Everyone complains about the weather…

but no one does a damn thing about it….

Early this season before any of the veg had really started to flower we had a freak hail storm. Most people in our valley escaped any damage. We didn’t. We live in seems very much in the shadow of Cornucopia mountain. As storms go they seem to swoop down onto our wee acre and then disappear but not before acting out.

Surveying the damage, the plants hit most hard were the large leaved and the green tomatoes that were fist sized by then. Quarter sized holes on most large leaves and bruises on the tomatoes which healed eventually but left scars shocked me into the reality of weather and farming.

We noobs have a very romantic vision of what it is to live off what you can grow. We are playing farmer.
I have a kitchen garden and don’t plan to become dependent on my little patch because I understand Mama may contradict me. She may wipe me out in a fit of pique. Kitchen gardeners have no safety net…and urban farmers don’t either. The bleeding edge is a risky place.

BK Farmyards logo

Stacy Murphy @brooklynfarmyards is out on that limb too though on a larger scale. She’s got folks depending on her and what they can grow on her patchwork of experimental urban farms. They were hit hard by the devastating hail storm that blew through my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. If you haven’t read about what she’s doing please do. If you can throw some dollars or attention her way as she tries to bring the urban farms she runs back please do that too!


Here’s the story.

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I’m a Little Baby Bumble Bee…

I’m a Little Baby Bumble Bee!
Won’t My Mama Be So Proud of Me!
(Adapted from the absolutely horrible murderous bumble bee song taught to kindergarteners everywhere!)

bee_big

You may be wondering why I am playing honey bee! Strange thing to do, I have to agree. I’ve always had a connection to bees, always thought of them as the magic little beings that make us possible. Have you every thought about your near total dependence on the humble bee? Nearly everything you eat is in some way connected to the diligent work of a armies of bees.
This is why when I came across the Tweehive project I said “Oh yes! I’d love to play!”

From their site:

Tweehive is a mass role play by human beings of a bee colony on twitter. This will take place on three days, July 14, August 5 and Sept 5. The aim is to raise bee awareness, wonderment, interest, actions – plus generate traffic to bee related sites and resources. We are affiliated withThe Pestival and our third daily role play will be featured at this South Bank event (London) in the first week of September.
– Tweehive Project

Everyone is welcome to jump in and play so, please read up and then participate in the Tweehive. The twitter game will raise awareness, teach you a bit about the complex lives of our most unappreciated allied creature. And maybe you’ll even find some honey of your own!

Note: The image is not actually a bumble bee, but a French bee, from France.
For my BEEEEEEEEES!!!


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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 us Name Our New Donkey!

Congratulations to THE SHIBAGUYZ!

OK, so here’s the story in brief. We have a quarter horse named Roanie, who is of course a roan. He used to have a pal named Jim, but Jim died. Since then Roanie has been a very mopey horse. So we figure we would find him a friend. Donkeys or so we’ve been told make great companion animals for horses. Though mom is hinting that in the future the donkey will be my prime mode of transportation. Mom has a habit of naming animals what they actually are. Mama Kitty for instance, is the girl cat that showed up on our porch quite preggers and dropped all of our barn cats. Though we do have a white Bichon named Moxie and a three legged rescued Labrador named Peaches.

I wanted to name the new donkey  Moon Pie, but was swiftly vetoed, on the grounds I think, that any time we called her name we’d be inciting a craving for the old time treat. Anyway. Mom is calling the donkey Baby Burro. It’s cute. But I think we can do better. I’ve been taking nominations from the folks that follow @hyperlocavore on twitter. They started really rolling in and we’re having fun. So, I thought this is an awesome time for a contest.

We will continue taking nominations here in comments on the blog, on twitter and on hyperlocavore.com until Friday June 19th, 2009 at midnight. At that time nominations will be closed and mom will pick the finalists in the next few days. It’s her donkey, mom gets to make the rules. The nominees will be put to a vote in a poll which I will link to when we have the finalists – for 3 days. The winner will be announced the following week, when I get to it. (Note: there’s SO much to do on the farm these days, I kind of have to work around the daylight and animal schedule.)

The winner will receive a brand new copy of The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control (voted by NYT for their Best Gardening Books list.)

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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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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Confused about Climate Change?

There are still a few people out there trying to figure out if they should change their lives based on concerns about climate change.

If you are one of these folks, I’d like to encourage you to watch this video. I promise the guy will not try to scare the pants of you! He just gives you a very handy way to sort through the decision about whether or not to take the claims of those that argue that climate change is a serious problem, well seriously.

If you found this helpful please share this one with your friends, family and neighbors.

Ten Signs You May Be A Farm Nerd

HONEY FARMER © Mrphoto | Dreamstime.com

HONEY FARMER © Mrphoto | Dreamstime.com

All Your Beets R Belong To Us!

1. You dream of learning Ruby on Rails and building a chicken coop. You can’t decide which to get started with first.

2. You have been outside working on biochar, but want to check your rendering – You get soot all over your keyboard.

3. You are hacking the timers on your soaker hose system.

4. You are making a quilt based on images of neurons. (Don’t that’s my project!)

5. You wonder if nano-particle solar paint will be available in barn red.

6. All your garden plant markers have latin names.

7. You visit instructables.com every day.

8. You note that being a farmer is a little like being a programmer. You can wear the same type of thing everyday and no one will comment. This pleases you.

9. You are really really scared of bees, but you are considering making a honey bee hive. You think beekeeper outfits are full of awesome.

10. Like most farmers you have a pest problem in the garden.  Unlike most farmers your first thought on solving the problem is the possible introduction of farm lizards.

If you answered yes:

0-2 times You are a farm nerd like Carrot Top is a comic.
3-5 times You may indeed be a bit of a farm nerd.
6-8 times You are definitely, or more accurately speaking “approximately” (of course) a farm nerd, with a margin of error of +/- .04.
9-10 times You rock the farm like Kirk rocks the Universe!

Can you relate? Mail me! Or join us at hyperlocavore.com.


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