Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Green Jobs

What is a green job?  There's plenty of talk about high-tech green -- windmills, LED traffic lights, Fuel-efficient car design.  Other jobs are more system oriented -- how to get public transit to operate better, or how to encourage people to better insulate their homes.  These are the glamor jobs of the green economy.  But they are expensive.  The are capital intensive and take a long time to pay off.    In Michigan you can read about "bipartisan legislation to offer another $200 million in tax breaks to encourage the development of advanced battery technology in Michigan. Granholm signed a law in January offering $335 million in refundable tax credits for developing, manufacturing and assembling the batteries at the heart of next-generation electric vehicles."

That's great and all.  But that's half a billion dollars for an industry that doesn't even exist yet and might not end up staying in Michigan.  Do we want a repeat of the last 100 years where Michigan led the nation in auto innovation, but then saw those jobs leave the state, and ultimately the country, leaving behind decidedly un-green rotting factories, industrial pollution and laid off workers?

I'm not looking for a state handout, but a bigger acknowledgment and awareness that farming is a green job.  We are doing more to help the local economy and the local environment that any battery factory.  We are keeping farmland fertile and beautiful.  We are feeding our neighbors healthful delicious food.  We are living in a small community and keeping our dollars here -- none of our profit goes to shareholders across the Atlantic.  And best of all, our job can't leave.  We are rooted in place.  A strong investment in long-term sustainable farming will continue to help the state in perpetuity.  People always need to eat. 

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tom Sawyer would be proud

Jess and I hosted a sign making party last night. We invited our
friends over and after lulling them into relaxation with wine and
cheese, put them to work drawing and painting signs for our
vegetables. You can see some of their handiwork on our website, under
the What we Grow link. Last night people created more than 40 signs.
There's still 40 more to go, but we made a ton of progress.

I just heard that the average American watches 5 hours of television
PER DAY! Sign making parties are a far cry more fun, productive and
interesting. Seeing everyone's unique artistic style has been really
fun. As our economy worsens and people start contemplating where to
cut back, my vote is for everyone to cancel their cable bill and start
re-engaging with their community.

Thanks Andrew, Matt, Anna, Susie, Sara, Sarah, Corinna, Vanessa,
Katie, Laura, Anya, and Jess.

Monday, March 2, 2009

First signs of life

It's only the first week on March, the snow won't be gone from
Northport for at least another month and we are still living in Ann
Arbor. But we've already started growing things. Jess and I seeded a
tray of leeks last week. We made little pots out of rolled up
newspaper, about the size of toilet paper rolls, and planted four leek
seeds in each. They started poking their heads up in search of light
a couple of days ago. Eliot Coleman, whose organic farming books
are indispensable, suggests just plopping each little tube of four
leeks in the ground, one every foot or so. The leeks grow in little
clumps, already bunched for harvesting, and it is really easy to weed
around them.

Now they are living in our bedroom under a couple of fluorescent
lights. Last night I sang them to sleep with the aid of my banjo.