Thursday, April 29, 2010
On January 20 I attended the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The conference lasted three days and each day there were different seminars on how to promote sustainable agriculture in the south. Each meeting was about an hour and a half long and everyone in my group would attend a meeting they thought might be beneficial to University’s Garden. The students who attended the conference were: Nicole Ortega, Sarah Masterson, Matthew Bush, Matthew Smith, Lizzie Beale, Andrea Mabry, and myself. Not only did we listen to speakers discuss different techniques they use, but we also talked to others who attended the conference and asked about their involvement with sustainability in agriculture.
I attended one seminar called “Plasticulture for Vegetables and Flower Production.” Grace Summers from North Carolina spoke about using plasitcultre. She said the use of place in agriculture can help diminish extreme temperatures for horticultural crops.
One typically uses a drip irrigation to help plasticulture. The advantages of using a drip irrigation for plasticulture are using less water and disease and weeds are reduced. The disadvantages of using a drip irrigation are a higher level of management required, potential to stress plants is greater, and can be damaged by insects and rodents. After setting up the drip irrigation and raising the bed, one can finally put the plastic on the ground.
I found out in this seminar this is used on big farms and would not help with our small, but valuable garden. Instead we are using tomato mulch which should help.
I also attended another seminar about biodiversity which was taught by the “Barefoot Farmer.” Everyone in our group attended this meeting because he was well known and his discussion was supposed to be very interesting.
He said how he reads books from a hundred years ago on how to farm because he does not want to replace good farming techniques. He discussed the importance of compost which is one of our strong points at the garden. He also said how microorganisms are important in the soil because they help the soil and the plants live.
One interesting technique that he uses is that he does not irrigate. He uses only compost and that is all he needs.
What I gained from his talk, was that there are millions of organisms and nutrients and they all contribute to our planet and how we live and work in agriculture.
SSAWG was a good introduction to starting the independent study. I knew very little about sustainability and agriculture, but by talking to those in my group and attending the conference, I was able to gain more knowledge on the subject.