family are big fans of sugar snap peas. While the season warmed up so gradually, the multitude of sugar snap peas growing in the fields have ripened very slowly. (They are in full swing now, by the way.) Since our farm stand had very few sugar snap peas to offer, she purchased some from another vendor at the market… and was considerably disappointed. Not only did the peas lack the flavor she had become accustomed to from the sugar snap peas from our farm, but the flavor of the peas purchased was actually disagreeable to her palate. How is it possible to grow sugar snap peas that do not taste good?
                Beyond the customer assertion that our strawberries tasted the best, now, the sugar snap peas… actually taste delicious! I must admit that this is a first to me… but it fits into my theory on why growing organically is important quite nicely. But once again, we analyzed the situation to attempt to figure out why the flava, I mean flavor, would be so much more pleasing in our peas.
                Perhaps the variety is the issue. This could be the case. To explain, seed companies do what they have done for a hundred years or so, and that is to figure out how to develop a plant that produces fruit that “looks” like what the consumer wants, only the flavor is deemed unimportant in deference to production. If the plant produces twice as much, who cares about the flavor?
                That said, my suspicions lie in the healthy organic soil in which we grow our produce. To explain this a little, most farms use synthetic fertilizers to feed their crops. It is quick and easy, and seemingly instantaneous. Our organic approach would never imagine using anything synthetic on any crop grown whether as fertilizer or pesticide, etc. As a certified organic grower, stewardship of the earth is a main priority. The point is that we treat the soil in such a manner that it improves every year, even with the crops produced. The health of the soil is what is important, and every year, the produce grows healthier and more abundantly. (This is another aspect of organic farming that is considered hearsay by the chemical people.)
                So as for the flava, that is, flavor of the crops, I wish I could state that I have some secret formula for farming success in regards to the flavor of the produce. I do not. There is no secret at all, so long as one looks beyond the confines of chemical farming. And I will pause here, because I have a legion of home gardeners who can relate the same advice at this point. For years I have provided the advice that helped them grow organic gardens and their experiences reflect my own, albeit on a much smaller scale. And each year, as their soil improves, so does their harvest.
                In summation, it really strikes me as odd at the moment of what I have just written. I feel as though I have been defending nature and its practices against the chemical approach. Indeed I have. But such is the state of agriculture in our current day. Whereas our species has thrived on an organic diet for countless years and generations, over the past one hundred or so years, chemical companies have persuaded the vast majority of farmers to go against the age old tradition in lieu of a humanly manufactured one. And it has failed. Unfortunately, this is not all that obvious to most. To those of us daily in the organic soil of an organic farm, we can see it quite clearly. And while there are a myriad of reasons why organic farming is the necessary form of agriculture for our species, ultimately, it is all about the flava!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Post Industrial Agriculture... Joel Salatin

                When I first ventured into organic farming, “farming” would not have been the correct label for my activity. At that time, I had intended to open a restaurant. In the time it takes to find investors and such, I decided to investigate… in the ground… exactly what growing organic produce would take. I really had no idea whatsoever. The example on how to grow vegetables was watching my parent’s garden activity when I was a child.
                That was over two decades before at the time. My father spread out the proper NPK formula for garden growth… (for those unfamiliar with NPK, that is the synthetic formula for fertilizer, something I would never, I reiterate NEVER use today)… and then the garden was tilled and seeded with all of the bland vegetables sworn by in the Burpee catalog… Oh! And before I leave that very aged memory… the scent of Sevin, that carcinogenic powder that was dusted on almost all of the crops that accosted my sense of smell like… something COMPLETELY non-natural…
                I mention all of that as an introduction on my own knowledge of farming. Farming itself was quite close in the vicinity. Just behind the border of our property, luckily protected by multi-flora rose bushes, otherwise known in our local vernacular as “sticker bushes”… (perhaps I’ll get back to THAT ill-judged situation in the future…) was corn. Corn always grew behind our property, but not all of the neighboring parcel was dedicated to corn. There were also fields of grass, which would eventually be turned into hay. I have to relay, that these are the memories of my early youth that I divulge. It never struck me as odd that the corn that surrounded my parent’s property was inedible. I was informed that it was feed corn, which meant the cows ate it. There were some cows here and there on the various farms, so the statement seemed plausible. But corn was everywhere. And I was not a farmer… at that point. Those cows must sure be hungry…
                The issue for this entry, however, is grass. Why grass? Well, it was while reading Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma that grass was presented in a very different light than any of my previous thoughts on the subject had ever considered. (By the way, if you have not read this amazing book, do yourself a favor and do so… as soon as possible. Most of our current farming issues are explained quite thoroughly… and it is extremely well written.)
                In part “II” of the book, “Grass” is the focus. It is in this section that Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm is introduced. Joel Salatin is a grass farmer who uses the grass he nourishes to feed his livestock, most specifically his cattle. This may not seem all that impressive at first sight, but it truly is. I will restate, Joel Salatin is a grass farmer…
                I will get back to the grass farmer bit, but in order to relay the point of this entry, that of “Post Industrial Agriculture”, the other side, the nefarious side, that of Industrial Agriculture will be addressed. There is an incredible amount of complexity involved in the situation, but I will attempt to sum it up as briefly as possible… historically.
                Before Industrial Agriculture, family farms ruled the agriculture front. For this entry, livestock rearing will be the focus. Farms averaged in size, depending on the region, for our point the Mid-Atlantic, Mid-Maryland region, from fifty to one hundred and fifty acres. A portion of the farm was used as pasture for cattle, (and for ease of description, I will keep to the cattle focus), a portion was used to grow the hay to feed those cattle through the winter, and most often a portion was used for grains and such for other uses, flour, etc. As technology evolved, more and more of the labor which was for many years provided for by horses or oxen began to be replaced by machinery. Humans invented machines to make the labor part of the issue easier. For example, why have a barn to hold horses, along with growing the food they need to eat, when a gasoline powered tractor could do the work at lightning speed, so to speak?
                The times were changing, and they changed quite quickly. As machinery took over the landscape of farming, it changed the practices of farming. The focus grew dimmer and dimmer on the health of the situation, and more and more on the ease and profitability of the farm. After all, why does anyone farm except to make a healthy profit?... Anyone?...Anyone? Ah, alas, farmers, that is, the original stewards of the earth began to fade from the horizon. Instead of the healthy giving back to the environment which was required to sustain a farm before the advent of human industrial technology, the age had steamrolled into the new realm of chemistry. Now, synthetic fertilizers were created, which were so much easier to apply to the fields than the manure farmers had spread in the past. That is but one example, and somewhere along the line a new development appeared…
                “Let’s finish the cattle on corn!” What a brilliant idea! Instead of allowing the cattle to grow accordingly with the natural diet of grass, corn was inserted into the equation. And it gets very nasty from there. I realize I may have lost some readers here, but this is the advent of Industrial Agriculture. To explain, the cow’s stomach has evolved in such a manner that it can digest grasses in a manner our human stomachs cannot. Humans can digest grains in a way that a cow’s stomach cannot. These are natural guidelines arranged by nature in a complex manner that for anyone bearing the ability to reason beyond the simplistic level of money making would comprehend quite easily. Such reason was not involved in Industrial Agriculture.
                Over the decades, through government intervention and subsidies, corn was decided to be the “manna” for all life on the planet. I may be exaggerating here, but for humans and cattle that is certainly the case. Through the government subsidies, corn was cheap, damned cheap! Let’s put corn in everything! Let’s force feed cattle on corn! It will fatten them up! Brilliant! Thus was the simplistic thought on the situation. This led to the CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operation) as described in Michael Pollan’s previously mentioned book in quite alarming detail! Essentially, cattle are born and raised on the grass pasture for which they are naturally adapted, then they are shipped to CAFOs where they are fed a diet of mostly grain, corn, which fattens them up before being sent to slaughter.
                The point is that with the industrial agriculture approach, health has been eradicated from the process. Cattle cannot live on grain. In fact, the cattle that are fattened up in the CAFOs are actually dying from the diet they consume. They are slaughtered at their peak, just before their bodies give out from malnutrition. And there is so much more involved with this than what I describe here. All of the e-coli nonsense, mad cow disease, that is simply not natural, and all result from Industrial Agriculture in the attempt to maximize profits.
                The other side of the situation is… HEALTH. Now I will go back to Joel Salatin and the other grass farmers mentioned in Michael Pollan’s book. Whereas Industrial Agriculture seeks profitability at the expense of anything natural, the next level of farming seeks health first.
                Before I proceed, profitability is very important for many of the farmer’s in the Post Industrial Agriculture mindset, only they have a different means to their end. My personal exhaustion over the never ending quest for money should be ignored at this point, because Post Industrial Agriculture is also based in the reality of capitalistic society.
                That said, I always envisioned a “return” to the way things used to be when it came to agriculture. Before our chemical infatuation, life was life, let’s return to that. Through investigation, learning in general, I have personally discovered that I was woefully naïve. What I have learned is that science CAN lead us to improving our situations in the agricultural realm, only it is not the science of chemicals! That science is naïve and simplistic. What we need is a much more complex understanding… and a much more complex approach to the reality that is agriculture.
                It was Omnivore’s Dilemma that first presented me with the notion of Post Industrial Agriculture. After describing how he orchestrates his pasture rotation for his cattle, Pollan asked, “So is this sort of low-tech pastoralism simply a throwback to preindustrial agriculture? Salatin adamantly begged to differ: ‘It might not look that way, but this is all information-age stuff we’re doing here. Polyface Farm is a postindustrial enterprise. You’ll see.’” (p.191 Omnivore’s Dilemma)
                And just what were these “new” farming practices? Salatin uses a pasture rotation where cattle stay on a pasture for one day, then are moved to a new pasture the next day, etc. Instead of having cattle stay in the same pasture day after day, moving the cattle to different pastures allows for the previous pasture to “heal”, to grow back naturally, that is. This style of pasture rotation mimics the natural style of the herd, which travels from place to place, and does not stay in one spot endlessly. The manure fertilizes the freshly eaten grass, which grows back… better than before! Joel Salatin has been able to show that by this type of pasture rotation, the pasture improves, and he can add more and more cattle to graze the same land.
                This is very different than industrial agriculture, which attempts to find a simple formula to take care of all the issues of farming. Such an approach is extremely simplistic and naïve… and INFERIOR! Pasture rotation is by no means the only “different” approach Salatin takes for his farming venture. His approach is to learn how nature acts, allow nature to act accordingly, but to steer it in such a manner to improve the farm. The point is that through industrial agriculture, humans have attempted to dictate to nature how it should act, which does not work… especially in the long run. The post industrial approach uses nature’s complexity to improve upon itself.
                We will learn more and more about the negative effects of industrial agriculture as time progresses. In the meantime, those of us on the ground, on the organic farm land, us stewards of the earth will continue to marvel at the wondrous ways of nature… and to steer her accordingly. There are more examples to come on post industrial agriculture. This entry reflects only a portion of the animal husbandry side. Once again, if you have not already, read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and you will learn quite a bit more about Joel Salatin and what he is up to at Polyface Farm, along with many other fascinating farming facts.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


                With every new farming year there is a “new” weather event that adds to the challenges of producing the healthy organic produce that tastes… sooo good. Actually, in some years there are many “new” weather events with which to deal. Nonetheless, over the last decade, every farming season has seemed to be more like one spent in a gambling casino then under the somewhat predictable skies of nature.
                That said, 2013 arrived in a typically most peculiar manner. The main weather oddity that arrived at the very beginning of 2013 was wind. There are times every year when high winds present difficulties for us farmers, but for the beginning of 2013, the wind was relentless. It seemed as though every time some outside activity was planned, twenty mile an hour plus wind accosted the farm. In case one is not aware of twenty mile per hour wind, it is somewhat akin to attempting to build a house of cards in front of a high speed fan. I am not sure if that is an accurate assessment, but it surely felt like that. The reality for the farmer is that many aspects of farming activity relies on somewhat placid air movement, and that was simply not the case this past winter.
                And the wind did not stop. Through March and into April the wind still blew at an excessive level, quite unprecedented for our area. I remember thinking… and I still think that I hope this is not a new development we should expect every year from now on. That is a very bad thought for me. But, when it comes to the weather… who knows what will happen in the future?
                So the wind blew. It really did not affect the planting and such, other than that it was quite annoying. For example, seeding the carrots was quite an ordeal. To explain, I still have not found a planting device/machine that works accurately, which means that I hand seed the carrot rows. My seeding style is a sort of toss seeding, which is too difficult to explain… but it works. Anyway, when one is accosted by twenty plus mile per hour wind, tossing the extremely light carrot seeds into a straight row is veritably impossible. But that was what was attempted. Now, well over a month after those seedings, the rows look like… well, they do not look like rows. Carrots are seemingly strewn about as random as… I don’t know… rain drops? There are some carrots here… and some over there… and it makes cultivation quite a task indeed.
                Up until this point, this entry has focused on the high speed winds early in the season. The real issue of this entry is that of the high wind at the second Downtown Westminster Saturday Farmer’s Market on May 25, 2013. As flippant as I usually attempt to be in these Tales of Idyllia, that day has raised my concern over the changing climate to an extreme degree, but I shall explain.
                On Friday, harvest day, May 24, the wind was relentless. The temperature high was in the mid 60s which is quite cold for the season, and the low, likewise quite cold was in the 40s. But there was a difference. I have suspicions and speculations about what occurred, but I am by no means certain about why those winds had such a detrimental effect on the farm. Essentially, “wind” became an enemy to organic vegetable production on a level never before encountered. How to explain this?
                While we harvested salad greens and such, the wind seemingly pummeled us, I mean PUMMELED us, much like it has this entire year so far. As a farmer, you must deal with the elements. That is simply how it works. However, the striking contrast through that late May wind, was how it affected the transplants on the tables by the greenhouses. Again, how does one explain that which has never been experienced before? The melon plants along with many other plants… and I actually have pictures of the okra… were significantly damaged by that wind.

(The leaf in the center had been “burned”, at least that is how it appears…)

(Here the damage is much more evident with the dying outer leaves…)
                I will pause here to state that for someone who nurtures healthy organic plants, and has done so for well over a decade… such damage should not happen to such similar plants due to a wind storm. The damage to the leaves was quite apparent. Whatever was involved in the process of those high winds, it was causing those plants to wither! Wind…death… what the… is going on?!?
                I dwelled on this issue for quite a while. Why would high winds cause plants to wilt? There are many possibilities, and to go through those here would be exhaustive, and not at all conducive to the point of this entry. And what is that point? I wish I had an answer… and so do the other farmers that had stands full of transplants at the Saturday morning farmer’s market on May 25.
                My van pulled up into its spot at the market on time, amazingly, on May 25. A few tents were witnessed in the market, which I thought was quite brazen due to the relentless wind. I quickly went to the Thorne Farm booth, which is next to mine and asked, “Is there really any reason to put up a canopy?” Both Kris and Greg answered in the negative and that was all that was needed to guide my wise decision to not erect the canopy that would surely blow away on such a windy morning.
                Over the four hours of that farmer’s market, the wind blew relentlessly. And as those hours fell by, more and more plants withered and drooped. It was quite shocking to me. Yes, I had witnessed it the day before, but across the parking lot that day, plants that should otherwise be healthy, were significantly damaged by the wind. It affected us all.
                Why was that wind damaging the transplants, specifically the warmer season plants? Again, there are many suspicions and speculations that I have that are not provable by any means at the moment. Rather than stir up any needless hysteria, I will keep them logged silently in my own data bank. Perhaps, at some point, a more scientific assessment can be reached, but until then… personally, I am extremely dismayed.
                Once I returned to the farm that day, I inspected the crops for similar damage as that witnessed on the transplants. Most crops seemed to weather the wind admirably. However, a few did not. The okra and peanuts were significantly damaged, but those plants had just been set out a day or so before. There were also two rows of beans that I had not been able to cover with row cover at that point. (Beans are covered with row cover to prevent Mexican bean beetles from laying eggs on the underside of their leaves.) What I witnessed with those two rows was alarming to say the least…

By comparison, here is a picture of “normal” beans.
The wind caused the leaves of the bean plants to die. ONCE AGAIN, how is it that the wind can cause bean leaves to die? This is a VERY new development, and my cause for concern is that as the climate changes… rapidly… what are we in store for next?
                I do not wish to sound afraid in this entry, for that is far from the case. The point for me is that the climate is changing, and VERY rapidly. There are many things that we can do about it. It would help greatly if the GOVERNMENT, that is ALL bodies of the government, would acknowledge that climate change is real… AND WOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
                From this farmer’s eyes, row covers and other protection can avert some of the ordeals, but it definitely requires a proactive approach to farming… and more expense. That said, plants tend toward survival. When extreme weather afflicts crops, they tend to adapt quite admirably to the situation, so long as the extreme is not such that the plants die. Here is another picture of the wind tortured beans.

                The larger outer leaves have withered and died, and yet the youngest inner leaf shows no damage from the wind. The resiliency of these plants is amazing! Now, weeks after that intense, and extremely odd wind storm, the bean plants have rebounded and appear to be doing quite well. For at least THIS latest weather extreme, these plants have survived…
This leads to the conclusion of this entry, where I would love to leave the reader with some humorous snippet or such. Unfortunately, none jumps to mind at the moment. I am not a person who thrives or hides from fear. It is simply not in my genetic wiring. Nonetheless, I am a person who strongly adheres to science, that seldom believed “reality” that falls second to the non-reality of “belief”… Oops, well, that is as close as I get to humor in this entry.
The simple fact for me as a farmer is that the climate is changing and EXTREMELY rapidly. It is one thing to witness a “super-sized” hurricane descend upon the northeast Atlantic coast of America, and a two mile wide tornado decimate Oklahoma, but it is quite a new chapter that has opened in my scientific view of things, when wind decimates healthy crops in late May in the Mid-Atlantic growing region. NEW climate situations are arising. I wish I could foretell the future… I cannot. But if the immediate, immediate recent history reveals anything… we are in for quite a ride…

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Organic Strawberries

                It is strawberry harvest time at Nev-R-Dun Farm. After years of “fiddling” with this delectable crop, I can safely say that we are actually “harvesting” strawberries, and certified organic at that! What? Certified organic strawberries? Is that possible? …Of course it is, but it is not as easy as one may suspect… or even told it is… but I digress. Nonetheless, here are some pictures of the harvest.

The closest strawberry is obviously not ripe, but the one hiding just behind it is!

This picture a little more accurately reveals how the strawberries ripen. There are hordes of non-ripe berries, with the ripe ones hanging in the midst of them. Strawberry picking, aka the harvest, is a search mission, and it takes quite a bit of time to harvest those delectable berries. It is especially grueling when the ninety degree humid mid-Maryland summer descends upon that harvest! However, as the pictures reveal, the strawberries are not deformed or rotten in any way, and that is actually the reason for strawberries to be the focus of this Tales of Idyllia entry.
                Many, many years ago, I looked into growing strawberries. This was over a decade ago when I had very little farming experience to speak of. One aspect of farming I had heard repeatedly that no one growing organically even tried was fruit. So, due to my indoctrinated stubborn nature, I thought I would investigate why that was so. (A small aside here: organic berry production is quite different than tree fruit, and there are many organic growers who produce berries. I found this out a bit later.)
                Most of my searches those days were via the internet. I am fairly certain Google did not exist back then, so “searching” was more of a crap shoot of sorts. Anyway, I was searching for not only a viable source, but also the “how” involved. Again, I was very naïve at that point in the farming experience arena. Eventually, I was led to some place in Canada. I called up the company, the name of which I am not sure I even learned, and while the call was answered quite quickly, the answer to my search for organic strawberries was also answered quite quickly. “No such thing” was the answer. “Really?” was my flabbergasted reply. And then the knowledgeable person quickly relayed how the lygus lineolaris damaged the strawberries to such an extent that “organic”, that is, not spraying chemical pesticides renders those strawberry crops… I guess… impossible to ripen without serious damage.
                I remember being struck by that name, lygus lineolaris. Whenever something is called by a Latin name, it sounds impressive. For example, Tyrannus tyrannus sounds much more impressive than the common name used for the Eastern king bird… one of my favorite birds, but I digress. Anyway, the gentleman that talked to me over the phone seemed so knowledgeable about strawberries and how to grow them that the calling of what he deemed their main pest by the Latin name, lygus lineolaris, I completely bought his wisdom… almost… Actually, I did not buy it at all, but again, that is me…
                Lygus lineolaris is commonly known as the tarnished plant bug. I am quite familiar with that pest, but I have not been overwhelmed by the damage it can cause. From my experience growing organically, that is, without the use of chemical pesticides, those bugs do damage, but nothing that is extraordinary. The damage they incur to strawberries leads to part of the strawberry not ripening. There will be a portion of the strawberry that is still green and stunted while the rest of the strawberry ripens as usual. This was the pest that the knowledgeable gent from Canada stated was the reason that there was no such thing as “organic” strawberries.
                That was over a decade ago. Again, I did not heed that bit of information, and proceeded to grow strawberries regardless. The point for me was that before chemicals entered the scene, there were indeed strawberries… for hundreds of years… for thousands…  And what I have discovered since then has revealed, at least to me, that the notion of chemicals being “needed” in strawberry production is nonsense.

                One of the aspects of conventional farming, that is chemical farming, that I do not accept, in fact, I find ridiculous, is that by applying chemical pesticides/herbicides/fungicides, etc. a better crop results. This is not exclusive to strawberries by any means, but since that is the topic at hand I will continue with it. I guess, in theory, the use of chemicals can greatly increase the yield of a strawberry harvest. Again, this is nonsense. In my own organically grown strawberries there has been only a minimal amount of damage, most of which has been caused by small furry creatures rather than the lygus lineolaris, or for that matter, the other myriad of pests that can affect the ripening of a strawberry. There is an element of fear that is involved in strawberry growing that the conventional (chemical) approach feeds upon that is not scientific in the least. “If you do not spray, you will get no strawberries.” That is simply not the case… and yet they spray and spray the chemicals on this poor, and absolutely delicious fruit ad nauseum!
                In order to continue on the informational side of this entry, the strawberries in question here are June-bearing strawberries. In order to keep this entry from being too long, I will simply state that most of these strawberries that are eventually found in supermarkets are harvested before they are ripe and shipped vast distances while using certain gases to artificially make those strawberries appear “ripe”. The result is that there is no flavor, aka. Health benefit. The reason for that approach is strictly monetary. It appears that it is better for the consumer to be swindled into thinking an unripe strawberry is as good if not better than an actual ripe strawberry.
                There is a list that is put out every year called the “dirty dozen”, which lists the 12 vegetable/fruit crops that have the most chemical residue on them. Most of those crops are fruit, and strawberries always rank rather highly on that list. This year they are listed at number 6. Keep in mind, that that list is on the “higher” level of chemicals found in the plant’s tissues. As an organic farmer, I can safely state that my strawberries have no chemicals whatsoever in those tissues. And my strawberries are harvested ripe and ready to eat!
                What has truly happened through the conventional/chemical approach to strawberry production is an absolute swindle. They have managed to turn one of the most delicious fruits into a chemically laced, tasteless product that is proudly displayed as though it were the best thing ever! And they do this with all kinds of vegetables and fruits. But as I have said before, the flavor will tell you if you are eating something good for you. If it does not taste like anything, chances are it is not doing anything for you, health-wise that is. When my strawberries are eaten the flavor is absolutely amazing! And it should be, because the crops were grown as they should be and harvested when they should be… without the use of ANY chemicals.
One last thing, there was a posting I would like to share that compares organic strawberry production to conventional. As I have stated in this entry, it is ridiculous to me how strawberries have come to be saturated by chemicals in the conventional approach. Just let the plants grow as they should! In my mind, that is not a “deep” concept… and yet it is in the conventional mindset.

(The above was taken from  This comparison says it all.