Pinwheel Farm

June 21, 2008 at 10:27 am Leave a comment

I have a friend who has a farm. But even if this wasn’t my friend’s farm I would still want to write about it and help. Except if this wasn’t my friend’s farm I probably would not even know about it. I wouldn’t know. And many people who would care and might be able to help do not know. The City of Lawrence may be counting on that.

My friend’s farm is a near neighbor to the City of Lawrence. Because of the close association of farm and City, it’s possible to ride a city bus line and then walk a short block or two and buy fresh eggs from pastured chickens, watch sheep being sheared, stop by and help out in the vegetable beds for an hour or three, become a part of the Community of Life at Pinwheel Farm.

The City of Lawrence isn’t seeing it. Lawrence needs to run some water pipelines into the City from “elsewhere” and the easiest, most direct route for that slices right through one of the carefully tended pastures at Pinwheel Farm. This is justified by Lawrence on the claim that this is “undeveloped land.”

In the Ominvore’s Dilema, Michael Pollan wrote about a man in Virginia who called himself a “grass farmer.” When I read that section of the book, I thought — Yes, indeed that exactly describes my friend Natalya. She can walk into her pasture and name every species of plant — friend and foe — that has taken up in that space. She wages extensive battle against plants that don’t suit the use to which she puts the pasture and she actively encourages those that are beneficial to her purposes. The pasture that the City of Lawrence proposes to bi-sect is probably the most carefully and mindfully developed land in the path of the proposed pipeline.

Here are some of the effects this pipeline might have on Pinwheel Farm. It will bi-sect one of the prime grazing pastures for the sheep and render the far side of that pasture and the wilderness area beyond that inaccessible to Natalya for the duration of the construction. This will force her to drastically reduce the size of her flock. Customers for her young lamb, tasty sheep sausage and wool will be left without their regular source for these products. Customer relationships slowly built up over years of work and time will be severed. Heavy construction equipment will tear apart the carefully maintained tilth of the soil in the pasture, compact the ground, and spread undesirable plant seeds and parts. Natalya is especially concerned about the spread of some dodder that she has been trying to control in this pasture. Dodder is an invasive, parasitic plant that enjoys a zero-tolerance ban in all sold seed in all 50 states. Not only will the construction spread the dodder infestation around Pinwheel’s pasture but Natalya is quite concerned that the disruption may carry dodder to her neighbor’s soybean field.

Of course, Natalya and her neighbors and friends have been doing what they can to question and stop this move on the part of the City of Lawrence to rip apart the intricate Community of Life that is Pinwheel Farm. You can read about those efforts on Natalya’s blog Reports from the Farm. But they could use help. Your help. Our help.

Tomorrow, Natalya and others will be honoring that Community of Life by reading out the names of each individual (plant and animal) who is a part of Pinwheel Farm.

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Entry filed under: Community.

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