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.

“Politics Divide…Food Brings People Together”

Thank  you, Wendell Berry, for telling it like it is.

Did you know that we need 100 million yard farmers by 2030 in our neighborhoods nationwide? What a great opportunity to bring some healing to the political situation, as well as, bring real food security and access of the freshest, affordable food possible!

Some people are beginning to take action to truly solve, not only our food security crisis, but growing food is having an impact to  boost depressed local economies, literally at the GRASSROOTS level. (pun intended!)

That’s why we’re excited about Farm-A-Yard that is helping people help themselves to personal food security and income opportunity.   

The entrepreneurial opportunity with Farm-A-Yard for small scale neighborhood yard farms, has so many benefits to help build healthier, resilient communities where people are connected to where their food comes from.

You can learn how to grow your own food intensively in your yard to feed your family and/or you can learn how to start a profitable neighborhood-based,  micro-farming enterprise.   

We all have the power to help make our community food secure by voting with our dollars, supporting local small farmers and learning to grow and preserve some food for ourselves and to share with others.  

ALL GREAT CHANGE IN AMERICA BEGINS AT THE DINNER TABLE

Food brings people together to solve problems.  Growing food also helps neighbors to know one another again, to grow, cook and share healthy meals together around the kitchen table.  

“Kitchen table wisdom” is how the world has solved problems for centuries.  This is the grassroots way to heal a world, one “Plot to Plate” at a time.

 

Okay, so let’s ask Evan Folds to explain the Biodynamic preparations…..

So, let’s remove some of the mystery around the Biodynamic preparations.

“Biodynamics is defined by the employment of specific fermented plants and herbs called “preparations”, or “preps”, numbered for unknown reasons by Steiner BD500-508. In truth, these preps are used as forces and not as substances.

If you think of your farm or environment as a living organism, these preps help to form and setup the “organ systems” in essence: the brain, nerves, skeleton, digestive tract, and endocrine system of your farm and plants.

Acting as stimulants, the preparations are applied in small homeopathic quantities, positively affecting soil quality, compost and soil microbes, the relationship between plants and nutrient elements, and especially, the quality of vegetable produce.

www.Microbemakers.com has made this SO EASY!

For our Farm-a-Yard Family you can get 15% off.  Discount Code: Farmayard

Here is a brief synopsis of each preparation:

Foliar Sprays

BD500 Horn Humus is the result of cow manure fermented in a cow horn buried over the winter, when all of the energy is inside the Earth.

The Earth breathes as humans do, in & out, with the seasons, allowing the fermenting material to utilize the digestive factors of the Earth’s telluric energy.

To apply BD500 in farming the resultant humus is stirred in both directions for one hour. One horns worth of BD500 is capable of treating almost four acres of land!  It is applied as a spray to stimulate biological activity in the soil and encourage root development. BD 500 relates to organic carbon, calcium and silica.  

When permeated by sufficient oxygen and nitrogen it allows the formation of a rich humus structure.  The root zone and the rhizosphere surrounding it act as the “brain” of a plant, regulating which materials are allowed to leave and enter.  

BD501 Horn Silica is made of finely ground quartz also fermented in a cow horn. To make BD501 quartz is ground into a dust and mixed with small amounts of spring water to make a paste.

This is then packed into a cow horn and buried again in the ground, but this time during the spring and summer months, exposing it to the Earth forces of summer. Its function is to enhance light metabolism in the plant, stimulating photosynthesis, increased sap sugars, and the formation of chlorophyll.

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The average horn produces 300-500 grams of 501, enough for 150 to 250 acres of land. BD501 is also potentized by stirring in a bucket back and forth for an hour and is normally applied in Autumn and Spring in late afternoon.

It is intended to influence the color, aroma, flavor, and keeping quality of the crops. BD501 exerts its formative influence directly on the plant itself and increases the light-intaking ability of the plant. BD 501 helps the plant to sense its surroundings.  

If you imagine BD500 setting up the “brain” of the farm and plants, then imagine BD501 setting up the “nervous and sensory system”, which is why BD500 and BD501 are used in conjunction with each other on the land. What good is a brain with no senses?

Vegetable Substances Used in Compost Preparations

These preparations are designed to be inserted into a compost pile to help micro-organisms transform it quickly into fertile humus, drawing on what Steiner called etheric formative forces.


BD502 Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) prep facilitates the plants utilization of potash and restores to the Earth the power to absorb the finest dilutions of substances. Yarrow is very high in sulfur, combined in a model way with potash. It is created by fermenting the blossoms of yarrow.

As the Greek legend goes, Achilles used the juice of the yarrow plant to rejuvenate his soldiers on the field of battle. As Steiner said, “Yarrow contains that with the spirit always moistens its fingers (sulfur) to carry the different constituents to the plants organs- carbon, nitrogen, etc.”

Steiner saw sulfur as the mediator between the physical and the formative power of the spiritual reality behind all substance.

The work of sulfur brings potash into the organic processes of the soil. BD 502 relates to the “endocrine” system, allowing the farm to regulate purification and excretion.

BD503 Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) prep is high in sulfur and related to the element calcium. It keeps plants physiologically healthy and stabilizes nitrogen.

BD503 relates to the activity of digestion and assimilation. It is known to transform depleted organic sources into forms available for plant nutrition. It also protects the plant from up taking any toxic elements.

It is created by fermenting chamomile after being buried during the active winter months.

BD504 Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioeca) is utilized as the great enlivener of the soil, stimulating its health and helping to provide plants with the individual components of nutrition they most need.

BD504 relates to the heart and circulation of the farm, giving it energy to function. High in sulfur and iron, it can be used to correct iron toxicity or deficiencies, energize minerals or activate soil enzyme potential.

Stinging nettle regulates the effects of manure on soil life to provide optimum conditions for the crops as if the soil were somehow permeated with order and reason. It is also well known to break-up heavy clay soils, build humus, increase nitrogen fixation, and unlock bound micronutrients.

BD505 Oak Bark (Quercus robur) dampens excessive growth forces, thus reducing the crops susceptibility to fungal disease.

BD505 relates to the skeletal system, naturally, as 77% of its substance consists of finely distributed calcium. Of the many forms in which calcium can appear, the calcium structure of oak bark is the most ideal.

BD505 provides what plants need to be upright with good form, it also develops the “immune system” of the farm, catalyzing disease resistance.

BD506 Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is also valuable for its calcium, working to attune the growing crop to the subtle influences of its environment. BD506 establishes a balanced relationship between calcium and potassium, and is also related to silicic acid / silica.

Consider how the flower blooms around Easter and opens and closes with the sun. BD506 relates to the “liver and endocrine system”, allowing the farm to balance, regulate, and harmonize its actions.

The flower of the dandelion is to be inserted into a cow’s mesentery – the membrane which surrounds the animal’s internal organs. It is to be buried during the winter. Dandelion attunes the growing crop to the subtle influences of its environment. For those familiar with medicinal herbs, dandelion should be very familiar.

BD507 Valerian (Valerianum officinalis) is merely a tincture produced from the juice of valerian blossoms. BD507 relates to the farms “respiration” and ability to produce heat. It will activate phosphorus, bringing it into the organic process.

Being a “warmth-giver” BD507 has been used to protect against late frost damage.   (Make sure you heard Linda’s experience with this one!!)

Steiner did not expound upon its significance very much, only to say that Valerian is somehow connected to phosphorous…consider how many products are preserved with phosphoric acid.
BD507 Valerian is used by spraying the compost pile and serves to “fix” the finished humus.

BD508 Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is not used directly in making biodynamic compost, but is brewed into a strong tea and sprayed onto plants and trees in the spring and summer to prevent fungus molds.

BD508 regulates “watery growth” common during times of heavy rainfall (especially during full moons). This prep helps to conserve energy during these watery times to ensure a hearty plant with enough energy to fully mature with good form.

Our lack of focus and attention towards the energetic components of living systems for the last 100 years of agronomy has resulted in empty food and empty people. People are waking up to this reality and seeking answers to the wrongs that we must right. The biodynamic method is part of that answer.  

Incorporating biodynamic methods and products into your garden will provide immediate results and begin the process of mineral, biological and energetic rejuvenation, and will only get better with time.   

In this method of investigation, we have much work to do, with potentials limited only to the imagination…so the Earth may be healed.”

 

Living Your Best Life

What does living your best life look like?

For me it has something to do with learning how to have balance in my life.  As I navigate all the daily tasks, relationships I try to remember to  make sure I am “on the list”, and not “just focused on geting everything “done”, but being more mindful of “being”, not just “doing”.

After all, we are human “beings” not human “doings”.

I am noticing how so many lessons about what “balance” means, are there in the garden.

One thing I observe is that the garden does really well when I can do regular maintenance and take the time to observe and muse over it’s ever changing scape.  It’s a host for a myrid of relationships and connections in a kind of symphony.

Sometimes things don’t look so good in the moment, but then on the next visit, what I thought was a problem has worked itself out.  This has helped me to be patient and not be so quick to try and do something to correct something that actually do better without my interference.

So part of the balancing process is the experience of some so called “imbalance”.   Just staying open and flexible can bring many new fresh insights into many situations.

I have noticed that also in the “garden of life”, regular maintenance and intentional routine self care and observation is a great practice to have.

For me, the garden has been a great example of how to live my best life!

How about you?  Share some experiences in your garden in the comments below. 🙂

 

What is BioDynamic Agriculture? 

I met someone recently who said that whenever he ask someone about Biodynamics, he couldn’t find anyone who could really explain it.  

Me too, until I met Evan Folds.

Here is one reason why it may seem to be hard to explain. 

It’s because it’s not just a method.  It is more than a method.  

It invites you into a personal experience.  

Biodynamics can be explained scientifically to a great extent by some, yet you don’t have to be able to fully understand it in order to experience it’s “dynamic” effects.  Isn’t that how nature is?  Science helps us to  understand, explain, quantify and prove what is observed in nature.

 Science also, at times, tries to manipulate and not always in the best interest of the whole of the living system and often without serious conscientious regard for the possible consequences.

Nature as a whole system is in a very intense, vital, dependent relationship. Biodynamics invites us to be in relationship with the synergy of nature.  We can learn from, flow with and try our best not to hinder the living forces of the foodweb.  

Read how Evan Folds explains:

The BioDynamic Method

 

Artificial Fertilizer is “Fast Food” for Plants

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Artificial fertilizers contribute to soil degeneration.  It is no different than highly processed fast food which causes the degeneration of human health.  It’s like drinking caffeine to artificially get the energy you need temporarily but not address the real reason for your low energy.

Healthy soil can sustain itself because it has the real food and healthy environment it needs to regenerate and propagate.  That’s what nature does naturally, all on its own.

Healthy soil makes healthy plants for healthy people.  Period.

Today, many people are interested in learning how to grow some of their own foods without toxic/artificial inputs.

Many people have tried and failed too.

One reason is that the soil is so depleted and it takes quite a while to make your own compost and build your soil health.

I know this because it happened to me when I first got started. All I had was sand to work with.

A lot of people try to garden and when they fail they think that they just have a “black thumb”, when it’s really about the damaged condition of the soil, which is, then, rightfully called “dead dirt” because of toxic chemicals and the absence of living organisms.

One of the biggest challenges with starting a garden or farming project is having the healthy soil you need to make it successful.

Everything depends on that.

FYI…Healthy soil cannot be found in a bag at the garden stores.

BUT DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU!

Linda Borghi has been a Biodynamic farmer for years and knows intimately that the quality of her harvests hinged on the simple commitment to feeding the microbes in the soil with the Biodynamic stir and spray preparations.  She was personally so profoundly affected by the dynamic results that she was determined to spray the country!!

This was really exciting for me to finally learn about this simple solution and it has saved me so much time, work, money and GUESSING.

I was just surrendered to the fact that I had to take the natural “slow road” to fertility by making my own compost and covercropping etc.

Then I got a prescription for my soil from Evan Folds, and he explained, in a comprehensive soil report, exactly what was going on.   He also made some mineral recommendations that I decided to apply to correct those deficiencies.  Now all I do is stir & spray the food for the microbes and continue to add organic matter.  Simple.

I was so grateful to hear Linda’s experience and find out about this.

Check out the education and solutions at:

www.microbemakers.com   (Special 10% discount, use code: farm-a-yard)

Evan Folds, the Soil Doc can also give you a detailed prescription to meet the unique needs of your soil if you’re interested.

Or you can just start stirring and spraying to feed the microbes and just let them do the work for you.

This concept parallels the picture of the human gut and its need for prebiotics to feed the microbiome for gut health.  This is critical for a strong immune system.

Biodynamics/BioEnergetics is food to build/heal the earth’s immune system.

https://www.facebook.com/microbemakers/videos/1166775200108466/

Linda would LOVE IT if you joined Farm-A-Yard in spraying your part of the country too!!   Feed the microbes, heal the earth, heal the people!

We can do this.

This wholistic approach builds soil so effectively that it also cuts water consumption by at least 50%!

FYI….Did you know that in 10  years 57% of our farmers will be retiring? So who is going to grow our food?

Just one more reason to be an urban farmer and farm your yard. (“just sayin”)

Changing the way we eat one yard at a time.

It’s a movement, have ya heard?

Grow Your Own Herbs for Merry Mulled Wine

Winter…. I love to get cozy and gather friends around the kitchen table and go through seed catalogs together.   Sweet and spicy mulled wine is the ultimate adult beverage to share, that warms from the inside out!

During this dark and cold season, the herbs that I previously harvested are nature’s medicine cabinet and there are so many ways to employ them.

Urban farmers would do well to cultivate a healthy patch of herbs for teas, medicinal tinctures and/or herb bundles for soups and an array of culinary applications…many of which could be income producing as well.

So, mulled wine fills the house with the aroma of cinnamon, cloves and other delightful spices and helps us celebrate tradition and nurture family and friends!

Merry Mulled Wine

Serves: about 11 cups

Ingredients

  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 pinches of nutmeg powder
  • 3 pinches of cardamom powder
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle red wine (French is the best!)
  • 6 cups 100% fresh pressed sweet organic apple cider
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup local honey or whole, organic cane sugar
  • 2 oranges

Instructions

  1. Bundle the whole spices in a round cut out of cheesecloth that has been gathered and tied with cotton twine. Place it in a stainless steel or ceramic stock pot. Pour in the wine, cider and brandy and stir in the honey or sugar. Slice one orange and drop it into the pot along with the bay leaves.
  2. Warm over low heat at least 1 hour. DO NOT allow the wine to boil or you’ll cook out the alcohol.
  3. Ladel into mugs, garnish with sliced orange and serve warm.

 

Energy follows Thought

… he came to tell me that he was farming a yard behind the hotel down the street. His name is Jacob, he is 17 years old, he is so polite and has a smile that could melt a heart.

I have always been a believer in the process of energy following thought and I am reminded that the process is alive and well every now and again.

My sister from another mother, Marsha Howe and I have been discussing all aspects of Victory Gardens.  I have been studying Victory Gardens for quite a long time now.

All of that food, and there was a lot of it, it was being grown to lighten the stress on the National food supply.

Well, we have high level stress on our National food supply due to the lack of rain and extreme drought situations.

What I wanted to find out was how and why did everyone start farming their yards? Well….it spread through very organized entities, like churches.  And that got me thinking (thought) about once again standing on the pulpit explaining the meaning of true food security, AKA Yard Farming.

Just a few days after I arrived here in Beaufort SC the door bell rang. It was a lovely young man asking if I needed any yard work done. I said that I didn’t need any yard work and soon I would convert part of the lawn into food production areas. I spoke to him for about 10 minutes, as I had his full attention, then on his way he went, never to be seen from again until TODAY.

So, I am getting ready to make an additional 9 yard farm beds and then some…..when that lovely young man stopped by for a visit. I say a visit because he came to tell me that he was farming a yard behind the hotel down the street. His name is Jacob, he is 17 years old, he is so polite and has a smile that could melt a heart.

I went with him to check out his plot and sure enough there it was, about 1500 square feet, fenced in, behind this hotel. The Pastor wife has a garden there and got Jacob the permission to grow the food. Jacob and 4 of his friends will farm this section and expand from there.  I expecting a call from the Pastor’s wife sooner than later, and I anticipate to be preaching from the pulpit once again, so blessed to do so!

 

 

 

 

 

Why Farm-A-Yard? Background Story

So, being that I am the kind of person who can’t just sit around complaining and lament the problem, I literally “dug” in to be a part of the solution.

I couldn’t help myself…..I never considered myself an activist, but when the pieces started coming together about why we are in such a health crisis in this country, my hair was on fire!  What we now know is only the tip of the iceberg and Titanic is going down, while some are still playing the music and saying that everything is ok.

Sometimes I feel a little bit like Noah, who day by day spent his time building an Ark even though it had never rained before.  Though he looked silly to others, he kept on building.  We need to build local food systems for real food security and to do that we need to build local food chains of small farmers, yard farmers other food entrepreneurs.

Commercial food is seriously altered, highly processed, lacking in nutrients and even produce is laden with chemicals. We have also been in a huge GMO experiment without our consent, which starting in the 90’s.

So, being that I am the kind of person who can’t just sit around complaining and lament the problem, I literally “dug” in to be a part of the solution.

I was compelled to establish a Sustainable Neighbors meetup group in 2012, right after I moved from California and discovered how difficult it was to access locally grown, chemical free food in Fayetteville, NC.

In my search for healthy, locally produced food, there came another discovery… I found very few local small farmers actually growing their own produce to sell directly to the consumer.  To add to this concern, I could not find a farmer who was not treating their land and crops with commercial fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides.

I recognized that all the processed foods being consumed and the lack of access to healthy produce was the main factor in the widespread health disparities in food deserts around the country.

I told myself that it didn’t have to be this way!  My driving force now is to see people eat well and get well.

I have been observing the evolution of the food system for a long time and I am old enough to know what real food is and tastes like.  I began to feel the urgency, for the sake of my grandchildren AND everyone’s grandchildren, to share the knowledge and skills of how to grow, preserve, cook from scratch and share other sustainable living skills and resources.  Because of this, Sustainable Neighbors Meetup was born. www.meetup.com/sustainableneighbors   www.sustainableneighborsnc.com

I was excited and inspired by the growth of the urban agriculture movement in cities around the country. We can do this and there is an opportunity to earn money too.  This is how to be sustainable and it offers entrepreneurship opportunities to create jobs.

With other concerned neighbors and a vision to build resilient neighborhoods and communities, we began working to find farmers and educate and connect consumers to where their food comes from.  When I met Linda Borghi, Biodynamic/Farmer  in 2015 and we joined forces to launch the Farm-A-Yard movement with Evan Folds of www.MicrobeMakers.com  and Melissa Jones of www.FromScratchMag.com  to teach others how to  turn lawns into food across the country.

We are collaborating with many who, like us, are also passionate to be the change they want to see in the world starting with their yard.

In the Farm-A-Yard course, our students learn critical keys to success from experts in the field.  BioEnergetics is vital for soil regeneration and recovering the nutritional value of the plants we grow. Students can get an in depth soil test so that they know exactly what to do to for their soil.  Students also are given cutting edge marketing and recordkeeping tools that save time and money. Everything you need in one awesome package with step by step instructions.

We all have the ability to make our communities food secure,   By voting with our dollars (https://slowmoneync.org/), supporting local small farmers and/or learning to grow and preserve food for ourselves, you can be part of the movement.

IT’S A MOVEMENT, HAVE YOU HEARD?

Training Yard Farmers, Recruiting Yards

headshot-marsha-copyAbout Marsha Howe

Sustainable Neighbors and the Farm-A-Yard grassroots projects were born out of the concern around the eroding of our health through toxic processed foods, the lack of access to fresh, local, seasonal produce as well as the need to build local food systems for real food security. As Director of Food Education with Guiding Wellness Institute, Marsha facilitates urban farming/local food education and training to secure and sustain local food access and economic opportunity for healthier, resilient communities.

The Mowing of the Lawn

Did you know that it take 40% of the drinking water on the east coast to satisfy the needs of this fossil fuel, chemical and time robbing beast.

The Mowing of the Lawn- by Linda Borghi

Very interesting that I have now had the experience of mowing the lawn three times in the past month and a half and before then, never.  I am here to report that I made it through the dreadful experience all three times although there were moments during the last go around that I thought I would have to throw in the towel.

Lawns and I have never seen eye to eye to begin with but now having to personally interact was a bit over the top for me. You see, we have forty and a half million acres of lawn in our country, a terrible habit we brought over from England. We have had plenty of time now to have become independent thinkers when it comes to this unworthy entity but alas….we have yet to do so.

Did you know that it takes 40% of the drinking water on the east coast to satisfy the needs of this fossil fuel, chemical and time robbing beast. Now the flip side, the benefit, where and what is it? I am far from an experienced lawn mower but thus far for me I see no b
enefit  other than the color……I don’t get it.

Instead of mowing we shoud be eating, we should ditch the grass and feed our families, I swear it would take about the same time and we’d get to eat. Isn’t that true food security?  Besides food security we are given the opportunity to reconnect with the awe inspiring energy that only working with the Earth can give you. There is only one Earth, stop mowing her and start dining with her.  Bon Appétit!

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