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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:
San Marzano’s (for drying and sauce)
Matt’s Wild Cherry
Outdoors (Mar 3rd)
Alliums planted last fall:
Globemaster (big pom poms that look like Dr. Suess plants
Egyptian Walking Onions
White Bunching Onions
Red Ruben Romain
In the greenhouse
Sugar snap peas
Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli
Chinese Bok Choi
French Mesclun Mix
Around the yard
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….
MARCH 1, 2010 DEADLINE IS PASSED.
THE WINNER IS MIKE T of Ridgewood, NY.
ENTRIES CLOSED – But you can still help!
We are getting down to the wire for the Kickstarter fund drive. We don’t get a dime if we don’t make the pledge goal. SO – I am adding another incentive. For the person that gets the most pledges by March 1st I WILL SEND A FULL GARDEN’s WORTH OF SEEDS. And I will do the same for the person that comes in with the largest dollar amount of total pledges by March 1st.
How this will work: For each person you encourage to make a pledge, have them send me an email letting me know that they go in your tally column. Send the email to email@example.com. I will, of course, count the personal pledges of those that have already pledged who are members here towards their tally. I will announce the winner by March 3, 2010 and have the seeds out the the winners by March 5th, 2010.
We desperately need funds to make the site more friendly and usable so every pledge, every retweet, every invitation to friends is critical. I am hoping to reach this goal via members and supporters, and though I have added incentives to green businesses my preference has always been that we keep the majority of support coming from people who find real value in the project for their own lives. A HUGE THANK YOU TO THESE FOLKS
I hope that the possibility of a full garden’s worth of seeds is a truly enticing prize!
It can be expensive to try growing a lot of different things!
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! 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 handful 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
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 an 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 the 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 a variety called “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.
The classic real Italian style pizza is just mozzarella, big basil leaves, tomato 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 together. 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 breath 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 them. Some kids hate them. 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
UPDATE: Hyperlocavore.com is no longer in service.
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!
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?
- 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.
- Start with a party not with a meeting.
- For a long-term group have seasonal parties to mark the year. Planning party on the winter solstice and harvest party in September.
- Gather resources you already have. Create a garden book share to start.
- Set realistic boundaries (garden hours, rules for broken items, distribution of produce)
- Involve all ages.
- Remember novice gardeners don’t always have immediate bountiful success.
- Take bad weather in stride. Some seasons are just bad.
- Set up a kitty for garden expenses and put a cap on it.(Some folks can really get crazy with those catalogs!)
- There’s no need to spend lots of money to get started. Don’t make it expensive to “buy in”
- Take a ‘resourcefulness vow.’ Have all members agree to try to solve issues the least expensive most resourceful way.
- Make it possible for people to exchange hours for financial commitment.
- Know that critters will occasionally get to things.
- Conflict is inevitable. Anticipate it and resolve it openly!
- Respect people’s time and property.
- Be ready to let someone know when it’s not working for you. Don’t blame ‘yard sharing.’
- Be fair. Share failure and triumph.
- If you are the landowner don’t treat people like “hired help.” They are your partners.
- Agree on growing methods and principles before breaking ground.
- If you have concerns about liability issues get a copy of The Sharing Solution by Nolo Press.
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!
It’s been an amazing first year. It started with a huge turn both privately and publicly. Obama’s inauguration was the highest point and the lowest point. On that same evening we got the news that my father was not well, and six months later he was gone.
He taught me many things some useful and some not at all. I am grateful most of all that he told me many times that I could do anything I set my mind to. He certainly thought them strange, many of those things that I have set my mind to. I was able to share some interviews I had done before he died, and he liked the idea.
He was never a gardener but, always a foodie and a fiend for the super fresh. Some of my best memories of him are the car trips we’d take down California, through the Central Valley stopping at all the fruit stands. The last time we went out together, we went to a fruit stand just down the road from my aunt Duff’s where we were staying. He was too weak to drive and only tolerating fruit at this point. In a real rare moment, he let me drive. Clearly a sign he didn’t have much fight left in him.
My brother Matt got married this year to a great woman with a fantastic sense of humor named Angela. Dad hung on until the wedding in May. We were so glad to have something joyful to gather around, as we knew we would be gathering soon again for something with no joy in it. I have no idea where he found the strength to make the flight. He was a wisp by then, as you can see in the picture at his full strength he was a lion of a man. We had a bagpiper at the service. I wish we hadn’t done that, from now on the sound will rip through me.
This started as a” Ten Top posts” blog but, I digressed. I haven’t been able to talk about this year much. So thank you for indulging me. There’s no talking about this year without talking about losing my dad. When he lost his ability to enjoy food, his sense of taste and smell gone, a full belly causing pain, nausea and reflux, he didn’t want to be here any more. I understand that. I’m a foodie, because he was. I care about food, taste, and freshness because he did.
Throughout the year friends and family have come through over and over again. People I didn’t know very well reached across the screen and gave me themselves. I’ve been surrounded by love and support by the people who I have gotten to know through this project. I can’t mention you individually. The list is so long. I am so grateful to all of my new friends. Without the encouragement you’ve given me so consistently through this very difficult year, I do not know where I would be really. This project, certainly, would not have survived.
My wish is that 2010 brings all of you as much as you have given me and more.
And here we go:
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!
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:
- foodgawker.com – feast your eyes…
- rouxbe.com – don’t know how to do something in your cookbook?
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.
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.
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!
twitter me @hyperlocavore
Let’s get growing!
Another take on the Locavore Pledge – going hyperlocal!
GROW IT YOURSELF IN YOUR YARD (organically),
If you can’t GROW IT YOURSELF IN YOUR YARD, in a YARD SHARE GARDEN WITH OTHERS
If you can’t GROW IT YOURSELF IN A YARD SHARE, then LOCALLY PRODUCED.
If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then ORGANIC.
If not ORGANIC, then FAMILY FARM.
If not FAMILY FARM, then LOCAL BUSINESS.
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then FAIR TRADE.
How we feed ourselves matters.
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:
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is part of Fight Back Fridays!
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.
“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.”
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
- 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!
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.
I’m in the process of writing a workbook for yard sharing groups and I could use your input!
The success of any garden share depends entirely on the expectations set by the entire group at the outset of the relationship between the members of the group. Respect of each other’s needs and hopes for the project should be a given.
It’s important to keep the workbook a flexible tool. I am assuming groups will have different needs regarding the formality of their agreements. My question to you is what sort of things would you need to work through in an agreement with your yardsharing members before you felt comfortable forming a working group?
- What needs to be in your agreement?
- What would be a deal breaker?
- What questions would you have for the garden or property owner?
- What questions would you have for the gardeners in the group?
- What questions would you want to work through regarding finances for your group?
- What is important to formalize?
- What is important to keep loose?
These agreements will depend only on what each group sorts through. How can we help make these groups enjoyable and workable for all the people involved?
Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts!
Growing food together may not be for everyone, but for the frugal healthy eaters amongst us it makes a lot of sense and cents. When you grow fruit and veg together you can share tools, space and work. So let’s assume you and two friends decide to start a yardsharing garden to save some money on fresh organics, have a healthy outdoor activity to share, and to teach your kids that food does not come from Walmart.
© Digidogs | Dreamstime.com
Also keep in mind that when we talk about return on investment for planting your own gardens we are taking into account all of the benefits of growing our own food, which are not strictly about personal economies. There are so many reasons to grow your own, saving great heaping gobs of cash is just one.
Let’s say your families agree that almonds, Granny Smith apples, and blueberries are a good place to start, and so off we go. These are back of the napkin calculations. I am not factoring in anything too complicated like seasonality, storage, inflation, peak oil or buying local. You may pick different crops. I simply picked three things I spend a lot of money on. Almonds and blueberries shock me every time I buy them. Both are considered ‘superfoods,’ densely packed nutrition in perfect snacky form.
Let’s assume that each of our families enjoys approximately:
- 2 lbs organic Granny Smith apples @ $4.50 per week.
- 1 lb organic anti-oxidant rich blueberries @ $12.00 per week.
- .5 lb organic almonds @ 7.00 per week
That’s about $24.00 per week per family, or about $1250.00 per family per year for three pretty basic healthy staples. It’s $3750.00 per year for all three families to eat yummy organic green apples, blueberries and almonds. Now let’s assume that to produce this amount for three families you will need:
- 4 almond trees (producing about 64 lbs per year)
- 2 apple trees (producing about 600 lbs per year)
- 15 mature blueberry bushes (producing about 150 pounds per year)
Your group wants the benefit sooner rather than later so you agree to purchase mature trees and shrubs.
- 4 producing almond trees – 8′ @ $80.00 = $320.00
- 2 producing apple trees 8′ @ $90.00 = $180.00
- 15 producing blueberry bushes 4′ @ $40.00 = $600.00
Your one time investment is about $1700.00 (plus tax and shipping) for all three families, including one time purchase of tools and starting garden costs using a rough figure of $600.00, assuming you have no tools between you and your soil needs a lot of help. Add some sweat equity and a year to let the trees and shrubs settle in.
This works out to about $600.00 per family for 20 years worth of apples, almonds and blueberries! Growing their own saves all three families a total of $74,000.00 over 20 years. – Assuming your families share, or 24K, is conservatively invested expecting a 2.8 % return over those 20 years and adjusted for inflation – that’s $61,072.13 clams via the magic of compound interest!
Now the almond trees, treated well, will produce almonds for 40+ years. The apples for 30, and you may need to replace the blueberries. We’re just playing with pens and napkins after all.
So, how do you like them apples, almonds, and blueberries?
Note: Numbers were revised on Feb. 5th after being published on Feb 4th 2009.
First a definition, a hyperlocavore tries to eat as much food as close to home as possible, in order to reduce the food miles that his food travels. It is an extension of the term locavore. A locavore typically tries to eat seasonally within 100 miles of her home, to reduce food miles and to develop the local economic base. A hyperlocavore therefore wants to bring food even closer. And what’s closer than your neighborhood? We have a time crunch, we have land and property that is loosing value fast, we have kids who don’t know where their food comes from, and we have a climate crisis.
Hyperlocavore.com, a social network, is here to help facilitate yardsharing. Yardsharing and group growing is new. It’s different from a community garden – but the site (hyperlocavore.com) can be used to create and manage one. A yardshare might be an arrangement between an elderly couple and a young one to grow more food cheaply for both. Or friends who live in an apartment and a friend in the burbs to save money and food miles.
This is a list of the reasons I think group gardens and yardsharing is an idea whose time has come. The links hide some people, websites and imagery that have inspired me to build hyperlocavore.com. Have fun exploring. Every reason is not meant to appeal to everyone. See if just one make sense to you! Then join us to explore the possibilities. The site is free, and you do not need to commit to anything to participate. It’s new to most of us. It’s up to you what makes sense for you and yours. We just hope to inspire and facilitate. If you agree with more than two of these, you just may be a hyperlocavore!
(A note: I’m a North American, citizen of the U.S., so this certainly reflects some of my perspectives and biases. Please contact me if I’ve got something really wrong, I’m happy to discuss any concerns!)
- You want to taste those real tomatoes you’ve heard so much about.
- You want to decrease your reliance on fossil fuels.
- You want to teach your kids where food comes from.
- You want the smell of soil in your nose.
- You want to pick your salad from your porch.
- You want your neighborhood to have positive street life.
- You want to be less isolated.
- You want to build food security into your life.
- You want to get more sun!
- You want to develop some upper arm strength.
- You want a hotter bootie!
- You want to help that nice old man down the block. He works too hard!
- You want your neighborhoods to have cheap access to healing herbs!
- You want to be a farmer but you have no farm.
- You want your high cholesterol to go down!
- You miss the family farm.
- You especially miss the rooster on the family farm.
- You want to lead and not to follow!
- You want to be more independent.
- You want to show em how it’s done!
- You want to walk out the door and eat mangoes!
- You want your children to be sustainably self sufficient.
- You want your children to eat their veggies.
- You want to involve your family in a group activity.
- You can’t live without fresh organic veg, and it seems to be getting too expensive!
- You want to do something with your friends besides drink beer.
- You’ve never been able to find that Hatch chili from where you grew up.
- You want to shorten the distance from farm to plate.
- You have a brown thumb and want to know what that’s all about.
- You have a yard that is full of weeds.
- You want to reduce the chemical load on your body.
- You think the lawn is a sign of all that is wrong with America.
- You hate mowing.
- You know that cute chic down the block is a big freakin’ hippy but you wanna get to know her betta anyway.
- You know that dude down the block is a big freakin’ hippy but you wanna get to know him betta anyway.
- You took Obama’s call to service to heart.
- No one sees your gardening triumphs.
- You want to lessen your ecological footprint.
- You look around and you see your neighborhood dying, and you want to do something.
- You have been blessed and you want to express gratitude.
- You remember what the neighborhood was like when people talked.
- You need to pay it forward.
- You need something to do besides what you been doing.
- You want your food to taste as good as Gordon Ramsey’s.
- You don’t have a farmers’ market near you.
- You can’t get into the local CSA – It filled up fast!
- You work too many hours and need some help in your garden.
- You have physical limitations, and a garden and could use some help.
- You are a former hedge fund manager with a lot of time on your hands now.
- Your kids need to get moving.
- You really need a new set of friends.
- You know it’s the end of the world as we know it, and you want to feel fine.
- You want to quit talking the talk and start walking the walk.
- You want to simplify your life.
- You find no joy in fragging any more.
- You are an exceedingly cheap bastard, and want to save even more cash.
- You are sick of living on Top Ramen.
- Yes we can!
- Si, se puede!
- Chop wood, carry water.
- You’ve been saving seeds, but have no place to plant them.
- You want to surprise your hard working single mom with regular homegrown fruit and vegetables.
- You are unutterably bored, filled with ennui, and about to jump.
- Om, nom, nom, nom.
- You want to live more like the rest of the world.
- You want the suburban wasteland to become juicier.
- You can’t afford the gas to get to the market, and your veggie ride isn’t road ready yet.
- The bodega in your neighborhood doesn’t carry anything but candy, cigarettes, and booze.
- Guerilla gardening just isn’t giving you the thrill it used to…sigh.
- The force is strong with you, little one.
- You are actually serious about this “reliance on foreign oil” thing you keep going on about.
- Better jam.
- Better pie.
- Better chutney.
- Fresh eggs! Like still chicken butt warm fresh.
- You really need to step away from the computer.
- You actually do have a vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunshine.
- You’re afraid of the veg your freegan roommate brings home.
- You’ve never actually tasted a fresh vegetable, ditto fruit.
- You decided you didn’t like vegetables when you were 6, you stuck to your guns but you’re a big girl/boy now.
- You are down with the peak oil hypothesis, and want to stop freaking the f$ck out.
- You want to find like minded people and be useful.
- You’ve got a hankerin’ fer something really dirty.
- Your grandmother, who has been dead for 8 years keeps coming back to you in dreams – She reminds you there is an elephant in the root cellar. You want to sleep more soundly.
- You really, really like potlucks.
- You want to grow enough extra to donate to the homeless shelter.
- You take the very long view.
- Your houseplants are telling you to get out and make new friends.
- You’ll be damned if your gonna spend five dollars for a sack of potatoes !
- You think that you are surrounded by ugliness, and you’re right.
- You will simply die if you don’t have a St. Germaine cocktail and the godforsaken town you live in has no reputable supplier of elderflower liqueur. You are therefore, desperate enough to make your own.
- You walk softly but carry a giant gourd.
- You have a lot of stuff, but you feel empty.
- Your country has been embargoed by the rest of the world and you are hungry.
- You want to live the good life, not that one! This one!
- You want to make it easier to cook at home.
- You really want to slow down but don’t know how.
- You want to see this, not this when you go outside.
- The spirit of true community has filled your heart and you want to fill your days differently.
- One word – zucchini.
Join us at hyperlocavore and find or start a yardsharing group in your neighborhood. You don’t have to have a yard to share or a green thumb – This is a learning community.
* OK I admit there are a few repeats. I said the same thing a few different ways… Use the comment to add your own!