First, we discovered that the Bedford County Department of Environmental Quality has approved the use of sludge a.k.a. “biosolids” on over 13,000 acres of land including 33 acres next door, UPWIND (most of the time) and UPSTREAM from us. Joy. Sludge is the byproduct of municipal water treatment plants. It is processed to be “safe” by EPA standards (yeah, right! see http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Portal:Toxic_Sludge) but has tested positive by our own United States Geological Survey for pharmaceuticals, endocrine disruptors, detergents, fire retardants, heavy metals, steriods, disinfectants, and a bunch of other nasty stuff. http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/biosolids.html
So we attended a meeting in mid-March where no one was permitted to speak, but a few officials were available for questioning. It was pretty pointless except that we got to meet a few like-minded people, and ran into a few we already knew who were there to pick up their permits. Based on comments these people are motivated by either 1. a seriously misguided intent to steward the land, thinking that using sludge is recycling (it is) but completely unaware of it’s implications, or 2. using it to save money.
There’s more to life than saving money.
A local activist recommended we pick up and leave town for a couple weeks when it’s put down to avoid getting sick, as so many have. I have yet to contact our neighbor to see if we can get a head’s up on that, but I haven’t yet.
Since then I have discovered the amazing world of bioremediation.
Specifically, phytoremediation. Greek for plant, Latin for, restoring balance. Certain plants take in or accumulate certain toxins, especially heavy metals. Sunflowers take up arsenic. Willows take up cadmium. Poplar, Ragweed, Indian Mustard take up lead.
And since it was made clear to me in biodynamic bee-keeping class, the bees can’t be left to their own devices. One has to be sure they have enough forage. There are many possibilities. But I’m thinking we have A LOT of sowing and planting in our future.