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!

Water’s Role in the Communication of Subtle Energy and Life Force

What is Water?

All of us here at Farm-A-Yard love water and care very much about learning more about it. We are doing what we can to share the miracle element that it is for all life on the planet and how to be good stewards of it.  We have a more personal relationship with water as we stir our compost tea preparations that will go out on our gardens. 🙂    (Check out the tea at www.farm-a-yard.com/compost-tea)
Below is a fascinating video, not to be missed!
Here is the latest from the Soil Doctor, Evan Folds.
Water may be the most obvious and at the same time misunderstood substance on Earth.
Dr. Masura Emoto investigated water’s more controversial abilities by taking microscopic images of frozen water structures after being imprinted with good and bad words and music.
Even if you are not ready to accept waters role in the communication of subtle energy and life force, this is fascinating.

Farm-A-Yard “Green Zones”. Get in the Zone!

Have you heard about the Farm-A- Yard “Green Zone Project”?

Farm-A-Yard’s “Green Zone” supports the “Blue Zone” Project.

So, first of all, what is a “Blue Zone” all about?  They describe it like this:

“We spend 90 percent of our time in the same places, and that environment dictates how easy it is to make healthy choices, or how difficult. By using the Power 9®, the nine secrets of longevity, to improve where we live, work, learn, and play, we make it easier to get up and move, eat healthy, make new friends, find a reason for being—and live longer, better.”   Cities around America are wanting to make that possible and so they are learning from cities in the world where the greater percentage of people are living to 100 years and up.

Farm-A-yard supports the Blue Zone’s “9 Secrets of Longevity”.  Where Farm-A-Yard shines is not only the eating well category, but learning to grow food in the urban setting relates to and gives opportunity to fulfill all the other 8 secrets as well!

Learning to grow food in your neighborhood will support the Blue Zone Project mission which is to “transform communities across the U.S. into areas where the healthy choice is easy and people live longer with a higher quality of life.”

It doesn’t get any “easier” to have easy access to healthy food than to grow some in your yard  🙂

So, get into the “Green Zone”, for a healthy, happy, longer life!

25 U.S. cities with the healthiest diets.

http://247wallst.com/special-report/2017/05/03/25-cities-with-the-healthiest-diets/2/

 https://www.bluezonesproject.com/

A Kids Life Beyond the iPad

I picked up an old Mother Earth News Magazine and opened to a lovely picture of a 13 year old girl on a horse.  The article was called “MY INTRODUCTION TO SELF-RELIANCE”.  I had to read on….

I was immediately impressed with Treska’s communication and writing abilities.  Move over Barbara Kingslover! 🙂

Having been a homeschooling mom myself, I remember how great it was to witness the impact of nature on my children and so grateful to be able to give them that connection even though we were urban dwellers. Allowing “nature to take it’s course” does wonders for children & young people (and adults for that matter!)

How do we get our kids beyond the iPad?

We all feel it…there is a desperate need to have a routine plan to unplug from technology.  I believe it’s critical to find ways to give our kids space for discovery, experimentation and to practice and build creative thinking, problem solving skills beyond the iPad.  No doubt kids are in training to do amazing things with technology, but what critical life skills are they missing?… not to mention the real world experiences & relationships that could be passing them by.

We all need to get a little dirt on our hands…or maybe better yet, a lot of dirt on our hands!

Mud run anyone?  Lessons Learned

My kids were outside digging in the dirt a lot and digging in the snow in the winter.  The best times, were when I went out with them to dig, which I regret, was not more often.  I remember the lessons and conversations that were generated just by taking that time.  Lessons in cooperation & compassion and often with out words. Seeing and valuing so many facets of life. Lessons not only for them but for me. Lessons that might have been missed otherwise.

Equipping our young ones in self reliant skills will go along way in the development and molding of tomorrow’s confident, well rounded leaders.

Now you know another reason why I am passionate about Farm-A-Yard.

What was particularly striking to me is that Treska writes,”After I became inspired by the idea of having a seedling business, I read anything I could get my hands on about seeds….I am looking forward to my learning experience….to me there is no such thing as an “expert farmer. But what any skilled farmer needs is a set of eyes, a pair of hands and a willingness to learn.”

Let’s raise a generation of  kids who know how to have a life beyond the iPad. Let’s get outdoors with them and hey, maybe even farm your yard! 🙂

I guarantee that you will be warmed and inspired by Treska’s article.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/self-reliant-zmaz09aszraw

 

 

 

 

Healthcare? Best Plan Checklist:

The spring is a great time to invest in wellness through preventative actions!

How are you investing wellness actions into your daily routine?

__Sunshine

__Deep breathing

__Exercise

__Grow a garden, share a garden

__Nutrient dense food

__Clean water

__Mindful eating

__Rest & relaxation

__Laughter & Play

__Friends

__Volunteer

__Be your own best friend

Add your own self care maintenance practices that work for you! 🙂

One last thing….We want to send you a little sunshine and make sure you know that “You Got a Friend” in Farm-A-Yard 🙂

I love this video and it’s message is our message.  We are all here together building this team of growers and eaters who are localizing our food system using our own yards as well as public and other private spaces!  

It’s a movement, and we can’t do it without each other!  So, check out the words in this song that we are sending to let you know that we are with you every step of the way!

https://www.facebook.com/letsfarmyouryard/photos/pb.1142003965862197.-2207520000.1488211063./1396339697095288/?type=3

Thank you for helping to grow and heal your communities with fresh, nutrient dense food!

Spread the Sunshine!…Forward to your friends…

 

Why Do We Need Weeds?

Purslane, Plantain, Dandelions…Oh My!

Besides all the important restorative work that “weeds” do for the soil, this is just a reminder that spring is the very best time to enjoy eating fresh, tender “weeds”.  Fresh in salad, or sauteed in grassfed butter, added to eggs,soup or stir fried dishes, these greens are packed with nutrients that you need.  These greens know how to “mine”deep into the soil to bring up important minerals & nutrients and make them available to the plant and to YOU!

Did you know that plantain is found worldwide (there is probably some in your yard right now!) and is a popular wound healer, body purifier, congestion aid.and neutralizer of poison and toxic elements?

It contains all 18 amino acids, is anti-inflammatory and a lymph tonic. For an insect bite or bee sting, take a plantain leaf, chew it in your mouth, then apply the green mush to the sting for relief.  It helps to neutralize the toxin and draw it out. Pick the young, fresh leaves to eat fresh add to dishes or dry the leaves  and powder them for use later and store in a mason jar to add to soups, eggs and stir fry  (I store everything in mason jars! 🙂 .

And Don’t forget our favorite dandelions 🙂

Did you know that all the parts of the dandelion are edible?. The root roasted is a coffee substitute.  It is used often in Eastern Medicine, as “bitter” herbs are very helpful for digestion and so many other things.  It is a powerful cleanser, high in potassium, a great source for Vitamin A, E, B complex, C, D, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium…  Strengthens kidneys, is a strong diuretic without depleting potassium.  Even the roots are a good source of probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria).  Dandelions are “miners”.  Their tap root goes deep to bring up beneficial elements to the roots of other plants. If you have a lot of them, they are a sign of that your soil is needy of things and they are working to help bring balance back.   

So, I hope that you have a greater appreciation for the dandelion and that you take advantage of their gifts. I am an urban forager and love going on a treasure hunt to find the seasons gifts tuck away in plain sight just for the picking! Dandelions actually are sold in many grocery stores now! $4-5 a bunch! (Remember to only collect these greens from soil that is not contaminated by chemicals or not growing by the side of the road.)

Small-Scale Organic Farming Continues to be the Recommendation of the United Nations.

Have  you noticed that food insecurity is already at a crisis level in many countries.  The time to think about these things is not when it’s already a crisis.

But wherever we are, this is a warning that we all need to wake up and take action now to educate ourselves about how to grow sustainably.  I have been passionate and speaking about this for a long time, including speaking at the United Nations in a conference titled, Food, Famine and the Future of Food Technology.

The United Nations is alerting the world of the urgent need to return to small scale, sustainable, natural and organic agriculture.That was the key point of a new publication from the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) titled“Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It’s Too Late,” which included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world. Check out page 2 of this report. The PDF is here: http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditcted2012d3_en.pdf

This is why I am so excited about Farm-A-Yard!  This matter can only be solved by each of us taking this seriously.   We all need to be supporters of local food systems. Whether you are a grower or an eater, we all play a vital role in securing our food future right where we are!

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Working Together We Can Solve the Soil Emergency!  

I wanted to share some thoughts I had after watching Evan’s free webinar.

The soil issues in this country are not joke…they can be even more serious in urban settings sometimes.

You may have already heard that… there is NO Miracle in “Miracle Grow”.

Budget artificial fertilizers are like fast food for plants. They are designed to feed the plant, not the soil.  This is one reason why our produce today is at least 40% less nutritious than 60 years ago.  The commercial growing practices have lead to nutrient-depleted soil from overuse of artificial fertilizers that do not feed the diverse microbes in the soil. This depleted soil results in weeds, pests & disease. Just like fast food sets people up for ill health, farms can fall ill and be plagued by these “deficiency disease symptoms.”

Did you know that the protein in a healthy plant cannot be digested by insects? So they are not interested in trying to feed on healthy plants! They can detect unhealthy plants, which is a signal to go in and do their job of breaking down and recycling them.

To have healthy plants we need healthy soil and healthy plants = healthy people!

Good soil is hard to come by, if you can find any at all. I hate when people ask where they can get good soil to start a garden, because I have to tell them that there isn’t any, truly good soil, available to buy!  They end up using cheap budget soils and fertilizers in an attempt to make their garden grow and then begin a cycle of managing problems, ie…symptoms of unhealthy soil instead of getting to the root of the problem.  It just doesn’t work.

Have you noticed that artificial products cannot be trusted in labeling? They contain “inert ingredients” that the EPA does not require to be listed, keeping the public in the dark. Crazy, but true. Use them and you don’t know what you’re putting in your soil.

Evan explained how those kinds of inputs only stimulate plant growth artificially, doing nothing to nourish the soil environment, leaving it stripped of elements and therefore the need for more inputs, over and over.

However, when you grow the plant in nourishing soil, it has all the nourishing elements and  it grows well. It  is able to uptake all the nutrients it needs, and just as important what YOU need as the eater!.

I found Evan’s presentation so enlightening, thought provoking and even more, this information energized me to TAKE ACTION!  I finally have the missing pieces that I have been looking for to really make a difference, not just in my own food producing endeavors, but knowing that I truly am able to contribute to the sustainable healing of my part of the world!

So, in case you missed Linda and Evan’s free webinar, here is a brief highlight

https://vimeo.com/farmayard/soilhighlights  

More words from the soil doctor….

“Spring countdown is is days away. Do you have your garden planned?

To get the most out of your growing make sure to include compost tea in your plans. It is simple to brew, and it is a dynamic and cost-effective means of adding microbes and trace minerals to your soil so that it can get to work being soil.

Fertilizer is a crutch, a compensation for the inability of the soil to generate fertility on its own. There is no yeast to make the bread…or the beer, so to speak.

In poor soil it is necessary to add fertilizer to generate a result, but the challenge of the progressive farmer is to constantly stimulate the soils ability to provide fertility. This way it only gets better with time and we can reduce the amount of fertilizer required to grow the garden.”  To learn more about this food for your soil go to:

www.farm-a-yard.com/compost-tea

“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.