What makes a community?

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A concept that keeps surfacing in my life, and particularly this last week, is the changing demographic of Linnaea and the Island as a whole. There are fewer families with young children on the Island, more transient youth and an aging community. Community is like a living thing, always undergoing transformation and always in varying degrees of generational succession, but these days it feels a little bit like communities are bleeding away, disintegrating and becoming more disjointed. I remember as a child feeling the pulsing sense of undefeatable energy that was Linnaea, a group of passionate, hard working people coming together to grow food, to make a difference in the world and raise their children in this world they were building. And I guess that feeling wasn’t really restricted to the farm, it seeped out to the whole Island. Many of our parents were here because they wanted to live differently, to rebel, to find and build strong community. Now most of the people I grew up with, raised by this strange, vibrant, community, have moved on. Those of us who choose to stay are stuck with the paradox of the desire to revitalize a home that we love and the sense of stagnating in a tiny world with so little to offer. But I think a healthy, sustained community needs that cross-generational structure. For a cohesive, thriving community to exist, particularly in a place as isolated as this, people need to feel like they can stay, and make a meaningful life for themselves. But it is very hard for young people to make a living or a life here. Tamara asked us how we would address this bleeding of people from the community, and how we would encourage young people to try and make a life on the farm. The question has been floating around in my head ever since, but I guess I still don’t have an answer.

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Water Stewardship

On our first day Tamara took us up the knoll where we could see down onto the barns and the lake and spoke to us about water, about water systems on the farm, and the complexities of trying to understand and mitigate the farms impact on the Gunflint- Hague Lake watershed. Linnaea is very deeply impeded in this watershed, both relying on it and working towards responsible stewardship of it. The water flows through the farm in fast, human engineered channels, straight to Gunflint lake and then beyond to Hague and eventually Manson’s Lagoon. And on top of this the farm has collected its water from higher up in this same watershed for over thirty years. Over the past few years the whole Island has been struggling with pollution, and eutrophication of the Gunflint and Hague lake, which are so central to the community. A general lack of education on water stewardship and years of leaky septic tanks and farm animal waste draining right into the lakes has led to organic pollutants building up in this water system, resulting in damaging and unsetting algal blooms. In response several community initiatives have been put into motion. The Linnaea stewards have been doing their part by implementing several mitigating measures, including biofiltration and mycoremediation. But there is still many challenges ahead in attempting to restore a healthy waters in Hague and Gunflint. Water stewardship is so complex and counter to the paradigm of private land ownership, in which the boundaries of human influence cease to exist at the invisible barriers delineating ownership. I think that reliance on this water system, and being a participant in this watershed places a real impetus on a community to care for its water as a whole. Water is essential to life in almost every way and watersheds are shared, flowing in and around our insular lives. How can we begin to care for whole water systems as cohesive communities before its too late?

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)

220px-Flora_Sinensis_-_Jackfruit

Jackfruit is an evergreen, latex producing, monocot that thrives is humid tropical climates, throughout Asia and South America (Janick & Paull, 2008). It belongs to the Moracea family along with figs, mulberry, and breadfruit (Baldwin, 2013). Jackfruit produces the world’s largest fruit weighing up to 50 kg (Morton, 1987). Due to its unusual size and weight the fruits grow directly form the main stem of the tree. Jackfruit is a multiple fruit, in which a single fruiting body derives from many separate flowers, and contains up to five hundred seeds per fruit (Janick & Paull, 2008). Jackfruit trees are grow up to twenty-five meters in height on a single, straight stem with a small canopy, 3 to 7 meters in diameter, balanced by a deep taproot and wide root system (Janick & Paull, 2008). Jackfruit is not a hardy plant above zone ten but can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, preferring deep, well-drained, moist soils (Morton, 1987).

Jackfruit is believed to have originated in Southwest India, and spread to the Philippines around the 12th century, where it was first cultivated. Now it is widely cultivated throughout India, Southeast Asia, South America, and Hawaii (Love, & Paull. 2011, Janick & Paull, 2008). Jackfruit is a wind-pollinated tree but cultivators have found more reliable results from hand pollinating, which is now performed commonly in commercial operations (Morton, 1987, Janick & Paull, 2008). Trees are typically propagated through grafting and budding, although they can be grown from seed (Janick & Paull, 2008). Jackfruit is commercially valuable for its fruit, which is highly productive. A single tree can produce up to 250 fruits a year, making up to 100 kg of fruit per tree (Janick & Paull, 2008). Additionally, Jackfruit is suitable for intercropping with other tropical fruits such as mango and coconut, due to its low space consumption, and small canopy cover (Roessler, H. Personal Communication April 2017). It is also an excellent shade tree for coffee plants. Its fast growth, wide deep root system and tolerance for saturated soils make Jackfruit an excellent tree for bank stabilization, and planting along flood planes to protect other crops (Janick & Paull, 2008, Plants For A Future n.d.). To this day Jackfruit is highly prized by subsistence farmers throughout its traditionally cultivated ranges for its multitude of uses for food, wood, medicine, and the latex found in all parts of the plant (Love, & Paull. 2011).

Many different parts of the Jackfruit tree and fruit are extensively utilized as a valuable food source and traditionally for medicinal properties. The enormous fruits of Jackfuit are rich in vitamins, carbohydrates, and starch. They can be consumed ripe as a sweet, soft fruit or cooked unripe like a vegetable. The unripe fruit is commonly used as a meat substitute due to its consistency and flavor (Janick & Paull, 2008). The pulp of the ripe fruit and the rind are often made into sweet preserves. The seeds are also eaten, boiled or roasted, and even ground into a powder that can be used as a flower substitute (Plants For A Future n.d.). The ashes of the leaves are used for treating ulcers, stomach pain, and boils. A tincture made from the roots of the tree is used to treat everything from fever, diarrhea, and skin disease to asthma. The latex found in all parts of the plant has antibacterial properties. And the seeds are said to be an aphrodisiac (Plants For A Future n.d.).

Jackfruit is a semi-soft wood selected for a wide range of uses including, construction, fuel, fiber, natural dyes, and specially selected for culturally significant items, such as specific instruments and boat building (Janick & Paull, 2008). The timber is highly valued due to volatile compounds present in wood that make it long lasting and resistance to fungal and termite attacks (Plants For A Future n.d.). The inner bark is fibrous and can be used to make clothing and cordage (Plants For A Future n.d.). Chips from the heartwood produce a rich yellow dye used by Buddhist monks for their silk and cotton robes (Plants For A Future n.d.). Beyond its above-mentioned antibacterial properties the latex makes an excellent, and commonly used adhesive, and can even be used for caulking boats. In India and Brazil the latex is locally used as a substitute for rubber (Plants For A Future n.d.).

Resources:

Baldwin, T. 2013. Jackfruit an unusually useful tree. Permaculture Worldwide Network

(Website) Retrieved from: https://permacultureglobal.org/post_projects/583

Janick, J. & Paull, R. (2008) Encyclopedia of fruits and nuts. Cambridge, MA. CAB

international.

Love, K. & Paull, R. (2011) Jackfruit. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human

Resources. University of Hawai’I at Manoa. Retrieved from: https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/f_n-19.pdf

Morton, J. (1987). Jackfruit. Fruits of warm climates. p. 58–64. Retrieved from:

https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/jackfruit_ars.html

Roessler, H. Personal Communication April 2017.

Plants For A Future (website). (n.d.). Artocarpus heterophyllus. Retrieved from:

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Artocarpus+heterophyllus