So our Petaluma Grange took a break from meeting at the Seed Bank this month to meet at Lydia’s Sunflower Center, another part of our tribe where we’ve shared Mark Kitchell’s A Fierce Green Fire film (chosen later by PBS as an Earth Day special) and have a celebration of National Hemp Week scheduled Sat. June 7th, 7pm, something California State Grange has a lot to be proud of. CSG mentored the bill that became law this year: in California, it is now legal to grow hemp, the plant that is related to pot but doens’t get you high – gets you oodles of cloth, paper, even makes up into food stuffs. Until the bill passed, this from our 3x Gov., Jerry Brown: “”Products made from hemp – clothes, food, and bath products – are legally sold in California every day. It is absurd that hemp is being imported into the state, but our farmers cannot grow it.” So now they can – legally. Go Grange and its lobbyist in Sacto! Now working on GMO Free legislation – sign a petition if you see one with Karen Hudson and friends. Who really wants to eat Frankenfood or just not know what we eat?

Celebration of National Hemp Week will make the rounds of various Granges with the film Bringing it Home, co-produced by Native American musician and filmmaker, John Trudell. Expect a dance band to finish the evening Sat. June 7th, 7pm, Lydia’s at 1435 N. McDowell in the Redwood Business park (end of McDowell N.)

Our P Grange meeting last night was typical: a circle of dedicated farmers and friends ready to learn something and share what we have.> <a href="> “>We heard from Melissa Casanova, Suchernova Farm outside Cotati, about herbs(plants used for flavoring, medicine) and the powers they hold to heal, an intro. so we can choose what to delve into further. Huge field! Chinese herbs alone could take years to understand; Ayervadic similar as are Native American and just plain old herbs we grew up with. As Dr. Tierona Lowdog at Andrew Weil’s Center for Integrative Medicine once told me “most heart attacks and cancers never need to happen” (if we exercise, eat wisely and learn traditional healing from many cultures). At our Oasis Farm, we now grow these herbs:

spearmint, lemon verbena, thyme, garlic, raspberry (use the leaves), oregano, basil, cleavers, nettles, borage, chammomile, dill, red clover, aloe vera, garlic even counts. We’ll add some I know but want to learn these first. Melissa’s advice to an inquirer: pick an herb and learn it. Really – they take more than a brief introduction! Just learned (would have known sooner if I listened more) that nettles won’t sting after you douse them in hot water, then you dry and make teas, tinctures, PESTO. Nettles pesto is lush.

Confusing what exactly to say about the Petaluma Grange to the General Public (is that who reads this?) Yes, we’re Talking Farmer but also yes, we’re talking long-term health and wellness benefits not only for us and our bodies sitting at Lydia’s, the Seed Bank, Aqus Cafe or wherever, but we’re actually learning how to bring the soil beneath us back to vibrancy from whatever distress it is in be that overuse without compost tea, bare soil that blows away in the wind, the right amount of moisture and plant mixes – add to that the biodynamic principles of working with natural rythmns of moon and seasons and the whole thing gets fascinating!
Very curious to witness what Melissa will do at Suchernova with her patches of biodynamically raised crops vs. non-biodynamic crops and others among us are becoming certified in biodynamics. I can almost see the results.

Last month at P Grange, we heard from Harald Hoven, Director, Rafael Gardens, Rudolf Steiner College, that Steiner’s methods, developed in 1924, pan out in that biodynamically raised crops are just more vibrant. Hmmm….will revisit these ideas and probably attempt reading the wooly preponderant book, Agriculture, authored by that idealistic founder of the Waldorf School System. Mr. Hoven claims to have read that tome 40 times.

Me a Farmer? I’m a farmer now, but always love all sorts of things and people – so will go to meet our friends at Aqus Cafe this Sun. May 5th at 10am for Walesafornia Skyped by Paul Johnson from Wales – his merger of Petaluma songsters with whatever he found enroute to Africa, from new pals in his newish home in Wales, etc. Great fun to sing along w. Chris Samson and other singer-songwriter friends at Aqus, the place people go and just go again and again. Thanks, John Crowley! No wonder you were named The Good Egg and marched handsomely down the road in the Butter & Eggs Day Parade Sat!

So should get back to whatever farming happens today on Oasis’ 2 1/2 acre spread – certainly is more work than Wayne and I can possibly but help is on the way (again)! An employee of Lydia’s plans to stay with us while on the festival rounds of summer, helping out with weeding and harvest in exchange for a place to sleep.

Friends are welcome to join us for a Petaluma Grange pizza party evening of May 19th, a Monday. Bring fresh produce or fav pizza topping, sing a bit and watch the stars come up. We will very likely be visited by a Great Horned Owl atop the new house that Wayne built. You can see him clearly with a flashlight and he doesn’t seem to mind a bit. But he’s really more interested in gophers. More gophers to you, owl! Check out Facebookpages for Petaluma Grange and our various farms listed. Amazing grace.