Take action against genetic modification.

Here are some steps you can take against genetic modification:

Boycott GMO crops – don’t buy products containing corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar or alfalfa, unless you know these ingredients are non-GMO. This is a huge step! It means boycotting most non-organic, mass-produced, processed foods. If that’s too daunting, try taking small steps. For example, eliminate foods that are high in GMO oils, such as cottonseed and vegetable oils. Boycotting GMOs will likely lead you to buy fresher food and eat a healthier diet.

Call food manufacturers and ask if ingredients in their products are GMO. Let them know you care! Some large chains’ phone numbers are listed on http://www.nwrage.org/content/contact-company

Bring the GMO issue up in supermarkets, cafeterias, and restaurants. When an employee you talk to in person can’t answer your questions, you can write them down and request that they be passed on to management.

Many of the organizations we link to have political action updates related to various GMO battles. Check these websites for the latest campaigns – write to your politicians and spread the word.

Tell your friends, co-workers, and family about the lawsuit against Monsanto, the risks of GMOs, and what you’re doing to avoid GMOs.

Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed for your local paper or an agricultural publication.

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You might also be able to contribute in one or more of the following ways.

If you work in a food co-op, restaurant, school, or any institution that has a cafeteria, see what you can do to reduce or eliminate GMOs from the food that is sold there. Then tell your customers what progress you’ve made, and why you chose to do this.

If you teach on a related subject, let your classes know about the risks of GMOs and the current lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association vs. Monsanto.

If you are a farmer or a market gardener, tell your customers, extension agents, and other farmers and gardeners why you don’t grow GMOs.

Offer to volunteer with an organization addressing GMO concerns. You might be able to contribute to with research, website development, community organizing and outreach, or events. The possibilities are endless.

If GMO crops have made your life harder, we want to know! Your story could be useful in showing that GMOs are harmful to society. Write to Don Patterson at pae...@aol.com with your experiences.

If you or an organization you work for has information relevant to this case, look into the possibility of filing an Amicus brief, a.k.a. a “Friend of the Court” brief. We don’t want to inundate the court with them, but quality points in Amicus briefs can be very valuable. You can contact Sabrina Hassan at Has...@PubPat.org for further information.

If you know of an event where a speaker on the topic of this suit would be welcomed, pass the information on to Don Patterson at pae...@aol.com

Courts rule organic farmers can sue over contamination by pesticides and herbicides

Exciting news from Minnesota!  Last Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that damaging chemicals that cross property lines constitute trespassing.  The Star Tribune reports on it here.  This is great news, meaning that organic farmers can sue if negligent conventional and GMO farmers contaminate and thus destroy their organic crops via drifting clouds of pesticides and herbicides and possibly even GMO pollen or seed.

This follows a few months after California’s Sixth Appellate District Court ruled in December that Jacobs Farm/Del Cobo could sue a neighboring farm whose pesticides drifted over and covered an organic dill crop, making it unsalable.  Read the story here.

It will be interesting to see how these rulings affects the case against Monsanto that we’re a part of as it goes forward.  Stay tuned…

Fall & Winter Garden Planning

Useful References from SESE: Our Fall & Winter Quick Guide lists specific varieties best suited to growing in the cooler months.  We also have on our website the Simple Winter Gardening Guide from Brett Grohsgal of Even’ Star Organic Farm and the Fall & Winter Gardening Guide by our own Ken Bezilla.

Collard Rows

If you thought it was time to sit back and enjoy the harvest, think again! Growing fall and winter crops means getting out now to get your plants started.

August and early September is the ideal time to start beets, kale, Chinese cabbage, daikons, collards, rutabaga, turnips, and mustard greens. You can also continue to sow carrot, lettuce, cilantro, arugula, and radish successions. We’ll sow spinach in mid-September, when cooler soil temperatures make germination easier. Bush snap beans can be started now, but you may need to protect them from October frosts (we use row cover) to get much of a harvest. It’s too late for all but those in the Deep South or with extended frost-free falls to sow cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

While it may feel too early – and too hot – to be planning for the winter table, the rapid loss of sunshine in fall means we have to give these crops an early start.  Remember, we had our strongest sun already at the solstice in June – fall may feel warm, but it lacks the light intensity of summer.

Hot temperatures are great for quick growth, but some of the best fall crops are difficult to germinate in warm soils.  Young, shallow-rooted plants are also more vulnerable to drying out than older crops with deeper, more established root systems.  Remember to water frequently – germinating seeds may require watering twice daily, or more.

Red Sails Lettuce

One trick we use is to start kale, collards, and other transplant crops in closely spaced nursery rows in beds with some afternoon shade. We also like to use beds that are shaded by tomatoes and pole beans – plants that will be gone in a few months, just when we start needing all the light we can get on our fall crops.

For over-wintering crops, shade from nearby deciduous trees helps keep seedlings moist, and in the winter and early spring the same beds will get plenty of light.

It may be a struggle to get seeds to germinate in summer heat.  Be patient!  Wait for the break in the hot weather – it’ll come soon, we promise.  And remember there are some benefits – even the weeds are struggling to come up!

Lettuce, spinach and cilantro need cool temperatures to germinate. Start them indoors – or in the refrigerator! Pam Dawling at Twin Oaks sows nursery rows of lettuce on summer evenings outdoors under shade cloth, waters well and covers with an inch or so of crushed ice.

Saving the Past for the Future