BT Notes April – Food and consumption …

April started off in a glorious mood – the first bluebells blossomed in the woods and by mid-April the first rhododendron was out. But the warmth didn’t last; and maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. A couple of cold, dry weeks in the middle of the month meant that the grass and weeds didn’t grow as much as normal, which meant more time and easier work preparing the soil in the garden. In the last week, summer has begun to show up again and the trees are showing their leaves again. And we still enjoyed early bluebells 😉

While our life at BallinTemple follows the cycle of life much attention has been focussed on the bigger picture beyond the garden walls. Everyone is talking about food prices and food scarcity. Even the U.N. announced that: “modern agriculture will have to change radically if the international community wants to cope with growing population and climate change.” The (highly recommended) Ecologist ran a special on food, highlighting this impending crisis and exploring the solutions available to us. The issue covers food security, the myth that buying local means robbing from the developing world, and the private life of soil. It asks if organics can feed the world and lays the table for tomorrow’s dinner plates.

hungry boyMeanwhile agribusiness and supermarkets are well positioned. Grain reported on the global dysfunctional food policy and the record profits of agribusiness. At the end of the day it is we consumers who decide the balance of food markets – are we prepared to pay for local, clean production. Or will we continue to vote with our wallets for subsidised chemical farming (the bigger the better) and exotics shipped in from South America? It is a tough choice as we see our food bills increase by 20% in a few months, isn’t it? I’m afraid I must endorse the cheap and cheerful approach of distributors like Lidl and Aldi who manage to cut 20% off my grocery bill – but still manage to source kiwis from Italy instaed of Chile (79c a half dozen) or Camembert at less than Tesco’s cheddar. I suppose I rationalise my worship at the altar of big business by growing a few vegetables, a few trees and realising that careful shopping does introduce competition to other big business. And then I justify my compromises with “children”, “limited resources”, blah, blah, blah … 🙂 We have this picture over the kitchen table to remind us that we’re very lucky.

Next month it’ll probably be energy that bites, though the real pinch doesn’t usually come till October – but prices are now approaching an all time high in real terms (average prices are even more worrying).
The system is changing. While it seems slow from year to year, its probably pretty fast in the Big Picture. If we can get the human population under control, our children or grand children will probably enjoy a healthier, richer life than all of us. 10 reasons why organics can feed the world and 10 reasons why GM can’t.

In other news … yoga is in full swing at Teach Bride (Tuesday 8pm) and Mount Wolseley (Thursday 7pm). We’ve also been able to expand the other courses we offer from business planning to organic horticulture and you can see a listing here (which will be updated during the coming month).

We had great fun helping some biodynamic growers “dig the cow horn”.  A herb is placed in a cow horn and buried for some months, exhumed and then added to preparations for application on compost or direct to plants.  Some photos are here.

The woods are still accessible for mountain biking and the wildlife in the woods and river gives us hope that the sanctuary is offering some protection from humanity’s footprint. We’ve seen lots of birds and even deer. I never imagined it could be such an amazing place. Now, we want to expand it! If you would like to sponsor the planting of a tree, we will plant a tree either from our own nursery stock or from Coillte. You can choose the species (hardwood only) and we’ll send you a certificate too (if you like). The cost starts at € 15 each. Call me on 059 9155037 or email manager AT ballintemple DOT com or post Ballin Temple, Ardattin, Carlow. So far this year over 150 have been planted. (In a similar vein, the Native Woodland Trust has revitalised.)

Hoping May puts a spring in your step (or, for those down under, autumn is gentle).

Tom

Making jails part of the community
Lifestyle at conception determines gender.

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