If you were sitting around the dining room table these days with us, you would hear such words spoken: bees, bank account, africa, pitch, sundance, sun oven, clay, website, expansion, tax-deductible donations, ollas, help, future, june, spring, book, etc. Right now they are just words floating out from our heads and out into the air, so I won’t go into too much details. There are lots of dart being thrown lately and ,hopefully, at least one (perhaps, if we are lucky, two) will hit the bull’s eye.

Roof Update

Well, we have some surprising news to report.   It looks like we are changing horses, er roofing materials, in mid stream.  Thanks to a tip from a local roofer who questioned our wanting to install metal roofing and got us to think about changing horses. We thought there weren’t many options 1. asphalt   2. wood shake  3. metal — what could possibly be another option that we could put on our 1917 craftsman bungalow with an 8/12 pitch? Lo and behold there is another option out there… So, folks, we are looking at another sustainable roofing option. We had appointments with a few contractors in the area who came by and dropped off samples and now we are leaning away from metal roofing… stay tuned.

Growing Up

Fall is the time when we take stock of the year’s garden and after more than a decade there are still changes to be made. Gardening/farming teaches you that you cannot be stagnant or set in ways – you have to grow along with the land.

Here, on our small urban farm, as the fruit trees or edible perennials grow and mature, the dynamics of the yard changes.   Actually, believe it or not, the first years of this garden were the easiest. The plants were young but now that they are developing. To maintain this urban edible jungle, these next few months will require a lot of work in preparation for spring. As the garden matures it requires a bit more care and tending to than when it was new. Every yard is different and every year you grow more intimate with your surroundings and the flora around you. One learns about gardening ( or “permaculture”) by being out there (working in the soil) and getting to know the individual plants and conditions up close and personal. There is no such thing as an instant makeover.   In our yard there are different micro climates to consider: the path of the sun, shade issues, neighbor’s tree issues. The best and more qualified people to landscape, design or plant gardens are the people who actually live there – by planting and tending your land yourself you become attached to it, know its needs, you care for it like you would a child.   Passing this privilege off to a stranger or professional just isn’t the same.

No one should want to hand over his kid to a stranger so why do we hand over our gardens to strangers?

So often gardens (landscapes) are planned (by others) and drawn out on paper but how can you put something living on paper? Plants aren’t stagnate.  When the yard was taking shape, we did sketch out our plant arrangements because it did help us get an idea of what goes where. But we learned after putting in the plants the learning experience was yet to begin. Every year growing conditions change as plants mature and perennials, edibles and fruit trees need constant maintenance in a small growing area. If we had acreage we would allow trees, shrubs to grow wild (of course, to some extent), but in a small property such as ours they need to be pruned (hacked) to maintain a manageable shape and allow sunlight to reach plants underneath. Even though many of our plants (lavender, rosemary, fruit trees) are more than a 1/2 dozen years old, people comment how nice they look and wonder how we keep them looking “so good.” One word – prune!  

Come winter time Jules goes in a give them a good pruning or “hatchet” job. This takes care of the old growth, allowing the plant to maintain its shape and even prolongs the life of the plant because having a plant overgrown will eventually kill it as it will not be able to get adequate sunlight or moisture. Our lemon verbena plant is about 15 years old and still going strong!

After years of gardening we are still getting to know our place and plants as they mature and we mature, growing along with them and learning how to properly care for them.  

Seasonal & Local Eating

A few weeks back we received a call from Sunny Johnson ( she and a fewfellow Minnesotans, ate locally for a whole year), she asked if she could drop by and give us a short film she had produced. This 20 min film interviewed the participants (we are working on an event with her for November, so stay tuned – hint “100 mile” + “harvest”
— sheesh, this post is full of word clues *grin*). What struck us most in the film was how Caucasians were teaching American Indians how to forge and harvest wild edibles. Such a knowledgeable Indian culture, which once knew wild edibles and all its uses, which once knew every bit of the Americas now needs to be taught what should have been second nature.

OK, not wanting to divert too far from the subject of eating local, le me back to the subject. Now that we are in another season of the earth’s cycle, pretty soon summer crops will be but a memory (well, besides from being frozen, canned or dried). It will be many months before we taste fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, corn on the cob or berries. That longing is what keeps us going through the winter in hopes for a good spring and summer harvest. More and more people are beginning to realize and tune themselves into the natural rhythms of the earth by reducing food miles, supporting local farmers, etc.

100 Mile Thanksgiving

Let’s really celebrate the local harvest. Join thousands of people across the country and try your hand at the 100-Mile Thanksgiving. How? It’s easy. Just put together your special holiday dinner with food from within 100 miles of where you live. Try one dish or the whole meal. It’s an adventure for family and friends!Besides, there’s nothing better than the freshest food, in season. And eating close to home is good for your health, the local economy, and the environment.
Participate and learn more


The Industrial Food Complex {NYTimes}

Wendell Berry once wrote that when we took animals off farms and put them onto feedlots, we had, in effect, taken an old solution — the one where crops feed animals and animals’ waste feeds crops — and neatly divided it into two new problems: a fertility problem on the farm, and a pollution problem on the feedlot. Rather than return to that elegant solution, however, industrial agriculture came up with a technological fix for the first problem — chemical fertilizers on the farm.
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Preschool Puberty, and a Search for the Causes {NYTimes}

It turns out that there have been clusters of cases in which children have prematurely developed signs of puberty, outbreaks similar to epidemics of influenza or environmental poisonings.
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Oakland aims to be oil independent by 2020 {EnergyBulletin}

On Tuesday, October 17, 2006, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Nancy Nadel, making Oakland the first city in the U.S. to aim for oil independence by 2020
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A sign of things to come especially here in the Western US
Australian drought {EnergyBulletin}

“There’s no question – climate change is a reality. We’ve got to take our farm to where the water is,” he said.
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Basic, simple solutions now “rediscovered”
‘Green manure’ may protect Idaho crops {Yahoo}

Potato farmers in southeastern Idaho got a look at a possible weapon to fight weeds, insects and erosion: oriental mustard-seed plants.
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The Gospel of Green {OnEarth}

First came the mighty winds, blowing across the Gulf with unprecedented fury, leveling cities and towns, washing away the houses built on sand. Toss in record flooding across the Northeast, and one of the warmest winters humans have known on this continent, and a prolonged and deepening drought in the desert West. For Americans, this has been the year the earth turned biblical. Pharaoh may have faced plagues and frogs and darkness; we got Katrina and Rita and Wilma.But this was also the year the environmental movement turned biblical — the year when people of faith began in large numbers to join the first rank of those trying to protect creation.
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Drugging Our Waters {OnEarth}

How An Aging Population And Our Growing Addiction To Pharmaceuticals May Be Poisoning Our Rivers
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No Comments

  1. James says:

    Ok, Ok. What kind of roofing material? Clay tiles?

  2. Wildside says:

    Yes, I will have to stay tuned!

  3. Nancy Kelly says:

    You have piqued my interest too! I am trying to put it all together – you are going on a non-profit mission to Africa to teach sustainable agriculture and bee-keeping, and then writing a book and making a movie about it?

    Share your dreams!

    Yours in dreaming, Nancy