2013 Farm News
Monsanto already dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the corporation’s tactics–ruthless legal battles against small farmers–is its decades-long history of toxic contamination.
Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the stranger walked in and issued his threat. Rinehart was behind the counter of the Square Deal, his “old-time country store,” as he calls it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm community 100 miles north of Kansas City.
The Square Deal is a fixture in Eagleville, a place where farmers and townspeople can go for lightbulbs, greeting cards, hunting gear, ice cream, aspirin, and dozens of other small items without having to drive to a big-box store in Bethany, the county seat, 15 miles down Interstate 35.
Everyone knows Rinehart, who was born and raised in the area and runs one of Eagleville’s few surviving businesses. The stranger came up to the counter and asked for him by name.
“Well, that’s me,” said Rinehart.
As Rinehart would recall, the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that Rinehart had planted Monsanto’s genetically modified (G.M.) soybeans in violation of the company’s patent. Better come clean and settle with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told him—or face the consequences.
Rinehart was incredulous, listening to the words as puzzled customers and employees looked on. Like many others in rural America, Rinehart knew of Monsanto’s fierce reputation for enforcing its patents and suing anyone who allegedly violated them. But Rinehart wasn’t a farmer. He wasn’t a seed dealer. He hadn’t planted any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a small—a really small—country store in a town of 350 people. He was angry that somebody could just barge into the store and embarrass him in front of everyone. “It made me and my business look bad,” he says. Rinehart says he told the intruder, “You got the wrong guy.”
When the stranger persisted, Rinehart showed him the door. On the way out the man kept making threats. Rinehart says he can’t remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: “Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.”
Scenes like this are playing out in many parts of rural America these days as Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.
When asked about these practices, Monsanto declined to comment specifically, other than to say that the company is simply protecting its patents. “Monsanto spends more than $2 million a day in research to identify, test, develop and bring to market innovative new seeds and technologies that benefit farmers,” Monsanto spokesman Darren Wallis wrote in an e-mailed letter to Vanity Fair. “One tool in protecting this investment is patenting our discoveries and, if necessary, legally defending those patents against those who might choose to infringe upon them.” Wallis said that, while the vast majority of farmers and seed dealers follow the licensing agreements, “a tiny fraction” do not, and that Monsanto is obligated to those who do abide by its rules to enforce its patent rights on those who “reap the benefits of the technology without paying for its use.” He said only a small number of cases ever go to trial.
Some compare Monsanto’s hard-line approach to Microsoft’s zealous efforts to protect its software from pirates. At least with Microsoft the buyer of a program can use it over and over again. But farmers who buy Monsanto’s seeds can’t even do that.
Well, with the cooler temperatures and shorter days, Fall is on its way! Barn Bash '10, the farm's annual fall harvest celebration, will be on Sunday, September 26 from 1:30-4:00 PM RAIN or SHINE! Arcadia Way (Acoustic Folkgrass musicians) will be entertaining, starting around 2 PM. Family and guests are welcome to attend, but please RSVP to email@example.com by Sept. 20 so we can plan accordingly. Click here for directions if you have not been to the farm before.
This is a big potluck! A farm-inspired dish is required for entry, preferably with a farm ingredient. There will be plenty of good food, music, and fun. No need to bring silverware, plates, cups, chairs, or pets. For those who haven't seen the farm, you will be welcome to walk around to view the crops growing in the field and high tunnel.
A $5-10 donation is encouraged to help the farm cover the costs of the band and putting on the party.
Hope you can make it!
Your Farmers, Trent & Ruthie
Photo from last year's Bash of the band seting up. Good people, music, and food followed.
Tomorrow (WED) the farm will be selling produce at the Battle Creek Farmers' Market from 9-12 PM on the corner of Jackson and McCamley in Downtown Battle Creek (across the street from Kellogg Headquarters). We will have numerous crops including beautiful orange, red and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes from the high tunnel, celery, yellow bush beans, basil, dill, onions, Yukon Gold potatoes, collards, peppers and summer squash. We hope to see you there!
Also, we have decided to have a farm market at the farm on Thursday evenings from 4-7 PM. We will set up a stand with produce. No pre-ordering is necessary. However, for greater selection and faster pick up time, please order through the online farm stand on Wednesdays. Here are directions to the farm.
Once again, thanks to all who have supported the farm this season. It's been a great year and we hope for many more, even better, years ahead.
All the best, Trent & Ruthie
This is a quick note to let you know that we will be opening the Green Market today at the farm until 3:30 PM. Produce offerings include beautiful orange and red tomatoes from the farm's new high tunnel, freshly dug Dark Red Norland potatoes, onions, summer squash and zucchini, peppers, celery, mini red cabbage, green beans, collards, kale, and cucumbers.
No online orders. Please just come on out! If you've never seen the farm, this could be an opportunity for you to take a peek and walk around.
This is probably not going to be a weekly occurrence. I pulled a muscle in my back this past WED and am taking it easy by not doing field work this Sunday.
Also, if anyone is interested in placing weekly orders from the online farm stand, please let us know. We will place you on a weekly e-mail list, so you can be reminded to make your order every WED.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend! It looks to be a beautiful, sunny Sunday!
It's been a long time since our last communication with you and we apologize for that. The plants out in the field, CSA, and farmers market have kept us incredibly busy over the past couple months.
Fortunately, most crops are thriving. The summer crops are slowly coming in! Tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, and cucumbers are all new additions to the CSA, farmers markets, and online farm stand this week. We will extend the online farm stand hours to noon on Thursday for 4-7 PM pick-up at the farm.
At the Kalamazoo market, we now will be located each week on the SE corner of the market, just outside of the structure (across from Dave of Young Earth Farm and Kalamazoo Granola). Many of our customers have struggled finding us because we bounce around the market each week, so we hope this is helpful.
Canning classes will be available in Battle Creek on July 15. Learn how to preserve the taste of summer by signing up today! $25. Link here.
Thanks again for your continued support of the farm!
Take care, Trent and Ruthie
Photo of tomatoes in high tunnel:
The indeterminate cherry tomatoes are already 8 feet tall!
Green Gardens can be found at the Kalamazoo Farmers' Market SAT with salad mix, garlic whistles, swiss chard, lettuce, green mustard, radishes, salad turnips, cilantro, and purple-top turnips. The hunt to find us will continue for a few more weeks, so keep your eyes open. We'll be there and happy to see you!
This is just a quick notice letting you know that the farm will be at both the Battle Creek (9-12:30) and Richland (3:30-6:30) Farmers Markets today.
The farm will be at the Battle Creek market again on the first WED of the month in July.
Today we'll have radishes, salad turnips, green mustard, salad mix, arugula, lettuce.
Hope to see you there!
CSA Members: The CSA boxes begin next week!
The online farm stand will continue to be open this week, too, for Thursday night pick-up at the farm.
Be well, Trent
Photo below of the farm's artichoke planting. We tripled the planting this year to 200 plants to accomodate more loss to deer and other pests.
With the first harvests and market last week, the season is now officially in full swing. The radishes are sizing up, multiple rotations of salad greens are looking wonderfully tasty, peas are blossoming, carrots emerging, and tomatoes are already forming on the tomato plants in the high tunnel.
This is a very busy time of year for the farm as we have to plant, harvest, and market simultaneously. We never really ever catch up with things. There are always lists and more lists of things that need to get done. Although it can be a bit overwhelming at times, it's all worth it to be doing this fine work, growing great vegetables to satisfy the taste buds of the wonderful community of people that support the farm.
This week the farm's produce will be available at the Richland Farmers Market on WED (this is the first week), the farm on THURS (through the online farm stand), and the Kalamazoo Farmers Market on Bank Street on SAT. In Kalamazoo, the farm now has a permanent location on the NE corner facing the road, next to Maria's Victorian Bakery. We will have salad mix and radishes at both markets and at the farm. Each forthcoming week will likely include the addition of 1-2 new crops.
Finally, there is a new CSA in Battle Creek. Our Little Farm is a small CSA (20 members) geared towards smaller shares. Larry McAuliffe implements sustainable, permaculture techniques to farm his land in Pennfield Township. For more information, see his localharvest listing here.
CSA newsletters and receipts have either been sent out or wil be sent out in the next two days. Thanks for your patience! The CSA begins in three weeks!
Be well, Trent (and Ruthie)
5/18 Photo of tomato plant in high tunnel:
More 5/18 photos here. High tunnel tomatoes still look on schedule for late June harvest.
The tomatoes in the high tunnel look positively amazing. Some even have a few tomatoes on them! I still think we are looking at late June for the first tomato harvests! YUM! The salad mix and radishes also are looking incredible this week for the farmers markets in Richland and Kalamazoo, as well as for the online farm stand on Thursday evening. The farm now has a permanent spot at the Kzoo market on Bank Street. It is on the NE corner on the road side, right next to Maria's Victorian Bakery. We look forward to seeing you soon! Best, Trent
The first produce of the season will be for sale on Thursday at the farm. Order at the online farm stand on WED and pick up at the farm on Thursday night from 4-7 PM. We will have salad mix! Best, Trent