Growing more and better food—links of interest

Inspiring story from CNN Turk of Nazmi Iilicali, who took advantage of his poverty (couldn’t afford chemical fertilizers) and his bone-chilling climate (pests and their eggs don’t survive a -50°C winter), to go organic. In a sense, traditional Turkish agriculture was already organic, but applying the modern scientific version greatly increased Nazmi’s yield. Once certified, he soon began to do so well that in 2003 he recruited 633 other farmers to found the Eastern Anatolian Farmers and Breeders Association. Today, the organization has 3,000 members in 12 cities, who grow organic wheat, barley, potatoes, cabbage, cereals and legumes on 200 million square meters of land. “This is achievable everywhere,” Nazmi says. “Everybody can do this as long as they do not forget they are responsible to the land where they were born and fed.”

At the end of the article, you’ll find links to more news about organic and no-till agriculture, including reports on the Rodale research demonstrating their capacity to sequester carbon and help turn back global warming.

Brief book reviews by Colleen Vanderlinken of 5 “must-have” books for urban gardeners or those working on small sites.

Vertical gardens: This article offers beautiful pictures with brief descriptions of “green walls,” one inside (an Anthropologie store) and others outside. These walls are commercial and automated, and their main purpose is aesthetic and air-purifying. If you scale down the concept, however, any food gardener could do it. Imagine an old-fashioned rock garden or rock wall built higher and steeper. Or you could create a wall of cinder blocks (open side facing out and toward the sun), rig the compartments to hold soil, and plant. Herbs and strawberries would love it.

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Bees and how to help them, in our yards

By planting our lawns in clover, we can help the bees, especially if the whole neighborhood acts together. A swatch of suburban lawns planted to clover should be enough to support a healthy beehive.

Write Mr. Ratan Tata a letter. Beg him to let us buy the Tata Nano, a cute little four-seater car that is NOT over-torqued and up-gussied…. And tell your friends to write too. We NEED this car.

Added November 2: Or try this site, for leads to fuel-efficient cars available in the U.S. as of now:  I still want to try the Nano, however. Less is more, and it should be just fine around town. The point is, we need to drop CO2 emissions NOW.                                                                   —Elise

Mr. Ratan Tata

One Indiabulls Centre,

841, Senapati Bapat Marg



Dear Mr. Tata:

I am writing …

The ugly truth shall set us free. It offers hope.

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Why not replenish the nation’s kitty, but locally?

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How is quitting smoking like writing a blog?

Among the founders of Johns Hopkins University—bear with me, please, this story has a point—was a man known as Popsy Welch, who founded the world’s first School of Public Health. The story goes that Popsy’s office was largely consumed with pile upon pile, a shoulder-high mess of books and papers, till the day came for his move to larger quarters. Popsy looked up and nodded to the workmen, then kept …