Thursday, December 12, 2013

Farming Plus Clarinet

Here's a series called Around the Farm Table, with videos about sustainable farming that a former Princetonian, Joe Maurer, is filming in Wisconsin. They've had four shows on PBS thus far. I contribute clarinet improvs for Joe's original music. It's a show populated by upbeat people and very healthy plants and animals.

A segment called Picnic in the Pasture pays a visit to a farm that does "forest gardening", (four and a half minutes into the video) also known as permaculture, which breaks down the distinctions between forest, orchard and field. Food, fuel and medicines all grow in the same area. For fruits, there are red currants, elderberries, quince, saskatoon, honeyberries and kiwi. There's talk of guilds, defined as a "perennial polyculture of multipurpose plants" that grow well together.

In my twenties, into organic gardening and companion planting, with little interest in native plants, I had this dream of an acre of fruit trees and vegetables so auspiciously planted that each plant would prosper in just the right niche. Squash would spread in the light shade of asparagus or small trees. Beans would climb on corn or sunflowers. Weeds wouldn't have a chance in all the lush growth. The soil would be rich with organic matter, the work minimal. I would bask in the shade with a refreshing beverage, periodically venturing in to harvest what I needed. This show has that feel, though it's clear there's a lot of hard work behind the joy and bounty.

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