[Snakeroot Organic Farm logo]
 • What's New Here
 • Snakeroot Poultry

 • About Our Farm
 • Annual Farm Tour
 • Community Supported
    Agriculture Plan (CSA)
Directions to our Farm
 • From a Run Out Hayfield to
    a Prosperous Organic Farm
    in Ten Easy Years

 • Get Real. Get Organic!
 • History of Our Farm
 • Pictures of the Farm
 • Where We Buy
 • Where We Sell
 • Our Yearly Work Schedule
 • Just Pretty
 • Subscribe to our e-newsletter.
 • Newsletter Archive.
 • What We Will & Won't Ship

 • Working Here
 • Our Apprentices
 • Our Farm Workers
 • Pictures of Us at Market

 • Fresh Vegetables
 • Fresh Fruit
 • Fresh Herbs
 • Perennials
 • Aloe - a magical plant
 • Our Bird Houses
 • Lupines
 • Rosemary Plants
 • Lovage, Tansy & Yarrow
 • Our Product Brochures
 • Dried Vegetables
 • Dried Culinary Herbs
 • Maple Syrup
 • Maple Syrup, p.2
 • Sugarin' Is Like Ice Fishin'
 • Our New Sugarhouse
 • Tomato Seedlings
 • Tomato Seeds We Offer
 • Tomato Seed Production
 • Paste Tomatoes
 • About Garlic
 • Garlic for Sale
 • Garlic Year Round
 • Mulching Garlic
 • Growing Rounds from Bulbils
 • Whole Bulbil Cluster Method
 • Planting Garlic

 • Using Mulches
 • Combatting Quackgrass
    with Mulch

 • We Want Your Leaves!
 • In Praise of Chips

 • Buying in Bulk for
    Storage, Canning & Freezing

 • Winter Storage Tips
 • How to Freeze Our Veggies
 • Building Techniques
 • Our Outbuildings
 • Evolution of the Farm Table
 • The Story of Our Cooler
 • Prepping Veggies for Market
 • Crop Rotations
 • Drip Irrigation
 • Low Pressure Water
 • Planting with Spreadsheets
 • Greenhouse Vegetable

 • Let-tuce Begin
 • Recipe Favorites
 • Our "Remay Roller"
 • Gardening Class Notes
 • Your Most Expensive Crop

 • Being Green
 • Digging Potatoes by Hand
 • Farmers' Markets in 2012
 • History of Pittsfield
 • Hybrids or Open Pollinated?
 • Making Websites
 • Open Source Software

    Our Retirement Plan
 • How Should a Farmer Retire?
 • Impediments to the want-to-be     farmer
 • Reducing the Value
    of the Land

 • Who Will Farm Here When
    We're Gone?

 • Apprentice Terms and Stages
 • From Apprentices to Partners
 • Transferring Farm Ownership

…and now for something completely different…

At dawn
Canoe bow waves are quickly lost
    on the shoreside
But go on out of sight
    on the lake side.


The constant swish-swish of skis
    On a day long ski.
The constant swish-swish of wiper blades
    On a day long drive.


My dog, trotting barefoot
Steps on a garden slug
And thinks
Nothing of it.


Word spreads quickly
as I approach the pond.
All becomes quiet.


Hidden in the vines
a large warted cucumber
jumps out of reach.
A toad!


Delicate puffs
of marshmallow snow
carefully perched
on a branch,
await the trigger of my hat
to melt their way down my back.

Deep in the tomato jungle
Fruits of yellow, purple and red
Tell of their readiness
To go to market.

Sugarin' Chores
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow with spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
And Spring.


Voting Green and Being green

by Tom Roberts, December 2004

Now that the elections are behind us, do we wait till the next election to be green?


Ever notice that voting Green isn't one of the Ten Key Values? The way I see it, the whole electoral process is but a tiny part of the green movement. And some of the greenest people I know don't even vote Green. You probably know folks like that, too.

So, if being green isn't the same as voting Green, then just what makes up green living? Let me suggest that being green involves the way we make thousands of day-to-day mundane decisions. Some decisions have to be made consciously, as we stop to consider the ramifications of what kind of bread we buy, what radio station we listen to, or where we fill up our car with gas.

It can seem like a mountain of decisions to make instead of just going along with the mass culture, but the good news is that making green decisions soon becomes second nature. This is because the more we make decisions where the green-ness of one side outweighs the convenience of the other, we find ourselves developing habits of greenness, where the green decisions now seem easier because it is what we always do.

As each piece of our life is transformed from the ego-oriented, closed minded, single purpose decisions, to one of life-oriented, input desiring, connected decisions, we start to see ourselves increasingly as a source of green-ness. Being green is how we are and we begin to feel better about decisions springing from our internal values instead of something we are "supposed to do".

Let's consider purchasing decisions. Although there are many more aspects to green living than shopping, purchasing is where we invest the energy of our life's work. It's a struggle, all the more so because in our culture many very clever people have spent decades developing ways of influencing our thinking to their own ends. One of the most insidious techniques is what I call bribery.

Bribary involves separating cost from price. Many people think they are the same thing, until you ask them about the price of a war and the cost of a war. In this case, most people will agree that the cost of war involves many more things than how much money it took to finance it. Likewise there is always a difference between price and cost. Costs involve social, economic, political and environmental effects. Price involves how much money you take out of your pocket. One of the great failings of capitalism is how it divides price from cost. The price of gas is what you pay at the pump. If your decisions are made on price, then you'll buy from the cheapest gas station. You'll buy the cheapest food. You'll seek out the cheapest shoes. You'll shop where everything is promised to be the cheapest.

You are being bribed to buy gas where it is sold at a lower cost. Rockefeller started his economic empire by undercutting successive regional competitors until they each went out of business. Where do you buy your gas? Is it at the Cumberland Farms and Big Apple or at a neighborhood service station? Remember the term "service" station? In Pittsfield, we have an independent Mobil dealer run by two brothers. They have a two bay garage and are always busy working on cars. I want this business to stick around, because I have them work on my car, too. So whenever I can, I buy my gas there even though it is generally 1-2 more a gallon than the cigarettes & megabucks gas station up the street. What has this really cost me? If I fill up with $24, I have bought about 16 gallons of gas, so making this decision has set me back 16-32. A low enough price to help ensure a locally owned full service gas station remains in the neighborhood. And they don't charge for air.

"Resisting the bribe" of low price is one of the pillars of how I make green decisions. Once you can bring factors other than price into a purchasing decision, you free yourself to connect your purchase to its true costs.

For over a hundred years the policy of the USDA has been cheap food. As the US has grown into a worldwide empire, this policy has become entwined with our foreign policy, so that now cheap food from the US has become an economic weapon, used by Uncle Sam just like Rockefeller used his cheap oil. Once we look what keeps the price low, we see that cheap food is one of the world's greatest evils.

If you look at almost any problem farmers have, it can be fixed by paying them more for the food they raise. Don't subsidize anything, just pay them more. Consolidation of food retailing has been happening at an ever faster pace. By 1980, Hannaford had bought out or put out of business most of the local markets. For 10 years Shaws has been moving in, but now Wal Mart will undercut them all. They offer the convenience to buy anything at one store, low paid servants to greet you as you enter, and an advertizing budget to alter your thinking to believe your community needs them. And low prices to bribe you into helping to dismantle your neighborhood as they suck funds back to their Arkansas headquarters, where it finances expansion, stockholder happiness and bloated CEO salaries.

Is this where you buy your food? Or do you seek out small stores and farmers who are the fabric of the community that you want. The wonderful thing about small business is that just a few modest sales make such a big difference. The amount a family will spend on food at a farmers' market is a noticable portion of each farmer's income. Don't think about keeping your money out of Wal Mart, Hannaford or Shaws, where you'll never be missed. Rather think about adding it to a community farmer. That's where it will make the biggest difference.

Whenever you are about to buy something, think about what effects you are having on your community, the environment, social justice, or anything else you can see connected to the cost of your purchase. Ask yourself if you are being bribed with convenience and price to make a purchase that really works against your values.

Every purchase you make has a cost as well as a price. It makes us greener to stop and think about the cost behind a purchase.

Tom Roberts and partner Lois Labbe grow two acres of organic vegetables at Snakeroot Organic Farm in Pittsfield.

27 Organic Farm Road, Pittsfield Maine 04967
owned and operated by
Tom Roberts & Lois Labbe
Tom: Tom@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5417
Lois: Lois@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5418

Gardening for the public since 1995.

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