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Two Months Until Spring (Food Forest Farm Newsletter: Regenerative Living Guide)

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Check out a sample of our newsletter the "Regenerative Living Guide" Winter 2017, below. If you like what you read, find "Get Farm News" on the bottom of every page to sign up. This month's newsletter includes our spring plant sale announcement; read (re)Generation: A monthly article by Jonathan Bates; and links to inspiring and useful topics:

"It's well into January and in the last two days the temperature has swung from 2 degrees to 50 degrees in Western Massachusetts (not normal even for New England standards). Currently I am typing this newsletter while comfortably sitting inside our four-year-old backyard bioshelter permaculture greenhouse. We harvested the last of the calamondin citrus and are excited to see the lettuce just getting big enough to eat. Fresh salad for dinner tonight!

Like many of you, I'm drooling over the plant and seed catalogs, excited for the coming growing season. The sun is coming up earlier each day and setting later each evening. Even though we have our bioshelter, which provides a small amount of citrus, herbs and greens this time of year, I still yearn for those long summer nights when I can put my hands in warm soil, and eat perennial vegetables or pick the ripe hanging fruit, like my favorite paw paw.

For those that are new to Food Forest Farm, along with monthly tours, seasonal workshops, and many other fun, tasty educational events, we run a nationally known useful and edible plant nursery. The process for preparing plants for spring shipping begins during the month of November, and ends with your plants arriving in March or April. At our production farm, we have "mother" plants that we dig up and propagate from. The cuttings done from those mother plants are carefully cataloged and put in burlap bags which are overwintered underground in a trench. Those plants stay at the perfect temperature, naturally, without using global climate damaging refrigeration.

Throughout the winter, while you place your pre-orders at, the plants are snuggled in tight just waiting to be shipped to you and their new home.

Now is the time to get your order in. Each year we sell out, so get the orders in now while you can! Those buried jewels of deliciousness are waiting for you. You'll be putting your hands in that warm luscious soil before you know it :)

The Revolutionary Moment
(re)Generation: A monthly article by Jonathan Bates

I'm not going to talk about Donald Trump. I am going to speak to the current state of the human condition we find ourselves in here in the U.S.A.

My Mom grew up in the Deep South, living on a farm with a vegetable business that her Mom started in 1936. Depending on "truck farming", as it was called then, they would all get up early, harvest the vegetables for that day, and bring them to market. Not so different then what's done on countless small farms today. What was different back then was the MAJORITY of people in North America were farmers! Now, with less then 2 percent of the population growing most of the food we (and our meat) eats, the world is a different place.

Since the most recent election, I've been reflecting on this socio-economic sea change that occurred over the last 70 years. What happened to the 95 percent of the USA that doesn't farm any more? Did they all move to the city? Well, many of them did, including my Mom. But, something else happened. Those that stayed hold onto their culture, they get off farm jobs so they can stay on their land, they work in factories just outside of town, maybe even jobs that are connected to farm life: ranching, horse farms, slaughterhouses, feedlots, grain storage and production, dairy, transportation, refrigeration, machine manufacturing, forestry and landscape jobs, and even somewhere along the thousands of miles of rural and suburban strip malls in every town, everywhere.

So, millions of Americans stayed "rural", even though they aren't farming. Those rural folks have a culture, family and friends around them that believe a set of values and view of the world. I do realize that I am over simplifying their situation. And the most recent political era we have entered into is way more complex and nuanced then what I am laying out with this "rural" perspective. But, what I am doing is bringing light to the fact that there are wide gaps that have formed between many who live rural, and people who have grown up urban. Many urbanites have been in the "city" for many generations, and only know life in the city, which has it's own culture, values and world view (I should know, I grew up sub-urban... which I am considering city here).

Now, onto the Revolutionary Moment... We know there is some kind of divide among people in this Country. Much of it is cultural. Yet, there is an opportunity in what seems like a vast, unsolvable problem... Rural folks and urban folks are still bound by the common principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I'm not talking here about the life, liberty and happiness of our Constitution, although that is an important historical document. What I mean is, we are all human beings, we all want clean water, food and air, to be in communities and families that are nurturing, healthy and loving. All of us also make decisions every day, doing our best, striving, and many of us fight every day for those things.

Some of you reading this may not internalize that some people have more, and some have less. This phenomenon happens in rural places and urban places, and has been used to divide people everywhere for a long time. But, it is a phenomenon that is changeable, and not inevitable. If folks can come together realizing we all have common needs, we can reach across Party, culture, race, lifestyle, and identity. Move towards a new paradigm, a paradigm free of the entanglement of "World View" towards an organization of humanity that values life, abundance, and true freedom. If we can work hard together for real every day decision making power, in and for our neighborhoods, communities, towns and cities, we might just turn this Revolutionary Moment into the Utopia we've always longed for.

P.S. (We don't need Trump or Hillary for the freedom of which I speak.)"

NEWSLETTER INSPIRING AND USEFUL TOPIC LINKS: Portland Assembly | Order Spring Plants | Cherán. 5 Years of Self-government


Call to Action: hardy kiwi may be illegal to grow in New England

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The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) has voted to designate a locally-produced species of kiwifruit (Actinidia arguta; a.k.a. the kiwiberry) as "likely invasive" in the state and has petitioned to have it added to the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources (MADR) statewide prohibited plant list – on questionable grounds, according to Dr. Iago Hale, assistant professor of specialty crop improvement at the University of New Hampshire. Such an unprecedented listing of a commercialized fruit crop will, says Hale, prohibit Massachusetts farmers from growing kiwiberries, a low-input perennial specialty crop with a profit value exceeding $20,000/acre; and will deny Massachusetts residents the ability to buy kiwiberries from their grocery stores and farmers' markets, even if the berries are produced out of state. Much of the evidence provided by MIPAG in this case is anecdotal or speculative, says Hale, adding that in many instances the claims are false.

Before the January 10 deadline (5 PM), please email Taryn LaScola ( and request that MDAR not include the kiwiberry on its list of prohibited plants. Or, even better, show up in Westborough to give oral testimony in person: link for Call to action letter, and more details about giving oral testimony:


1) Genetic testing to determine whether individually dispersed naturalized growth of kiwi vine is speculative, due to the fact that many of these vines were likely planted over 100 years ago and at that time all vines planted as ornamentals where seedlings, thus they cannot be tracked back to known varieties, thus they are incorrectly assumed to be wildlife dispersed seedlings and labelled "invasive".

2) If this legislation was in place 200 years ago, apples would have been banned, and the entire New England apple and cider industry would be illegal. Sorry Johnny Appleseed.

3) Invasive Biology is a Pseudo Science.

4) People will grow and eat hardy kiwi despite the passing of this legislation.

5) The time, effort and resources spent on disparaging this plant, and the people growing it, is wasting all of our time. Global Climate Chaos won't wait for confused people to wake up and realize their ignorance.

6) If hardy kiwi would have been growing during the Great Depression, millions of people in cold temperate climates would have had access to an easy to grow, delicious fall fruit easily stored and preserved, filled with life giving nutrients including more vitamin C then oranges. Don't kid yourself that socio-economic food scarcity is a thing of the past.

7) Most of the Northeastern temperate climate forest biome is a patchwork of human created novel ecosystems. Actinidia arguta has already been established in this patchwork and cannot be eradicated.

8) If hardy kiwi is banned in Massachusetts there is a reasonable probability that all New England States will also restrict the cultivation and sale of this fruit.

9) As of 2017 Stephen Breyer at Tripple Brook Farm has a 30 year old kiwi vine that is at the top of a 100 year old maple tree. A wild concord grape is smothering the kiwi vine and killing it. Grape vines are sooooo invasive ;) 

10) Based on geologic fossil evidence, Actinidia were once native to North America and likely were present on various parts of the continent for nearly 80 million years (Late Cretaceous into the Tertiary Period). Fossilized Actinidia seeds have been identified in north-central Oregon (Dillhoff et al., 2009) and in Arctic Canada (Matthews and Ovenden, 1990), where the vines grew in a forest composed of pines, spruce, redwood, and tamarack, at a paleolatitude of 74 degrees (well north of the Arctic Circle). Changes in climate and repeated glaciations during the Late Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene eliminated Actinidia and many other plants from North America. 

DON'T LET OUR EYES BE DECEIVED BY HISTORY (pictures of the most cited "invasive" hardy kiwi vine, the vine that started it all):
kennedy park hardy kiwi.jpg
Same hardy kiwi vine 100 years later? Kennedy Park, Lenox MA (guess they forgot to prune this one).

Photos by Eric Toensmeier and others.

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