The Lessons of Nature

When we look for lessons in life, it’s not often that we can say: “Hey, check with the slime mold.” However, in The New York Times science section, there was a story about how researchers in Japan conducted an experiment in which a slime mold developed a network that mirrored the Tokyo rail system (which took humans many years to develop) in just 26 hours. By placing food sources on a map in the same places as major cities around Tokyo, the slime grew tubular connections that nearly matched the rail links among the cities. “The researchers found that the slime mold network was as efficient as the rail network, it tolerated breaks in the connections just as well, and it was created at a reasonable cost to the organism,” reported the Times. “Using the slime mold’s performance as a guide the researchers created a mathematical model that they say may help people design other networks like those used in mobile communications.”

It’s good to be reminded that humans can learn something from nature (and good to know that slime molds can’t gloat). Last week Rebecca, one of our farm direct fruit buyers, was busy learning from nature at the EcoFarm Conference in Monterey, California.   Next week, members from our east coast team (Benn, Jessica, and Kim) will attend PASA’s (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) annual meeting.   Both conferences focus on the methods, lessons, and stories around organic and sustainable farming.   There is a lot of direction that we can take from the way the natural world works in thinking about how to solve problems.   Just this week, for example, we heard from Kauffman’s Fruit Farm in Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania, a century-old farm in the middle of Amish country, which supplies many of our east coast summer peaches and other stone fruits as well as apples and pears in the fall. Kauffman’s will be our first east coast Farm Steward project in February when they receive barn owl boxes for rodent control in their orchard. Barn owls are considered a species of special concern in Pennsylvania because they migrate through Lancaster from early spring through late fall in this region. We hope these boxes will not only provide a sustainable method for rodent control but also a nesting area for the owls.   Thanks for the great idea of nature! The FruitGuys Farm Steward Program (now The FruitGuys Community Fund) sponsors projects that solve farms’ problems using sustainable methods.

On the fruit side of things – check out our Mix Pages to see what’s in your region’s mix.

Enjoy and be fruitful! 

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