Posts Tagged: Seed Savers Exchange

Q&A with Mason Jennings

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Introduction and interview by Benji Nichols
Originally published in the Summer 2016 Inspire(d)

We’re proud to say we’ve been big fans of Seed Savers Exchange and Heritage Farm for a long time. And for many a moon, Iowa troubadour Greg Brown (of whom we are also big fans) has graced a beautiful summer evening to help raise funds for the ever-growing cause of saving and sharing heritage seeds and plants.

When Brown announced that 2015 would be his final year for the Seed Savers benefit concert, there was, happily, another extremely talented artist waiting, literally, in the wings.

Well-known Midwest musician Mason Jennings was at the benefit last year, and the magic of that moon-lit evening in rural Decorah swept him away. With just a little peer pressure from Greg Brown and friends, Jennings counted himself “in” to perform the 2016 benefit show – when that show was cancelled due to wide spread flooding in 2016, a re-do was penciled in the books for July 2017!

Jennings – a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist – is a Hawaii native who now calls Minneapolis home. He has sold hundreds of thousands of records to much acclaim – the album “Blood Of Man,” which Jennings recorded on garage band (playing all the instruments himself), received a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. His thirteenth album “Wild Dark Metal” was released just this past spring – of the album, Jennings has said, “It deals with loss, love, suffering, longing, and mystery. I hope it finds the listener who is looking for it. I hope it brings deep medicine. I hope you play it loud.”

For close to 20 years, Jennings has toured the world, bringing audience members his unique style of musical medicine. This summer, joined by friends and fellow Iowa-rooted musicians The Pines, and combined with the incredible setting of Seed Savers, folks are in for some real magic.

Inspire(d) was lucky enough to have a few moments to collect some fun thoughts from Mason Jennings as he anticipates the upcoming benefit concert.

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I: You’ve been anchored out of Minneapolis going on two decades now, with real roots in the 400 Bar (RIP) and the entire Minneapolis scene. What first got you to Minneapolis and has kept you coming back to the Midwest?

MJ: My dad lived there for a few years and I visited and felt at home. I love the size of the Cities. The way the community supports artists and the close proximity of nature. The seasons work for me creatively too. Equidistant to both coasts for touring… great place to raise a family… the list goes on. I love Minnesota. I love Iowa too.

I: From our understanding you attended the Greg Brown benefit show last year at Seed Savers and were inspired. Can you tell us about your experience?

MJ: I love Greg’s music and the concert setting was amazing. Seed Savers seems like an amazing place and it was inspiring to see folks coming together to support it. Both Greg and Iris Dement took me aside that night and told me they thought I should play it next year. And I listened and agreed.

I: The Pines will be opening the Seed Saver’s Benefit show in August, and Benson Ramsey (of The Pines, and Iowa music legend Bo Ramsey’s son) also contributed photos to your new album “Wild Dark Metal” – when did you all connect?

MJ: I met Benson about six years ago at a friend’s wedding. We immediately hit it off and have been hanging out ever since. I think he is an amazing person and his songwriting is very moving to me. The Pines are easily one of my favorite bands. They’ll be joining me onstage at Seed Savers too, which will be fun.

I: Do you keep a garden at home at all?

MJ: I don’t keep a garden yet but I love gardens. I’m hoping that being (at Seed Savers) will inspire me to someday start one.

I: Ok. Rapid fire! First thing that comes to mind:

Midwest: Prince
Summer food: Corn
Family: Forever
Currently listening to: 89.3 The Current
Seed Savers Exchange: Hope

Don’t miss this evening of incredible music in an even more incredible setting! Here are the details:

Who: Mason Jennings and The Pines, with Pieta Brown
Where: Seed Savers Heritage Farm
When: Saturday, July 8, 2017. Doors 5 pm. Concert 7 pm.
How: Buy tickets online at www.seedsavers.org/benefit-concert

Read the Summer 2016 Inspired Magazine

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Inspired Magazine Summer 2016!

Welcome to the 2016 ‘Summer’ issue of Inspire(d) Magazine! As always, the summer issue of Inspire(d) has a fun local food theme. This year we explored the Roots of Food – family recipes and the stories that go with them. Next, we take a leap back in time with 50 Years of Nordic Fest Fun (plus an infographic!), share our Bike Love and ride ideas, have a quick Q&A with musician Mason Jennings, an “organic” business conversation with Sno Pac Foods in Caledonia, and the community series takes us to Cresco, Iowa. Plus, of course, you’ll still find all our regular features like the monthly calendars (wow – it’s going to be a fun summer!), What We’re Loving, and a very, very special back page probituary with an extremely inspirational figure from Nordic Fest’s history – you’ll just have to read it to find out!

Click on over to read the whole Summer 2016 Inspire(d) online.

Also: This is our largest issue to date! We’re super excited to have increased to 84 pages for this summer, and our circulation has expanded too – 16,000 magazines will go out to the Driftless Area and beyond. Woot!

A million thanks to our talented contributors:
• Illustrations by the incredibly talented and wonderful Lauren Bonney.
• Writing Contributions from Sarah Friedl-Putnam, Kristine Jepsen, Jim McCaffrey, and Joyce Meyer.
• Photos for our community story on Cresco from Tanya Riehle of Blue House Studio and Jessica Rilling.

And a huge, massive, very grateful thanks to all of our advertisers. They are the reason we have been able to create 46 issues of Inspire(d) and continue this awesome “experiment in positive news.” Buy local! Please support the awesome local businesses of the Driftless Region. And when you visit our advertisers, let them know you saw them in Inspire(d)!

If you’d like to see where you can pick up a copy, please click over to this link. Magazines will be on stands in early June, but often go fast. If you’d like to see them somewhere in your neck of the woods, drop us a note! (benji @ iloveinspired.com)

Now get out there and enjoy the summer!

-Aryn, Benji, & Roxie

Science, You’re Super : Garlic!

The “Science, You’re Super!” segment is a regular feature in Inspire(d) Magazine… we bring you this seasonally appropriate feature on Garlic!

By Aryn Henning Nichols
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Garlic sure has been purported to have a lot of uses: it can apparently cure the common cold, prevent heart disease, and keep vampires away. All I know for sure is it can make my food DELICIOUS! I love crushing fresh cloves with the flat of my knife and mincing them into most all of my savory dishes. So it’s handy we inherited a pretty large patch of German Extra Hardy garlic when we moved into our house several years ago (thanks, Rhodes’!). Every summer, we pick out the biggest heads out of the harvest – and there are some giant ones – to be planted that fall, and every year, without fail, I marvel over the fact that one little clove turns back into a whole head garlic. Magic! Science!

Interesting garlic facts: China definitely wins the garlic growing contest, with approximately 23 billion pounds grown there annually – that’s more than 77 percent of world output! The United States (where garlic is grown in almost every state) is in sixth place with a sad 1.4 percent of the world’s production. And most of THAT is grown in Gilroy, California, the “Garlic Capitol of the World” (they might need to rethink that title…)(1)

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Courtesy Seed Savers Exchange

Garlic is generally propagated by planting cloves, which are the small sections that are broken out of the whole head. Each large garlic bulb, or head, contains about 10 cloves, depending on variety. The bigger the cloves you plant, the larger the cloves and heads you get at harvest. (2)

It’s time to harvest when the tips of the leaves become partly dry and bend to the ground. The bulbs are gently pulled and gathered to dry (or cure) for about a week. (2)

But how, exactly, does that head of garlic form? We turned to Seed Technician Heidi Cook at the world-renowned, but local-to-us Seed Savers Heritage Farm for some answers.

How does that one clove of garlic magically become a whole head of garlic under ground?

Within each clove of garlic a leaf begins to form even before planting. At the base of this leaf, tiny cloves begin to develop and in spring they continue to grow or swell around the stalk. Essentially each clove is but a tiny garlic plant. It is a common misconception that the bulbs form cloves later in the season but they actually begin to form even before planting.

I read that garlic actually does better when it’s planted close together? Is this true? If yes, why?Garlic_Bulbs

Planting garlic cloves 6 to 8 inches apart, depending on the variety, can allow the bulbs to grow to a desired size and aid in the care they need to be given, from the gardener, as they grow. Having a layer of mulch on the beds will help in the spring and summer for suppressing weeds. A weedy bed of garlic will result in an undesirable harvest as garlic does not compete well with the weeds.

Why does garlic need to be exposed to colder temps in order to form bulbs in the spring?

Garlic should be planted roughly four to six weeks before the ground freezes. This allows the garlic cloves to develop a good root system and yet not enough time to send up leaves. If leaves emerge before winter it can damage the plant so waiting until October to put your cloves in the ground would be a fine recommendation. The soil around the garlic cloves and a good layer of mulch over your planting will allow protection from cold winter temperatures. The period of cold over winter is ideal for encouraging a better flavor for the garlic.

What’s the difference between hardneck and softneck garlic? What works in the Midwest?

The Midwest can be an ideal area to grow large, vigorous, and tasty cloves of garlic. Garlic is divided into two main types by how they grow. Hardnecks varieties are directly related to wild garlic and are especially hardy in this area. These send up flower stalks in the spring which are more commonly called scapes. Breaking off these scapes as they begin to curl will allow the energy to be directed below ground and at harvest time the bulbs will be larger.
Softnecks are varieties of hard necks that developed later. In our climate, soft necks generally do not send up a flower stalk so the energy to produce the bulbs is continuously directed to creating larger cloves of garlic. They have become the most commonly grown varieties on the market as they are known for their longer shelf life, bulb size and more distinct hot or mild flavor.


What do YOU love about garlic?

Garlic is a very easy and satisfying plant to grow. It requires little maintenance and at harvest time it gives a great reward. It can be an extension of off-season garden work for an avid gardener giving the grower one last shot before winter to work in the garden and an early harvest reward for the following year. There are many different varieties all unique in flavor and use. I like the hardneck varieties because the scapes are yet another tasty addition to my garden.

Seed Savers Exchange offers a nifty pictorial guide to growing garlic – they also sell over a dozen varieties of garlic (they all taste amazingly different!), but supllies often sell out quickly. Start checking by early July and plant in late fall for a summer harvest!

Sources:

  1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic
  2. www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/oct03/2.htm
  3. Heidi Cook, Seed Savers Heritage Farm seed technician

 

Aryn Henning Nichols loves garlic. She is lucky Benji Nichols loves garlic… for a variety of reasons.