Monday, December 03, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
That Saturday Beo and I went to the Farmer's Market and got our normal produce from Harmony Valley, then paid double for it. We've done the same whenever we could make it since then. Today, I found out that Whole Foods Market is doing much more. I was greeted today by a television set showing a video about the horrible damage our farmer's have experienced in these past months. Nearby, a sign explained that Whole Foods had committed $25,000 to farm relief, and had pledged $10,000 to match customer donations. That in and of itself is an incredible support of our local farmers. The story goes on though. When I took my donation coupons to the register, two employees told me that they've already raised $6,000 in their store alone. One gentleman explained that not only does Whole Foods in Madison buy from these local farmers as they go into the market each week, they have the buying power to buy up the leftovers of what the farmers don't sell at market. (He added that these days that's not an issue--there's just not enough produce to go around.) Whole Foods has also been assisting local farmers even before this crisis by trucking their produce out of state, in Whole Foods Market trucks that would be headed to those stores anyway, providing distribution that these small farmers could never afford. This employee told me with pride that the hard squash displayed for sale in the front of the store that day had been picked by Whole Foods employees. Avalanche Organic, washed out and strapped for cash, couldn't afford a harvest crew, but a crew of volunteers came to do their harvest last weekend, including a large group of volunteers from Whole Foods.
If anyone having read my former posts had any doubts, I hope they stop here. Whole foods is walking the walk--they're leading the walk. They're not just getting local organic produce to more consumers, they're standing up and giving those farmers the support they need--formerly to thrive, now to survive. Eat your heart out, Michael Pollan.
Please consider giving what you can to the cause. For More Info:
Press Release on Whole Foods' Recent Action
Harmony Valley Farm
Sow the Seeds Fund
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Yes, these are actual pictures. No, my kitchen's never really this clean except for pictures and company.
We also invested in a pressure cooker, but we've only done one batch of sauce in it. I don't really care for the sauce that we've found recipes that are safe for canning for. We've eaten lots of my own special non-recipe (sauteed onion, garlic, lots o' garden herbs, simmered waaay down, S&P at the end) and frozen 4 pints. I also did a few batches of salsa verde about a month ago, before the tomatoes started turning. With all of the cucumbers we had before the rain, pickles were tempting, but we had a market at the coffee shop for them, and Bird eats them whole, so we let all of the cukes go beyond pickling size. Maybe next year. My sister is bringing some of her banana peppers this weekend and we hope to pickle those. If I can get one more batch of sauce put up, along with the applesauce and apple butter to come this fall, I'll be pretty happy. I do hope we're spared some of the rain next year so that we have more tomatoes to put up, but I can hardly complain when I look at the devastation our big-cousin family farms have suffered.
Sprout starts school next week and I can hardly believe it. I've had unbelievable anxiety this week instead of the calm relaxing preparatory week I'd hoped to give him. We're heading out for the weekend though, and hopefully that will refresh us for jumping into this next big phase on Tuesday. My baby is growing so fast.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Then about 6 weeks ago we had such a rush on lettuce orders from our coffee shop that we started some new lettuce seedlings. Once they had multiple leaves, we transplanted the 1.5 inch plants into a carefully prepared bed. The next afternoon, they were gone, nibbled to the ground. Meanwhile the new bed couldn't seem to push up a seedling for the life of it. We'd planted about 100 seed patches, and only a few things were coming up. Finally we realized that the seedlings were coming up, only to be gnawed down overnight. At first, we decided it was rabbits, and we put up chicken wire. No dice. Next we decided it was birds--we'd spotted a robin in the lettuce beds on multiple occasions. Beo spent an afternoon and rigged an elaborate netting system over both of our seedling beds. Our poor little lettuce seedlings kept getting nibbled to the ground. Soon we noticed holes appearing in our garden. One little burrow came up right in the middle of one of the seedling beds. Another exited on either end of the raised potato bed, and as soon as the tomatoes started turning orange, we began finding half eaten tomatoes at the edge of the hole. It was the dang little adorable thirteen lined ground squirrels.
We debated over how to handle it. They're so tiny that there's really no way to protect the garden from them. Although we loved having them in our ecosystem, we finally agreed that since they were ruining our gardens, they had to go. Beo bought a small live trap and we baited it with peanut butter--somewhat skeptically. The next morning I spotted our little friend sniffing around the trap. He got a tomato (little bugger) and ate it on top of the rock border, eyeing the trap the whole time. When I next looked out the window, the trap was sprung, and sure enough, our little friend was in there. We took him to a local park where I'd recently found there was a whole colony of his kin. The next day, Beo took the NEW lettuce seedlings of of a bench, and by that afternoon they'd been eaten to the stem. We saw another little friend in the prairie today, so set the trap back there. 5 minutes later Bugger2 had sprung the trap, but we had set it wrong and he got out. You'd think he'd have learned a lesson, and you'd be right if that lesson was "Peanut Butter is tasty!". We baited the trap again and less than 2 minutes later he was in it again, this time for good, and is off to find a new home. There's definitely a balance to this whole permaculture thing, and I guess sometimes there's just not enough room for all of us in the backyard.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I hope my readers know that I am no (stereotypical) garden-variety tree hugger. I understand the importance of cattle grazing (especially in the face of CAFO expansion) and the need to remove prairie dogs from private lands. Federal lands however, are there for a reason. These areas already permit grazing. In my mind, ranch owners should be able to use the land within its ecological limits, but not dictate how the federal government controls the land. The Forest Service is in part responsible for keeping these ecosystems balanced and preserved. Moving the poisoning program into an area where an endangered species is getting a foothold is foolhardy at best. Our world is under threat from all sides. This is one area where we've done the right thing and tried to set up an ecosystem that belongs. Let's not let business interests throw that away. Please, take the time to read this article, and follow the instructions for contacting the Forest Service to share your thoughts about the plan. My letter is ready to get dropped in the mail.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
We are in our third year of gardens here, and it's wonderful to see how things have finally gotten well established and are coming up bigger and stronger than ever. We were surprised to see how well the shade garden is coming back. My anemone is finally doing what it's supposed, to being big, white, and showy early in the garden.
We have one Jacob's Ladder that is weeks ahead of it's kin in a shower of delicate periwinkle buds.
The columbine have budded out and the bleeding heart are already blooming. I love how they capture moisture within their luscious petals. You can see the drops when the sun shines through.
I was thrilled to spot our lone trillium which my sister picked up for me at a native plant sale. I didn't really believe it would make it back, but it made it's ephemeral debut this week. These are one of my favorite flowers. They're so simple in essence, but their elegance is enhanced by the smooth green leaves that frame the three white petals. They remind me of the big ruffs that English queens sometimes wore--or the big headresses of vegas showgirls! I hope you enjoyed the walk through our garden today.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
As we joined the massive crowd waiting to enter, we found ourselves next to a group of individuals I believe to have been Tibetan. I felt a surge of emotion as I was torn between happiness and sorrow from the old woman, who perhaps remembered leaving Tibet, to the young girl, who perhaps never would, and also the joy in them being able to see the great spritual leader from their native country.
Amazingly, arriving 45 minutes late because of the crowding, we were seated (far, far in the back but with a decent view) and only minutes later His Holiness entered the arena. I knew I would be overwhelmed by the emotion, and I was. Tears started running down my face as I saw this "humble Buddhist monk" who radiates peace and calm. He waved to everyone, even comically peering up into the highest reaches of seating and getting laughs right off the bat. As he was introduced, he removed his shoes, exposing his maroon socks and then tucking his feet up under him as he settled comfortably into a seat that was part throne, part victorian setee. I have read hundreds of pages of text in the words of HH, studied his teachings and learnings over the years, most recently about neuroscience, and to hear him speak still ignited a spark in my heart. He spoke at first in Tibetan, with a translator, but mostly in English. As I've heard, he will sometimes be so into a thought as he teaches that he switches to rapid Tibetan and his translator explains the end of the thought. He also checked words occasionally with his translator. Their relationship was so smooth and easy that you didn't miss a beat, and the nature of it was charming. His Holiness has a very strong accent, but is easily understood when you pay attention to him--easy to do when he is mixing comedy and lightheartedness with his teachings.
The nature of his teaching was Compassion as the Source of Happiness. He spoke about how humans by nature have a biological need for compassion and affection from the time we are born. He described how in consciously choosing to be truly compassionate towards another individual, we gain self-confidence and strength, dispel our fear, and are able to be more peaceful and calm. Later he described how having this underlying calm and compassion can help us not only to have a higher level of happiness day-to-day, but gives us the serenity to handle more difficult situations and even tragedies when they arise.
When his lecture was over, His Holiness spoke about his optimism for Our World--peace and sustainability. He drew wave after wave of applause when he said firmly that prayer and meditation was not enough, that we must work for change, and then we can see the next century as one that is known for it's peace, and our environment can survive. He also spoke about parenting compassionately, with affection, joking that it was easy for him to advise because he was a monk. He said that if he had to be with children he would be very kind--maybe 3, 4 hours. Then, maybe not so kind. He also spoke about being a vegetarian. He said that because many monastaries are strict vegetarian, they do promote a vegetarian diet. However, he said that he eats mostly vegetarian, but then, once maybe one or two weeks, a little not-vegetarian. He spoke about how monks are supposed to fast from solid foods after the noon meal, but that if he is very hungry, he'll have a biscuit or two. You see, His Holiness teaches us that greatness doesn't come in some abnormally Divine individual, it comes through people just like you and me. We all have the ability to be compassionate, and to actively develop that compassionate to be happier and to make a difference in the world. We are all Divine. We all have the ability to pray, meditate and move our feet as we do.
Biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama Teaching Webcasts
Books by His Holiness (I highly recommend "The Art of Happiness".)
Thursday, May 03, 2007
One thing I've been finding time for is taking pictures. If you're in the mood for browsing, feel free to check out my Flickr account. I'll keep it updated with my latest favorites. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed of my Flickr photos if you're interested. Just click on the picture to go to Flickr, or visit my homepage at http://flickr.com/photos/sproutsmom/. The link for the feed is at the bottom. Of course I'll continue posting photos here as well.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Chickpeas and Spinach Stew
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 cup veggie stock
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
12 ounces fresh greenmarket spinach
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups cooked brown rice
Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and spices and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Cover pot, lower heat and simmer 7 to 10 minutes. Add chicken stock, canned chickpeas and tomato; cover and cook 10 minutes at medium-high. Add spinach, cover for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve over brown rice, Top with a dollop of plain yogurt, and a sprinkle of spices.
I originally followed the directions to cook for another 10 minutes after adding the spinach, but I think it would have been nicer to let the spinach retain more of it's natural brightness and bite. The chicklets ate a modified version--brown rice, chickpeas, yogurt, and cumin. They had baby carrots on the side for their veggie. It was a big hit. Leftovers were great too. Enjoy cooking local as more variety becomes available!
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The last of my favorites to emerge is our Indigo. This is actually a lovely hybrid of two natives, and is known as Baptisia Purple Smoke. I sought our it's lovely shoots under their blanket of wood chips, and was finally rewarded with the lovely purple spears. As they open up their leaves, they lose some of the dramatic color, so these shoots are one of my favorite stages of the plant. They're quite pretty after they go to bloom, and it looks like they're happy where they are--lots more shoots this year than last. Beo loves it too because it's a nitrogen fixer, so every year we add a few more indigo to our gardens.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Here's my little beauty and my big dopey hound: