The summer solstice this week marks the celestial beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere, and for us here in South Central Kentucky it's the very heart of the growing season. Despite the hot dry weather, your local farms are producing a rampant abundance of fruits and vegetables, and local gardens are bursting out in riotous bloom.
Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and peaches will continue to make a strong showing at the market, along with sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, green beans - the whole range of summer's bounty from a great variety of farms from Bowling Green and the surrounding region.
We're celebrating the summer season this week with live music by guitarist Brad Hamil, and a visit from The Bowling Green Greenways Commission and Bicycle Bowling Green. We invite you to bring your bike for a tune up and talk to city planners about your neighborhood parks and greenspaces in Bowling Green. We'll even sweeten the pot by giving a free tote bag to bikers at the market this Saturday.
It's just one more way that the SKY Farmers Market is helping you to make Bowling Green a greener place.
See you there!
Greenways of Bowling Green
The Greenways Commission of Bowling Green and Warren County will be at the SKY Farmers Market this Saturday June 23 to share information about Bowling Green's Greenways and to get your feedback about the city's plans for developing and managing Bowling Green's greenspaces. They will be joined at the market by Bicycle Bowling Green, an organization committed to making Bowling Green a bicycle friendly community.
Bicycle Bowling Green will be providing a free bike tune-up clinic at the market. How's that sound for a Saturday morning's adventure? Get your bike oiled, aired, adjusted, and tightened, load up on fresh, tasty, nutritious, locally grown foods, then go for a ride on the Greenways!
What is a Greenspace? a Greenway? a Greenbelt?
A Greenspace is an open space such as a park, wildlife refuge, or undeveloped floodplain.
A Greenway is a linear greenspace along a natural or man-made corridor. Natural corridors in Warren County include river frontage, stream valleys, or ridgelines. Man-made corridors include abandoned railroad lines, utility rights-of-way, or scenic highways.
A Greenbelt is a network of greenspaces and greenways that can encircle as well as infiltrate a community.
You can learn more about Bowling Green's Greenways Commission, their plans for Bowling Green's greenbelt, and provide feedback by taking the Greenways Survey on the commission's website.
What Do You Do About the Bugs?
This is probably the most common question people ask about farming and gardening. It's a fair question and an important issue in raising crops. But the question itself betrays a widespread prejudice and antagonism toward the insect kingdom.
Sure, nobody likes bedbugs, ticks, and mosquitos. Potato beetles, aphids, and squash borers are destructive pests on our food crops. And certain stinging insects and poisonous spiders definitely command our respect. But these troublesome bugs are only a minuscule proportion of the many amazing insects, spiders, and other arthropods that literally fill the world.
The majority of animal species in the world are bugs of one kind or another. They exist in a fantastic and beautiful world that's often hidden from us because of our size and our habits. But the chirring of crickets is just as much a part of the symphony of the natural world as the singing of birds. To come to grips with the natural world one must ultimately come to make peace with the bugs.
Good Bugs and Bad Bugs
One of the first steps in opening your heart to the bugs is distinguishing between good bugs and bad. Spiders, ladybugs, and lacewings do us a favor by eating other bugs that might otherwise cause us trouble. Pollinating insects are crucial to plant life. Many of our food crops would fail to produce without pollination by honeybees or wild pollinators. Without these beneficial insects we would immediately find ourselves in very deep trouble.
But the dichotomy between good bugs and bad takes only a limited view that stops at whether an animal provides a service to humanity. Besides, as you look more closely, the distinction between good and bad becomes less clear.
Is a preying mantis a good bug when it's eating a Japanese beetle and a bad bug when it eats a bee? If ladybugs are good bugs, aren't aphids also good for feeding them? What about the class of wasps that prey on spiders? Mud daubers, the shiny blue-black wasps with distinctive mud nests, parasitize black widows. Do they make the cut?
When seen in context, it becomes harder and harder to parse out good from bad and the distinction begins to lose its meaning. In the end, they're all just interconnected parts of a greater whole. The truth is that most bugs just go about their business without any clear and direct consequences for human activity, and their purpose in life has very little if anything to do with us.
Once you get over the creeps, you'll find that bugs are every bit as cool as the big and glamorous animals like lions, tigers, rhinos, elephants, whales, and crocodiles. What's more, you can find them right in your own backyard and neighborhood. Incredible life and death dramas, amazing feats, and bizarre lifestyles are taking place all around us every day.
Dragonflies are the fastest insects in the air, capable of bursts of speed up to 35 mph while they hunt prey on the wing. Dragonflies lay their eggs around water and the larva lives a fully aquatic life for up to five years before becoming an adult. Dragonflies are among the oldest insects on earth and the first to fly. Dragonfly fossils have been found in 300 million year old rock in France. These early dragonflies were a foot long with a wingspan of thirty inches. Now that's a big bug!
Ambush Bugs lurk quietly on flowers, their garish, multicolored patterns hiding them from their prey - the wasps, bees, flies, moths, and butterflies that visit flowers to collect nectar and pollen. Strong legs grasp their prey while a sharp proboscis drains them of fluids, leaving a dry husk behind. Small colorful crab spiders use the same strategy of lurking on flowers waiting for pollinators. Who knew that flitting carelessly from flower to flower could be so dangerous?
Botflies reproduce by mugging a mosquito and laying their eggs on the mosquito's proboscis. When the mosquito bites a mammal, the botfly egg is inserted under its skin where the larva develops, painfully feeding on the flesh of its host until it emerges as an adult. If you really want to be creeped out, there's a whole genre of internet videos of people removing botfly larvae from their bodies.
These are just a few of the more ordinary bugs we live amongst. When it comes to bugs, there are so many of them living in so many different places and conditions, that just about anything you can imagine - and a lot you never would have - has already been done by a bug.
Live and Let Live
So what's to be done about the bugs? On our farm, the bugs are left to fend for themselves while we focus on raising healthy plants. Pests and diseases are usually the symptoms of poor health rather than the cause. There's more to be gained from listening to them than there is from killing them. Besides, it's a lot more fun that way. If the world is what you make of it, then what's it going to be? A battleground or a garden?
Name That Bug Contest
Whether you're a bleeding-heart bug-hugger or a screaming spider-stomper, you can enter to win our Name That Bug Contest.
Name the bug in this picture to be entered in a drawing to win a SKY Farmers Market tote bag full of market goodies!
The deadline to enter is this Friday June 22 at 8pm. The winner will be chosen at random from all entries, whether the answer is right or wrong. The winner will be notified by email Friday night and can pick up their prize at the SKY Farmers Market on Saturday.
The answer and the prize winner will be announced in next week's issue of the SKY Farmers Market newsletter. Good Luck!
This simple and delicious treat can be made with any fresh fruit. Substitute peaches or other seasonal fruits if you prefer.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 T. baking powder
- 1 t. salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 2-3 T. butter
- 1 quart blackberries
Preheat oven to 350º.
Taste berries. If not really sweet, add sugar to taste and let sit for 30 minutes or so.
Put butter in a 9x13 pan and put it in the oven to melt.
Mix dry ingredients together and add water, stirring to get a smooth batter.
Take the hot pan out of the oven, pour in batter, then distribute berries over the batter, including any liquid.
Bake until the batter is browned on the edges. It will rise over the fruit as it bakes.
Let cool (if you can wait), then gobble it down!