Through the Night

——-

Up in rhythm
sound the horns
the red bud opens
a world is born.

Silver Maple, willow
and rose
color awakens
the hidden

exposed.

Every end begins
another
leaf on earth

the model cover.

Layers of time
layers of light
a band of stars
plays through

the night.

——-

digger

Douglass DeCandia is the Food Growing Program Coordinator at the Food Bank for Westchester, which operates on five sites located throughout Westchester County – Leake & Watts Residential Campus, New York School for the Deaf, Sugar Hill Farm at Westchester Land Trust, Westchester County Department of Correction and Woodfield Cottage.

From a Dream

——-

Springtime reflects
off the lakes still water.
A perfect mirror
to every cloud,
leaf
and song
emerging from sleep.

To the peeper’s choir
set beneath a long
yellow willow,
we woke
with wonder in our eyes,
entangled in blankets

and each other,

Like the world
becoming

from a dream.

——-

digger

Douglass DeCandia is the Food Growing Program Coordinator at the Food Bank for Westchester, which operates on five sites located throughout Westchester County – Leake & Watts Residential Campus, New York School for the Deaf, Sugar Hill Farm at Westchester Land Trust, Westchester County Department of Correction and Woodfield Cottage.

Granite Hills

——-

I have left many thoughts
to these granite hills.
Out of my pockets
and my hair they fall
upon cold, wet earth

into the cracks of coming Spring.

I let go what I must to heal,
stepping to the rhythm of growth.
And as the sun rises,
a beautiful, green leaf
emerges
from the darkness.

——-

digger

Douglass DeCandia is the Food Growing Program Coordinator at the Food Bank for Westchester, which operates on five sites located throughout Westchester County – Leake & Watts Residential Campus, New York School for the Deaf, Sugar Hill Farm at Westchester Land Trust, Westchester County Department of Correction and Woodfield Cottage.

Our Song

——-

The moment between
a note and

another;

A perfect emptiness
imprinted

by a seed.

The Drummer’s hand lifts,
dawn strikes the mountain

and we unfold.

Leaf by leaf,
the song

emerges.

——-

digger

Douglass DeCandia is the Food Growing Program Coordinator at the Food Bank for Westchester, which operates on five sites located throughout Westchester County – Leake & Watts Residential Campus, New York School for the Deaf, Sugar Hill Farm at Westchester Land Trust, Westchester County Department of Correction and Woodfield Cottage.

The Healing Potential of Natural Food and Farming

(*I am using the word “natural” to describe a quality of substance and action which promotes the integrity of the plant and the living-system from which the plant comes from.)

Healing is a process toward a state of Health. Some healing needs to be done alone, within ourselves, and some between and beyond ourselves. Many of the “diseases” facing us today – malnutrition, community food insecurity, climate change – are symptoms of dis-ease, effects of their own cause, rooted in a disconnection between and among ourselves and nature. Healing takes knowledge of a problem, and the courage to follow it to, and address it at, its source. Growing and eating natural food are tangible, daily acts we can take in reconnecting on the path of healing ourselves, our communities and the living system of the Earth.

NUTRITION

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

Our health depends on good nutrition, and good nutrition depends on the presence of minerals in plants, which depends on the presence of those minerals in the soil. The soil “micro-biome” (bacteria, fungi, protozoa…) act like the plants digestive system; assimilating these minerals into complex forms that are available to the plant to use as food. These “complexed” minerals, or compounds, join together and help to feed the biology and form enzymes, DNA, complex carbohydrates, lipids, plant secondary metabolites, and the other building blocks essential to the health and resilience of the plant (see The Hidden Half of Nature, by Bikle and Montgomery). Eating these plants, our bodies build with these blocks our own health and resilience*. Like in the soil, our gut “micro-biome” makes these nutrients available for our body and mind to use as food. *Approximately 70% of the cells maintaining our immune system live within our digestive tract. (Jerry Brunetti)

And so, just like in the soil, we depend on minerals and biology to create good nutrition. When minerals and biology are not present in the soil, plants and people experience malnutrition, and malnutrition creates the conditions for disease to overcome resilience. Today, the top causes of death in the U.S. are diet-related – 1) Heart Disease, 2) Cancer, 5) Stroke, 7) Diabetes (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). At the same time, science is showing that average nutrient levels in our food are far lower now than they were a century ago – between 25 and 80 percent, depending on the specific nutrient and crop (USDA). Pesticides and anti-biotics (on and in our food and medicine) are used with little regulation, acting as “bio-cides” in our gut and in the soil.

The food system, as it is, does not show many signs of changing itself. I believe, though, that there is a growing awareness among people of the problems that nutrient deficient foods and life-less soil are having on our health, and we are taking the steps ourselves, as individuals together in community, to grow, eat and share healing food.

COMMUNITY FOOD SECURITY
“Land is the basis of all freedom, justice and equality.” – Malcolm X
 

Education, affordability and access for all people to good food are tenets of Community Food Security. By joining these principles with access to land and natural farming practices, the potential of plants and people are realized together. When the land is cared for and stewarded with knowledge and compassion, by individuals who are able and willing, entire communities (wealthy and poor) are empowered with self-reliance and relieved of the dependence on a fragile food system. Through acts that heal the soil, plants receive good nutrition and proceed in their natural tendency toward fertility, producing fruit and beauty in abundance.  A lot of good food can be grown on a little bit of well-cared-for land.

If food insecurity is a problem, community-based natural farming and education, affordability and access to good food for all people are ways to address it.

CLIMATE HEALTH and REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” – Masanobu Fukuoka
 

Healthy plants carry nutrition and positive, nurturing energy to us and our built environment. Healthy plants are also very efficient at turning (Atmospheric) Carbon Dioxide into (Soil) Organic Matter. Through the process called Photosynthesis, plants, take Sunlight in through their leaves and transform CO2 and Water into Sugar (Glucose – C6H12O6) and Oxygen. The plant uses some of this sugar directly in its body, while a majority is released into the soil, as “plant root exudates”, feeding the micro-biome and fueling their work breaking down soil minerals and sequestering atmospheric gases into food for the plant. In this process, Carbon that was once in the atmosphere as CO2 is converted and carried by the plant into the Soil, where it is consumed by soil life, stored when they die (as Soil Organic Matter), and used to assimilate minerals into plant food which help the plant body grow and sequester more Carbon and make more sugar…around and around.

As the Earths climate and human society continue to experience extremes, it becomes increasingly important that we recognize our place in the problem and grow more healthy plants. Research, science and empirical observation (see articles listed above) are helping to expose the problem. It is up to us though, as growers and eaters, as parents and guardians, as lovers of life, to find the courage to follow and address it at its roots.

Natural farming is an act of empowerment and humility, returning dignity to the impoverished and removing guilt from the privileged. It brings us up by bringing us closer to the ground; where the little things have everything to teach us.

Douglass DeCandia is the Food Growing Program Coordinator at the Food Bank for Westchester, which operates on five sites located throughout Westchester County – Leake & Watts Residential Campus, New York School for the Deaf, Sugar Hill Farm at Westchester Land Trust, Westchester County Department of Correction and Woodfield Cottage.