Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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What a glorious, beautiful Easter we have for 2006! It is my impression that Easter does not often occur when the flowers of Spring are actually blooming at their best. Often Easter comes in March, when things are bleak, or late, when the best of the flowering trees and bulbs are already finished. This year, however, it couldn't look more perfect. I look at my garden, filled with color and delicious scent, and I can't help but rejoice and declare that the Lord is God, the Lord is Good!

I love the Spring sky, and the way the black outline of the trees are just hinted with a chartreuse green lace here and there, as some trees begin to leaf or have "catkins". I love the grass getting more green every day, and I even love the burst of gold from dandelions. As I was weeding the Fairy Garden, I wondered at the mindset of mankind when a celandine poppy that pops up here and there, with its bright gold bloom is celebrated, but a dandelion that pops up nearby is yanked out with vengenance. How can that be? It's not as if dandelions have thorns (after all, roses have thorns and they are allowed to stay!) or sting like nettles. How did the pretty, beneficial dandelion become the enemy?
I think with great tenderness of the many chubby little fingers that brought me bouquets of golden dandelions, accompanied by sweet smiles, big eyes that said "These are for you, Mommy!". How delighted I was to receive them! So, although I adore each daffodil, tulip, hyacinth, lungwort, hellebore, bleeding heart, bergenia, mini iris, violet, frittilaria, and all the other blooms that decorate my garden this Easter, I thank God for the cheery dandelion that carries with it some of my favorite memories.

In January, I spoke at the Illinois Specialty Growers’ Conference.  The kick-off speaker spoke about the future of horticulture, and he made some points that really caught my attention.  All of us are aware of the many ways technology is rapidly changing our lives, but it is only the beginning.  When telephones first came into being, they were few and far between.  The first phone is our house was a big box that hung on the wall.  No one made a call unless it was very important, because the line was shared by 14 other families.  We answered when the local operator rang 1 long, 1 short, 1 long, 1 short on our line.  Calls were kept short.  Now everyone in the family has his/her own cell phone, and kids send 100’s of text messages, besides normal “talking” every day.  But, the capabilities of the cell phone are just beginning!

On January 1, 2006, every item that is supplied to Wal-Mart must carry an rfid.  That’s short for radio frequency identifyer, and it replaces the bar code.  An item will no longer have to be moved so the machine can read the bar code, it just passes thru and the rfid is read no matter how it is placed.  According to our speaker, very soon, every apple, potato or package of meat will carry an rfid.  When you are shopping, soon you will be able to pass your cell phone over that apple, and it will tell you exactly what farm that apple was grown on, where, even what row or specific tree from which it was picked, and what chemicals were used, if any.  You’ll be able to tell in an instant if it was grown organically, came from Washington or Argentina.   Not only that, if you want, when you scan that apple, the price can be immediately transferred from your bank account to the store without even going through the checkout.

If a package of meat turns out to carry mad cow disease, every package from that specific cow, or even from that herd or farm can be tracked easily, even if it is sitting in your refrigerator!  Talk about Big Brother.  Manufacturers will be able to trace every single TV, CD, or package of Clairol hair color sold, so your secret is no longer safe.

It’s predicted that soon each person will have an rfid, too.  If you have an accident, EMT’s will be able scan your body with their cell phone, and get your complete medical history, current prescriptions, blood type, allergy information, physician’s name, etc.   If your are lost while climbing a mountain, rescuers can locate you easily.  Children who are abducted can be tracked immediately, no matter where they are.

He also predicted that as we as a nation demand more fresh vegetables & fruits, consumers will use their computer or cell phone to order fresh produce directly from farmers, who will ship it to arrive right at their door.  As more & more of our land becomes developed by subdivisions & malls, pressure for growers to increase production will mount.  The demand for organic produce will continue to skyrocket, as people become more conscious of quality, and health issues, and can afford it.  One of the fastest rising segments of our economy is the demand for bottled water, as people no longer trust the water coming thru their taps.  People don’t blink at paying $4 for a cup of coffee, as shown by the growth of Starbucks and other specialty coffee shops.

In 1989, the average time it took to prepare dinner was 150 minutes.  Today, it is 12 minutes!  We buy pre-cooked,  microwavable food, salads in bags, or simply pick up dinner at a carry out window.  Carry out is the fastest growing segment of the restaurant business.

We are becoming a techno-crazed society.  Our kids are more familiar with computers and cell phones than they are with grass or fireflies.  They are seldom outdoors.  They think food comes in a box or a bag.  It makes me wonder what the future holds for gardeners.  Are we a dying breed, soon to become extinct?  I like to cook, I like to garden.   I just may be a dinosaur.   Carolee