Amendment One | VOTE NO

Picture it:  Green, rolling Missouri hills flow gracefully down to a valley with a sea of green, waving in the wind.  There you are, standing on your farm house porch, gazing over your fields of organic, heirloom corn.  It’s seed that’s documented all the way back to your ancestors who lived in this very county during the Civil War – and that’s something you’re proud of.  You’re a sixth generation farmer (Or maybe you’re a first generation farmer with heirloom seeds from Baker Creek!) and this is your life.  It’s all you know.  It’s all you want.  Life could not be better.

Sure, the next farm over is growing that GMO corn from You-Know-Who and they spray their chemicals, saturating the ground with poison, but that’s their farm and none of your concern.  Well, I suppose there is a little concern.  That flock of birds that flew from that direction during sowing season made you feel a little nervous as to what was in those droppings left on your field.  And that one day, there came up a sudden front and that wind sure was blowing… I hope that seed doesn’t carry over here, you think…

Fast forward back to present day:  Wait, what’s that you see as you gaze out upon your fields of green?  A person?  Well who-in-the-sam-hell would be traipsing about your corn rows?  You hop on the ATV, skirt the perimeter and find someone running out of your field with a case in their hand!  You check out the crops where you saw the man but you can’t find anything wrong.  Has he sabotaged your field? Only time will tell.

And time does tell.  In the form of a legal cease and desist letter.  You’re growing illegal You-Know-Who Corn.  WHAT?! You’re a thief, they claim.  So you and your family scrape together some money and get a lawyer.  I mean, THEY CONTAMINATED YOUR field!  Right?  Unfortunately, those had been some really hungry birds, and that wind carried more seed than you could have imagined into your field.  And that strange trespasser some weeks ago?  That was a You-Know-Who agent, trespassing to test your corn.  Their findings show that you have 1.234% amount of You-Know-What Ready Corn growing in your heirloom field.  That’s above the <1% limit for “trace cross over”.

You have ceased to be the victim of a ruined crop, and are now a low down, dirty rotten, thief.  THIEF! You Patent-Infringer You! Better hold on to your wife and kids, because you’re about to lose everything.  Your farm.  Your home. Your belongings (gotta have that estate sale to cover all the legal costs and fines for your shameful thievery), your life as you know it.

Seems outrageous, doesn’t it?  Seems far fetched?  I mean, You-Know-Who claims to have never exercised it’s patent rights sued the dirty underwear right off a farmer whose field has had “trace amounts” of patent traits present.  The first question I’d have to ask here is, HOW DID THEY FIND IT?  Trespassing.  That’s how.  They break the law, after contaminating your field, and then SUE YOU!  Oh yes, It wouldn’t take much to be over that 1% mark… Birds.  Insects.  Wind.  So many opportunities for Cross Pollination. … … … …

This isn’t some ridiculous story cooked up by tree huggers.  This is real.  This is really happening!

WHOA! Hold on!  What does this have to do with Amendment One?  I’m getting there.  Brace yourselves for it.

This is who Amendment One protects.  It’s like a sweet little love song, written just for the corporate farming industry.  It protects BIG AG.

I know.  I know.  I know.  There are FAMILIES running those farms. Families just like ours.  A mom and a dad, kid(s), pets… Good, hardworking folks.  There’s no easy way to say it.  There are families who run corporate farms and there are families who run independent farms.  This Amendment is WRONG for every Missouri CITIZEN who doesn’t run a corporate farm.

So you’re not a farmer, and you don’t really shop at Farmer’s Markets.  That’s okay.  But what will you do when a corporate chicken or turkey farm sets up shop a mile from your beautiful home?  What will you do when you can’t stand the smell to even BBQ that Wal-Mart Big Box Store steak or chicken breast?  What will you do when there’s nothing the EPA can do to help?  What will you do when you can’t even sell your house because no one wants to smell turkey poop?

Missourian’s have had the right to vote since the Family Farm Act of 1975.  That same act restricted corporate farming to a degree.  This Amendment, with it’s broad, vague language and bait and switch ballot verbiage is wrong for Missouri.  Vote No.

Blog Sig Dusty

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What We’ve Learned

This was our first full-time season as Market Farmers (and it’s not over yet!) and we have learned a few things.

The Farmer’s Market community is an incredible group of people, both the farmers and the patrons. Our fellow vendors, both at the Downtown Lee’s Summit and Warsaw Farmers Markets are generous, friendly, helpful and a real joy to associate with. The patrons are interesting and full of new knowledge. We planned on peddling our veggies, but found that we received much more than money in return. We learned new ways to prepare the food we grow, we heard about current events in the food world, and we learned a thing or two about how people live their lives. This is a community that enriches lives.

We were reaffirmed in our knowledge that our friends and family (even our new farm friends!) are seriously badass!  Really.  Y’all showed up in droves when we first made it out to the market.  In fact, we were a little scared of what it would be like when the initial show of support waned and we were out there trying to sell to people we didn’t know! But that “initial show of support” didn’t stop.  You guys kept coming back.  Every Saturday, and I do mean EVERY Saturday, whether in Lee’s Summit or Warsaw we saw anywhere from one to five of you.  And then, another amazing thing happened… We started getting return visits from people we didn’t know!  We started learning our patron’s names and hearing about their food and fiber adventures and about their weekly Sisters’ Luncheon, and knitting clubs, and… … … …  We have been blessed, and we have been blessed by you.

Our virgin soil served us well in our first season on the new farm. It put its nutrients into the plants we grew, and the plants we grew returned the favor. As we work on getting our fall lettuces in, we are finding that the soil is richer than in the spring and we are excited to see how much better our crops will be this spring.

We learned, too, about the world of produce auctions and that some practice somewhat deceptive methods in peddling those “home grown” goods. We also learned that it is tough to compete against resellers. But what I can say is that we held our own this summer with our sweet little stand of our own produce. While we held our own, I could not say that we were doing comparable business.

As the market season winds down and we begin to prepare for the winter months before the market starts up again, we must think about what we can offer now that that the hot commodity of tomatoes are done and ready to be tilled into the ground. We have a variety of fall crops that will be coming in. Root veggies, peas, greens, green beans, kale, lettuce, cabbage, brussels, broccoli, etc…, all grown naturally. As is true with Spring and Summer crops, Fall crops are highly dependent upon weather, and a handful of other variables.

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With that in mind, we took a little field trip to check out the produce auction. What we learned is that all produce sold at the auction is grown within 150 miles of Windsor, MO. What we can say is that produce sold there is most likely conventionally grown. We can also say that offerings there are beautiful, if that can be said about produce (We think it can!)

In preparation for the winter, we have decided to add auction produce to our tables, at least for the fall. This week we’ll be adding Butternut Squash, Jonathan Apples, and Pie Pumpkins that are all grown by the Amish and Mennonite communities. We have chosen produce that we ourselves eat (Our little one LOVES the apples, especially!) and we will make this promise to you: We will never deceive you. We will continue to proudly grow the best produce for you with all natural methods (no chemicals!) and we will now proudly bring to the table more locally grown produce that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to offer.

So, keep hanging in there with us.  The season isn’t over yet!

Blog Sig Dusty

 

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Someone’s Gotta Say It

As a general rule, we tend to stay away from controversy and criticism but we had a really unique Saturday at the market that has left us, well… flabbergasted, and it’s been a topic of discussion around here since.

For some reason, the crowd at the market this past Saturday was highly, openly, and quite verbally critical of vendor prices.  I tried to rationalize it all morning.  I said to Scott, “Maybe it’s the humidity.  It’s the first real August day and maybe it’s making people cranky.”  A little later I said, “Well, everyone did just spend a bunch of money on school clothes and supplies.  Maybe they’re just spent out this weekend.”  I tried every which way I could to give the benefit of the doubt, but as the remarks kept coming, and not just at our stall, but from the stalls all around us, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t some sense of entitlement to cheap food.  I hate to think that.  I’d much rather consider that the heat was making folks cranky, or they were feeling a little pinched after the Back To School season, but the more we talked about it, the more instances would come back to memory of this type of situation.

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Has cheap import goods and mass produced, chemically grown and raised food perverted our sense of worth?  Do we really believe that we should have the best food for the cheapest prices, because that’s what the local supermarket is selling it for? I can’t tell you how many times someone has picked up my handspun yarns, looked at the price, set it down and walked away, sometimes even with an eyebrow raised.

But here’s the truth of the matter: We grow and sell REAL food. We start our seeds ourselves.  We till the land with a small gas-powered tiller.  We dig the holes for the seedlings one at a time with a small little shovel, and gently cover them in with our hands.  We weed by hand.  We stabilize the plants one row at a time, one plant at a time.  We harvest the produce one tomato, one melon, one squash, one pepper, one bean at a time.  Because we do not use chemicals, we save our tomato plants one hookworm at a time. And y’know what?  We are worth more than the supermarket because we bring you better food.

We are small farmers.

We are not a large scale factory farm with conventionally grown crops.  The job we do isn’t going to make us rich.  We aren’t going to live in a grand mansion because we sell our beans for $4 a quart.  We sell our beans for $4 a quart because we have countless hours invested in those beans alone.  This past Friday I was bent over 360 square feet of green beans for over five, pain staking hours.  So, no, we aren’t small market farmers trying to get rich.  We’re small market farmers who are passionate about good, healthy, poison-free food and we are blessed to try to make a living out of what we love best.

I like to imagine what those criticizers would think if they were asked to work their job for even half the pay they already receive.  I bet they’d think they were worth more.  Well so do we.

If a consumer feels entitled to cheap food, then by all means, go to Wal-Mart.  But if a consumer wants real food, then the market is the place to be and we’re the farmers that will bring it to the table.  And that you can take to the bank.

Blog Sig Dusty

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Wickedly Rumpled | Now Taking Orders

Autumn is coming and before you know it, Halloween will soon be here! Our Wickedly Rumpled witches hats will be the perfect topper for your All Hallows Eve celebrations!

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Example shown above: $28

Made of EcoFelt (recycled post-consumer plastic bottles) and embellishments limited only by your imagination! Each hat is unique and will not be duplicated. All hats are Adult One Size and pricing starts at $28. Email Dusty at Dusty@RedRoosterFarms.org for a quote!

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Example shown above: $36

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Example shown above: $45

The Fine Print
 Allow for three weeks prior to ship date.  All orders over $35 require a deposit of 30% with a minimum deposit of $15. Payable via check or PayPal.  Three week turnaround begins after receipt of deposit.  We allow for a 72 hour cancellation period on orders, after which the deposit is non-refundable. Refunds of deposit will be in check form via USPS and will be minus all PayPal fees.  Final payment due prior to shipment or at the time of pick up, customer will be sent photos for review prior to making final payment. 

Shipping: Free pick up at the Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmers Market (in-season only); Warsaw, MO locals by arrangement; or $5 S&H via tracked USPS.

 

Blog Sig Dusty

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Chocolate Whipped Cream

Do you love whipped cream, but hate that most store brands are really just whipped hydrogenated oil? Making your own is really easy and will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

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Here’s our recipe we use.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pt Cream from Raw Milk (from your local farmer, of course!) Heavy Whipping Cream from the store works too.
  • 1/4 c Cocoa Powder
    Use sweetened for dessert topping and unsweetened for dipping berries or other fruit
  • 5 tbsp Powdered Sugar
  • 1 splash Vanilla Extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Pour cold cream and a splash of vanilla into your mixing bowl and starting at a lower speed, slowly begin to mix in your cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Gradually increase speed until you are beating at a high speed. Now, here’s the hard part… Leave it be and let it whip. This is where you may think, ‘It’s not doing anything!”, but then, all of a sudden, little peaks will start to form and you can do a little happy dance.

When the cream is ready, it will look like this.

When the cream is ready, it will look like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jar it up and store it in the refrigerator, or go ahead and drop a ginormous reasonably sized dollop in your morning coffee and sip happy.

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Blog Sig Dusty

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Mulch

With the hot temps, dry weather usually follows and my thoughts go toward getting some mulch around the plants to help keep the weeds down and conserve some of that precious soil moisture through the hot summer. You can use just about anything to pile up on the ground around the plants to prevent the weeds from sprouting and help conserve water. A few types of mulch that I’m going to talk about today are; leaves, grass, straw, sawdust, woodchips, plastic film, and even old carpet. I have used all of them and I would say my favorite is straw, but I’ll get into that a little later.

  • Leaves- With a little forethought to the next year’s garden, leaves can be bagged up and stored through the winter. Leaves are readily available to most people and if not, your neighbors or friends that don’t want what they rake up will probably be more than willing to let you have them. They are fairly easy to collect with a leaf blower or rake and can easily be transported around the yard on a stretched out tarp. If it is not illegal in your area, you could collect them from the curb where water piles them up after a big rain and many small towns have a spot for the residents to dump yard waste that you could collect from. With leaves you have to be careful and not let them mat together and prevent water from getting to your plants. Chopping them up a bit with a lawnmower before application should help prevent this.

 

  • Grass- Grass is an excellent source of nitrogen and organic matter for a garden. One would have to be careful to not use grass from treated lawns if growing organically is a priority. Grass does need to be reapplied throughout the growing season to maintain good coverage.
  • Straw- My all-time favorite! I like straw so much because it is easily
    available to me and I don’t have to pick it up at the end of the growing
    season. Straw is easy to get in the Midwest. If you look around you’ll be able to find a farmer that has a barn full and selling it fairly cheap, $3-4 USD. One square bale will usually be enough to cover a 4’wide by 30’ long row depending on the crop. Put it on nice and thick and you shouldn’t have to reapply until next year. With straw, there is a possibility of having wheat start in your garden but it is not much and can be easily pulled.

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  • Sawdust- Sawdust may be hard to come by but you can’t beat it for crops that are planted fairly close together, like lettuce or onions. One word of caution, don’t till it in or you can tie up all your nitrogen for the decomposition process. If it is just sitting on top of the soil it won’t normally cause problems for a deeper rooted plant, and you can eliminate this concern by adding a high nitrogen crop with it. Not only can you find sawdust at a sawmill, but many business like cabinet shops produce sawdust that usually goes to the dumpster. I even collected about a drum sized trash bag from a small shop that made brooms Wood Chips!

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  • Wood Chips- Wood chips are just as good as sawdust and will be better if you are gardening on a slight hill and have light erosion problems. This can be purchased, but it may not be economical depending on the size of your garden. Ideally you would want large chunks all the way down to sawdust so there is always some nutrients being composted into the soil. Just think of all landscaping around using wood chips!

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  • Plastic Film- This is something that can be ordered online and the more you buy the cheaper it gets. I used some last year and found that it kept the weeds down, but since we were going through the worst drought in years, it seemed I just couldn’t put enough water down even with soaker hoses underneath. Fortunately, when I put plants in, I make a small concave area around each plant and by setting the plants up this way, I could easily water with a hose and all the water got dumped around the base of each plant. It was just so dry that the surrounding dirt would wick the moisture away from the area you watered as fast as you could apply it.
  • Carpet- If you look hard enough you can find it free for the taking, though you might need to put in a small bit of labor to haul off. Carpet will last awhile and can remain in place throughout the winter. With used carpet, you do run the risk of toxins being introduced into the soil through remaining adhesive stuck to the underside. Carpet works good for garden pathways to keep your feet clean after a rain and for the quick strolls to grab something for diner!

I hope this helps you find your mulch of choice and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you have along the way.

Blog Sig Scott

 

 

 

 

 

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Moderation Is Key

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals that have their genetic material altered artifically in a lab.  Genetic material from other plants, animals, even viruses and bacteria, as well as chemicals such as weed and bug killers,  are added to the original plant in a lab creating a combination that would not occur in nature.  Commonly grain crops like corn and soybeans have a gene added to make them resistant to herbicides and pesticides.

There is controversy surrounding the GMO crops.  Some of the benefits of growing a GMO crop are, as mentioned above, resistance to herbicides and pesticides, making weeds and bugs easier to control.  This resistance can have unintended consequences, such as “Super Bugs” and “Super Weeds” that become immune to the herbicide and pesticide.  In fact, there is already evidence that certain types of rye grass are showing resistance to herbicide.  Nature is continually evolving and coming up with new ways to conquer problems.  It has also been stated that GMO crops taste better, have reduced growing times and higher yields.

Better taste?  In my opinion a commercially grown crop is not going to have a better taste than a homegrown or locally grown variety.  In fact, due to the long transportation routes that supermarket food has to undergo, measures have to be taken in making that crop last through the time it gets harvested and to your plate, such as harvesting prior to peak ripeness.  Now the home grower and local farm has to take this into consideration also, but the miles it has to travel is much shorter allowing the crop to ripen on the vine and reach peak taste and nutrition!  Reduced growing time and higher yields are continually being improved through hybridization, (fertilizing one tomato plant with the pollen of another to select the combined desired traits of each) which you can do yourself at home!  In addition, there are claims of GMO’s being detrimental to your health along with claims to no negative health effects.   The best defense to this is to educate yourself and YOU be the judge. There are many reports on the internet, but be sure who is funding or performing the testing and providing the data and use good ol’ common sense to digest the information!

FOOD

The other side of the spectrum is Organics.  Organic crops are grown and prepared without chemicals such as pesticides and preservatives. (Although there are organic preservatives occurring naturally, along with pesticides and herbicides that are approved for organic growing.)  As with GMOs, crops can be improved for higher yield and resistance to diseases and pests through natural means such as hybridization.  Organics help to maintain the natural balance of the ecosystem.  Sure, by eliminating pesticides, the bugs eating the crops may become more prolific, but that, in turn, will help the “helpful insects” that eat the “harmful insects”.

By eating and growing organically there is no worry that your crop will cross with the weeds and transform into something that is resistant to everything but a garden hoe.  The biggest drawback that I see with organics is the cost.  Organic food can cost 50% more than a conventionally grown crop.  This price increase carries over to the meat you consume as those animals will need to be fed organic feed that can be twice as much as conventionally grown feed.  We all need to eat, but when the cost of healthy food is twice as much and there isn’t room in the budget to eat organically, what do you do?

As with most things moderation is key.  Something that isn’t really harmful to you in moderation, can be detrimental to your health when used in excess.  As a farmer I can tell you that most people will not pay more for, say, the organic pork chop versus the conventional pork chop. They look the same on the plate right?  Well they do but what makes that pork chop is significantly different.  Remember, it is the accumulation of poisons that are detrimental to your health.

Make a pledge to yourself to start incorporating organic food to limit the amount of harmful chemicals you are exposed to.  This strengthens the organic movement, hopefully driving down the cost overtime.  I, as well, cannot consume only organic foods, but as more people move to organic food it is my hope that it will become the normal way to grow food and be affordable for everyone to reap the benefits of a chemical free diet.

Blog Sig Scott

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