What Really Matters in 2017?

What Really Matters in 2017?

 I’m glad you asked…

For me it’s food freedom….and having fun with food makes that happen!

My urban farm handle is Freedom Farms.  My farm is indeed a bit different than most. I farm here in North Carolina in several small plots around the city. Some are in public places, some at businesses, some in pots, some in other people’s yards.  I have found out how easy it is to grow food anywhere.

I specialize in keeping it simple, working with the resources at hand and adapting my plans to nature’s ways.

Why?

Because it means less work!

I’m a permaculture practitioner…that means I am practicing…

yes, practicing and learning how nature does things and then working to copy that.

What’s Permaculture? It’s amazing how many different answers you can get when you ask that question.  Permaculture for me is all about relationships and observing the dance of nature and learning to dance with her!!

Permaculture involves a lot of observation in order to design permanent foodscapes that mimic nature’s synergistic relationships, which will, over time, nearly take care of itself.  Also, BioEnergetics has made my efforts much more productive because the more you feed the soil, the more the soil will feed you!!

This week I went on a foraging treasure hunt, while walking my neighborhood for the free pecans that litter the lawns and streets.  I was dancing with the squirrels!  I got all I needed for the winter!

I also got a bag full of Muscadine grapes and Kiwi from a huge vine at the local college, where earlier, I also harvested blueberries in the spring! (I also met a new permaculture friend!) I even got to sample a burst of flavor from some fall strawberries in one of my public gardens.

Life is good.

Then, was I surprised, at one of the businesses I grow at, to find a delicious sweet, 2-3 inch in diameter, guava type fruit that I had never tasted before and I harvested a whole grocery size bag from 2 small bushes!

Why are we not all growing this plant??!!

(I am in the process of identifying the plant and will keep you posted!)

All you have to do is wash them and throw them whole, skin, seeds and all (no peeling necessary) into the blender and make a smoothie, or cook them down into a wonderful stewed fruit compote to top yogurt, hot oat bran cereal or use as a filling for a Thanksgiving cobbler! (can you guess what I’m going to do?!)

And guess what?  This summer, the palm trees in front of one of my business locations had incredibly sweet palm fruits!

Awe…the simple pleasures.

Food Freedom means a lot of things to me and as a Food Freedom writer, I hope to inspire you to action to grow some of your own food.

Maybe even YOU might decide to establish a rouge perennial plant that can surprise someone and offer them an experience of exquisite delight!

For me, that’s…  “What Really Matters in 2017”  🙂

Tell us in the comments below, “What Really Matters” to YOU in 2017?

 

 

What is Real Food Security?

Arriving in South Carolina the beginning of May did not give me enough time to create a yard farm before the “Heat of the Year” arrived. At one point during the summer the degrees on my car dashboard read 117…..whoa baby…hotter than anything other than watermelons wanted it to be! I had to experience all summer long that creepy feeling due to my lack of food security.

Being new to South Carolina everything is very interesting. I am aware of the sounds, the light… the sensations that are all around me, because it’s all new to me.

I am at a stage in my life that I have developed very keen observation skills and my most current observation has been my state of uneasiness because I did not have any food security. This is the first time in 16 years that I did not have any food growing outside my kitchen door. What a creepy feeling it is….unsettling at the very least.

Arriving in South Carolina the beginning of May did not give me enough time to create a yard farm before the “Heat of the Year” arrived. At one point during the summer the degrees on my car dashboard read 117…..whoa baby…hotter than anything other than watermelons wanted it to be!

I had to experience all summer long that creepy feeling due to my lack of food security. From May until the end of September…nearly 5 months, long enough to know how that feels.

Now that feeling is dissipating,. Why, because my beds are made, my plan is drawn and some seed is in the ground. When I see some germination the feeling will dissipate more and when I harvest I’m sure it will vanish the feeling completely!

That got me thinking about those who have never had food security. They do not experience those feelings but I am sure that if they were given 16 years of food security right outside their kitchen door and then not have that for five months…they would have a creepy feeling as well.

The moral of the story is this: Farm-a-Yard….it’s a Movement ….have ya heard?

 

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.