Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Green Patriot Posters

This poster art is part of a series of designs in Michelle McEwan‘s propaganda campaign for new, American home-front values. Inspired by the “Garden for Victory” campaign of World War II and other 20th century events, these posters speak to the next generation in an artful, active voice.

Monday, 23 May 2011

IFOAM as a Laterally structured Organization

As a member of the international Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) I was recently asked to comment on proposed changes to the organizational structure. I was given a sheet with the old complicated hierarchical chart structure and the new proposed chart. The differences were clearly well thought out and significant but I was still not convinced. It seems to me that the organizational structures charts are used more for reporting and serve little role in the every-day running of an organization.

I proposed that IFOAM consider a team based lateral organizational structure. It puts everyone on the same employment level into teams that perform specific job functions, requires lower overhead, and little to no management. All the delays in decision-making and implementation due to chain of command would be eliminated. Responsibility would be shared, and decisions made among team members by a quorum. it seems everything would be better run, and more effectively implemented than through a hierarchy.

In my opinion the hierarchy model does not fit with IFOAM's mission or goals. The organization is supposed to be democratic and fair. Why not follow through with that right down tot he nitty gritty everyday practices. it seems only right.

Here is a part of a poem written by Walt Whitman in 1886 that captures my sentiment on this issue. it comes from the poem "Song of Myself" which is a perfect read to welcome the early summer with.

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

I think I could turn and live with animals, they're so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition.
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
They do not make me sick discussiong their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world."
— Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Organic in Seoul Korea

Just arrived in Seoul, Korea and now live at the Green Scent Farm, a peri-urban organic farm with vegetable production and farm exposure programs for children and consumers from Seoul.

On my first night on the farm I was treated to a large traditional Korean barbecue with the whole family. Complete with a few different species of native plants and some heavy Korean schnapps.

I am here working for the Korean Federation of Sustainable Agriculture Organizations (KFSA) one of the many organizers of the IFOAM Organic World Congress (IFOAM OWC).

The IFOAM OWC (titled: 'Organic is Life') will take place in Gyeonggi Paldang in early October. The organizers are several government institutes and non-profit organizations.

The event will also be the 3rd Scientific Conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR) looking at the development of the Organic Sector in Korea and other Asian countries.

For now I am working on getting rid of my jet-lag and getting into the swing of life in Seoul.

For balance, here is a Poem from Wendell Berry's Farming: A Handbook

The Man Born to Farming

The Grower of Trees, the gardener,
the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout to him the soil is a divine drug.
He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing.
He has seen the light lie down in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
That the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
Like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
Descending in the dark.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Wild Collection, Over-use, and Kim-Chi

When the season is right I get about half of my food from the wild. A lot of the greens, roots, fruits and berries go into salads but the bulk of it gets fermented. I have learned a special technique for Kim-Chi fermentation of wild greens with fish sauce, garlic, ginger and chili. I am told that my Kim Chi tastes like south coast Korean Kim-Chi.

As I was on my way out to do some wild collection the other day I had an argument with a friend who, half jokingly, said 'you are going out to practice deforestation again'. She was dubious of my going out and collecting so much of my food from the woods. 'Yes' she said 'it is ok that you do it but what if everyone did it?' I responded that if everyone did it then maybe the farmer would not have to drive his tractor with the hedge cutter along the roads up on the Warteburg every few weeks. In one pass on the road that farmer cuts down more edible vegetation than all of Witzenhausen would use in a summer.

In her argument the forest should be left alone and allowed to grow unmolested by wild harvesting. My argument is that a focus on over-utilization in wild collection is wrong headed. Utilization of natural resources is exactly the opposite of waste and destruction of natural resources. If I see a use for that forest and the resources it holds within I am less likely to burn it down or allow it to be developed into a condominium. If my food comes from that forest I am not likely to cut it down and turn it into agricultural land. 

The relationship between nature and culture is a delicate balance of give and take. I need to get something out of a relationship for it to mean something to me. 

Kim-Chi Recipe (adapted from David Lebovitz).
2 1/2 pounds (roughly 1 kilo ) of wild greens (whichever is in season)
1/2 cup (100g) coarse salt
2 heads of garlic, peeled and finely minced
Finger sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup (60ml) fish sauce (fish paste is also ok)
1 large handful of spicy spicy chili powder
1. Slice the greens into chunks. Cut away the tough stems etc.
2. Mix and mash greens and other ingredients in a large bowl. (Some recipes advise wearing rubber gloves since the chili paste can stain your hands or burn.)
3. Pack the Kim-Chi in a clean jar large enough to hold it all (leave some space) and cover it tightly.
4. Check the Kim-Chi after 1-2 days.up to a few weeks If it’s bubbling and smelly, it’s ready to be eaten
Storage: Many advise to eat the Kim-Chi within 3 weeks. After that, it can get too fermented. I have eaten Kim-Chi that was much much older than that and it was delicious (3 year old jjigae). This is largely dependent on the wild greens that you use. Springtime greens tend to turn to mush after three or four weeks of fermentation, autumn wild greens are heartier and can be fermented through the winter or longer.