July is the perfect month to pause to savor Michigan’s all-too-short summer season. We’ve been dreaming of its promise. Sunshiny days warm our faces, cool lake breezes fill our sails, fireflies share their magic, open nighttime windows bring a cricket chorus. We love to run around with feet bare, and eat salads brimming with fresh seasonal and local ingredients. It all recharges our batteries.
Planting a garden is a wondrous investment. Our organic and heirloom veggie garden at our new home, along with a modest orchard, is off to a great start, promising that family and friends will be enjoying great tasting nutrient-dense produce for months to come.
Starting from scratch, we cut and removed the sod, rototilled, and then filled raised beds with top soil. Next, we amended the soil with kelp, Biochar Blend and other organic goodies to create a super soil for healthy plants. We covered it all with weed barrier (best investment ever) and straw mulch. The finishing touch was wrapping a six-foot wire fence around the whole plot to keep out munching critters like bunnies, which love tender shoots. We even found room to grow giant pumpkins and mammoth sunflowers this year.
In Melinda Hemmelgarn’s feature article, “Organic Farmers: Growing America’s Health – Restoring the Nutritional Value of Crops,” we learn why healthy soils are essential in delivering nutrient-dense and better-tasting foods that also help prevent disease. Enlightened farmers understand that the ways in which farms operate impact our health and safety, both through the food we eat and our exposure to ecologies of soil, air and water.
While small farm operations and scientific field research are coming together to offer us better choices, we still have a long row to hoe before everyone has across-the-board access to highly nutritious foods. It’s especially hard for populations facing food insecurity, institutional food services and a culture of processed fast food.
Locally, most of us are fortunate to have access to abundant healthy food choices through farm markets and farm-to-table restaurants. We’re glad to see an increasing number of growers pursuing sustainable practices.
All of this just might inspire you to help cultivate a community garden or build a backyard raised bed garden and experience a lovely connection to the land. There’s little better than taking that first fresh bite of summer!
Trina and John Voell, Publishers