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"Many cultures are based on agriculture. All civilizations are based on agriculture. Without sustainable agriculture there can be no sustainable civilization. We can do without a sustainable agriculture in exactly the same way we can do without a sustainable civilzation, but most of us don't like the alternatives."

When the door of spring opens in the Clackamas County community, the neighborhood is abuzz with the sound of the lawn mower, the weed whacker and the sweet singing of our local birds. Sometimes you can detect a slight hint of a “farmy odor” coming from behind the local Lowe’s store. We know you can catch a whiff of us most any week! That’s us, McFarlane’s Bark, composter in the Portland metropolitan area since 1965. We are hard at work composting curbside collected grass clippings and yard debris along with the loads brought in by local residents and landscape companies.

Organic farming is the safe way to feed your family and it’s a good response to the climate changes, also known as global warming. Organic systems use less fossil fuel energy. So plant your garden with the “no till” or “no plow” method. Use lots of compost and do not use herbicides or pesticides. Why? Because the application of soluble nitrogen fertilizers stimulates more rapid and complete decay of organic matter, sending carbon into the atmosphere instead of retaining it in the soil as an organic system does. Organic farming methods increase stored carbon and retain other soil nutrients, thus these improved soils hold the nutrients in place for uptake by the plant. In addition, the organic method will reduce nitrate and other nutrient runoff into streams.

The microbial activity in your soil plays an important role in helping to slow down the decay of organic matter. Mychorriza fungi is the soil doctor, working to conserve organic matter by aggregating organic matter with clay and minerals. You may think your hard and chunky Oregon clay soil is hard to work with, but it is one of the healthiest soils in the world. It is loaded with the right amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other elements that are essential to perpetuate healthy growth in your garden.

Keep on Recycling. McFarlane’s will continue to recycle their plastics, glass, paper, e-waste and metals. By the way, in April of 2008 McFarlane’s recycled 19,000 pounds of scrap metal; obviously, we do more than produce compost.

Continued education about recycling, organic gardening methods and sustainable life styles are an ever increasing value to all of us. Let’s all strive to obtain the products that can be used without harm to the environment or human health.

By: Kathleen Mcfarlane