Baconskillz – Salamiskillz – Prociuttoskillz – We gets em.

I have been really into this year long blog-a-thon focused on meat preserving skills. Charcuterie and cheese personally has always represented the good life to me. If I was doing well I would always have more cheese and cured meats around. So I was thrilled to hear about Charcutepalooza started by Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen.

If you haven’t paid it any attention you are really missing out. Hundreds of blogs are participating in trying out the techniques and skills covered in Michael Ruhlman’s book – Charcuterie




I haven’t tried any of the challenges yet, but my good neighbor and Mistress of Pigs Terrie Beech is on notice that I will be needing a big chunk of pig someday soon.

I am delaying for now because I need to rig up a curing box like this one from the good folks at Oink Joint. A shout out to Oink Joint and Pork Dork for having the best blog names about all things pig!

Have any of you guys done any charcutrie?

HOWTO: Use twitter to grow your local yardsharing group

OK – So you’ve signed up – but you are not quite sure how to get others to sign up in your area so you can find a great yard sharing partner.

If you haven’t read this page and done these things first – Please do!

How do I start an area yardsharing group or a private yardsharing pod?

General Tips for Getting Started.

How to Grow your Group.

OK – Now that you’ve read through those ideas, let’s focus on twitter. This assumes you have a twitter account and you have developed your lists and connections. How to do that is beyond the scope of this how to but if you would like some help here’s a few great videos on Twitter:

Twitter in Plain English by CommonCraft

How to Use Twitter by Howcast

So here’s how you let folks know about yardsharing in your area or neighborhood. You can get as specific as you want. Either tweet about your general area group or your own yardsharing pod.

Write a short tweet something like:

Seeking yardsharing partners in Denver.

Go to the Denver group page on hyperlocavore and copy the url.

http://hyperlocavore.ning.com/group/seekingyardsharedenverco

Use a url shortener like hootsuite.com to get a short url

http://ow.ly/2ghgx

Add that to your tweet – so now you have:

Seeking yardsharing partners in Denver. http://ow.ly/2ghgx

Now – add hashtags. (What are hashtags? Twitter Search in Plain English)

In this case I will make the town, neighborhood or area a hashtag…in this case Denver

So it looks like this:

Seeking yardsharing partners in #Denver. http://ow.ly/2ghgx

And I will add a few other hashtags:

Seeking yardsharing partners in #Denver. http://ow.ly/2ghgx #gardening #colorado

OK – That’s it… try tweeting this message at different times during the day. You can also add “PLS RT” – which is a request that people ‘retweet’ the message so it reaches farther.

Seeking yardsharing partners in #Denver. http://ow.ly/2ghgx #gardening #colorado #food PLS RT

Keep your tweets well under 140 so that people can retweet without losing any content.

So that’s it! Easy peasy!

A Salute to Some Rabbits…

This post is part of Sustainablog’s Pedal Powered Blogathon in support of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in the great state of Missouri.

Dancing Rabbit Sign

About 14 years ago…WOW, I was dating a guy in Silicon Valley named Brian Skinner. We were an odd pair. I was well, a street fighting lefty activist, proud to claim a few nights in Santa Rita State Prison (with a thousand others) after the Rodney King verdict riots and former art school dropout and he was an extremely bright libertarian nerd who generally confounded everything I believed every time he opened his mouth.  He had many great features but, one of his best was to disagree deeply without being a jerk. Something I honestly still struggle with everyday, smart-ass that I am.

He is a pretty extraordinary guy. A couple years before I met him his aunt had passed away and willed him a substantial sum. He was of the opinion though that it was unearned and therefore not really his. So he set about looking at how to  “alleviate world problems and prevent some suffering.” But, he was all about the hard data. After a few years of analysis, he wrote something called The Gumption Memo and gave the majority of the money to organizations providing reproductive health services. I was deeply impressed. I met him as he was just wrapping up this process.

Brian opens the Gumption Memo with this:

“The World Game: To make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
– Buckminster Fuller

Besides Buckminster Fuller, Brian introduced me to a circle of people, mostly Stanford grads, who cared about the world as deeply as Fuller. They were also super smart and unfailingly grounded in the practical, the way he seemed not to be during his time, or so it was said. Many of us met for a book club which often focused on “sustainability.” This was a new word for me. I had been, in my head at least, “an environmentalist.” I had parted ways with the left in some ways over it. Up until then though I was primarily concerned with social justice, understanding how we had arrived at such a dismal place with regard to race, the planet, and women’s rights.
For Brian and many of these people these issues has been subsumed into a planetary resource crisis of epic scale. Everything that was bad now was going to get much worse, they argued, if we didn’t tackle climate, energy, soil and water depletion – fast.

I was used to going to root causes and they proceeded to take me much deeper than I had previously been. They were materialists who made a great deal of sense to me. It was hard to argue with the relentless amount of data they presented. I had tried to connect it all up before but, this did it.

Tony Sirna and Rachel Katz, two of the most interesting people in the group, were leaving the Bay Area. Strange idea…here we were nestled between two great Universities Stanford and UC Berkeley (my Alma Mater) in a place that had sea air, perfect weather, mountains, valleys, meadows, world-class parks…a great music scene. Why would anyone want to leave this?
Though growing up there I had never considered leaving permanently. Unthinkable…really.

It seemed a strange choice for these folks, enjoying all the options they did. Again, impressive. This was at the height of the dot-com boom. It was possible to make a lot of money even if, like me, you had only a freshly minted English degree and moxie, so long as you knew more about computers than the guy interviewing you.

But leaving they were, for Rutledge, Missouri, land of the Mennonites, to live in the middle of “nowhere” to start building something called an “eco-village.” They were going to create a demonstration project, an entire village built using mostly hand tools, solar energy, straw bale, cob, bio-diesel and other “appropriate tech,” another phrase I learned from the Rabbits.  Brian and I were very sad to see them go but promised to visit when we took a road trip someday soon.

A year later, Brian and I took that road trip. While packing we had a spat about what we had each packed for the trip in my tiny Honda hatchback. Somewhere I have it on High 8mm, Brian’s demonstration of our comparative “necessities” lined up on the floor. We were neck and neck until he put my box of cassette tapes on my side to demonstrate that it was I who had packed too much.

Brian was fantastic at helping me grasp the difference between need and want. He single-handedly cured me of Affluenza. But my box of cassette tapes to him qualified as a “nice to have” for the trip rather than an essential. Some of you will get this, actually, most of you will get this. For me 70% of the pleasure of the road trip was going to come from the soundtrack I was planning! For me anyway. Brian was not “into music.”

We were already becoming less of a couple but, this was the moment I accepted we probably weren’t going to work out in the long run. This music thing was the moment where I looked into him and realized that, as intimate as we had been, as good as the times we had were, there was an unfathomable aspect to Brian that was unmistakably “other.”

Our mutually agreed upon nerdgasmic itinerary: We went to the Very Large Array near White Sands, NM. We went to Carhenge. We saw the Experimental HTRE reactors for nuclear aircraft, on display at Idaho National Laboratory and some amazing lava caves. We went to see Amelia Earhardt’s house in Nebraska, as she is one of my heroes. We stopped to smell tractors throughout the Midwest which gave Brian instant recall of time he spent on a farm as a boy. I saw my first fireflies at his mom’s place in Marysville, Kansas and my first tornadoes! We stopped at every historical plaque between San Fransciso and that small town and read it. We saw Moab, and the breathtaking Arches National Park. We visited a friend getting her PhD at UNM in Albuquerque and we stayed at the Earthships in Taos. I feel in love with New Mexico and would move there a few months after that.

We arrived at Dancing Rabbit with a plan to stay the week. It was July or August. We set up our tent and looked around. A single wide where about 8 people lived, a shop building, a garden patch and a makeshift out-door kitchen and a hole to skinny dip in on land surrounded by Mennonites. It was not much back then.

They were just starting out but, in my mind they had given up so much for this neglected weedy patch of land. As interested as I was in their thinking, I’ll be honest, it seemed a little out there. They had computers. They weren’t going to give that up. Many of them make their living via the internet still. So they weren’t entirely cracked in my estimation. They had to make their own fun so, many played instruments but, it was rough, really, really rough back then. Brian and I had toyed with the idea of moving out there on the way to Rutledge. But actually being there settled it. The reality was quite different from the fantasy. Maybe someday…when they had real toilets.

We spent a great week with them and I was impressed by that they spoke about all of these earth issues without a hint of the woo-woo. This was not a bunch of new age hippies in some tie dye idyll trying to reclaim a time past. Sorry, to my hippie friends but, that has little appeal to me. It was an intentional community with a completely secular underpinning. Most intentional communities at the time had some sort of religious thread that held them together. Not the Rabbits. This I liked. There was no possibility of cult here.

We left. Brian and I parted ways and moved on in our lives. But *everything* that I learned from Brian and that group of whip smart and practical rabbits has stayed with me. Meeting them is one of the seeds of hyperlocavore.com, or maybe it’s the healthy soil the idea was planted in. I was changed forever by meeting them and revel in the compendium of real world know-how Dancing Rabbit has become just as they had envisioned nearly 15 years ago.

Also because of Dancing Rabbit, I eventually learned to play the bodhran and moved to NYC to live a car free Irish music filled life.

The main thing I learned from the Rabbits is this…

Stop talking. Do.
And while you do, Dance.

And this priceless lesson will never leave me.

With great fondness to the all Rabbits and immense gratitude to Brian,

Liz

Consider making a donation to Dancing Rabbit Eco-village.

Watch more Dancing Rabbit videos at DRTV.

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Garden Journal

Spring is here! There are so many cliches about Spring but for me, this was my first one with a big garden to build around the corner. Living in NYC, there wasn’t much access so, for ten years I suppressed my urge to dig. Things are changing fast there. All kinds of growing efforts are popping up working to get more access to more land for folks there. The community gardens have such long wait list and interest in gardening exploded last year. Hopefully, the trend gurus are right and yard sharing will be the biggest garden trend of 2010!

We’re in Halfway a little town in Eastern Oregon, hardiness zone 5a, near the old family ranch in Keating. Hundreds of people grow beautiful gardens here. I am the new kid on the block. The terrain looks like all the old western movies you’ve seen, a high mountain valley. Cornucopia is still covered with snow and though, some wise women here have told me that planting outside should wait til the snow is gone from the foot hills of the valley, I have not been able to hold myself back. People have been saying it’s an El Nino year and it’s warming up fast. It was warm enough to turn the compost piles today. Having sat on my butt in front a computer for the last four months was not the ideal training regime for moving huge the semi broke down pile.

So we’ve had two days of 50 degrees or better so I’ve set my makeshift green house out. It’s running 80 degrees during the day inside. It’s not exactly a thing of beauty. Martha would barf I am sure. It’s just a shelf system wrapped in 3mm plastic. Also, lined the shelves with black plastic to protect the shelves but, also to absorb a bit more heat. I am thinking about painting a 5 gallon bucket black and filling it with water for a bit more radiant heat. For a lot of things in there that’s probably not needed. All in all it’s quite serviceable. I’ve decided not to use my LEDs this year, they were a big disappointment last year, and the wood shop where I kept it is always cool.

I may sell some plant starts at the farmers market if things go well!

So indoor starts so far:

Tomatoes
Brandywines
San Marzano’s (for drying and sauce)
Matt’s Wild Cherry
Sweet 100′s
Black Krim

Peppers
California Wonder
Chinese Giant
Anahiem

Herbs
Basil Genovese
Basil Thai
Culinary Sage
Munstead Lavendar
Greek Oregano
Sweet Margoram

Other
Japanese Eggplant

Outdoors (Mar 3rd)

Alliums planted last fall:
Globemaster (big pom poms that look like Dr. Suess plants
Egyptian Walking Onions
White Bunching Onions

Greens
Red Ruben Romain
Spinach

In the greenhouse
Sugar snap peas
Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli
Chinese Bok Choi
Collard Greens
French Mesclun Mix

Around the yard
Poppies
Lavender Elegance
Sunflowers

I’ve been thinking about hops mainly because I love the smell of them. Apparently, hop workers used to get so drawsy from the hops they would nap at work.

The grapes, trimmed back in early February kind of scare me but, folks tell me if you don’t think you’ve pruned too much with grapes you’re doing it wrong!

The plum and apple trees are starting to bud and, of course, we all worry that a frost will come a long and kill all the blooms. I realize now, I’ve never been here to see the apple blossoms! In this valley at least I’ve been told a good apple year means you have two so so years of apples after that. We have two trees. I am not sure what the one in front of the house is, but the other one, the Cortland produces the most fragrant crisp tart and sweet apples I have ever had. I actually didn’t like apples much before I met this tree…or maybe I just never had a fresh apple!

I know that the people in the valley have a cider pressing party sometime in the fall so I am already looking forward to that.

We have amazing blackberries on the land and down near the pond some raspberries showed up last summer but there were only three or four berries. There’s a couple wild cherry trees and I’ve heard apricots will and do grow in the area. I’d like to plant almonds and a walnut tree but, a few of the volunteer Cottonwoods or the random Catalpa that popped up will have to go.

I’m finding there is a reason it’s called Cornucopia Highway….

[Write Your Own Planting Journal]

It’s SPRING – Time for the 2010 Growing Season Seed Swap and Share

It’s time to plan your 2010 garden! Thrilling!! I know!

So we are looking for experienced gardeners to adopt a newbie again this year and share some seeds. Just use the sign up sheet and then contact each other directly via people’s profiles.

NOTE YOU MUST BE A MEMBER OF HYPERLOCAVORE TO USE THIS
It’s free please join!

If you have seeds you want to send to a Newbie Gardener, please sign up as a Seed Angel.
If you are a NEW gardener that would like to receive a getting started garden in the mail sign up as a NEWBIE.
If you are a gardener who would like to swap seeds (seeds for seeds) please sign us as WANT TO SWAP.

(If you are in the growing business, please be a Seed Angel or Swap.)

This is a wonderful part of our community. Please help us keep paying it forward. That’s where all the magic is!

Please don’t use the forum below to post your requests.
Please use THIS FORM TO SIGN UP

If you are like me you try a lot of new things. You’ve been through all the seed catalogs and your seeds are making their way to you right now. You’ve probably over done it again in your enthusiasm. You have saved seed from seasons past. You have seeds from failed experiments! You have enough extra to get one newbie gardener going!

This is how it works. All of you veteran gardeners out there, I’m talking to you! I just mailed four newbie gardeners enough extra seeds for all of them to have lush edible gardens this season!

Pick a newbie gardener on hyperlocavore.com and send them a mix of various seeds, flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables to help them get growing this season! It took me a few hours to do this for eight different people.

What’s in it for you? Well, the pleasure of giving of course! I just mailed four six gardens and I cannot wait to see how my fledgling gardeners grow.

To the newbie gardeners, I can’t guarantee you will wind up with a seed packet in the mail. I can’t guarantee that you will be sent your favorite fruits, vegetables or herbs. If you receive something you do not intend to plant I only ask that you find someone in the seed swap forum who would like to plant them, and then send them on. This is an experiment! Hopefully a fun and fruitful one!

Please visit hyperlocavore.com for more information and to see what folks are sharing!

Project: How to Grow A Pizza Garden – A Great Idea for the Kids in Your Yardshare!

Note: Posted as a guest post at the most awesome chicken site run by my friend Orren Fox. Please visit Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs to satisfy your poultry keeping curiosity! Orren is raising chickens and honey bees. He’s thirteen years old but, he’s my teacher when it comes to happy chickens! Love his tagline: “There’s a Fox in the henhouse!” Read his blog!

Kid with tomatoes

Photo Credit © Liza McCorkle

You like pizza, right? Here’s a cool project for you and your buds and BFFs to take on this Spring – a pizza garden! There may be no more spaghetti trees left in the world but, you can grow a pizza…kind of!

There are a few things you guys need to know before starting a new garden, so let’s start this right. Great gardens depend on gardeners who know what zone they live in and what kind of soil they have. We all live in different zones. A zone is about the kind of weather you have, how early fall frost comes and how late you might get a killing frost in spring. Where I live, it’s not a good idea to plant until after Memorial Day. If you plant too early you may lose all your baby plants to a bad night of frost! That is a huge drag so figure this out before you start planning your pizza garden.

Find your hardiness zone then come back here…

OK got it? Write that down in your garden notebook! It will be important when you are finding seeds. Keeping a garden notebook is useful to you if you keep gardening. You can use it to remember what works best where you live. Now let’s learn how to test your soil type. You can start seeds inside way before that though.

It’s a good idea to get a jump on the season and have strong teenager plants who can handle the summer much better than the babies.

There are three main types of soil: clay, sand and loam. So go to the area in your yard where you want to plant your pizza garden. Dig down about 2 inches and grab a hand full of soil. Try to roll that hand full into a ball.

  • If you have sandy soil you won’t be able to form a ball at all, it will just fall apart.
  • If you can make a ball about the size of a big grape you have clay soil.
  • If your ball holds together a bit but, is kind of crumbly and comes apart when you stop squeezing it’s loam soil.

Here’s a way to fix most soil types – but this fix takes months so you need to plan in advance. Sometimes you need to add a little bit of this or a little bit of that to make the soil ready for planting. If you don’t have a lot of time do some research on sustainable and organic methods to correct your soil type. OK, there’s no such thing as a pepperoni bush and most of you don’t have your own cow to milk to get your mozzerella. But you can grow most of the veggies that make it taste so crazy good! So what do you need to grow in a pizza garden?

Let’s make a list:

  • the alliums: onion and garlic
  • herbs: parsley, oregano and basil
  • bell peppers
  • tomatoes

Sounds very doable! Garlic is important and onions as well, even if you don’t like them on top, they make the sauce sweet. When you sauté onions they “caramelize” which is a fancy way of saying they become a sugar. When sugar is heated up but not burned it turns to “caramel,” which is what those chewy candies actually are – cooked sugar!

Onions and garlic are the more complicated part of the garden. Usually people plant most onion and garlic “sets” in the fall of the previous year, so it’s a little late for 2010. Mushrooms are a whole other project. NEVER pick them from your yard. They can be poisonous! Here are some onions you can grow from seed in some zones: Italian Red Onions (Flat of Italy) or Ringmaster Onions (Great for onion rings too!)

Plant them about four feet or more from your tomatoes and herbs. For now you might want to just pick up garlic at the store, unless your parents already know how to grow it. For next year, make a note you will want to find a good seller for garlic “sets,” and plant them in October.

You might want to find a organic seed grower that is close to you. Try Local Harvest for seed sellers near your zip code! Most of the links for seeds here are from Botanical Interest.

So where does all that red sauce come from? The lycopene in tomatoes makes them red, and it’s also really good for you. It’s the same stuff that makes carrots orange, and watermelons pink. But it’s not in cherries. It helps your cells repair themselves and keeps your eyes strong.

Growing tomatoes is pretty easy and they taste SO much better than the ones you get at the store. There are three types of tomatoes: slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and paste tomatoes. Paste tomatoes are the kind you use to make thick yummy spaghetti and pizza sauce.

So here are the top paste tomatoes. San Marzanos are from Italy home of spaghetti and pizza! Amish Paste tomatoes will also work. If you can’t find either of those, look for a “paste” type tomato that grows in your hardiness zone.

OK onto the herbs, herbs are a big part of making pizza so tasty. You’ll want to grow oregano, parsley and basil. The best oregano for pizza is “True Greek Oregano.” It’s a perennial which means it comes back every year if you live in zones 4-9.

Basil is an awesome annual. Annuals need to be planted with new seed every year. You can use it in the sauce or on top of the pizza in big whole leafs. A classic real Italian style pizza is just mozzarella, big basil leaves, some great fresh mozzarella, slices or small cherry tomatoes and a little olive oil. A green pizza sauce called “pesto” is made with tons of fresh basil a little olive oil and a cup or so of roasted pine nuts. We grow a lot of basil every year and freeze tons of basil pesto sauce. Just put a ton of basil and a little olive oil in a blender or food processor and blend it up, then put it in small containers in the freezer. Tastes like summer in the middle of winter! YUM!

There are a ton of basil types to grow but, for pizza, you really want one of these types: Genovese or Italian Leaf Basil. Growing tomatoes and basil close together is a classic “companion planting” combo. Basil and tomatoes kind of love each other. Maybe it’s a just a serious crush. Who knows really? They are happiest when they are hanging out. Folks see them together all the time! Plant three basil plants for every one tomato plant.

Don’t tell basil but, parsley likes tomatoes too! You can plant this in between to your tomato plants, as well. We just hope it’s doesn’t make basil jealous! There are a few kinds of parsley. One kind usually ends up on the side of the plate to make it pretty and the other kind is the stuff that tastes so good. Parsley also is a good breathe freshener so if ever Uncle “Bad Breath” Bob needs a bit of something to make their breath sweeter, you can sneak him a sprig of parsley without telling them “Hey Dude, you really need a breath mint.” – because that’s pretty rude.

Bell Peppers are a controversial topic. Some kids love em, some kids hate em. They are easy to grow and love a hot climate. Fire roasted red bell peppers are delish on pizza. The peppers caramelize like the onions and garlic do and become very sweet! Try that technique ONLY with your parents close by.

If you live in a hot place by the sea you may be able to grow an olive tree and make your own olive oil. That’s kind of a long time to wait for pizza though!

Here are some more links to help get you growing!

Seed List (Follow link then scroll down – seeds are low on these pages)

San Marzanos Tomato
Amish Paste
Tomato Cherry Rainbow Mix Seed
Oregano True Greek Seed
Genovese and Italian Leaf Basil
Italian Flat Parsley
Italian Red Onions
Ringmaster Onions

More Helpful Links:

Pizza Crust Making Video
Pizza Crust Recipes
Pizza Sauce Recipes
Pizza Stone for the Oven Method
Build a Pizza Oven

No yard? No problem.

Visit hyperlocavore.com a yard sharing community. We work to hook neighbors and friends up in yard sharing groups – makes gardening more fun and less expensive!

We’re here to help you get going. Join us. It’s free. Then send an invite out to your friends (with your parents permission of course!) on the site and set up a pizza garden group! You can even post blogs, pictures and videos to show off your pizza garden project!

Happy Digging!

Liz McLellan
hyperlocavore.com a yard sharing community because everyone love a homegrown tomato!

10 Ways to Prepare for the Success of Your Yardshare Garden this Winter

garden can in snow

From @dreamstime

As gardeners of all stripes will tell you, winter is the planning season. Stuck inside, with little chance to get your hands dirty, it is the perfect time to pause and reflect. What will your garden be? Who will you bring into the project? What are your hopes? How will you get the resources together? What will you plant? What worked last year and what did not? There is a lot to think about, and when the days get short and the night long – dreaming is the best thing to be doing, because come spring you will be very busy.

1. Start Finding Partners NOW. It can take a while to work out agreements and plan for a substantial garden. The sooner you start the more successful you will be at finding the right folks and planning for your yardshare. Call your friends who live in apartments or your grandmother who knows a thing or two about growing food in your area…Make it a family affair, or a way to gather some folks you don’t get to see often enough. Or bring up a yard sharing project at your house of worship. Perhaps your faith community would be interested in growing fresh food for the hungry this spring? It pays to start now. Healthy groups and good agreements take time to develop!

2. Start it off with a party! Once you have found some people you would like to garden with, have a potluck party and celebrate your new community! Getting to know people over a shared meal and music sets the proper tone for real community. It above all should be fun and light. Save the substantial discussions for another day. Light candles to brighten the winter dark, play some good music, talk about your dreams for the garden or gardens and break bread together because this is the beginning of something wonderful!

3. Read up. Get a copy of The Sharing Solution by Nolo Press. Read it!  For those that are more risk averse and have some anxieties about how to share without encountering legal bumps this is the place to start. I am not a lawyer, so I suggest everyone with these sorts ofconcerns consult my favorite legal eagles – Nolo press. Make a list of other books that are useful to your yard share group. Will you use permaculture methods, bio-intensive or no till? Bring everyone up to speed! Tons of great books are available in our hyperlocal Indiebound bookstore or you can create your own little library.

4. Create your online home. Once you have found your yard share group start your private pod on hyperlocavore to share planning, documents, videos, pictures, links and jokes! Teach each other what you know about how to grow in your zone and create a place where new members down the line can catch up on all the ideas and wisdom you’ve gathered. Documenting things will help you evaluate what worked and what did not in terms of what you tried to grow but also in how you chose to organize the project. Imagine the yard share going on for many seasons, plan for success by sharing knowledge from the start.

5. Have an expectations discussion early. Get your worries and how you will address them on the table. Do this online so people can flesh out their concerns, people can respond and agreements can be documented. If things get tense, have another potluck – and work it out over something yummy. Face to face builds real community, online tools can support it but doesn’t substitute for it. Start asking these sorts of questions…When is it OK to be at the home/yard of the host yard – and when is it NOT OK? Will you compost collectively? Is it a strictly organic garden?

6. Involve the Kids. If kids will be part of the garden share, make sure they participate in the planning and expectation setting. If they are involved at the start they are more likely to enjoy participating. Here’s a list of garden activities for kids. Work some kid centered fun into your plan. A garden is one of the best hands on learning experiences a kid can have. If you have any biology geeks in your group – maybe they can hold a lesson now and then?

7. Have a resource gathering. Gather together and make a list of all the things you hope to grow. Research what works for your zone and pull a kitty together and order your seeds and starts. Some heirloom and specialty seed houses run out of stuff before spring. some things like garlic starts go quickly. Take an inventory of who has what tools, seeds, transplants, cuttings and a list of the items you will perhaps need to buy. Plan for storage of tools and make sure people know where everything goes at the end of the day. Make sure people’s time, knowledge, and commitment is valued, money shouldn’t be the only currency you acknowledge. Be aware that many people are coming to the yard share project with a need to save not spend heavily. Get ready to bargain hunt and browse all those spring garage sales. It does not need to be an expensive project.

8. Talk to your neighbors about what you are doing. Introduce them to your new friends. Let them know about hyperlocavore, maybe they want to start their own yard share. Think about how this sort of project can revive the neighborhood.

9. Visit hyperlocavore.com and ask questions of folks that are already yard sharing. Share your ideas and concerns. Maybe someone has already worked through it. The forums are built for just this sort of sharing.

10. Plan for harvest, storage, success and failure. Some things you try will have fantastic results. Other things you try to grow will fail. Set your expectations with this in mind. Will you can or dehydrate the excess? Will you need to plan to purchase some tools for this as well? Will you seed save for swapping next year?

Let me know if this is helpful in the comments – and please add your own suggestions!

Happy Digging!
LizM

10 Reasons Becoming a Hyperlocavore is a Positive Climate Action

Having a positive effect on climate, is not the reason I made these changes in my life. So yes, a bit of the old bait and switch here. I made them because I wanted more pleasure incorporated into my daily grind. Having a positive effect on my ecological footprint, was the icing on the very tasty cake my life has become through growing a good portion of my own food. But for Blog Action Day ’09 I will re-frame my reasons in climate terms.

And with no further ado, my list.

1. Distance to plate.

There has been a bit of confusion added to the discussion lately about locavore eating strategies actually being a negative if the only measure is distance to plate, that food miles are actually increased. Of course, distance to plate is only one of about 100 reasons being a locavore makes sense. Depending on how you access the growers in your food shed, what you use to get to where your veg is, it all depends on quite a few variables in your own life, your city’s infrastructure, your community…The arguments I have seen are very strangely skewed in ways that I will save for another post.

However, you cannot convince me that an efficiently delivered but tasteless tomato from 2000 miles away is a winner no matter which way you slice it. The distance to my plate is about 10 feet, because I grow my own mouth watering fresh vegetables.

Growing my own heirlooms is much cheaper than buying them by the pound. They don’t travel well. So you can’t really get this unless you do it yourself or get to know a very local grower, at least on my limited budget. Life must be worth living or why save anything… yourself…the planet…Who cares if everything tastes like cardboard? Kill me now!

Before you call me an elitist, please note I live on very little money per year. We all have choices and priorities to make. These are mine.

2. When I am gardening I’m not watching TV, using the computer or game station.

Though some gardeners use some plug in tools, most of the time I am using my human power and a hand tool. Don’t get me wrong. I love my computer, my Battlestar Gallactica, Glee and So You Think You Can Dance as much as the next boob tube addict. Still, I do less of these energy intensive activities now that I have a gorgeous garden to tend. My garden feeds me and my spirit in return for my attention and time in a way that no toy can.

3. Factory meat is grown in a factory-like setting which, is generally a semi automated system dependent on cheap oil.

Though there are a few farmers out there that are closing the loop with methane powered energy storage systems, and I salute them, they are in minority. Maybe someday these systems will become the norm.

A back yard chicken coop doesn’t use electricity for much at all, unless you live in a place with four seasons and need a heater. I don’t have my own flock yet, but I am definitely thinking about it. There are a lot of climate related reasons to forgo meat, but for me the jury is still out – however I do need the manure!

4. Efficient though oil dependant food systems constantly shed and de-skill workers while at the same time suck more from the energy grid to replace them with expensive machinery.

I’m not a Luddite, nor am I anti-efficiency or anti-science. But I do question the wisdom of creating a world where so few of us have profitable meaningful work. There are nearly 7 billion people on the planet, only a small number of us have good work. Localizing means that much more needs to be created and distributed locally. The crafts of bread making, beer making, wine making, honey making, guitar making, candy making, soap making and vegetable growing are having a resurgence. Some of us know the price of food is tied intimately to the price of oil, and oil in the long run has no where to go but up. Localizing goes a long way to help many issues, including the cost of food, re-skilling a de-skilled work force and keeping money in the hands of people in our communities.

A localized economy doesn’t ship in goods from halfway around the planet unless absolutely necessary, like coffee, otherwise known as “my dark master.”

5. Growing my own vegetables means I am likely to eat a lot more of them.

Eating meat regularly has a higher impact than driving an SUV. I’m not a strict vegetarian, but I do eat less meat now that I have a productive garden.  Having a super fresh garden 10 feet away means easy means I don’t have to think much about it – just walk outside, see what’s ripe and pick my dinner. When I was living in NYC and eating out a lot,  the easiest thing was to simply pick what was immediately appealing, which for me usually involved meat- which I used like a reward for a harried day. Again, your mileage may vary.

6. Growing my own and having a decent pantry means I go to the grocery store about once a month.

Once a month? Yup. I do sometimes have to make a trip for things I have forgotten, but that’s my error. I’m getting a lot better at keeping a full pantry and making good lists. A full pantry means that whipping something up from the yard is not at all taxing. To make full use of a great garden you need a well stocked pantry.

Being conscious of simple strategies like building a real pantry and making lists mean that I don’t have to put a lot of energy into feeding me and mine.  I do know that all of our lives are different. And this may not be a choice you make, but I’m on the other side of eating out all the time – and I am really enjoying myself doing things very differently.

To get into the cooking groove check out these fantastic sites:

7. I am fitter now that I am growing my own.

Benefits beyond feeling better about my climate impact include being much fitter, less depressed, having better skin and feeling generally more resilient and capable in my life.

Being fit means that my moods are even. I am less inclined to look for things to distract me from the general state of anxiety I experienced when working for a corporation and being handsomely rewarded. The hidden cost of my higher pay check was a great deal more anxiety and stress brought on by long commutes, expensive dress codes, unrelenting deadlines aimed towards goals that were not my own.

I know now if I start to feel anxious, a rarity, I have a bunch of weeds that need pulling. Pulling weeds, tending a garden in general beats any anti-anxiety strategy I have tried.

So what is the climate connection? Glad you asked! Things I used to distract myself with were shopping for hours for crap I didn’t need wandering the mall in a fugue state ‘relaxing’, driving hither and yon for bargains to ‘save money’ while paying what 18% on a credit card, taking a lot of looong weekend ‘get aways.’ Sound familiar?

Because I am where I want to be in my life, I do all of these a lot less. I am quite content now, and that itself has a huge climate impact. The open road beckons, but it does so in a whisper rather than a yell.

8. I cook my own meals much more often at home.

I’m re-skilling myself, in the kitchen, a direct result of having a flood of produce to handle and cooking a lot at once, means I do not buy many highly processed, plastic wrapped, small serving, factory made, well traveled meals these days. And no, you cannot convince me it is ‘food’ now that I’ve gotten used to the real thing. I prefer my tomato sauce over store bought any day. Does that make me an elite foodie? How can it when I am spending far less on far better tasting food?

I do understand that many of us are living under serious time constraints and pressures. And I certainly do not intend that this should be seen as an argument for the re-domestication of the American female. Real food skills make everyone sexier, men too.

9. I waste far less food.

“Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion.”
-From Wasted Food

That’s 100 billion, with a B. A shocking number. We are getting far too used to numbers that should shock us. If I grew it, you can be sure I am not going to waste it. I watched it grow sometimes for months! We may take other people’s labor for granted but we rarely take our own for granted. How much food do you see wasted  in a week…take a look around. That means that all the energy put into growing it was wasted too.

10. I don’t use petrochemicals to grow my own food.

The list of products and strategies for growing your own luscious fruit and veg without petroleum and other petroleum dependent chemicals is very long now. Sustainable agriculture has been proven to be more efficient per hectare than industrial agriculture.

Now you might be inclined to attack any one of these points. Feel free. I may be moved, but remember, I made these changes so that I would enjoy my life more not to save the planet from catastrophic climate shifts. Are you a climate skeptic? I could care less. Please take that argument elsewhere.  I am over it. I am interested if you are a ‘tasty food skeptic’ because that would be weird and interesting. Tastiness, just another liberal plot…

If I am really honest, my immediate quality of life is more important to me than the rather abstract “massive climate disruption.” Probably true for most of you too. What can I say? I am, at base, a person who grew up loving fast cars, burgers and fries, road trips, fireworks and instant gratification… you know, an American.

My instant gratifications have simply shifted and incidentally I am actually… gratified.

Have no space to grow your own? Consider starting a yard sharing group with folks you know.

Creative Commons License
10 Reasons Becoming a Hyperlocavore is a Positive Climate Action by Liz McLellan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at hyperlocavore.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://hyperlocavore.ning.com/profile/Liz.

How To Start a Produce Exchange in Your Neighborhood

How do I start a local produce exchange on hyperlocavore.com?

What is a produce exchange? How is it different from a ‘yard share‘?

A produce exchange is an informal gathering of people who are already growing extra food in their yards. Some groups invite non growers to participate but that is up to each group. A yard share is an arrangement to share the work and share the harvest. You can set up either on hyperlocavore but in this post we are focusing on a produce exchange.

Let’s say you have a lovely large lemon tree which produces more lemons than you could ever squeeze. And let’s say Joseph down the way has a fig tree, and the Lees around the block have a giant rosemary bush, and your friend Marguerite has yet again planted way too many tomato plants. You start to get the image. There is a cornucopia of tastiness within a quarter mile. It’s time to start a produce exchange or perhaps a food donation system for a shelter in your neighborhood.

To see and example of an existing local produce exchange on hyperlocavore take a look at the Lamorinda Produce Exchange Many thanks to Amy Greacen who organized it.

How do I get a produce exchange going in my neighborhood?

1. Create a group on hyperlocavore.com. Be sure to name it in a way that is easy and clear.

  • go to pods/groups from the top (tab) menu on hyperlocavore.com
  • towards the right of the screen hit + Add a Group
  • enter the details of your group and hit Save at the lower part of the screen.
  • when you save the group there will be an opportunity to invite people to that group on the following screen. Use this feature if you have the emails of friends who may be interested.

2. If you don’t have emails then create a flier for your neighborhood, cafes, houses of worship to find interested gardeners. Many folks are just overwhelmed by all the extra they have and would love an opportunity to move it. On the flyer be sure to list the groups page on hyperlocavore so people can find you online easily.

Content example for your produce exchange flier:

Join us in starting a neighborhood produce exchange:
Some of us have extra lemons, some have extra figs.
We will have a biweekly produce exchange at the corner of Main and 4th every
other Saturday. Bring the kids!

We are organizing online at:
Lamorinda Produce Exchange Online is at:
http://hyperlocavore.ning.com/group/lafayetteproduceexchange

You don’t have to be a grower to be involved!
For more information call Edna Wreems at 555-414-1212 or email her at edna@—

Your groups rules.

The details of how your group works, when it meets and who can participate is up to you. Use your group page for hashing these issues out or meet in person and post your decisions. You are able to have a ‘members only’ discussion on the site.

Is there a limit to the number of people?
Must everyone bring something every time?
Can people bring prepared foods such as jams, baked foods, cheeses, pestos or chutneys.
Will you have a monthly BBQ or potluck to make it a real community?
Is exchange of money for things allowed?

Other ways to work together:

  • create a group tool lending library
  • create a seed exchange
  • create a community comport pile
  • do a group run to the nursery or hardware store
  • have a yard building party to help a newbie grower install raised beds
  • go on a scavenged materials hunt
  • start a bulk buying club to reduce costs
  • start a group meat buying club – free range cow? not so expensive when you share the cost.
  • have a neighborhood ‘jam session’ – some people make jellies and jam – and maybe other folks bring their guitars!

How you work together, how creative you get in supporting each other is up to you!

Are there legal considerations?

Hyperlocavore.com does not give legal advice, however Nolo press puts out a terrific book called The Sharing Solution which is available for purchase on hyperlocavore.com and hyperlocavore.wordpress.com

Be sure to let the rest of the people on hyperlocavore.com know how your produce exchange is working by posting to your profile or in the discussion forums!


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Help Me Help You Get Yard Sharing Going in Your Town!

Please share this video with any one you know who might be interested in getting yard sharing going in their communities.
I can set you up very quickly! It’s a service your community can have up and running in minutes – for FREE!

What is Yard Sharing?
100 Reasons to Become a Hyperlocavore
What is a Distributed Suburban CSA?

twitter me @hyperlocavore




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Let’s get growing!

What is a distributed suburban CSA?

Some folks are taking the yard sharing idea a step further. Meet Kipp Nash of Boulder Colorado, who farms 8 neighbor’s yards as a Community Supported Agriculture operation called Community Roots CSA. In 2009 Kipp Nash and the team at Community Roots are developing a program to directly feed five food insecure families in the Boulder area and are looking for donations in support of this project.

I built Hyperlocavore.com in part to encourage aspiring food growing entrepreneurs like Kipp to consider the serial yard CSA approach. I encourage interested growers to join the site to seek and maintain yard sharing client relationships, share your experiences with other suburban farmers and yard sharing groups. The site is free. Feel free to create wide area groups such as “Seeking Yardshares, Chicago, IL” in order to find farming clients or private groups such as “New Day Suburban Farm,” which would be just the yards which you have linked together in your yard share farm.

Other yard share farmers:

Your Backyard Farmer
MyFarmSF
Eden on Earth
Brick City Urban Farms
Abundant Life Farm
Backyard Farmer

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at: hyperlocavore@gmail.com.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays!




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Composting, UR Doing It Wrong!

compost1

compost2_sm

Another title of this post could be, “How to Make a Perfect Worm Proof Barrier.” Sadly, worms really need to be part of the whole composting process. To not invite them is like, not inviting Jack Nicholson to the Oscars. It makes no sense. Worms need to be at the head of the table for the feast, in fact, they are your guest of honor.

In searching the land for composting materials, I was really happy to clean out the barn and add all that old hay. I think it would have been ok to losely layer it on top. Unfortunately it was the second layer after the cardboard. With the winter snow and frozen water it made a perfectly impenetrable mat, a giant bouncer at the end of the red carpet that got his orders wrong. “Sorry sir, you’re not on the list.”

I spent two days digging the muck up, pulling the frozen mush out and retossing the beds. Normally you wouldn’t do this, but they were smelling foul. I think they will be fine in a few weeks.

What is yardsharing?

TAKING A BREAK © Vossphotog... | Dreamstime.com

TAKING A BREAK © Vossphotog... | Dreamstime.com

“You know, the tomato that’s from your garden tastes very different from one that isn’t. And peas – what is it like to eat peas in season? So we want the White House to be a place of education and awareness. And hopefully kids will be interested because there are kids living here.”

- Michelle Obama on the Whitehouse Vegetable Garden

hyperlocavore.com,” which blends bottom-up collaboration with food production. It’s an example of peer-to-peer agriculture, and it’s a pretty neat concept. The founder of hyperlocavore wrote to me, saying that she thought this was a pretty “worldchanging” idea. I agree. Check ‘em out.”

- Jamais Cascio
openthefuture.com and worldchanging.com


What is a ‘hyperlocavore’?

A hyperlocavore is a person who tries to eat as much food as locally as possible. Growing your own is as local as it gets!

What is ‘yardsharing’?

Yard sharing is an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources; space, time, strength, tools or skills, in order to grow food as locally as possible, to make neighborhoods resilient, kids healthy and food much cheaper!

Why would I want to set up a yardsharing group?

Yard sharing is a way to connect people who love to garden, people who love healthy fresh food and people who have yards! Often people who have yards have little time time for a vegetable garden. And sometimes gardeners have trouble finding soil to garden in because they rent an apartment! Sometimes older people lack stamina and are socially isolated, finding younger people to partner in growing food together works wonderfully for all. There are all kinds of reasons it makes sense.

Yard sharing works for:

  • apartment dwellers
  • busy parents
  • older people
  • frugalistas
  • foodies
  • tree huggers
  • cheap bastards
  • farmers lacking land
  • land holders lacking farmers
  • people sick of leaf blowers
  • curious kids
  • folks with a disability
  • people who want to get outside more
  • people that want to eat better
  • people that want to eat cheaper
  • people who want to make their community resilient
  • people who like their food super fresh
  • people worried about peak oil
  • and maybe you! (if you’re not on the list – send me a note!)

Yard sharing cuts down on greenhouse gases by limiting the travel time of fruit and vegetables to your table.
Yard sharing is a great way to connect with your family, friends and neighbors!
Yard sharing helps you eat more veggies!
Yard sharing can be a workable solution for people with physical limitations who want to eat better and more cheaply.
Yard sharing is an excellent way to teach children about food and biology!
Yard sharing is a great way to get cheaper produce to older people on a fixed income!
Yard sharing helps you get enough vitamin D from sunshine!
Yard sharing is a way to avoid pesticides and other chemicals on your food!
Yard sharing is a fun activity to share!
Yard sharing helps to create independent local food systems that are less sensitive to the price of oil.

And nothing tastes as good as food you grew yourself!

Who can yard share?

Anyone! If you don’t see a group for your area just create one! Then send invites to people in your neighborhood, your friends and
their friends and maybe you will find someone willing to start with you!

OK, Sign me up! No! Wait, is it free? Yes? OK, Sign me up!


No thanks, but I do want to take a look.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays!


hyperlocavore.com is a free social network here to help you form a yard sharing group with people in your neighborhood, a group of friends, a community restaurant and it’s neighbors, members of your family, faith communities or new friends made on hyperlocavore.

How to Start A Produce Exchange in Your Neighborhood – Share Your Extra Fruits and Vegetables!


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DIY Project – Low Watt LED Greenhouse

[diy-greenhouse.pdf]

You may not want or need as much insulation as I used. It’s very cold where I live. It is not a thing of beauty and was build strictly to function as a place to start plants and extend our very short growing season. It hides in our garage.

So far it has been a constant 58 degrees inside the greenhouse. I have started only cold friendly plants. It likely gets a bit chillier when the lights go off.

Materials:

Many times you can find some of what you need for free on freecyle.org, reyooz.com, thinggo.com or trusty craigslist.org. A thrift store is another good place to check for some of these items.

Shelf with 5 shelves $50.00
8 LED grow light panels $240.00
Roll of sheet plastic $12.00
2 Power strips $10.00
2 Timers $14.00
1 Thermometer $ 2.50
Trays $3.00

Total: About 331.50 (plus tax)

Time of useful life. The only element I expect not to last for at least 10 years are the LED panels.

Things I had on hand:

old blanket
cotton cord
zip ties
staple gun
blinder clips
bubble wrap
duct tape
some lattice panel to
keep the barn cats out

Notes:

  • LEDWholesalers on ebay.com – 2 orders – 900 LED Grow light 4 Red + Blue Hydroponic Lamp Panels. They have a few negative comments but for the most part they get 5 stars.
  • My shelf was a bargain apparently. I can’t find these very cheap online.
  • Make sure the timers are the grounded type (three prong.)
  • The power strips plug into the timers.
  • The LED panels go into the power strips.

Instructions:

1. Assemble shelf per directions that come with shelf.
2.Test all of your panels. You may need to send them back and it’s easier to do when they are not attached.
3.Attach LED panels to undersides of each shelf. (I used cotton cord and staples because it will be easy to remove panels if they go bad.)
4.Use zip ties to attach power strips to the back braces of the shelf.
5.Set timers for the amount of “daylight” you want. People differ on this. I have mine set for 14 hours. We will see how this goes.
6.Plug all panels into the two strips.
7.Test switches.
8.Make panels of bubble wrap to cover 3 sides of the shelf. (I used 2 layers.)
9.Staple the bubble wrap panels from the top shelf.
10.Use duct tape to close gaps in panels – Do not seal the whole thing up – plants like air. Stay away from PVC plastic.
11.Make plastic sheets into panels that will cover three sides of the shelf
12.Staple them also from the top of the shelf.
13.Use duct tape to close gaps in plastic sheet panels.
14.Create 4th panel – door. Cut plastic the length of shelf. Use a layer or two of bubble wrap. Duct tape edges if you like.
15.Staple door to top of shelf. Use clips to keep door folded open when working with plants.
16.Cover top with blanket for insulation in colder areas.
17.Use string to attach thermometer to easily visible spot in greenhouse.
18.Fill with trays of seedlings.
19.Water and wait.

Check the site for more reports on how our seedling starts are doing.
Happy digging!

LizM

hyperlocavore@gmail.com
twitter.com/hyperlocavore

Need help in the garden – or need a place to dig? Consider  yard sharing!


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