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inquiring systems for permaculture designers

Bee Beneath the Borage

We pledged to ourselves to love all sentient beings. On the field, farming for the CSA, we ran across so many creatures. Worms! The glorious worms of our earth's soil. And little black beetles, and grubs, and bees, and dragonflies, and birds too many to name here.

In the field our water-gushing hoses accidentally flushed out a nest of little youngster mice, just minding their own business so to speak in the hole in the middle of a field where we happen to have decided would be an ideal place to grow food for ourselves and people who had subscribed to our CSA.

We aided the mice as best we could and the next day the mice were gone from our rented plot; we had seen it before, in the greenhouse, where we had stumbled upon and disturbed a family of mice, and mama mouse promptly relocated everyone.

We also saw rabbits and were secretly so glad to see them, joyous really. The lettuce that you do not see at the market was eaten by a rabbit. Who exactly is getting the seconds?

We saw Colorado Potato Beetles and they made me remember Colorado, where once I hiked up a mountain. But around us now the land was flat, sculpted by glaciers just enough to gather the water into a pond where the frogs gathered. The land's grade was roughly 10 feet per 100 yards. Yet, while flat, at the end of the day, it had exerted its pressure upon us as we clung to it and tore at it with our boots and hands and tools.

Let us tell you about the tools. When using the broadfork a person's motion is similar to the motion of a downhill skier. The work is so enjoyable that it is easy to forget that it is work. The aim of the broadfork is to aerate the soil and to aerate it in a manner that damages the soil web of life in the most minimal way. Perhaps someone can tell me if this is true.

In my estimation the broadfork is kinder than the heavy diesel tractor towing metal. It is a matter of degree of course. Neither the broadfork or the farm tractor are exactly gentle. As far as the broadfork goes, we definitely need a way to tell the worms that the broadfork is being thrust down from above. Is there a better way? I hope you will excuse the question, as inquiring systems is a farm tool, too.

If you eat sliced potatoes grilled in olive oil and seasoned with dill, can you taste that the soil it grew in was tilled by hand? We must all decide for ourselves and for our communities. With the choice of tools and technique come profound choices. The frogs lined up on the floating plank sunning in the morning light are aware of our actions.

On Saturdays at the Farmer's Market, we sold bunches of kale. Inside each leaf of kale was part of the nature that is tucked away, around the corner and over the hill, where the bee is on the borage.

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