To Till or Not to Till?

“A new idea: If we revive the tiny creatures that make dirt healthy, we can
bring back the great American topsoil. But farming culture — and government— aren’t making it easy.”
Folks, we have a soil crisis and our future depends on shifting from the practices that have destroyed it’s fertility.  This need is at the heart of the Farm-A-Yard revival to equip folks to ditch the grass and grow food using organic/biodynamic practices that can heal the soil, the food and the people!
Here are some excerpts from an excellent article by Jenny Hopkinson…
“*AMERICA USED TO* be famed for its rich and fertile topsoil. Prairie and
forests were virtually untouched when settlers first started dividing land
into fields across the Southeast and Midwest, making for rich dark soil in
which to grow food and fiber.

Since the invention of the plow, farming has focused on disrupting the soil to make it productive. Most farming methods, whether conventional or organic, are based on “tillage” – the premise that to plant crops and
control weeds and other pests, the soil must be broken up and turned over, then amended with chemical fertilizers or organic compost to boost
fertility. And it worked for a long time.

But tilling, it turns out, kills off many of the microorganisms that build
the soil. It churns up their habitat and exposes them to air; it also makes
it easier for soil to be washed off the land by rain and wind. Over time,
the damage has built up: More than 50 percent America’s topsoil has eroded away. In areas of the Southeast, the country’s original breadbasket, it’s almost all gone.”

Read more of this article here:

What is Biodynamic Gardening? Part 1

Biodynamics is “beyond organic” because of its complete, whole system approach. It offers a simple way to heal and nourish your growing environment.  It connects you to the cycles of the moon, seasons and natural rhythms of nature’s ways.  It is a sustainable way to grow nutrient dense foods because it puts more back into the soil more than it takes out.

Some of the practices are very different from conventional way, but when you begin to practice and apply the principles, the results are undeniable and they are already proven to produce high quality, nutritious food by working with nature, not against it.

The use of preparations, based on plants and minerals, brings vitality to soils and can take your growing experience to another level.

The preparations and the Stella Natura planting calendar really help to organize and simplify your gardening experience.

A major perk to growing biodynamically is that the costs of implimenting these practices are minimal. Biodynamic methods build soil value exponentially with less and less effort over time.

One thing that makes biodynamic gardening different is the preparations. There are nine of them that act as remedies to vitalize any soil.

The first step in having a yard farm is to set your intention.  Why do you want to be a yard farmer? Write it down.

Next it’s important to observe your plot area and assess if it is suitable for growing what you would like to grow, or learn what already grows well in your area in order to minimize your labor and make your project more likely to be successful.

Get a soil test.  We LOVE soil and helping people heal their soil so that they can grow and enjoy nutrient dense food!  The soil is indispensible to sustaining life on earth. We will talk more about soil in the next blog.

Stay tune for more first steps for growing biodynamically!

Be sure to download our podcasts https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-farm-a-yard-podcast/id1276181255?mt=2

Return to read more blogs to learn how to implement biodynamic methods in your yard.

 

I Learned How to Prepare, But I Didn’t Consider Myself a “Prepper”.

We should be talking about this…What is your plan in a crisis situation?

Watching the hurricane disaster in Houston and now in my own “backyard”, really confirms how important it is to have a plan and to make “preparations”.

For me, I had the opportunity, when I was young, to learn from others about being “ready”, and now with the internet, it is easier than ever.  You can learn about almost any topic online and watch YouTube tutorials, etc.

When we were raising our children in snow country, it was considered a normal activity to put up the harvest for the winter and prepare for the probable loss of conveniences.

I learned how to prepare, but I didn’t consider myself a “Prepper”.

Being prepared should just be a normal life activity.

It all starts with a plan.

How true it is that not having a plan is a plan to fail.

Hurricane Matthew last year was a helpful reality check for me, I had never experience a hurricane.   It was a great teacher!  After you pass through a real emergency, you really know what you need to do better.

So I learned more through the experience and I am better prepared this time….I think.  🙂

There is always something that can be improved upon!

Preparation considerations overview:

Here is my short list:

  • Make a plan… ahead of time.  There are great planning templates on line to choose from to help you customize what will be best for your scenario. There are templates for families and/or businesses to get you started.

 

  • Figure out how you would live without a mobile phone or GPS maps (learn to use a map). What will be your plan for communication with your family? Set up an out-of-town contact point person so that members of your group can call if your local circuits are busy or unavailable.

 

  • Make a supplies checkoff list online AND print it out.

 

  • Practice the plan (live a weekend at home without the modern conveniences and also practice your evacuation plan) and know how to use the tools and equipment. (ie…how to start a fire, how to use a camp stove, how to install a wick for your oil lamp, how to set up a tent and rainfly…you get the picture.)

 

  • Water, Water, Water…How much will you need? Learn how to store it safely. Invest in a water filter that doesn’t require electricity. If you use large barrels, have a pump, or buckets to draw the water out.

 

  • Gather a few friends and neighbors and talk about preparing. Build alliances and collaborate.  We are better together.

 

Because of my work as a food educator, I was looking for high quality storage food that I could have on hand for myself AND also that I felt good about recommending.  It was really hard finding food that I would want to eat myself.  I am so accustom to growing some of my own food because the produce in the grocery store is so “old” already and contaminated with chemicals.  I was REALLY PICKY about making an investment in storage type foods!

After much disappointment, I am happy and grateful to report that I found a company that truly shares my values and has a proven track record of working hard to stay on top of this challenge to provide clean, healthy food that’s ready when you need it.

This is high quality food that you will have no problem eating even when there is NO disaster.

They also have the “Simple Plate” meals that are ready in 20 minutes for people who don’t have time to shop and chop.  They deliver right to your door and ready when you need it.

The food is not only healthy and non-GMO but also absolutely delicious! Frankly, I was shocked at how delicious it was.  The freeze dried process is way superior to dehydrated foods and the taste proves that!

I know I am not the only one who needs “convenience food” when I am busy or especially when I am traveling… I love taking this food along with me and not having to grab some toxic food-like substance because there is no other choice.   It is light as a feather and all I need is water, or I can just eat it right out of the package.

To learn more and get some to try for yourself, go to:

www.freezedriedtastings.thrivelife.com

Sign up and you are a member for life with no annual membership fees and there are easy options to waive your initial account set up! That’s what I did.  No minimum order required unless you want free shipping, and who doesn’t want free shipping?

Ask me how to get food for free by just inviting some friends and have your own tasting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Rarely Go To The Grocery Store

Someone asked me recently why it was that I hardly needed to go to the grocery store.

After researching what is really going on with our food system, it’s imparative eating healthy is important to me. When I first moved into this food desert city in the south, I found that there is very little healthy food in the grocery stores. The stores are loaded with packaged, processed “food-like” snack substances with long ingredient lists (that are hard to pronounce!)  If the ingredient list is longer than a few ingredients, then it is too processed for me!

I live in the city in the upstairs of a back house under a gorgeous massive oak tree.  I am an urban farmer. I eat seasonal, local produce, cook from scratch and have little need to buy much at the grocery store.

I eat mostly a fresh diet of veggies, fruit, some grains, seeds, beans, eggs and  a little pasture raised meats. I also make my own probiotic foods like saurkraut & kefir, fresh nut milk, salad dressings, sauces and I have a great pantry to make shopping a breeze.  My personal pantry grocery store is just steps away!  I am a “semi-prepper” as I have always thought it was a good idea to store some extra food and supplies in case of an emergency of some sort.

Eating seasonally, has been sooo rewarding especially being in a different part of the country with new special foods to this area that were not frequently on my plate in my past location.and exciting especially when you get to eat some of what you grew yourself.  I am able to get a lot more fresh food diversity in my diet too.  So I capitalize on whatever is in season and put some of it up in the freezer for the winter too.

I harvest weekly from the public permaculture/perennial garden that I manage and other yard gardens that I work in.  I get unlimited herbs all year, which make a big difference for making the ordinary, extraordinary,as well as for medicine and teas.

[Dried Stevia Leaves]

Plus, I support local farmers and get seasonal veggies regularly from them to round out what I have growing and so that I can have access to a larger variety of produce without having to grow it all myself. I think it’s the best of both worlds!

I also am able to get pasture raised meats and eggs from local farmers.

Often I can find some organic options for dried beans, nuts and grains, pasta, coconut oil, olive oil, coconut milk/water and some dried or canned tomatoes/unsweetened fruits, sea salt, pepper, teas at discount stores like Big Lots.  When I do, I stock up.

Neighbors with fruit trees are often happy for others to harvest fruit so that it doesn’t go to waste.  A great opportunity to offer your help and take home some bounty to be canned, frozen or dried.

You can do this too!  Just start.  Take little steps. You’re body will thank you!

 

Why Living in the City and Growing Your Own is a Good Idea

Just in case you need ANOTHER reason to grow some of your own….

” New data presented last week at a children’s health conference show that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular Roundup weed killer, is detected in pregnant women and could lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes…”

“…preliminary results were presented at CEHN’s conference last Thursday in Washington DC. Learn more about the project here.”

“…this is the first U.S. study to demonstrate glyphosate is present in pregnant women. “Everyone should be concerned about this.”

“Preliminary work detected glyphosate in the urine of 63 of 69 (91 percent) pregnant women receiving prenatal care through an Indiana obstetric practice. Researchers collected the data over two years, from 2015-2016, and found that women with high levels of glyphosate in their bodies…  are seen as risk factors for many health and/or neurodevelopmental problems over the course of an individual’s life.”

“Additionally, women living in rural areas had higher mean glyphosate levels than women in urban/suburban regions. This suggests that proximity to corn and soybean fields that are heavily treated with glyphosate is a route of exposure for these women.”

“According to Dr. Winchester, much more research on glyphosate’s impacts is needed, and more data is needed on levels of exposure through food.”

“Debate has been raging about the continued use of glyphosate in light of the 2015 classification by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. …One study found that chronic, low-dose exposure to glyphosate  led to adverse effects on liver and kidney health.”

AND, Why Am I NOT Surprised!!!

“Since the release of the IARC determination, Monsanto has made several efforts to discredit the scientific findings… However, a New York Times report revealed collusion between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Monsanto to suppress cancer findings in EPA’s carcinogenic review of glyphosate.”

So, besides growing food in the city, we can also work together for more change.

“The mounting evidence of glyphosate’s hazards is piling up and environmental groups, like Beyond Pesticides, are urging localities to restrict or ban the use of the chemical. Beyond Pesticides promotes these actions and many more through the Tools for Change webpage. This page is designed to help activists and other concerned citizens organize around a variety of pesticide issues on the local, state, and national level… talk to your neighbors about pesticides with our factsheets.

So, Folks, buy and support organic food and agriculture.
To find out more about the work Beyond Pesticides is doing on organic integrity, check out Keeping Organic Strong, or to see all the reasons to go organic, visit Eating with a Conscience.

Yesterday, Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association sued Monsanto for misleading and deceptive labeling, claiming no effect on people and pets, despite scientific evidence that glyphosate impairs the functioning of the human gut bacteria, essential to human health.

For complete article:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58e3f715e4b02ef7e0e6e172

My Freckled Farm: Urban Postage Stamp Front Yard Garden

You’re not going to believe what my beautiful, red headed, very busy daughter did in her corner of a big city neighborhood!

Sara started out a couple years ago… carving out some of the grass in her front yard to begin to grow some heirloom seeds she got from her family in Mexico.  That little tiny patch gradually grew and transformed.

They are a family of 6 (4 of them are hungry growing men & boys!) She is able to supplement fresh fruits and veggies for them right from her front yard.  In her backyard she has mature citrus trees for the best oranges, lemons, lime, tangerines and grapefruit you’ve ever tasted! One son even has a small business selling the citus to a local juice bar!

Well, the neighbors have been watching and the relationships in the neighborhood are growing too!  🙂

Sara’s creativity didn’t stop with farming her yard.

This entrepreneurial gal hosted a “Sister’s Supper” for her entrepreneurial friends who had cottage businesses. They were invited to set up small tables in the garden with some of their unique creations to sell.

    

    

Late afternoon summer breeze, music, tablecloths, picnic blanket, sundresses with patio chairs scattered around was so inviting!

Sara prepared fresh delicious produce from her garden, invited friends and neighbors and added wine!  What a night to remember enjoying great company until the sun went down and many lingered when the garden turned magical with lights illuminating the space.

One of Sara’s many talents is that she is an amazing photographer, capturing the vitality and diversity that a little nurturing can accomplish.  She has had a pair hummingbirds nest and grow their young and bees and other pollinators just love her yard!  

Her pictures are worth a thousand words!  Be inspired!… and then go farm your yard!  Check out My Freckled Farm on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/myfreckledfarm/

Join the Farm-A-Yard Movement Community Facebook Page and let  us know what you are doing in your yard farm 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/groups/farmayard/

Local Food Reliance- “Inch by Inch & Row by Row” The Times They Are A Changing!

“Inch by Inch & Row by Row, gonna make my garden grow,  all it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground”…

This is an old song by David Mallett for a new time…

“I bless these seeds I sow…feel the need to grow my own, ’cause the time is close at hand”.

“…sun and rain, find my way in nature’s chain, tune my body and my brain to the music from the land”….”mother earth will make you strong if you give her love and care”.

There is another song…”The Times They Are A Changin” by Bob Dylan

Things are changing whether we are ready for it or not.  There is a strong intention rising across America to localize our food system and it’s more urgent than ever to grow food where we are and to grow the health of our soil.  There is a serious threat to food security by the changing climate globally and steps need to be made now to be able to navigate what is projected in the near future.

We need to take responsibiity for feeding ourselves and grow local food reliance.  There is nothing secure about being dependent on a global food system.  There is no better place to start solving this than our own kitchen table!  Have neighbors over to share some of your garden harvest and talk about this.  We don’t need to look any further than our own yard and working with our neighbors. Local food systems are built from the grassroots up.  It begins with us!

Creating a local food culture, right where we live, requires a commitment to source from our local growers, or they will not be there to source from.

Our consistent, inch by inch efforts, will make this our reality!

I thought you’d enjoy this song!

http://youtu.be/y1oiVEWFHrs

Published on Jan 26, 2016
Music lyrics video for the song, THE GARDEN SONG, written by David Mallett and performed by David Grover and the Big Bear Band

How To Spend Less Than An Hour A Day Growing a Garden

Of course this statement depends also on the size as well as the kind of garden you are growing.  But for most yard gardens, you can manage your garden, once it’s set up, in as little as 3-5 hours a week.

Once your garden is all set up, you can save time managing it by an efficient watering system.  You will find that your garden will grow much more efficiently once you determine how much water it really needs.  Random, over watering or under watering can be detrimental to your outcome.

There are several watering methods and tips to consider before you decide what’s best for your size and kind of garden.  One method that can be used in a part or all of your garden is soaker hoses with a timer.

According to the article in Rodale’s Organic Life, “Studies show that well-designed drip irrigation systems use at least 30 percent, and in some cases 50 percent, less water than other methods of watering such as sprinkling.”

Rain water from a rain barrel provides less chemicals that are in city water, like chlorine, fluoride and other water contaminates. 
If you are using biodynamic methods and teas, it is best to mix those preparations with rainwater also.  Setting up a rain barrel is easy and low cost.Covering the soaker hoses with a good layer of mulch will also hold more moisture and you will have to water less.You’ll also want a pressure regulator, quick connect hardward and Y valves which will save you oodles of time!

 Read entire article here with fantastic tips:

http://spr.ly/61888Yt6y

http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/top-10-ways-conserve-water

https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/how-install-rain-barrel

Everyone Should Have a Potager ~ Going Beyond Salt and Pepper!

Everyone should have a Potager, which is French for “kitchen garden” and “providing vegetables for the pot”!  It can be simply a small variety of herbs, edible flowers, vegetables and/or fruits right outside your kitchen door.

Do you like walking through your garden just for the aroma therapy that the herbs and flowers provide?  Right under our noses, (literally!) is a powerhouse of missed goodness that can revolutionize our culinary creations, but also our health and wellbeing.

Anybody who knows me, knows how passionate I am about taking responsibiity for my own wellness through real food.  The kind of food you grow yourself or are forunate enough to access from a local farmer.

Many an ill could be lessened or stopped in it’s tracks if we were proactively applying the the foundational adage,  ‘let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”, by keeping a simple potager of herbs, edible flowers and weeds.

Having a personal relationship with our food, as many a gardener can tell you, has so many benefits that go well beyond the physical nourishment it provides.

Herbs and flowers are wonderful for the whole garden environment and everyone who enters it!  When you begin to sow seeds, your intention and action energizes the space.

This energy, though invisible, is as sure as gravity.

And, what is seen, is the results of the life energy which is charging the well “intended” garden!

The most overlooked yet incredibly essential ingredients to better health and wellness is the herbs and weeds growing outside your door!

Many of us like the idea of having an herb patch either in our yard or in a sunny window, yet it is one of the most under utilized items in the garden.

So let’s change that right now!

I was, like most people, missing out on the tasty and powerful properties of herbs, simply because I was limited in my understanding of  how to used them.

So I want to share with you some simple facts & tips of ways that I am learning to get the most out of my herb garden.

Growing herbs for food and medicine is generally so easy! It requires minimal effort and is extremely cost effective! Store bought cut herbs sell for a premium. In my permaculture garden, where I have no water source other than the rain from the heavens, my herbs do exceptionally well with little to no attention. The secret has been that it is well mulched to retain moisture.

Herbs and spices are not just for flavor.

Herbs have carminative properties. What does carminative mean?

Herbs carminative properties make it easier for you to digest your food so that your system doesn’t have to work so hard. Carminative herbs actually reduce gas and bloating and other digestive discomforts.

You’ve probably heard that you are what you digest, not just what you eat.

One thing that you can do is activate your herb cabinet by moving some from the cabinet to the table for easy access and start adding them to your meals when you sit down to eat.

Here are some easy tips:

I love to use fresh herbs by the handful!  I just chop different combinations of herbs like  parsley, sage, garlic chives, cilantro, rosemary and thyme and sprinkle them on sauces and dishes at the end of cooking so that they are barely cooked and retain their fresh flavor.

I often saute chopped onion, garlic and sometimes fresh ginger  or curry spices, like tumeric and chili peppers to add to cooked squash that I have blended up into a sauce that is then poured over potatoes, roasted veggies or rice.

Be brave and play around with these!

You can also dry your herbs for making your own herb blends.

Make your own Rosemany, Thyme Salt Blend.  All you need is 1 Tbl powdered Rosemary, 1 Tbl of powdered Thyme and 1/2 Tbl of fine Sea Salt.  Mix and fill a salt shaker. Now it is ready to add to any dish right at the table. Don’t worry so much about what it “goes with”.  Begin to experiment  and discover new flavors and influences.

Another blend to make is for sprinkling on hot cereal, yogurt, toast, smoothies etc.  Add 2 Tbls of powdered cinnamon, 1 tsp. of powdered ginger, 1/2 tsp. of powdered clove and 1/2 tsp. of powdered cardamon.

I also love fennel.  You can save the seeds and use them whole  or make a powder.  You can make a nice fennel rice by sauting over low heat, 1/2 Tbl. of fennel seed and 1-1/4 cup of jasmine or basmati rice in a pan until lightly roasted, stirring occasionally, then add a 2 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook until water is gone about 15 mins.

Bitter herbs have special properties to activate bile and get your digestive system primed and ready to eat.  Besides being useful for digestion, bitter herbs can be used to help with urinary tract infections, kidney stones, fluid retention, achy joints and gout.

An example of bitter herbs are dandelions and coriander.   I dry danelion leaves and coriander seeds from the garden and then using a coffee bean grinder, make a  powder. You can also use a mortal & pestle to grind into a powder and then fill a shaker bottle.

I sprinkle some on the first bite of my food to activate my digestive system.  If you especially like the flavor, then you can sprinkle more on the dish and enjoy, but just the initial tasting of bitters will bring a lot of benefit.

And Don’t overlook Paprika! It has four carotenoids: beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. All four function as antioxidants, but the first two are converted into the form of vitamin A that is used in the eyes to turn light into vision and is needed to produce the protein that makes skin.  Be generous with it as it is not an overpowering taste, but blends nicely with almost everything.

There you go!  Start adding more herbs to your meals and get the most out of your herb garden!

A Truly Free People Can Feed Themselves. Declare Your Independence! Grow a Garden!

As I awaken in so many new ways, to the preciousness of freedom, the one matter that remains the dearest to my heart is the freedom to choose what goes into my body and the right to healthy air, soil, food and water.

IS THERE TRUE FREEDOM WITHOUT THAT? 

We live now in an environment that requires us to question what’s in our air, food and water.  What are the invisible toxins that we are exposed to?

Well, there is a very LONG answer to that.

Rather than go down the rabbit hole on that question, there is enough evidence to make my solution an easy one, to the overwhelming reality of the slow degeneration of air, soil, food and water.

Grow at least some of your own food. Or support someone who does.  We all need to put our shoulder to this!  It’s SO much easier than you think!

I am producing a series of blogs on how to get started with biodynaimic gardening and why it is the best and easiest way to guarantee nutrient dense safe food and simple ways to turn your yard into a yard with real “life force” to support health and healing.

We are on a mission to inspire and empower folks across the nation to convert 48 million acres of turf grass that is polluting our environment BIG time.  Only the collective WE can turn that around across the country!

We even have the best and easiest solution if you want to keep some of your grass by applying biodynamic practices as well!  You can even turn your turf into a regenerating life supporting oasis, instead of a degenerating, toxic producer that is compromising your health and the thriving of your neighborhood ecosystem.

Join this happy, growing, supportive community of urban farmers! https://www.facebook.com/groups/farmayard/ 

You have got to hear what this beginning yard farmer is doing!  http://farm-a-yard.com/p009/

Farm-A-Yard Podcast logo: orange sun with sunbeams rising over a mound of black dirt with 2 sprouts and a microphone in green coming up out of the soil.
Farm-A-Yard Podcast — It’s a movement… have ya heard?