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Krupp: Climate Smart Farming

Well folks, it’s been another weird weather year. In fact, 2015 was the hottest year on record. 2014 was the second hottest.

In my front yard, snapdragons, violets, dandelions and forsythia were in flower right before Christmas. I’ve heard from friends that daffodils and crocus were also blooming. And I’ve been worried about the swelling of the buds in the trees.

Long before the end of December most years, I would have dug up all the beets, turnips and carrots in my community garden plots in Burlington and stored them for the winter. But even as late as Christmas Day some were still in the ground and doing fine.

Throughout December I grew lettuce, arugula, chard and Chinese mustard greens in my cold frames. I rebuilt garden beds, added compost, and turned in annual rye - a cover crop. Normally, by December activities like these are over because the ground is frozen, but there is no normal anymore when it comes to the weather.

I’ll admit it’s been great to be able to extend the growing season and play and dig longer in my garden. But it’s been a guilty pleasure. I’m worried about what’s happening beyond my garden – with the warming of the planet in our region and the world.

Early in this New Year, the New York State Agricultural Society Forum will convene in Syracuse, to consider the climate change issue. It will explore changes and opportunities on the horizon for climate smart farming. New York State is one of the top five U.S. producers of dairy, wine and grapes, apples, cherries, cabbage, potatoes, onions and maple syrup. Nearly 25% of its land base is under production by approximately 36,000 farms.

The worldwide climate change organization 350.0rg, conceived in part by Ripton’s Bill McKibben, has achieved much this year, but the real challenge lies ahead. In 2016, 350.0rg plans to keep pressure on the fossil fuel industry as well as to urge world governments to "close the gap" between the commitments they made in Paris and what science says the world actually must do to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

In the meantime, I think I’ll wander down to my garden to see if the deer have left me any more kale and Brussels sprouts – now that winter has finally arrived with a bang, not a whimper, bringing ice, snow and cold temperatures.

Ron Krupp is a gardener and author who lives near Lake Champlain on Shelburne Bay. His most recent book is titled: Lifting The Yoke - Local Solutions To America's Farm And Food Crisis.
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