The Gift of Kefir – How to Make Easy Tasty Probiotics at Home

Milk Kefir Grains

The Culture of Kefir

The culture around kefir is interesting (no pun intended…) It seems a gifting tradition that goes on and on like the potentially eternal bacterial colonies that are used to make it. My neighbor Lois came by a few weeks ago to surprise me with some living kefir grains. They needed care and she was going to be traveling for a while. I wasn’t quite sure what they were or why they needed care but, hoping to be a good neighbor I said I would be happy to babysit.

I read up and was amazed. Kefir is a traditional yogurt style dairy product. It is made by letting milk ferment with the kefir grains. Originally these colonies of bacteria were used in Turkey and the Caucasus to ferment and therefore preserve milk.

I decided to name the colony Mike…and then Mikes when I realized how many there were in the jar – billions maybe trillions! A kefir colony looks a little like a bit of really squishy cauliflower. Some people drink it plain. Some guy on the internet puts molasses in it, a mixture I don’t recommend. I like to let it ferment a second or third day so that it is extra tart and a bit fizzy. I blend a cup and a half of that with a cup of frozen berries, a bit of vanilla and brown sugar. It is the best way to start my day I have found yet.

I’m a coffee addict and can’t really get going until halfway through my second cup of strong java. The day I started the kefir I finished my first cup and didn’t even bother to pour a second. I was super-charged but not in that jittery coffee way.

I have heard kefir translates to “feels good.” I’ve always got a big boost of energy and good feeling from well made yogurt. Now that I have a kefir smoothie for breakfast I start my day energetic, calm and focused.

The Science of Kefir

Our gut actually contains a large amount of bacteria or “flora.” We co-evolved with them in fact and would be six feet under without the friendly ones.

From Wikipedia:

Gut Flora

“The metabolic activities performed by these bacteria resemble those of
an organ, leading some to liken gut bacteria to a “forgotten” organ. It is estimated that these gut flora have around 100 times as many genes in aggregate as there are in the human genome.”

Health Benefits of Kefir

Kefir is a fantastic source of easily digested protein, B Vitamins, pro-biotics and vitamin K.

Using real kefir grains is a great way to keep a cheap and perpetual source of these important nutrients on hand. I don’t know about you but, my budget for vitamins and other health products has been given up. I try to get all I need from the food I eat now.

Here’s a great series on caring for your kefir.
Making Kefir Part 1
Making Kefir Part 2

Thank you to Lois of Stonehaven Shetland Sheep Farm for the gift of kefir…and being my neighbor.

How to Get Kefir Grains

As I mentioned there is a strong gifting tradition around live kefir grains. I am not comfortable recommending sources at the moment as I am new to the world of kefir. Though in my research I have come across this fellow mentioned many times both as an expert and a source for live kefir grains. He lives in Australia and will ship globally.

I would also encourage you to ask around your community and share them if you got em! If you know of reputable folks that are growing and sharing them please post in the comments!

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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!

20 Tips for a Successful Yardsharing Group

Yardsharing (or yard sharing, garden sharing, land sharing or roof sharing) is a new idea and a new way to develop community resilience. Set to be a huge trend in 2010, people are looking for ways to save money, eat better and get their kids active again.

Yard sharing has a long list of advantages. Let’s assume you are already sold on the idea and you looking to get started. How do you begin it in a way that makes your success much more likely?

Creating community where you are will help you weather tough times but, community doesn’t just fall into place on it’s own. Real community building needs to start with clear intention, anticipation of issues and, especially with a garden, some basic planning.

How do you build a group that gets along?

  1. Pick you growing partners with the same attention you would any relationship but, know it only has to last a season if it turns out you haven’t found the right mix of folks.
  2. Start with a party not with a meeting.
  3. For a long-term group have seasonal parties to mark the year. Planning party on the winter solstice and harvest party in September.
  4. Gather resources you already have. Create a garden book share to start.
  5. Set realistic boundaries (garden hours, rules for broken items, distribution of produce)
  6. Involve all ages.
  7. Remember novice gardeners don’t always have immediate bountiful success.
  8. Take bad weather in stride. Some seasons are just bad.
  9. Set up a kitty for garden expenses and put a cap on it.(Some folks can really get crazy with those catalogs!)
  10. There’s no need to spend lots of money to get started. Don’t make it expensive to “buy in”
  11. Take a ‘resourcefulness vow.’ Have all members agree to try to solve issues the least expensive most resourceful way.
  12. Make it possible for people to exchange hours for financial commitment.
  13. Know that critters will occasionally get to things.
  14. Conflict is inevitable. Anticipate it and resolve it openly!
  15. Respect people’s time and property.
  16. Be ready to let someone know when it’s not working for you. Don’t blame ‘yard sharing.’
  17. Be fair. Share failure and triumph.
  18. If you are the landowner don’t treat people like “hired help.” They are your partners.
  19. Agree on growing methods and principles before breaking ground.
  20. If you have concerns about liability issues get a copy of The Sharing Solution by Nolo Press.


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And a bonus!

Remember why you are doing it and enjoy every second of eating the scrumptious bounty from your efforts!

Join hyperlocavore today – We are here to help you get started with yard sharing, neighborhood produce exchanges, seed sharing and, much more!

We have some more tips and fliers you can download on the site to help get your communities growing together!

Give Hyperlocavore.com a Kickstart!

kickstarter logo

We have started a crowd funding project with kickstarter.com! Kickstarter allows folks to give projects they like – a kickstart! It’s a wonderful resource for innovative projects, artists, musicians or anyone with a compelling idea!

We have until the end of March 2010 to reach our goal. If we don’t gather enough pledges to cover or exceed our goal we don’t get anything. You can help by sharing this link with folks with a note about why you think the project is worthwhile. You can also pledge some money. Any amount helps!

Hyperlocavore Book Club – The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins

Read about the book club and our first choice – The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins.

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!

Adding Yard Sharing to Your Community’s Offerings

front_panel_com_groups

Are you a faith community or community level organization looking to expand your offerings and impact without expanding your budget? We understand that creating a yard sharing registry is valuable resource for any localizing organization. We’re here to help.

We can set up a branded group for your organization, assign a member of your staff as an administrator and have the all the resources on hyperlocavore.com available to the people in your community who are interested in starting a yard sharing group.

Here are the advantages to using hyperlocavore.com:

1. For the wider concept of yard sharing and sustainability to succeed we have to support and nurture the relationships that people form to yard share. It’s a new idea. People need help and it is time consuming to attend to all the needs of this community.

2. Simply creating a registry or map, does not support the groups forming or staying together. It takes human resources to deliver anything beyond a matchmaking service. Those groups therefore are on their own, and left to succeed or fail on their own. Hyperlocavore.com offers ongoing support for those relationships, a community of other people all over the world working on yard sharing and group gardens, and a community of support deeply committed to the success of each yard sharing arrangement. It may not be part of your mission to offer anything on top of a matching system. Nurturing these groups takes time and commitment.

3. You program will not be dependent on funding that is not always available from quarter to quarter. This is a self supported site. The members of your community who want to yard share will not need to worry that volunteers may or may not be available to keep your site registry up to date using technical staff or volunteer hours.

4. We can brand your group or area page with your logo.

5. If you DO have staff hours available we can allow you to administer your own pages. If not we can do that for you but maintain the resources with your logo.

6. This is a way to immediately expand your offerings and effectiveness without impacting your non profit budget. If you are a for profit business we will do the same for a small monthly fee.

7. The value to the members of a network such as this is intimately related to the number of people involved. Silo-ing one area from another, means that our mutual friends may never find each other.

8. We are called hyperlocavore because we have the ability to match people on the neighborhood level and allow them to create private groups to internally organize their own yard share groups. We exist to support these relationships and are happy to share credit in partnership.

9. Impress your board members with a quick launch of an invaluable resource whether you are a faith community, a poverty reduction community organization, a real food group or a professional edible landscaper we can add value to what you do every day!

It take minutes for us to set your organization up. It’s free for non-profits and suburban farmers!
Let’s get people growing TOGETHER!




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Liz McLellan hyperlocavore.com

The Great Let’s Get Growing Seed Share

The Great Let's Get Growing Seed Share

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 six 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 about an hour to do this for four 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!

Whether you are a newbie gardener or an experienced grower sign up for The Great Let’s Get Growing Seed Share! It’s free. All I ask is that you share your gardens and your experiences on hyperlocavore.com and pay it forward.

Be sure to check out Fight Back Fridays!


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Hello to my Twitterfriends! How Very Green You Look Today!

Get your twitter mosaic here.