Field Notes - V18N16 - October 29 & November 1

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upcoming events Volunteer: Service Saturday Saturday, November 2, 2013 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Join the Accokeek Foundation on the 1st Saturday of every month, from 10 am to 1 pm, to get your hands dirty volunteering around site. This month’s Service Saturday will be a gleaning day on the Ecosystem Farm. Help us spread the love and veggies this November by volunteering to harvest the “leftover” summer crops from the field to be donated to a local food bank.

field notes

Volume 18 | Number 16 | October 29 & November 1, 2013

Ecosystem Farm at Accokeek | 301-283-2113 |

November Stitch ‘n Time Saturday, November 9, 2013 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Stitch ‘n Time is a volunteer-based textiles club where members enjoy learning about the cultivation of fleece, dyeing of wool, and colonial textiles. Club members join Foundation staff and other textile artists to use wool from the farm’s heritage breed sheep to card, spin, and knit. For details on any event, please visit

Hello CSA Community, We have been graced by the cold shift in the nature of our work that comes when we have been hit with our first hard frost. It’s a bittersweet but necessary event, for at what other time in farming life do you watch such a dramatic and sweeping change in such a short amount of time? It grants me the ability to accept the destruction of our summer crops, marking another season pass. At the same time, we remark with awe on the diversity we still have on the farm right now; the greens continue to sweeten in the cold, and the holdouts from summer give us one more abundant push. Please eat it all with joy and have a fun Halloween week! love and dried flowers, Farmer Becky p.s. This will be our last week of daylight savings time, and therefore our last week of pickups at the farm. Starting next week, our Farmer Happy Hour week, November 5 & 8, we will be picking up at the Education Center on the main Foundation property. Come on out and enjoy some warm company and warm beverages with us next week!

Ecosystem Farm Manager Rebecca Cecere Seward Farm Apprentices Alex Binck, Holli Elliott Farm and Garden Coordinator Daniel Michaelson Volunteers Rosemary Zechman, Amanda Truett, Tom Ellwanger, Mary Lynn Davis, Yvonne Brown, Terrance Murphy, Ethan Carton, Cairna Bode

tap the soil find community spread to leave

Microbes in our Midst by Daniel Michaelson At the root (pun intended) of all food production anywhere are hordes of microorganisms - organisms too small to see with the naked eye (except in the aberrant case of macroscopic bacteria as large as a millimeter). These include all of the prokaryotes, namely the bacteria and archaea; and various forms of eukaryotes, comprising the protozoa, fungi, algae, microscopic plants (green algae), and animals such as rotifers and planarians. Sure they are small, but without them nothing would be "alive," including us. For example, bacteria are responsible for cycling the carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients that plants and, thus, humans require for life. When it gets cold, as it is doing now, the rate of microbial action in soils slows down, resulting in decreased rates of nutrient cycling and availability to plants. Consequently, plants cannot grow as well. This can be observed in the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, etc.), which show purpling in the leaves when freezing temperatures become common. The purpling indicates phosphorus deficiency. Without the soil bacteria and fungi that break down complex organic matter into simple inorganic forms, dead plant matter would build up indefinitely, holding on to nutrients otherwise available to young plants. This phenomenon partially explains the massive nutrient stores in arctic regions that are under threat of becoming massive carbon sources, as the Earth warms. I digress. In addition to being essential to the actual growth and nutrient cycling process of agriculture, microbes - especially bacteria - allow us to digest what we grow, buy, and ultimately eat. Take, as an example, the 100 trillion or so microorganisms that we carry in our intestines, outnumbering the total number of cells in the human body by a factor of ten or greater. One of the primary services our bacterial allies provide is fermentation of undigested carbohydrates. They also aid in absorption of other nutrients, such as short chain fatty acids, and with the synthesis of vitamins B

Whether cycling nutrients in our fields, or fermenting cabbage in our colons, microorganisms are our friends, more than our enemies. Brought to you by the microbes in Dan's guts.