000 – Welcome to Farm-A-Yard

000 – Welcome to Farm-A-Yard

with co-founders Linda Borghi and Criss Ittermann

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?

We are serious about turning the 48.5 million acres of lawn in America into food production!  Farm-A-Yard: It’s a movement… have ya heard?  Linda Borghi and Criss Ittermann, two of the co-founders of Farm-a-Yard, share about the birth of the Farm-A-yard movement as a response to the challenges of soil degradation and food insecurity issues facing our country and the world.

You’ll notice in this episode that Farm-A-Yard is all about solutions, sprinkled with plenty of laughter and gratitude to pave the way for sustainable, lasting change.

This podcast is made possible by funding by our Patreon supporters.  

For extra free content or to become a patron please see us at https://www.patreon.com/FarmAYard

Links:

Music credit: “Insomnia” by John Sheehan.  Used with permission.

100 Day Challenge- Look What This Dad of 4 Did!

In May, 2016, Justin Rhodes, Dad to 4 youngsters and a North Carolina homesteader and vlogger,  created a 100 day challenge to grow all the food his family would eat.

“I wanted to do this for myself, but also to inspire and encourage other people, and show them that [living off the land is] easier than you think,” says Rhodes in a phone interview with Modern Farmer. “It’s just about getting up and doing this. Look what you can do in just 100 days. It doesn’t have to be this unattainable thing.”

The family has been homesteading on eight acres in Fletcher, North Carolina. He decided to spend only 10 hours a week producing the food because he wanted to prove that it’s doable to live off the land while also working a full-time job as well. (Rhodes also writes and produces videos for a living.) He clarified that he spent a little more time in the beginning preparing, and then less when seeds were in the ground and the chickens had grown.

They did this challenge on less than a half an acre. They planted tomatoes, potatoes, corn, squashes, and greens to name a few.  They had ordered 75 broiler chicks.  About 50 days into the challenge, the chicks were ready to process and some of the veggies were ready to enjoy.  By August 13, Rhodes estimated that 75% of the food they ate was what Justin grew or raised.

Even though the kids didn’t like everything “on the menu”, they were more inclined to enjoy eating the veggies when they had helped to grow and harvest them.

There were some challenges, of course, but Justin has the same philosophy that I do.  “Do what you can”.

When we were young raising our family, we didn’t have a lot of money, but we were really resourceful and I am so grateful for the experience.  I was just learning the “back to the land” skills and I  incorporated what I could in my urban setting as I went along. I always had plenty of seasonal produce canned for winter. The skills have served me well and I continue to learn more everyday.  I really enjoy being an urban micro farmer.

Though I never had a half acre “farm”, I lived the “from scratch” life in the city on a very small scale.

Justin’s 100 days investment in the garden really set them up for good eating for months after the challenge.

Are you ready to make an investment? Create your own challenge and post it below.

More about the 100 Day Challenge http://modernfarmer.com/2016/09/justin-rhodes-100-day-challenge/

For videos from the entire 100-day challenge, check out Rhodes’ YouTube channel.

How To Re-Design Our Local Food System- Re-Skill Ourselves

We are learning that in America over the last few generations we have become very removed from real food and where our food comes from. Along with that, we have lost diversity, nutrition and valuable food traditions.

There is a movement in this country to re-skill ourselves.  The younger generation is eager to learn the lost skills around the most important matter for our existence…Food.

There is an undeniable connection between the health crisis in this county and the way we grow, prepare and consume food.

The solution is to bring back diversity, healthy soils, clean air and water and re-skill ourselves in how to grow, prepare and consume real food..

I decided to do something about our broken food system and so I became a farmer! You can do the same…start with your own yard.

To get good at anything, you just have to practice, practice, practice! I have gotten really good that this because I never stop practicing!  Pick a “from scratch” project and map out the steps.  Farm-A-Yard is here to help you do that!  Learn from our videos and podcasts about the food movement and how you can take steps that work for you, no matter where you are in the process.

“Re-designing” our food system starts with a vision.  Now close your eyes….can you visualize your yard or someone else’s yard full of beautiful veggies?  Imagine yourself digging in the dirt and getting your hands dirty, observing the change in the neighborhood as more neighbors start growing some food.

That’s how it starts!  Now imagine yourself taking small action steps (that you can learn here), to grow some of your favorite foods. Visualize planting it, watching it ripen, picking it and then taking your first bite!  (Now your hooked for life!!)

We all can have a part in building a new local food web.

The Farm-A-Yard team and I have lots a instruction to get you going and to connect you to the Farm-A-Yard Movement with others who see the vision and are manifesting it around the country!

Get on our mailing list so that you can receive updates, webinar info, my podcasts and videos to inspire and equip you so that we can grow this movement together!

Maybe you can’t grow anything right now, but you share the vision and want to be counted. We need you! Check out how you can be a cheerleader in the Farm-A-Yard movement on our Patreon site.  Lots of cool options there!!

 

 

 

 

Getting Your Chickens to Work for You! Brilliant!

Chickens are designed to do much more than just lay eggs. They are the cheapest hired help you could ask for.  They scratch, eat bugs, which keeps the pests under control and fertilize at a amazing rate if given the opportunity.  This activity also helps to keep your birds healthy.  Check out how this gardener utilizes their talent!  You won’t have to do the tilling in your garden after seeing this!

How to Raise Chickens for Your Garden: Watch These Mind-Blowing Benefits

ALERT…New GMOs at “Natural” Markets

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but processed food companies are getting better at hiding GMOs behind trendy marketing and promotional schemes to lure customers into thinking their products are clean eating, when nothing could be further from the truth.
The public is becoming more informed, but even the most savvy customer is challenged when trying to steer clean of the deceiving labeling and messaging strategies.
A new type of genetically modified product is now being slipped into your food.

My best insurance against this is being able to grow some of my own food or help a neighbor and share the bounty. But I could not have done that if it weren’t for Farm-A-Yard and Evan Folds. My biggest stumbling block was that my soil was so degenerated and I didn’t want to use artificial fertilizers and all the other toxic chemicals. My efforts to compost were very slow and I still had poor results. I got a complete soil test and Evan gave me a simple prescription. 🙂  Gardening has never been so rewarding. Learn more here:  Living Soil

When you do buy at the store…”Luckily, a cutting-edge list has been compiled which shows consumers exactly which products contain these new GMO ingredients.  These New GMOs that are flooding the “Natural” Market. Here’s How to Avoid Them”…

These New GMOs Are Flooding the “Natural” Market. Here’s How to Avoid Them…

My Favorite Garden Tips-One I Would Never Do Without!

For me, gardening has to be “no fuss”.  It has to almost run on auto pilot once it’s set up.

Making your growing project convenient. Besides an area that has good sun & water source, make sure where you grow your plants is easy for you to access.  Growing right outside of your front or back door is a good idea instead of having to walk all the way to the “back forty” to get to it.  Growing food works best if it can easily be part of your normal daily routine. (Though I have gardens in public places, that don’t need daily visits because I grow more perennial drought tolerant plants there and I normally drive that way in my weekly routine making it easy to maintain).

Water source and watering system needs to be handy and easy to use.  I can’t stand to fight with kinking hoses and I need a good shower nozzle that is not going to break tomorrow because it’s just made of plastic!  For smaller projects, I also prefer to use rain collection (instead of chlorinated water) by using an open top 55 gallon rain barrel (with removable screen) because I can just dunk my water can into it. (Works faster than the spigot at the bottom 🙂

Companion plant with herbs can increase yields, attract beneficial insects, and help nurture diversity for balance.

Companion and inter-plant herbs right along with your vegetables.  For instance, plant cabbage, kale, broccoli and other bassicas with dill, which attracts predatory wasps.

Predatory wasps are just one example of the how a healthy garden balances itself. Here is just a little about how that works.

Trichogrammatids, scelionids and mymarids are no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. They help control caterpillars such as cabbage loopers and cabbageworms.

Eulophids parasitic wasps that are usually metallic green or blue in color. Some types help control Colorado potato beetles by parasitizing their eggs, while others parasitize the adult insects.

Pteromalids are about one-eighth inch long and solid black with distinctive red eyes. Female pteromalids parasitize pupating caterpillars and beetle larvae by laying eggs inside them.

Interesting stuff, huh?…

Dill planted with brassicas is just one of the many beneficial relationships you can encourage in your garden. Google companion planting for more.

All compost is not created equal.

It is smart to recycle our vegetable scrapes, coffee grounds and tea bags.  You can make a compost pile and make you’re own soil for your garden. I add some Microbemakers Compost Tea in a Box to mine so that it would jump start the process with more microbes.  Even though I use compost that I make, it is never enough or as effective as the compost tea. This stuff is amazing and perfect for people who cannot have a compost pile.  I use it to feed my garden plots and it takes all the guesswork out of balancing my soil nutrition because the microbes know just what to do!  Saves me sooo much time, energy and $$.  I have never had a product I could recommend until now.

Check out the Facebook live video with Evan Folds speaking at Fayetteville State University.   Evan Folds at Fayetteville State University- FB LIVE

Mulch

Mulch is one of my best friends!  It invites more organisms, help hold moisture (I spend less time watering), is a natural, slow release fertilizer, encourages the beneficial mycelium network that draws up nutrients from deeper in the soil and makes it available to the plants and suppresses any competing weed growth. (though I allow some weeds in my garden because I eat them they do important work as well.

Straw, or wood chips for mulch are two of my favorites, but I have lots of leaves available and I use those too.  It’s important to me to always keep the soil covered.  I will just rake the mulch back before I turn the soil, if needed, and then plant. It’s important to be careful not to till the mulch into the soil. Then when the plants are up, I move the mulch back to cover.

Watering plants before a frost.

If frost threatens water the ground well the day before. Plants are less susceptible to frost damage if they are well watered.

My biggest tip of all is this:  Use Microbemakers Compost Tea in a Box.  Before I used this, I was always trying a whole bag full of tricks to discourage pests, mildew and other problems…a lot of time spent with little results.  It all sounded good, but my approach was all wrong!  Now I know that I just need to bring in the microbes! (they are my superheroes!) I just feed them and they bring in the balance of what is needed in the soil to prevent issues.  Growing healthy soil is my first priority and it’s sooo easy to do!  Now I don’t spend gobs of time reading what to do about this or that isolated problem!  Thank you Evan Folds!

I overwintered some pepper plants and here is a picture of one in a 4 inch pot with a tiny pepper that is growing faster than anything I have ever witnessed before!  I had to bring it in last night, March 12, because it snowed here in Fayetteville 🙂

Boy, I just can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to grow this way!   Working with nature is the only way to do this. Start working with this microbe food and you will get really excited like everyone who tries it!

 

The Magic Ingredient

(excerpted from Slow Food for the Cheap and Lazy: Eating well for the time & cost conscious, work-in-progress)

Any way you look at it, life as we know it is a miracle. Cooking food is a nurturing act. When we cook to feed someone (including ourselves), we’re providing a cornerstone of life, ensuring that someone can live another day — preferably in the best of health. Through food, we support the miracle of life; we keep the candle burning.

There is a miracle ingredient to food. Unfortunately, it’s an optional ingredient. We can sustain life without it, but the question is how much that miracle ingredient in our food can improve the quality of our life. The miracle ingredient in our food is love. Love, in its most pure, unadulterated, raw, non-GMO form, is as necessary on a daily basis as water, vitamin C or protein. When you add love to your food, it honestly will taste better. You don’t have to think about it. You just have to consider the act of preparing food as an act of love, and allow the love to unburden the act of cooking.

When we run out to eat, to grab a bite, to drive to a fast-food place, sometimes we lose focus on the love ingredient missing in our food. The more carelessly the food is thrown together, the more neglectfully the ingredients are chosen, the less nurturing the food is. When you go to a good restaurant with a chef who cares, who picks out the best produce and meats, the food is naturally healthier. When you go to a fast food restaurant where the preparers are underpaid, the food frozen and shipped thousands of miles and stored in freezers and warehouses, the quality shows in the lack of love in the food.

However, this can be remedied. When you shop with respect to your money as well as the quality of the items you put into your cart, you’re showing love to your family. When you pass by something you know will harm your family, and pick something fresh and amazing that you know they’ll enjoy just as much, you feel better about your food, better about yourself, and better about your relationship with those you are feeding.

It’s also getting easier and easier to get close to the source of our food. We can shop at a farmer’s market and look our farmer in the eyes and thank them for a job that is generally taken for granted. We can eat fruits picked this morning, and be eating our lettuce for 2 weeks before it gets to the age it would have been had we gotten it from the supermarket.

And we can go another step further and grow our food (or at least some of our food) ourselves. From a windowsill full of fresh basil to a yard teeming with tomatoes and squash — you can talk and sing to your plants and give love before the harvest. It doesn’t get any better than that. Gardening can become a family affair, getting everyone off the couch, out from behind a screen, and out into the sun for some loving vitamin D, talking and working together. Children eat more vegetables when they participate in planning out the harvest and growing them.

Healing your relationship with yourself and your food is an important part of loving yourself and others.

Criss is the “Ninja-SwissArmyKnife” techie and marketer on the Farm-A-Yard project. A trained wildcrafting herbalist, she loves cooking and watching cooking competitions. She also teaches about raising chickens, making herbal remedies, and so much more.

What is Freedom Farming?

See also Are you a Freedom Farmer? (video version) from as voiced by Linda Borghi on Vimeo.

(Article by Marsha Howe, video voiced and produced by Linda Borghi)

For me, growing some of my own food is a simple yet revolutionary action.

I take seriously my personal responsibility to grow some of my food supply.  This spells “freedom” in so may ways. 🙂

I guess you could describe me as some sort of gypsy, micro farmer. I travel around from plot to plot, designing, practicing, permaculture principles, managing small projects in public & private spaces in the urban settting with minimal tools (I always want to minimize the heavy lifting!)

I just love seeing people discover the personal transformation that happens when they begin to spend a little time outside cultivating something to eat…caring for the earth that cares for all of us. Anyone can be a freedom farmer!

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. But FYI… you will enjoy it so much that you will want to spend more time!  🙂

I love to find ways to grow with less effort.  That’s where being mindful and observant with some thoughtful planning can go a long way in making your efforts count. (BUT no matter what happens, you will ALWAYS learn something!  The best way for beginners to get started is to start small.

The important thing is to just get started!!

Find ways to grow in some unlikely places.  I grow on a public walking bridge that spans way above a road way.  It has big cement planters extending the length of the bridge.  I have been practicing permaculture principles and have been able to grow quite a variety of edible plants that do well without having to water them.  There is no water source at this location. I just depend of the rain, Biodynamic/BioEnergetic practices and a healthy amount of wood mulch to hold the moisture.

I also plant according to the Stella Natura Calendar guide, which helps me to organize my planting schedule.

I keep one separate calendar just for all my gardens and their activities and have a simple coding system to keep notes.  My permaculture plots usually only need a visit every 10-14 days because most of what is planted there are perennial plants (they re-seed themselves and once established only need some weeding) .

I know an awesome freedom farmer couple in southern California who just began plugging in some edible plants in their front yard  and it has opened up so many possibilities for personal and community wellness.   There are many physical, emotional, spiritual, and potential financial benefits.

What is so remarkable, is the gradual transformation that took place in their yard by planting organically grow food into their local, very micro ecosystem. When you start nurturing your space you invite a diversity of living seen and unseen organisms…. insects, birds…etc. to inhabit and contribute vitality, which moves everything toward a more balanced, environment.  They became a host for amazing visitors and new residents, including a pair of humming birds, right outside their front door!

There is another really important benefit of “freedom farming”…

Freedom farming nurtures much more than the biology of the space. In this high tech age…we need more opportunity to “unplug”. We can all benefit from breaking free from demanding technology by scheduling some tech free time in the garden.

Would you like to become a “freedom farmer”?

I would challenge everyone to exercise their freedom, grow some of their own food and develop a habit of  unplugging from technology at least for a small time each day and to “plug in” to nature and get recharged!

Are you a freedom farmer?  Farm-A-Yard is a movement, have ya heard?  Join us! Get on our mailing list. 🙂

 

Breaking the Spell of the Cursed Black Thumb- Grow the Best Garden of Your Life

I definitely wondered if I was under the spell of the “black thumb”.

My very first garden, at 18 years old, was about a square foot in size in my side yard….Flop #1…  Did I have a black thumb?

Years later, I tried again….but there was too much shade in my backyard. Flop #2…   Tried again… Flop # 3.  Each time I learned a little  🙂 ….but I just thought I must not have a green thumb.

Then again I had a garden in the backyard where previous renters had a garden plot….I suspected that the soil was better because we had some success but I still knew very little about what I was doing.  I just thought you put a seed in the ground and it should grow. Right?  Or maybe, just maybe, I had the infamous “Black Thumb?”

Since then, I have learned that our soil is in a state of emergency. Commercial fertilizer doesn’t do anything to improve the soil and pesticides and herbicides kill all the microbiol life.  BTW…there is no “Miracle” in Miracle Gro.  

I tried several gardens since and because I didn’t want to use the harmful products so I just started composting but it’s such a slow process with still mediocre results.

I meet people all the time who say that they have a “black thumb” and can’t grow anything.  They are convinced that they are cursed.

Well, I am now convinced that it is important to know what to plant and when, and also to make sure the plot or pot has enough sun and water.  But if it fails, the failure has something to do with the soil, NOT your thumb!  

Okay, but how can you get your soil right without spending tons of time and money on guessing what to do about it?  The million dollar question!

So, what is a person to do?

That’s when I met the Soil Doctor, Evan Folds.  This soil wizard made the complex simple for me and the spell is broken and the curse has lifted!!  If it happened to me, it can happen for you!

You can also get on the mailing list and we will send you the Free Farm-A-Yard e-Book.  🙂    www.farm-a-yard.com

We know that you can be successful in growing vibrant, nutrient food for your family and/or to make a sustainable income.

Check it out!  Break the Spell!  Grow the best garden of your life.

Solving the Soil Emergency: Soil Doctor to the Rescue

We’re not going to waste your time with standard soil advice.   Real sustainable soil health guarantees plant health and productivity — and that saves you time, money and extra work.

Think about it: healthy soil grows healthy people. And what we think, we grow. In a way, people and agriculture feed each other.

That’s why I started Farm-A-Yard. It just doesn’t make sense that we have 40 million acres of lawn being irrigated while people are going hungry. The great Wendell Berry said, “Eating is an agricultural act.” Whether you like it or not, everyone is a part of agriculture. At Farm-A-Yard we take this very seriously. It’s the core of our mission. 

So what can you do to grow a healthy future for our food?

Grow Soil, Not Just Plants.

It’s that simple. Want to learn how?

I’m excited to tell you how impressed I am with this absolutely vital information from “The Soil Doctor” Evan Folds.  I was so amazed by him that I asked him to become a part of the Farm-A-Yard team.

Click Here to Register for the Webinar

My name is Linda Borghi, and I have been an advocate for clean and nutritious food and water for decades, and when I met Evan, I knew that I had found an extraordinary and dedicated person who will bring you key information that you need immediately, before this food system crisis gets any worse.  

Evan leaning in to study some wheatgrass.Evan is spreading the word about how soil vitality affects plant health. I’ve been growing food for decades, and I know he’s right — I just can’t explain it.  To me, I do the right things and the plants grow like magic.  Evan can explain everything about soil health where I can’t, and he shares simple proven techniques that you can use in your garden or on the farm that will transform the way you think about the soil under your feet and seriously revolutionize your growing results.

To use a metaphor: conventional growing is like drowning in the ocean,  organic farming is treading water and barely staying afloat — but what Evan calls “BioEnergetics” is effortlessly swimming where you want to go. BioEnergetics is beyond organic.

This is absolutely essential information, so I’ve asked Evan to give a LIVE webinar.

Click Here to Register for the Webinar

The content in this LIVE webinar is powerful. You need to take advantage of this rich information on maximizing your gardening and farming efforts. I promise you it will answer the most pressing problems you have about soil fertility and remove the guesswork and expense of commercial soil management advice.

Let’s face it; I’m a farmer, I’m not a scientist and I find that Evan is amazing at communicating complex concepts in a way that even I can understand.  

Even more important, he shares, step-by-step, what you can do to restore and regenerate your soil in order to grow food with the life force that can heal people and the planet.

Click Here to Register for the Webinar

Do you want to turn dirt into thriving soil, teeming with life?

I know that you screamed YES! with me.

Here is some of the vital information you will learn in this FREE webinar:

  • Why Fertility is the Key to a Bountiful and Sustained Bottom line
  • The Fertility Investment that will Cut Your Costs and Work in Half
  • The Soil Doctor’s Rx that Takes the Guesswork out of Growing Healthy Soil
  • How to Correct Key Soil Management Mistakes
  • Demystifying Biodynamic Agriculture
  • Keys to Unlocking Soil Regeneration
  • The Roles of Minerals, Microbes & LIfe Force Energy
  • Top Garden Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
  • Personalized Rx for Soil Regeneration
  • A“Brew” for Bounty- Get Brewing, Get Life
  • BioEnergetic Secrets to Healing the Soil
  • What Weeds, Worms and Nematodes Tell Us
  • Busting Myths about Soil Management
  • Why Profitable and Sustained Farming Begins and Ends with the Soil
  • What is Activated Water?
  • Keys to Hydroponic Growing Success
  • Compost Tea – The Holistic Solution
  • Unleash Soil Regeneration No Matter What Kind of Soil You Have

Whether you are a seasoned farmer or totally new to the idea of growing  food , Evan’s free webinar, Solving the Soil Emergency: Soil Doctor to the Rescue, has something for everyone. Vitality of life on the earth starts and ends with the life force energy of the soil.

Click Here to Register for the Webinar

Our challenge to you is to grow at least one thing that you can eat. If you already do, then grow more! We want to help you do it.

JOIN US LIVE!

Farm-A-Yard is a Movement, Have You Heard?

Linda Borghi
Farm-A-Yard Educator/Trainer/Speaker