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

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

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

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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