Jefferson an organic Founder

Oct. 1, 2010

No bunch of manure: Jefferson an organic Founder

By Jim PathFinder Ewing

How’s your fall garden? With the drought we’re having, keep it watered.

Last week, we suggested planting greens to have fresh leafy foods when the weather turns cooler (if the weather cooperates!). If you haven’t done so, go ahead.

You want to use composted manure, not raw manure, at least one year old, to avoid exposure to E. coli, salmonella and other pathogens. (If in doubt for a product, look it up online at

To be organic, you want to use natural methods. Chemical fertilizers can destroy the soil’s microorganisms. By contrast, organic fertilizers depend on microorganisms in the soil to release the nutrients.

Repeated use of synthetic chemicals depletes the soil of trace minerals that go into the produce you grow.

We want to build soil, not deplete it, and create plants that thrive, bearing the most nutritious foods.

In doing this, we are patriotically following a Founding Father of our country.

According to Peter Hatch, director of Gardens and Grounds, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, none other than Thomas Jefferson was a leader in practicing the fundamentals of organic farming.

In 1792 Jefferson, while serving as secretary of state in Philadelphia, received a letter from his daughter, Martha, complaining about the insect-riddled plants in the Monticello vegetable garden. His response, Hatch says in an article in The Huffington Post, is a stirring anthem to sustainable practices:

“We will try this winter to cover our garden with a heavy coating of manure,” Jefferson wrote. “When it is rich it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance, and of the best quality. I suspect that the insects which have harassed you have been encouraged by the feebleness of your plants; and that has been produced by the lean state of the soil.”

Health, safety, nutrition -those are the bywords of organic farming, and it is important that those who wish to grow organic turn any preconceived notions of “fertilizer” upside down.

Fix this in mind: Soil is life. You cannot just dump “life” into the earth, without a result that is lifeless and bland. But you can nurture the earth, so that it proliferates.

In organic farming, you are a partner with the earth and all the beings that inhabit it. Your organic garden is an expression of the care and love you give to it. The “fruits” of your effort provide you with sustenance and joy.

Recipe from Annette (my wife):

Grilled Okra Kebabs

Put washed and dried okra and a quartered onion into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of oil (olive oil is good) and seasonings of your choice, then toss to lightly coat the veggies. Lemon pepper, regular seasoned salt, garlic, curry, or even barbecue seasoning is good. Add more oil if necessary. Put veggies on skewers, grill a few minutes on each side, to desired doneness (with lid on the grill closed.) Watch carefully, these kabobs cook quickly. Serve immediately.

Good news for folks in Crystal Springs. Organizers are starting a new Farmer’s Market for local produce. The kick-off for The Downtown Market is Oct. 9, with sales Oct. 23 and Nov. 13. According to organizers, the first market is free to all vendors (crafts, baked goods, etc.). For more information, call Mary Dell McCoy, (601) 927-1533, or Casey Kitchens, (601) 497-1044.

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture is having a workshop Monday on retail produce operations, including CSAs – community supported agriculture. For more information, call Paige Manning, (601) 359-1163, or write:


The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering grants for local schools in high poverty areas for creating community gardens (application due in November). See: http://www.fns.

If you really want to be sure about your manure, “brew” your own “tea” – here’s a step by step guide: http://www.manure

Reader feedback: Local foods: There are about a dozen folks growing organic in the Jackson area; most sell at Rainbow Natural Foods or at the Farmer’s Market on High Street, which includes those who previously sold at Belhaven Market.

Here’s a link:

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit


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