By Amanda Sears
There will be a meeting on April 1, from noon to 1:30 p.m., at the Madison County Cooperative Extension Office concerning the Madison County Farm-to-School Program.
This meeting is an open discussion on how best our community of farmers can come together to supplement our children’s school food with locally grown, fresh, healthy, and clean vegetables.
Farmers who are interested in providing produce to the school system should attend.
The focus of this meeting is to discuss the procurement (buying) process from both the school system and the farmer’s point of view.
There will be a new strategy presented by Acres of Harvest Farmer Collective.
This group plans to discuss the feasibility of a single contact point for farmers and a single location for deliveries.
Also, the school system has standards for each product they purchase and these standards will be discussed and how best to achieve them.
Using manures in the vegetable garden
Adding animal manures can be an excellent way to improve garden soils. Manures can provide many of the micronutrients required for robust plant growth.
In addition, adding manure can have significant beneficial effects on the water-and nutrient-holding capacity of the soil.
The breakdown of manure in the soil results in a variety of organic gums and resins that bind soil particles together, improving soil structure.
Finally, adding manure can greatly improve living conditions for the wide array of beneficial microorganisms that live in healthy soils.
While the list of benefits is impressive, take care that the manure is right for the use when applying manures to vegetable gardens.
Only apply manures that have been aged for at least six months, as this will eliminate the risk of burning plants with excess ammonia.
It is best to use manures that have been properly composted (to a temperature of at least 140 degrees F), as this will kill any E. coli that may have been present in the raw manure.
Proper composting is critical for using manure in food gardens to avoid potential human illness.
Manures from carnivorous animals should never be used, such as cats or dogs. Additionally, if soils have high levels of salts, feed lot manure should be avoided as they will add to the problem.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.