Monthly Archives: May 2013

Why I Gave Up My Community Garden Plot

I’m the type of person who likes to jump in with both feet — & either sink or swim. Most times, I end up flailing for dear life & then float down river a bit. The same is true for the experience in farming. I daydream often about standing on a back patio at dawn & just staring across the horizon. The ground is littered with carrot tops & lettuce heads ready for plucking. The chickens need to be let out for foraging. The scent of the air. OH! The scent of the air! When we drive up to the butcher out in farm-country, I just instantly feel happier smelling the air. Who knew you could get high on clean air? It’s slightly nippy out since it’s so early in the morning. There’s still dew on the grass blades & I’m rockin’ some stylish rain boots after Washington’s glorious bipolar weather downpoured the night before.

And I open my eyes & I’m back in reality, which is the complete opposite of what I dream about.

My husband is the opposite kind of personality. He likes to ease into things. He started college wanting to do computer programming & it’s taken nearly 10 years to get to a point where he makes money doing that (& it’s still not a living wage). He knows I’m rather sporadic or indecisive about things: diet fads & hobbies; working out & life goals. So, he tries to force me to slow down & ease into things to make sure it’s what I want.

I wanted a farm. He wanted a garden. And not just any garden, a 4×8 garden.

I agreed. If anything, we’d get some produce out of it & self satisfaction that we aren’t ultimate black-thumbs. We could introduce the kids into nature & they’d enjoy digging in the dirt. We’d meet some of our neighbors & gain knowledge from the master gardeners. We’d feel good about working the food bank beds, helping other people who are financially strapped have access to organic, local produce. It’s be a precursor into my dream coming true.

But none of those things happened.

I will admit – NOTHING felt quite like harvesting our first batch of radishes. Last year, I got tops & no radishes. This year, there was actual little red bulbs & boy, were they the spiciest & most delicious radishes I’ve had my entire life. But things weren’t working out as planned…

The Spawns were having a difficult time staying out of the garden bed (& I don’t mean digging, I mean STOMPING in it). They would mess with other peoples’ garden décor or scream about bugs. We rarely ran into other gardeners & when we did, they weren’t the chattiest. I’m not saying they were judging, but my paranoia tells me they might of been. We never were able to make time to commit to our 10 hours of community garden bed working.

But there was at least seven other people on a waiting list who could…

We got the email that all the beds were rented for the year & there was a waiting list. I mulled it over a few days. Ultimately it was decided since we weren’t meeting our expectations, we would forfeit our bed this year.

And I’m OK with that.

Aside from zombie apocalypse preparedness & self-sustainability, part of the reason I want to farm is I am passionate about food. To see others questioning the food system & seeking the knowledge, that strikes a cord for me. I want a farm, but can’t have one at the moment. I’d hate to hold on to my plot when it’s not what I truly want, preventing someone else who truly wants just a little patch of soil & can’t have one because the availability isn’t there.

Although this journey is about “saving just three”, really, it is about all of us. Your actions to save just three grow into the bigger picture of helping many others. I can still “save” us by visiting farmers markets, u-pick farms, canning & learning — & most of all, sharing that knowledge & passion with others so they too will feel the need to save themselves… save their family & friends…. save our planet.

And it starts by giving someone else the opportunity in Plot #21.

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Summer Tiiiime… & the Living is Green

(I’m a closet Sublime fan. Don’t tell my ex who I always swore I hated Sublime too).

It’s been a while. Why for? Well, we MOVED!! Sometimes part of living a healthier, greener life means relocating. We are much happier in our new apartment. We are close to family & friends who support our endeavors & two steps off my back porch is a patch of wild blackberry bushes.

We haven’t been doing anything tremendous towards our ultimate goal of self-sustainability lately, because we have one giant hiccup in our way: $23,000 in student loan debt. We can draw up all the eco-house plans we want & research real estate sites for hours for acreage but until that bad boy goes away… We’re stuck in the city & that means living by apartment complex rules. No farms. No freedom. And ABSOLUTELY no livestock.

There isn’t room for my compost bin but the complex has a recycling station. My patio doesn’t get much in the way of natural light for growing anything, but my aunt’s does!! There’s grassy areas for the Spawns to run around on instead of a concrete parking lot & there’s community areas like BBQ pits & a swimming pool.

So, what exactly will I blog about since it won’t be milking goats, planting heirloom tomatoes & driving my tractor?

Here’s a List of Things I Hope to Dabble (see: Blog) About Summer 2013 Regarding Our Sustainable Lifestyle:

You can expect to hear me gush about our local farmer’s markets. Most of them in the area run between June – September/October. That being said, May is half over, so expect to see regular posts about what I’m picking up at the market & what I’m learning from the people who grow the food. My little brother is coming up for a week from Tennessee too, so a trip to Washington’s ultimate farmer’s market, Pike Place is definitely in order along with probably Uwajimaya.

This summer, along with some friends, we also plan on hitting some local U-Pick farms. I already have plans to hit the Biringer Strawberry Farm in Arlington & Mountain View Blueberry Farm in Snohomish. Because we plan on picking a lot, I also plan on dabbling in canning FOR THE FIRST TIME! I hear I’m going to have a love-hate relationship with the experience.

For my birthday, I splurged on weekend passes for the Mister & I to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup. This will probably end up being a multi-post mini-series, because there just truly is *SO* much going on at the fair that I am stoked out of my mind about. Everything from straw bale houses to solar panels… Rennet-less cheese to milking baby goats… Joel Salatin ❤ *swoon* to the guys at Botanical Interest. I’m getting giddy again just thinking about it. I promise you are not going to want to miss all the photographic Earthy eye-candy I’ll be posting.

Of course, we’ll continue to check up on our community garden plot (check out Plot #21 here) & chronicle the (mis)adventures of our second  year trying to grow something.

There’ll be other fun stuff too… Groovy garage sale finds. Brilliant books we’re reading. Sketches of the Future Omlet Hobbit Homestead. Funky farmer foodie documentaries & wild times of us trying to rewild our lives. Oh! & I might even VLOG for you once or twice! Wouldn’t that just be nutty?

I hope you’ll stay tuned because everyone knows, summer is when the memories are just waiting to happen.

“I want to be that crazy, eccentric farmer person!”

I asked my 3 year old, “What do you want to be when she grows up?”. She looked at me innocently, without even the remotest bit of stress on her face regarding the situation & said “I don’t know”. Fair enough. At 3, I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a painter or a dancer or a singer. At one point, I wanted to be like my mom whom at the time was a vet assistant. Eventually I wanted to be a rock star. As I exited high school & had to make some kind of concrete (realistic) decision, I opted for an elementary school teacher. After decided four years of college was too much, I chose a photographer. Once I saw the cut throat market, I opted for stay-at-home-parent (on accident, twice over).

But being a stay-at-home parent, although fulfilling in so many ways, doesn’t fill a void I have to answer that question with something more permanent. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Eventually, my position as domestic goddess will expire as the children will be able to take care of themselves. I stay awake at night wondering, “What will I do with myself then?”

On a particularly low day, I recently googled “How to Find Your Life Purpose”. Sifting through the typical religious sites & a few with more of a Fight Club theme (“You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else… Oh & by the way, you have NO LIFE PURPOSE!”)… I finally found one that semi-helped.

It told me to write. Write & write & write & don’t stop until you write the one thing that makes you cry.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t take it seriously. And I didn’t until I was watching Hungry for Change & I started crying with Frank Ferrante when he described how much he hated himself & how painful it was to let other people love him. I realized, food is my passion. Not JUST food — but GOOD food. My actions may not always show it (I’m drinking a Monster Java after I had a donut for breakfast), but I care about the food system. I care about farmers & farm land preservation. I care about animal welfare & soil nutrient balance. I got teary-eyed as Michael Pollan described Polyface Farms in The Omnivore’s Dilemma & the beautiful orchestrated balancing act of animals nurturing the land & the land sustaining the animals residing there. I feel so warm & moved when I read about people who have essentially saved their own lives through diet change or gave their food desert neighborhood access to fresh vegetables by starting a community garden.  I feel so connected & like part of something greater when I go to farmers markets & chat with growers.

Oh La La! Ciscoe Morris!

Oh La La! Ciscoe Morris!

This weekend, we went to the Evergreen State Spring Fair. I was primarily going to listen in on Ciscoe Morris’ garden talk, but Monster Girl getting to enjoy a carnival ride & The Mister indulging in some BBQ were perks worth the $5 parking fee. Ciscoe’s talk was packed. There wasn’t even any seating available. People were drawn to him because not only is he one of our state’s master gardeners — he’s entertaining & he’s funny… & he’s passionate. I didn’t say anything to any one of the audience members. I didn’t even get to say anything to Mr. Morris himself. But I smiled so hard at seeing so many people taking interest in their own backyard & what they could do with it.

The beauty of talking to people who make your food is information. Knowledge is power. And people deserve the right to that power (which is why there are so many petitions & bills being presented requesting labeling of products with GMOs in them! Contact your state’s legislative team today if you want access to that power!) — We found out at the Spring Fair why our beloved Tribley’s BBQ sauce has high fructose corn syrup in it (& how they are working to try to find an alternative). We were able to talk to many BBQ’ers about who sources their meat & what they add to their sauces. But my favorite part of the event?

We got to chitchat with the proprietors of R Heritage Farm. Based out of Gold bar, they raise natural, pasture fed heritage breeds of pork & poultry. Their booth was full of so much information, I STILL haven’t even gotten to process it all & the photos of their beautiful animals made me green with envy… & terribly hungry! Recipe sheets & photo slideshows can only tell you so much though. Actually getting to talk to Ben, his energy is just electric. He truly beams with pride about his products & their sustainability on the farm. Again, there it was… that passion.

WHAT IS IT about being out in nature that makes people so passionate they come off as being totally CRAZY!? Funny story, I first noticed this when we were watching Food Inc for the first time. Brian, being a man, is very visual. He has to SEE things rather than listen to his nagging wife tell him why GMOs are bad & the damage the current food system inflicts on the planet. He knows his wife is a tree hugger. He also knows I have a tendency to overreact. That being said, food documentaries are how I’ve convinced him otherwise. While watching Food Inc, I’d refer to probably the most well known “grass farmer” as “that crazy farmer guy”. Brian would be chasing Princess Cthulhu or washing the dinner dishes & he’d ask from inside the kitchen, “What’d I miss?” — “Oh ya know, that crazy farmer guy is back on… He’s on the ground with some pigs”.

And now… 6 months later… I’m totally smitten over “that crazy farmer guy” & forked out mucho dineros to be able to watch him process a chicken at the Mother Earth News Fair next month.

800px-Joel_Salatin_and_hen

Ladies & Gents, the most eccentric farmer EVER — Joel Salatin *swoon*

As we walked away from R Hertiage’s booth at the fair & Ben’s speech on the benefits of cooking with lard (I promised I would give it a try), Brian looked at me & said “That guy was kind of crazy”

🙂

“Yeah… Kind of like Joel… But that’s going to be me one day.”
“I want to be that crazy, eccentric farmer person”