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Gail Langstroth: Composting on Earth Care Farm

Join the Merner family as they tell the story of Earth Care Farm. More than compost and farming you will get a sense of the deep love, hard work and true care that guides the principles of this family farm. (11 minutes)

 Composting on Earth Care Farm

     on the occasion of Mike and Betty Merner's 50th wedding anniversary

When a swell of air rises from the mounds, it’s a bloom
Betty says. You might want to close the windows. 

Seagulls squawk overhead as I detect my first bloom;
pungent tang burns my nostrils: outbreath of microorganisms’ 

digesting-moving-reproducing. Here micro means nano. 
In two handfuls of the finished compost there are more microorganisms 

than people on earth, says Mike. After six days I see why  
I made the trip—what have I shaped, held, lived, thought, tossed, 

scrapped forgot dug up   felt/what do I feel? Stars slice the dark.
I leave the windows open all night; a new moon unfurls its scythe. 

Through morning mist I recognize the farm’s two payloaders waiting
with their open-bucket scoops. Justin and Craig know how to handle 
       the machinery, 

mix carbon-rich piles of wood chips, straw and leaves with moist, 
fish and meat scraps. It’s an art, says Mike, it took me years to 
       figure it out. 

Each pile has its own name and history: Simone (sold beginning of July),
Saint Gertie (Gertrude is the patron saint of cats and gardens), Omi 
       was started 

as Covid broke. At 10-meter intervals a small flag indicates a new section.      
The staff know how many times each mound has been turned and mixed.

Bee just received food scraps, Dave’s coffee grounds, fish rests. Two 
       days ago 
a truck dumped a load of meat. White gristle, racks of ribs, thigh, 
       skin, shin bones 

seethe in sun heat. Birdie the dog yanks a bowed harp of bone from the pile, 
drags it to a grassy spot under oak shade. As soon as she drops her steal—
       a dense 

cape of incessant black-winged buzzing encases the corpse. Flies declare 
It’s our banquet now. How to scoop, mix, lift—grapple/reduce the weight 

of my life mass? Trap carbon, contour memories into oxygenated air? 
How to drive a payloader, invite nano/micro in to digest my

I see the pile of wilted porcelain-pink wedding roses left by Fig and 
       Squill Floral. 
How to furrow, till, turn my teeming into finer soul soil, bring 
       protective sheaths

to my vulnerable? I text Betty to ask when she needs her car. No schedule, 
it’s Sunday on the farm, I made crepes. When you want, come on over. 

Gail Langstroth is a poet, eurythmist and performer based in Pittsburgh. To order her collection firegarden / jardín-de-fuego, published by Get Fresh Books, click here.

Poem copyright 2022 Gail Langstroth. All rights reserved.

Film copyright 2022 Earth Care Farm. All rights reserved.

Jayne Merner Senecal, Earth Care Farm

2 comments on “Gail Langstroth: Composting on Earth Care Farm

  1. kim4true
    August 31, 2022

    It starts with the soil. Everybody needs to hear this.


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