This week the cherries are ready. So are the raspberries, red huckleberries, black currants, goumi berries, salmon berries, native blackberries, and strawberries. Several kinds of jam have been made. But in meetings, it seems like all we talk about is compost. Brent has a hook-up for, he tells us, infinite horse manure – picked up carefully by the teenage riding students who work at the stable, and free of sawdust bedding. However, it is believed that, because of their four stomachs, cows produce a higher grade of manure. There is no hook-up for cow manure. But with sub-par performance by the carrots and results we saw with cow manure at Shambala and Anananda farms, there is an eagerness to see what it could do here.
But compost doesn’t end with the horse poop vs. cow poop debate. There’s also the Hugelkultur, which basically at this point requires just a huge labor push to move forwards. The theory of Hugelkultur is that you basically pile up a bunch of wood and brush, then cover it over with soil and compost and keep it moist. The wood breaks down, and the soil that results is rich and holds water well. We have our big piles of wood and brush; we’re still missing that big pile of dirt on top.
But so far the Hugelkultur and the cow manure are both just talk. And, contrary to the message on the ceremonial composting t-shirt, compost doesn’t just happen. And that’s why I got to spend a morning with Douglas, the master composter, chipping a mix of food waste, brush, garden clippings, and leaves saved from the fall for just this purpose. Food compost from a whole community: pretty gross going through the chipper. But I guess that’s what it takes to grow those berries. You can’t harvest every day.
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