Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rainwater Collection Barrel

I installed my first rainwater collection barrel on Friday (see picture). Saturday night it rained. The 55 gallon barrel was filled to overflowing. The barrel sits about 20 feet from my vegetable garden. The water from the barrel will be perfect for watering the garden. The barrel should reduced the amount a city water I need for my garden.

I obtained the barrel at a class my city presented on rainwater collection. As part of the $10 class fee, each student received a water barrel. The barrels came from a food supplier who had used them to shipped tomatoes or jalapenos. In class, the students added a hole in the cover and a spigot to make the barrels suitable for rainwater harvesting. At home, I moved the barrel next to a rain gutter down spout and ran the spout into the barrel. I put the barrel on some cinder blocks so the spigot would be high enough to place a bucket under. Seems to work great.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I've been thinking about composting for a while. Several weeks ago I purchased a SoilSaver composting bin. I thought about making a homemade bin which is easy enough to do but never gotten around to it. I decided to purchase the SoilSaver bin when I saw it as Sam Clubs for $40. This is not a bad price for a retail compost bin. The bin itself is made from 100% recycled plastic.

I began filling it with leaves and grass from the yard. I've also been adding plant based food wastes: vegetables and fruit scraps, tea bags and coffee grinds. The bin is about 15 cubic feet. It takes a lot of organic stuff to fill it up especially since the grass hasn't started growing and leaves won't be available in quantity until fall. However, I hope to have some composted soil from want I can put in it now in a couple of months. I'll write updates as I get results. In the mean time, I am keeping some food wastes out of the trash bin.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Agricultural-Industrial Complex

I've been reading a lot lately about how food is manufactured in this country. The natural process of growing food, raising farm animals and processing food had become totally industrialized. Today's global corporation can't wait on nature to provide the food they want to sell. Nature is two slow and unpredictable for today's executives and boardrooms. Food must be able to be manufactured on a predictable time schedule just like any other manufactured good or commodity. Even farm animals have been reduced to "meat production units" which are a given growth hormones and antibiotics to maximize their production.

Today integrated food conglomerates control everything from the genetically engineered seeds to the final processed product we purchase in a cardboard box that contains a list of ingredients we can't pronounce and can't comprehend. The food produced is not to provide nutrition for people but to provide profits for corporations. The way the food is produced may not be friendly to the environment or healthy to consume but it ensures a large supply of edible stuff that can keep corporate profits high.

The most common name for the industrial food business is Agribusisness. It is a portmanteaux that combines Agriculture and Business. Other terms include Corporate Farming and Factory Farming. I don't think any of these words captures the complexities of the physical processes, corporate entities, food processing factories and relationships between agriculture, business and the government that exist in bringing edible food substances to the tables of America. So I coined a new term:

Agricultural-Industrial Complex

Agricultural-Industrial Complex borrows from the Military-Industrial Complex that was in common use in the 1960s and 1970s. The term military-industrial complex represented the essense of tight relationship between the military, defense industry and the civilian parts of our government including the Congress. The same type of relationship exists today between agriculture, business and the government. The governments support of industrial agriculture is inherent in the farm bill passed last fall and all the farm bills for the lass 30 years. The subsidies in the bill support industrial agriculture and the comgalmorate food processors. I think Agricultural-Industrial Complex is the best term to describe how food gets manufactured and delivered from the farm all the way to our mouths.

The Corporate Farming page in Wikipedia provides a great overview of the Agricultural-Industrial Complex