…. Occupy WORKS!!!!


Way to go Europe!!!!!!!!

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)


Monsanto gives up fight for GM plants in Europe

The world’s largest producer of seeds, Monsanto, has apparently given up on attempts to spread its genetically modified plant varieties in Europe. A German media report said the firm would end all lobbying for approval.

The world’s largest producer of seeds, Monsanto, has apparently given up on attempts to spread its genetically modified plant varieties in Europe. A German media report said the firm would end all lobbying for approval.

The German newspaper “taz” reported Friday that US agriculture behemoth Monsanto had dropped any plans to have farmers grow its genetically modified (GM) plant varieties in Europe.

Monsanto Europe spokesman Brandon Mitchener was quoted as saying the company would no longer engage in any lobbying fur such plants on the continent, adding that at the moment the firm was unwilling to apply for approval of any GM plants.


Saying ‘No’ to genetically modified food

All over the world, protesters have been rallying against genetically modified food – and in particular, against seed giant Monsanto. (28.05.2013)

Monsanto said its decision was partly based on low demand from European farmers. “We’ve understood that such plants don’t have any broad acceptance in European societies,” Monsanto Germany spokeswoman Ursula Lüttmer-Ouazane commented. “We haven’t been bale to make any progress over the years, and it’s counter-productive to tilt against windmills,” she added.

Public resistance

The German Agriculture Ministry said Monsanto’s move was a corporate decision and would not comment further. But it added it was no secret the ministry had been highly critical of gene modification technologies.

“The promises of GM industry have not come true for European agriculture, nor have they for the agriculture in developing and emerging economies,” the ministry said in a statement.

In Germany, the protest movement against GM plants has been particularly strong for years. Vociferous rallying prompted the government in 2009 to prohibit the growing of Monsanto’s MON810 GM maize variety.

Rivals of the US company, such as Bayer CropScience, BASF and Syngenta had largely withdrawn from the German market because of large-scale public opposition, the “taz” report claimed.

hg/mz (dpa, AFP)

OMG This Garden Is Going To Be HUGE!

The biggest project of the past couple of weeks has been to start turning the old horse corral into a series of raised beds that will be come the cornerstone of the JAZ Farm sustainability food project.  After plowing up the soil (which had been pounded flat over the years by horse hooves) Farmer Jon and the tractor plowed up the ground and then tilled it into a much finer mixture.  We chose the horse corral because it had some fence posts already in, and it had been fertilized by those same horses.

The beds are all approximately a tractor width wide and the walkway in between them is also about the same.  It is wide enough to get a tractor down and a small flat bed trailer, for easy access to the plants.  We dug up the dirt in the pathways and dumped them into the raised beds.  So far we have 14 beds, 4 – 5 feet wide and averaging 35 feet long.  This is about 2/3 done.  We estimate it will be 20 beds all of similar size.  There is also the ability to lengthen them and/or add more should we think it necessary (haha!)

This is a huge project!  While we want to be able to be as food sufficient as possible, this is likely way more than we need.  Perhaps we will be able to sell some and also donate to food banks.  Only when we got out there and started making the thing did we realize just how big half an acre really is (and I was originally thinking of starting with a full acre!)!

My big concern, considering that we want it to be chemical free, is how to come up with the volume of compost that will be necessary to build the soil.  There is manure left from the previous owners, but that will run out very quickly.  Something else to ponder on our way to getting this big adventure up and running!

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The Agrarian Hippie Crew

At long last, with grandma visiting, we had someone to snap a photo or two of the hippie clan!  Zina, in keeping with the spirit of the organic agrarian hippie basis for JAZ Farm, got us some very busy tie-die shirts.  Basil the dog even sat still long enough to be a part of it!  Happy Spring!

Thanks to the efforts of Jon Zina and Grandma we even have the entire 24 raised bed garden at the urban farm planted!  Looking forward to eating and canning the produce who’s distance to plate is less than 25 yards!

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Memorial Day Chicken Coop Update

Well we made it through graduation!  It seems just like yesterday that I was carting him around in a car seat and rocking him to sleep.  What a long strange trip it is to raise another human being.  Now its up to him.  College is on the horizon and his adventures and dreams await.  Mom and Dad are very proud.

After the graduation events we went back out to the farm.  Grandma was out visiting and was eager to see the progress and to help.  We set her to work on spray painting the trim on the coop.  The aluminum edging didn’t lend itself to hand painting as it would be streaked, so a few cans of Hunter Green spray paint, some edging tape and it was good to go.

I got the first of the vents put in as well.  An article I read said that it is important to have some ventilation lower to the floor so that ammonia produced in the litter can be filtered out.  As chickens are prone to respiratory problems this seemed like a good idea.

The overhead tubing attached to the wooden posts is a “tic-tac-toe” frame that will be used to hold up chicken wire.  It will cover the entire run to protect against falcons, eagles, and owls.  Because of all the potential predators this all has to be something of a fortress.  One step at a time.  We are very pleased with the progress.

Next up…. windows.

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Farming is a revolutionary act

Chris Hedges is one of my favorite and most respected activist/authors.  Taking a stand against the attempted corporate domination of the planet through the guise of free markets is the most noble of deeds.  Farm your yard, farm your neighbor’s yard, farm abandoned football fields, farm lots left abandoned.  Take control of our future.  Rise up and make a difference!!!!  Gardening is a revolutionary act!  Occupy the food system!!!

Rise Up or Die


Posted on May 19, 2013

By Chris Hedges

Joe Sacco (http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/artBio.php?artist=a3dff7dd55575b ) and I spent two years reporting from the poorest pockets of the United States for our book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.” (http://www.amazon.com/Days-Destruction-Revolt-Chris- Hedges/dp/B00C2IGF3E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368750968&sr=1-1&keywords=days+of+destruction+days+of+revolt) We went into our nation’s impoverished “sacrifice zones”—the first areas forced to kneel before the dictates of the marketplace—to show what happens when unfettered corporate capitalism and ceaseless economic expansion no longer have external impediments. We wanted to illustrate what unrestrained corporate exploitation does to families, communities and the natural world. We wanted to challenge the reigning ideology of globalization and laissez-faire capitalism to illustrate what life becomes when human beings and the ecosystem are ruthlessly turned into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. And we wanted to expose as impotent the formal liberal and governmental institutions that once made reform possible, institutions no longer equipped with enough authority to check the assault of corporate power.

What has taken place in these sacrifice zones—in postindustrial cities such as Camden, N.J., and Detroit, in coalfields of southern West Virginia where mining companies blast off mountaintops, in Indian reservations where the demented project of limitless economic expansion and exploitation worked some of its earliest evil, and in produce fields where laborers often endure conditions that replicate slavery—is now happening to much of the rest of the country. These sacrifice zones succumbed first. You and I are next.

Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power.

The Department of Justice seizure (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/ap-phone-records-doj-leaks_n_3268932.html ) of two months of records of phone calls to and from editors and reporters at The Associated Press is the latest in a series of dramatic assaults against our civil liberties. The DOJ move is part of an effort to hunt down the government official or officials who leaked information to the AP about the foiling of a plot to blow up a passenger jet. Information concerning phones of Associated Press bureaus in New York, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn., as well as the home and mobile phones of editors and reporters, was secretly confiscated. This, along with measures such as the use of the Espionage Act against whistle-blowers, will put a deep freeze on all independent investigations into abuses of government and corporate power.

Seizing the AP phone logs is part of the corporate state’s broader efforts to silence all voices that defy the official narrative, the state’s Newspeak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak) , and hide from public view the inner workings, lies and crimes of empire. The person or persons who provided the classified information to the AP will, if arrested, mostly likely be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. That law was never intended when it was instituted in 1917 to silence whistle-blowers. And from 1917 until Barack Obama took office in 2009 it was employed against whistle-blowers only three times, the first time against Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The Espionage Act has been used six times by the Obama administration against government whistle-blowers, including Thomas Drake (http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/war-whistleblowers-how-obama-administration-destroyed-thomas-drake-exposing ) .

The government’s fierce persecution of the press—an attack pressed by many of the governmental agencies that are arrayed against WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and activists such as Jeremy Hammond—dovetails with the government’s use of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force to carry out the assassination of U.S. citizens; of the FISA Amendments Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution was once illegal—the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of tens of millions of U.S. citizens; and of Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which permits the government to have the military seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them in indefinite detention. These measures, taken together, mean there are almost no civil liberties left.

A handful of corporate oligarchs around the globe have everything—wealth, power and privilege—and the rest of us struggle as part of a vast underclass, increasingly impoverished and ruthlessly repressed. There is one set of laws and regulations for us; there is another set of laws and regulations for a power elite that functions as a global mafia.

Truthdig – Rise Up or Die 5/20/13 11:35 AM

We stand helpless before the corporate onslaught. There is no way to vote against corporate power. Citizens have no way to bring about the prosecution of Wall Street bankers and financiers for fraud, military and intelligence officials for torture and war crimes, or security and surveillance officers for human rights abuses. The Federal Reserve is reduced to printing money for banks and financiers and lending it to them at almost zero percent interest; corporate officers then lend it to us at usurious rates as high as 30 percent. I do not know what to call this system. It is certainly not capitalism. Extortion might be a better word. The fossil fuel industry, meanwhile, relentlessly trashes the ecosystem for profit. The melting of 40 percent of the summer Arctic sea ice is, to corporations, a business opportunity. Companies rush to the Arctic and extract the last vestiges of oil, natural gas, minerals and fish stocks, indifferent to the death pangs of the planet. The same corporate forces that give us endless soap operas that pass for news, from the latest court proceedings surrounding O.J. Simpson to the tawdry details of the Jodi Arias murder trial, also give us atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide that surpass 400 parts per million. They entrance us with their electronic hallucinations as we waiver, as paralyzed with fear as Odysseus’ sailors, between Scylla and Charybdis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Between_Scylla_and_Charybdis) .

There is nothing in 5,000 years of economic history to justify the belief that human societies should structure their behavior around the demands of the marketplace. This is an absurd, utopian ideology. The airy promises of the market economy have, by now, all been exposed as lies. The ability of corporations to migrate overseas has decimated our manufacturing base. It has driven down wages, impoverishing our working class and ravaging our middle class. It has forced huge segments of the population—including those burdened by student loans— into decades of debt peonage. It has also opened the way to massive tax shelters that allow companies such as General Electric to pay no income tax. Corporations employ virtual slave labor in Bangladesh and China, making obscene profits. As corporations suck the last resources from communities and the natural world, they leave behind, as Joe Sacco and I saw in the sacrifice zones we wrote about, horrific human suffering and dead landscapes. The greater the destruction, the greater the apparatus crushes dissent.

More than 100 million Americans—one-third of the population—live in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Yet the stories of the poor and the near poor, the hardships they endure, are rarely told by a media that is owned by a handful of corporations—Viacom, General Electric, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Clear Channel and Disney. The suffering of the underclass, like the crimes of the power elite, has been rendered invisible.

In the Lakota Indian reservation at Pine Ridge, S.D., in the United States’ second poorest county, the average life expectancy for a male is 48. This is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere outside of Haiti. About 60 percent of the Pine Ridge dwellings, many of which are sod huts, lack electricity, running water, adequate insulation or sewage systems. In the old coal camps of southern West Virginia, amid poisoned air, soil and water, cancer is an epidemic. There are few jobs. And the Appalachian Mountains, which provide the headwaters for much of the Eastern Seaboard, are dotted with enormous impoundment ponds filled with heavy metals and toxic sludge. In order to breathe, children go to school in southern West Virginia clutching inhalers. Residents trapped in the internal colonies of our blighted cities endure levels of poverty and violence, as well as mass incarceration, that leave them psychologically and emotionally shattered. And the nation’s agricultural workers, denied legal protection, are often forced to labor in conditions of unpaid bondage. This is the terrible algebra of corporate domination. This is where we are all headed. And in this accelerated race to the bottom we will end up as serfs or slaves.

Rebel. Even if you fail, even if we all fail, we will have asserted against the corporate forces of exploitation and death our ultimate dignity as human beings. We will have defended what is sacred. Rebellion means steadfast defiance. It means resisting just as have Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, just as has Mumia Abu-Jamal (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_unsilenced_voice_of_a_long- distance_revolutionary_20121209/ ) , the radical journalist whom Cornel West (http://www.cornelwest.com/about.html ) , James Cone (http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/people/james_cone.html ) and I visited in prison last week in Frackville, Pa. It means refusing to succumb to fear. It means refusing to surrender, even if you find yourself, like Manning and Abu-Jamal, caged like an animal. It means saying no. To remain safe, to remain “innocent” in the eyes of the law in this moment in history is to be complicit in a monstrous evil. In his poem of resistance, “If We Must Die,” Claude McKay (http://www.poemhunter.com/claude-mckay/ ) knew that the odds were stacked against African- Americans who resisted white supremacy. But he also knew that resistance to tyranny saves our souls. McKay wrote:

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe! Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, And for their thousand blows deal one death blow! What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

It is time to build radical mass movements that defy all formal centers of power and make concessions to none. It is time to employ the harsh language of open rebellion and class warfare. It is time to march to the beat of our own drum. The law historically has been a very imperfect

Truthdig – Rise Up or Die 5/20/13 11:35 AM

tool for justice, as African-Americans know, but now it is exclusively the handmaiden of our corporate oppressors; now it is a mechanism of injustice. It was our corporate overlords who launched this war. Not us. Revolt will see us branded as criminals. Revolt will push us into the shadows. And yet, if we do not revolt we can no longer use the word “hope.”

Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” grasps the dark soul of global capitalism. We are all aboard the doomed ship Pequod, a name connected to an Indian tribe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pequot_War ) eradicated by genocide, and Ahab is in charge. “All my means are sane,” Ahab says, “my motive and my object mad.” We are sailing on a maniacal voyage of self-destruction, and no one in a position of authority, even if he or she sees what lies ahead, is willing or able to stop it. Those on the Pequod who had a conscience, including Starbuck, did not have the courage to defy Ahab. The ship and its crew were doomed by habit, cowardice and hubris. Melville’s warning must become ours. Rise up or die.

A Pause to Go Celebrate

We have been running around like crazy the past week or so.  Aaron is graduating from High School this week!  Zina has been disinfecting the house, working in the garden, and shopping for graduation gifts.  Jon has been trying to get both the Urban Farm planted and get some of the Farm projects completed prior to Grandma’s visit.  Of course, this is all happening on the very week that is usually planting week.

The “tick-tack-toe” structure that will be used to hold up the chicken wire cover over the run is now built.  I had to get that done so that I could plant the Buffalo grass in the run itself.  The previous horse-tenants beat the ground hard and bare.  It needs some kind of ground cover, and considering that Buffalo grass holds up in Colorado better than the water hungry Kentucky Blue, it seemed to be just the ticket.

The half acre future garden has been plowed and tilled.  Gotta remember to wear ear protection out there.  The tractor and the banging of the tiller can make you deaf.  I am going to be planting in a bunch of Black Beans into the garden and then use the plants as green manure to compost the soil.  We are also planting seed corn and sunflowers to begin growing some food for the future chicken residents.

This week though, it is a pause for the graduate.  Grandma, the parents and the neighbors are all coming to cheer Aaron’s walk across the stage!  We are all so proud of him.  As a dad, I hope he walks into the next stage of his life and education with the drive and determination that will help him to achieve all of his hopes and dreams.

Woohoo!!!  Public school is over !!  I am looking forward to not having to work on english papers and physics projects!  While I will miss my kid, I will not really miss that!  It will be fun to Skype from time to time to get caught up and I relish to hear about the stories of adventures on campus when he comes home on break.  It is all on him now.  Time to step it up and keep on becoming the person he is supposed to be.

After The Hammer, The Featherbed

As one can tell by my previous two posts when I run across issues that are near and dear and that stand as evidence of the insanity of our species I can wield a size-able sledgehammer.  However, there is a softer side to this as well that stands in stark contrast to all the JAZ Farm stands against.  It is, indeed, all that JAZ Farm stands FOR.

Eckhart Tolle was asked in an interview with Oprah, “What DO you believe”.  To which his answer was, “Nothing in particular”.  I found that to be profound and completely enlightened.  If you extrapolate that thought, then it also means, “I can find meaning in anything”.  I choose what is important.  If there is a god, then I am her…. and so are you.  Too many of us were raised by authoritarian Calvinists, and we created our deity in that abusive image.  As a result, ego dominated religion begets violence…. in a belief system who’s CEO’s were non-violent.

A dear friend and client sent me the following story.  If you can let the energy channeled here touch you as a partner on this planet and can understand that one-ness means there is no one or no thing excluded, then without pontificating some creed or lock-step jargon, here is the spirit in which I find meaning.



There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. –Buckminster Fuller


Life on a Farm

–by Luanne Armstrong, Original Story, May 09, 2013

“Every act of communication is an act of translation.” Gregory Rabassa

I live on a farm that was once part forest, part swamp. I live with animals both domesticated and wild, with plants, with flowers, with a garden. My grandparents lived here, my parents, my siblings and I, and then my children too. I walk on the land every day and never get bored. There is always something new to see and learn. In the summer, I sit on my deck, which overlooks a pond, a field, and past that, the lake. Barn swallows nest over my head. Paper wasps build small grey cones among the swallow nests.

Once, I was sitting on my deck with a group of young people. A wasp came by to have a look. One young man looked up and exclaimed, “You have wasp nests up there.” I do. My excuse to friends and family is these are nonaggressive paper wasps, not yellow jackets. But I wouldn’t remove them in any case.

“All you have to do is sit still,” I said. “They will come by to see who you are. After they know you, they won’t bother you.” This poor young man gave me a look that said, very clearly, “crazy lady.” But, to his credit, he didn’t move. There was so much more I wanted to tell him, but, where to start?

I wanted to tell him, “Just say hello.” Some people proclaim, “The earth is alive,” and while I sympathize with this statement, for me it is easier to say, “A wasp is alive.” Or perhaps, “Grass is alive.”

Grass is not only alive, it is responsive, and in its grass way, aware. Grass, mowed, turns into lawns, but given a chance, it will spring up and go wild in a very short time. It will cover sidewalks, parking lots, and walls. People rarely notice grass and yet they walk on grass all the time. They sit on it, lie on it. How many look down and see that the grass is alive?

Current research indicates that grass knows something. The smell of mown grass, which to the human nose seems so pleasant, is actually the smell of pheromones sent out by the grass. It is threatened, calling to pollinating insects. But we don’t hear it as that because we don’t know.

The grass is alive, I can say. But then I stop. What do I mean? Does the grass have consciousness, emotions, intelligence? I can’t tell. How to translate the grass? The grass looks inert but it is always moving. It grows, changes, exudes pheromones, and sends out root tendrils that find cracks in the strongest concrete. If I lie on the grass, does the grass say hello back from within its grass aliveness?

I may never truly know but it doesn’t matter. The realization of the aliveness of the non-human is the crack in the paradigm, a shift from understanding nature as passive, unfeeling, and mechanical, to seeing the non-human all around us as aware, a huge something in which we, as humans, participate but can never control, that we can study, become aware of, learn about and find many patterns of translation.

The assumption that plants and animals have no feelings was made by science hundreds of years ago, for convenience.

Everyday at our farm, this act of translation between human and non-human continues. A new horse lives at our farm. She is a rescue horse, a pretty red Arab mare that was neglected by her previous owner. I will never know what happened to her. When I come into the field, she turns her head away and won’t look at me, unlike the other horses, who watch me, ears pricked to see if I am bringing treats, or hay, or a halter. She flinches at my touch and moves away.

So I am forcing this mare, Fannie Mae, to greet me. When I go out with her hay, I hold it until she looks at me and sniffs my hand. Then she turns her head away, lays her ears back, and won’t eat unless I move off. I scratch her neck, I stand with her and breathe. Soften my own staring eyes so I lessen the predator messages my body is sending. I can interpret her behavior, but I can’t really know what her experience is, or why she behaves this way. We have no shared language but I can interpret, guess, wonder, study, and learn her body language.

Eventually, I hope, she and I will figure things out on the basis of interpretation, body/sign language, and if I’m careful and aware, we can make an agreement on how to spend time together and be at peace.

My brother takes our dogs and hikes up the mountain every day. Often he follows the tracks of the female cougar who dens high on the mountains. Often he comes across a trail where she is following him. Sometimes they see each other.

She never comes down to the farm but we are glad to have her on the mountain. There are too many deer and not enough predators. We welcome her return as a sign of an ecosystem recovering itself. My brother believes she knows him and recognizes him.

Everywhere, in small ways, such translation continues. My daughter is an urban gardener. I’m a farmer. There’s a difference, although we could argue all day about what it is. In her city garden, she planted her raspberries properly, out in the sun in good soil. But one plant reached up and across into the shadowed branches of her Gravenstein apple tree, and there it produced the earliest and fattest raspberries.

The realization of the aliveness of the non-human is the crack in the paradigm, a shift from understanding nature as passive, unfeeling, and mechanical, to seeing the non-human all around us as aware…

The assumption that plants and animals have no feelings was made by science, hundreds of years ago, for convenience. It’s actually a cultural assumption. It has no scientific basis. This assumption makes it easier to experiment on animals, easier to exploit them, hunt them, or use them as a “resource.” This kind of thinking has resulted in the snarled mix of contradictions, beliefs, sentimentality, superiority, and fear with which humans continue to regard and portray the non-human world.

But current research that examines plants and animals for ‘intelligence’ finds it in many new and surprising ways. Such research is finding that certain animals and plants are far more ‘intelligent’ than anyone had ever even guessed. However, intelligence is the wrong word. Consciousness is the wrong word. But science doesn’t have the right words. We have no language because plants and animals are not like humans. Such comparisons are habitual but not useful.

Nevertheless, evidence continues to grow showing that animals are smarter than humans have ever understood them to be. Baboons can distinguish between written words and gibberish. Apes can delay instant gratification longer than a human child can. They plan ahead. They make war and peace. They perform acts that indicate caring. In fact, biologist Frans De Waal has written extensively on morality and empathy in primates and other animals.

It’s not just primates that demonstrate unexpected abilities. Dolphins recognize themselves in a mirror. So do elephants. Black bears can count and so can pigeons, monkeys and ravens.

It’s not just animals either.

In the words of botanist, Anthony Trewavas, plants can, “with great sensitivity compute complex aspects of their environment and change behaviour to optimize fitness within their local environment.”

This means they communicate with each other through networks, warn other plants of danger, call for help, feed other plants, or put out pheromones to attract particular insects.

I can’t really understand what goes on inside plants and animals. But I try to find out and to reach out, study, observe. Even still, I have to dwell in both the knowing and not-knowing, as listener and translator.

As a child, I was always fascinated by the many lives being lived on and around our farm: the domesticated animals we cared for and some of which we ate, or wild animals, some of which we made into pets. When I ranged over the mountainside above the farm, or along the lakeshore, I saw a variety of wildlife, from bears to hawks to ravens. Sometimes on hot afternoons, I would lie on the moss under giant Douglas firs, and part the bits of moss to see the small intense lives being lived underneath: tiny worms, beetles, larvae, or spiders.

But as an adult, more and more, I wonder about all these lives. I think about what it means to live somewhere and truly understand where I am living. The more I learn, the more complex it gets. I have always known that when I walked into the forest, voices, eyes, and ears announced my presence. Recent studies indicate that even the mighty fungi underground, mycelium, transmit my presence.

When I go into the forest, squirrels chitter from tree to tree to far away tree. Often a raven will ghost overhead, cock its head, and peer down. Now I am learning that scientific research has shown ravens can learn amazing skills, that a collie can learn over a thousand names, that parrots seem to understand what they are talking about, that plants can recognize and help each other, that an old growth tree acts as a mother tree to young trees, sending nutrients to their roots. How can I understand this? How do I acknowledge something so vast, so unknown?

It is bewildering to say simply, hello – to acknowledge the limits of translation, to acknowledge our own unknowing.

I have now been wandering around the same piece of land for some sixty years and now it’s clear to me that the more I know about it, the farther away I am from understanding anything. That’s okay by me. When I was eighteen I knew everything and now, all I know is that I don’t know anything. I’d like to go back and re-read every book I ever read but I don’t have time. I do have time, however, to watch and see and listen as I go for my daily walk.

On every walk now, a particular raven comes with me, appearing overhead or perching on a tree, silent, watching me. I stop to look, to recognize this presence. I don’t know if it is a she or a he. Or why she or he comes on walks. But it does. Or they do. Yesterday there were a couple of ravens, clucking to each other in the dead craggy tree by the beach, combing beaks.

I am surrounded by beings whose behaviors, rightly or wrongly, I interpret. How do I find the invisible line between interpretation, anthropomorphism, and fantasy? My life is full of thorny ethical thickets. I keep domesticated animals. I even eat some of them. I ride horses. I work with dogs.

And when I watch animals, both domestic and wild, I interpret their behavior every day, trying to find the boundaries of a shared understanding. What do we share? Is it how our bodies move and communicate? Our senses? Plus we share land, we share an ecosystem, and I believe we share something else, a mutual recognition of being alive together.

I may think that animals don’t understand my language but I have no full understanding of “them”, what I perceive as them and no clarity about how they see me. How do I appear to them? Are they afraid of me? What language does my body exude as I wander across fields, up the mountain into the forest, in the midst of an astonishing exuberance of being, from tiny beetles to horses to cougars, from moss to giant cedar trees. Do I miss the messages and greetings coming back?

These new discoveries in science are saying look, plants and animals are different from what science previously assumed, which is different from what religions and culture have previously taught. The standard of “intelligence” or “culture” still remains a comparison with humans as ultimately superior in these areas.

Why not do research in the opposite direction? Making comparisons asks the wrong questions. Why not make the assumption that animals and plants have something; what do we call it? Aliveness? Awareness? Conscious existence? Proceed from there. Why constantly ask animals and plants, who can’t speak our languages and who have no legal standing within our courts, to prove their intelligence, their consciousness, their equality with humans? After all, do animals acknowledge our superiority? Does the grass bow before us?

What kind of knowledge do they have of us? Over generations, ravens remember people who have harmed them. Do the whales remember whaling ships? Does the prairie remember our extermination of the buffalo?

The biggest, most profound and most revolutionary shift we could move to now is to live in a world where saying hello to the grass is a sign of deepest respect and an acknowledgment of our own lack of understanding and knowledge.

It is bewildering to say simply, hello – to acknowledge the limits of translation, to acknowledge our own unknowing. Our bodies also have a kind of language. Sometimes, our bodies translate for us, simply by being alive in the world, seeing, taking it in, and loving the place we have landed for now.

Yes, we are part of the world, and the world is within us as we are within an alive and enormous network of being that looks back at us. To perceive this is at once so profound and also simple. It begins with the most obvious everyday things around you. The most radical thing you can do is to look down, look around, say hello and then begin to learn what that means.

 Luanne Armstrong lives on her organic farm in Canada. She is a prize-winning author.  Reprinted with permission. This article originally appeared in The Global Oneness Project — a digital, ad-free, bi-monthly magazine. Through stories, The Global Oneness Project explores the threads that connect culture, ecology, and beauty. Its collection of films, photography, and essays feature diverse and dynamic voices from around the world.

Why Do You Farm?

While many friends and acquaintances understand the JAZ Farm mission, many have asked, “Why do you bother to do this?”  The biggest reason is that it is a labor of love.  I think growing things is a connection to ultimate reality in a much more profound way than going to any “church”.

I grow because I am one with all living things.  The second reason I grow comes from a realization that our current society is not sustainable.  Notice that I didn’t say “unsustainable”.  Most folks have become so desensitized to the term that it simply has become a sound bite like anything else on the 24 hour news cycle.  I agree with the scientists when they say that over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agriculture.  Localizing the food system, just like decentralizing the energy grid, has the potential to save our children from the doom that we have bestowed upon them.  For those of you who deny that climate change is man made…. you are idiots.

There is no food shortage.  There is a food accessibility crisis.  The globe produces enough calories to feed everyone!  Instead though we ship it to the wealthy and let the least of us starve.   The majority of farmers don’t even eat what they grow!  It is grown and shipped off to places largely “north”.  In the US we waste and throw away over 40% of all food produced and it ends up in landfills.  Anyone wonder why so many more people are using the social safety net since 2008?  It isn’t because of “welfare queens” it is because they have no other choice.

Currently, if you drive across the mid-west (which I do at least once a year), you will notice a sea of corn and soy.  Of this “food” which is largely genetically modified, 40% goes to produce FUEL.  A crop that requires diesel fuel to produce and petro-chemical fertilizer to feed, being used to fuel our GAS TANKS!  50% of the corn (virtually all genetically modified) doesn’t go to feed people, it goes to feed beef, pork and poultry! For those of you who don’t know, cows are Ruminants; they are designed to eat GRASS not corn – not to mention dead cow matter (which causes mad cow disease).  This is also the reason for all of the ecoli outbreaks in our lettuce and spinach crops!  ONLY 10% of the corn we produce actually feeds we bipeds.

I agree with the MIT study “Limits To Growth” and the Post Carbon Institute’s assertion that we have reached “Peak Everything”.  We will not be able to sustain our 12,000 mile supply lines. The economy based on diesel and big-boxes is doomed and as a result, so are we.

Lastly, the big Ag corporations are trying to control the seed supply on a global basis.  As Henry Kissinger said, “Those who control the food supply, controls the population”.  We have created a nation of domestic indoor cats (Lazy, arrogant, self-entitled, and privileged).  We are a nation of baby birds who wait with expectation that the mother bird will come and puke a bunch of food down our necks with no efforts on our part.  EVERY city has less than a two day supply of food and if the diesel fleet is disrupted by any issue, we are, by any sense of the imagination… doomed.

Now comes this report pasted below.  It may come to the enlightened as a giant “duh” but it should be a wake up call to the vast majority of this nation.  If there is any more proof of the corporate fascistic state I haven’t seen it.  Below is the article that I ran across AND the report it references.

Our society, especially those who watch Fox So Called News, think that the poor, the labor force, Unions, brown people and gay folks are responsible for all of our ills.  Its a massive rope-a-dope.  If you believe that “big-government” is the problem then try this on for size:

Corporate welfare is the reason for big government.  The evil little people described above are the VICTIMS! – and if you aren’t in the top 5% you are the victim!  What will YOU do if Kroger, Safeway, Meijers, Piggly Wiggly, can’t supply the shelves?  I have seen blizzards here in Colorado empty the shelves of meat and vegetables inside of a week.

Subsidies to Big Oil, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Defense, Privatized Prisons, Bailouts to Big Banks and no prosecutions for the economic collapse are your big government.    The enemy flies in private jets and buys off politicians and lives in gated communities.  They don’t give a damn about you.  They don’t CARE about YOU!

Corporations have figured out how to suck all the wealth out of your sorry butts and by allowing the likes of Monsanto to have control of the seed supply is the final nail in the neo-feudalist coffin society they want to create.  We are being held hostage by a two party dictatorship and their masters live in gated communities.  Quit demonizing yourselves.  YES yourself.  It isn’t some Brown non-Christian “other” it is the 1% vs the rest of us.  The article below shows just how much your BIG government gives a tinkers damn about you.

We need to Occupy The Food System!  Buy locally grown or grow your own.

In spite of all of the rant here, this all feels like meaningful work.  I work in the field, I build my chicken coop, I weed,  lift and carry, and I am happily exhausted at the end of the day and sit down to a meal of food I grew.  As far as I am concerned there is very little else as fulfilling as that.  I have lost all faith in our urbanized society.  Suburbia epitomizes the quote, “The best way to keep people in prison is to keep them from realizing that they are there in the first place.”

We are faced with climate change, peak resources, runaway population, and the corporate takeover of a basic need of all human beings simply because we live on this rock in space…. healthy unadulterated food.



We are so screwed and the only answer that I can see is to grow your own food, simplify your lifestyle, and learn to reconnect to your local community.  Occupy the Food System!

There is climate change, there isn’t climate change?

It is completely baffling to me how our country has become a nation of religious nuts and anti-science ostriches.  Massive amounts of money has been spent by the big oil empire, using the same marketers the tobacco industry used to convince us that smoking hadn’t been determined to cause lung cancer, to convince the dimmest among us that climate change was some hoax being perpetrated on the public so the likes of Al Gore could get rich.  Well, my pop died thanks in large part to Salem cigarettes. The rest of us are going to have a tough go of it so that a very rich few can pull ancient sunlight out of the ground and pour massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.  All so that a few numbers on an Excel ledger can get bigger.

Being a financial planner I read and listen to a lot of different sources to help defend my clients from criminals.  Today on CNBC (one place where you can go to hear what urban out of touch rich people say to each other) there was an article that flies in the face of ALL of this disinformation.  How is it that the rich can blind the public so badly and demonize the scientists whose job it is to discover these things (I have a cousin in this gig) and then try to tell each other that the food supply is under assault from climate change?   The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

BTW:  Happy exceeding 400 ppm of atmospheric carbon month.  May our children forgive us.