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I Find Common Ground, and More, in Maine

 My Favorite Country Faire

   Two dogs, one cat, six ducks, and one chicken are trusted to the care of friends; sourdough starter is re-fed and chilled; plants are on their own. It’s hard to leave the farmden. But this trip — to Maine — is well worth it.    Walking through the entrance gate to the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine, my senses are overloaded with color and fragrance. Along either side of the entrance path are boxes piled high with bright orange carrots, spilling over with the blue green leaves of kale, or packed full with yellow or red beets. Also flowers, herbs, and cheeses. Pervasive is the resiny fragrance of sweet Annie (Artemesia annua), which for some reason seems to be perennially the signature herb of the fair. Buckets are filled with stems for sale; knapsacks sprout bunches of purchased sweet Annie from their zippered pockets; and girls …

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HOW TO FEED THE WORLD

Perennial Wheat to Save Our Soil, But What About Compost?

    We — that is, almost all of humanity — get all our sustenance from the thin skin that covers out planet, the soil. In appreciation of this, the United Nations has declared 2015 “The Year of Soil.” “Soil is more important than oil,” stated Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute, in his keynote at this year’s recent NOFA-NY  conference. Like oil, soil is a nonrenewable, or only slowly renewable, resource. Centuries go by before rainfall, freezing, thawing, and microbes and plants eat away at rocks to make new soil; on average, it takes a thousand years for the creation of a mere half-inch of new soil.    The problem is that, as with oil, we humans are using up soil faster than new soil is being created — 10 to 40 times …

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