Archive for September, 2009

milkweed and stinky piglets

September 30, 2009

Rainy days have their benefits. The first, most obvious benefit is the replenishment of available water for plant, animal, and human use. The second is that rain keeps people from enjoying outdoor activities. Why is that a benefit? Well, if you’re visiting Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture and want to go on a vegetable tour, you may just be the only one on the tour on account of rain. And being the only ones (bf & I) on the tour last Sunday, we got special attention. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me.

We went on a whim, despite the rain and forecast for more of it throughout the day. Looking at the clock, we realized we’d have just enough time to grab a bite from the cafe and go on the two o’clock tour. So up we went, to Pocantico Hills, just north of Tarrytown. It’s lovely up there, just an hour’s drive from Brooklyn, the leaves along the Saw Mill Parkway just starting to change into their autumnal habits. Here are some of the magical things we encountered on our tour of the educational, experimental, sustainable agricultural center:


A tasty lunch at the cafe


What’s on today?


Selling the bounty at the farm market


Asclepias gomphocarpus, a type of milkweed, attracts butterflies


Happy bees on past-peak artichokes in the dooryard garden. These delicious thistles are apparently difficult to grow in the Northeast, but Stone Barns is figuring out how.


Go ahead, try one! Stone Barns encourages sampling


Super-juicy Asian pears growing in the main field are an experiment. A very tasty experiment.


Self-seeding sunflowers take over where the arugula leaves off


Purple brussel sprouts in the field…


…and yummy purple mustard greens in the greenhouse


The expansive greenhouse allows 4-season farming


Seedlings in custom compost are kept warm through water-filled, compost-heated tubes


Hoop houses on tracks also extend the seasons


Four kinds of compost are cultivated at Stone Barns


Berkshire pigs, right home in the forest mud


Hey little piggy


Sorry, we’re too busy to look at your camera


Oh, hello there. These pigs sure are cute, but they were also a little stinky.

Stone Barns is a magical place where everything is grown for a reason, everything is harvested, nothing is sprayed with pesticides or grown in artificial fertilizers. And everything is repurposed, from food scraps to plastic tarps. You can visit Stone Barns for a tour, to volunteer, or to enjoy an 8-course meal at the amazing Blue Hill restaurant.

This Saturday, October 3, is their 6th Annual Harvest Festival. Get your tickets here.

Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY
914.366.6200

how can we improve the air quality of our cities?

September 28, 2009

Find out on my new post on Aribra.com!

big cities: exhausting and exhilarating

In the big city, on any given day, anything seems possible. Millions of thinkers, dreamers, and doers exchange ideas, creative sparks, and currency. There are plenty of reasons to be a city dweller – more jobs, much inspiration, more opportunities to help people who need it. But there’s one big drawback to city dwelling, especially New York City dwelling: dismally poor air quality.

Some might argue we just can’t help it. In a city of millions where almost all of our goods are trucked in and 12,000 tons of residential trash is trucked out every day, how could we fight the beast of diesel exhaust? When coal-burning power plants in the MidWest are emitting mercury and other harmful pollutants that drift our way with the air currents, what are we supposed to do to stop that?

Keep reading…

stuff for pedal pushers

September 24, 2009


Despite the fact that I “fell off” my bike last Saturday (I was cut off & spilled off) and bruised my back & neck up pretty good, I’m still gung ho about biking in this fair city. It’s a great way to get around, it burns calories instead of fuel, and it’s often faster than driving a car. Luckily for those of the pedal-powered persuasion, new bike paths have been established in the last few years, making it a bit safer for riding amongst the mostly apathetic motorists (even tho’ I was in a bike lane when I had my little accident & the guy did stop thankfully).

Groups like Transportation Alternatives, Streets Blog, and Brooklyn Greenway Initiative are fighting for cyclist rights and the establishment of more continuous bike paths or greenways. Resources for cyclists are ever-improving as well.

Here are some great go-to sites for bikers:

Ride the City
Great tool for finding the safest or most direct route to your destination

NYC Bike Maps
Pretty self explanatory

CityRacks
Find bike parking anywhere in the city

Spokes
The NY Times bicycle news blog

Bike Blog NYC
More bike news

If you like cycling group-style, a la Critical Mass, some events coming up are:

Escape NY
This Saturday the 26th. Get out of town!

Four Corners NYC Bike Tour
Also this Saturday the 26th. Via Hey I’m Walkin’ Here (facebook group)

2009 Tour de Bronx
October 18th

Other cyclist-centric fare:

Biking Rules
It’s a PSA competition run by Transportation Alternatives to improve the public image of city cyclists. Hurray, if you want to enter, the deadline is Monday the 28th! PSA’s will be screened at BAM on Tuesday, November 17th.

Bike Shorts
A cleverly named ongoing short film get-together. Submit a film, you could win $100. Next screening is this Sunday the 27th

Be safe kiddles, where your helmet!

fresh: the film

September 22, 2009

If you didn’t get your fill from Food, Inc., Fresh looks like it takes the story of sustainable agriculture one step further. Featuring Will Allen (Growing Power), Michael Pollan (the man who needs no introduction), and Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms), Fresh looks at the solutions to the problems of our current food system.

Fresh will be screening at BAM, Tuesday, October 6, 7pm, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Gabrielle Langholtz (Editor of Edible Brooklyn) with the director/producer, Ana Sofia Joanes, plus Reverend Jackson of Brooklyn Rescue Mission, David Shea of Applewood Restaurant, and Letitia James, District 35 – Council Member.

Check out the official site.

the real dirt on farmer john

September 22, 2009

A farm isn’t dreamed of, conceived, and born over night. Sometimes it takes a lifetime, even generations, for a farm to really hit its stride. And a farm cannot survive, cannot thrive, without the community behind it. And sometimes the right community has to be found before the farm can really come into its own.

This is the story of farmer John. Son of a hard-working couple, somewhat of an outcast in his own town. Struggling with his story, his life, his purpose. It is a powerfully touching and revealing look at one man’s fight to hold onto his identity. And it also demonstrates the fragility of the land, the delicate balance of ownership, and the dedication that’s required to keep people nourished.

If you haven’t seen The Real Dirt on Farmer John, add it to your Netflix queue or pick it up at your local video store (if you’ve still got one).

Farmer John’s even got a cookbook

The Real Dirt on Vegetables

brooklyn skillshare: a day of learning, making, sharing, doing

September 21, 2009

I just love learning new skills. How ’bout you?

In the last year I’ve taken classes on block-printing, jewelry making, and sewing, and taught myself crochet. I’m also learning about permaculture, and I’ve signed up for a lotion and soap-making class that starts this fall (oh yeah, Happy Autumnal Equinox!). I keep piling on learning upon learning, and I’m hoping there’s room in my noggin to squeeze in some more new skills.

That’s where Brooklyn Skillshare comes in. The Brooklyn Skillshare is a one-day event of learning, making, sharing, doing!

The best part is, it’s free to the public with a suggested donation for participation. But in order for it to remain free, Brooklyn Skillshare needs your help. They have 18 days to reach their goal of $1200 to cover costs such as renting the venue for the event, paying a bike valet, supplies, food, and more.

It’s shaping up to be an amazing event with the following groups sharing skills:

* Bags for the People – create sustainable alternatives to plastic bags using re-purposed materials
* Fiber Arts – knitting and felting using natural materials
* Treasure Everywhere! – glass bottles into cups, bowls, and vases
* Home audio production using Digital Performer
* Bicycle Mechanics 101
* How to brew kombucha
* Natural/organic metal casting and jewelry making
* Screen-printing basics & DIY techniques
* Taking care of yourself with massage basics
* DIY Electronics: Fun with LEDs, solder, sound, and the Arduino
* Basic Raw Food Preparation: the art of “uncooking”
* Party Favorites: infused liquor, homemade ginger ale & tasty snacks
* Make Your Own Butter and Ricotta (with Recipes and Ideas for Using Both)

It’s an all day affair with 5 blocks of classes that are 1.5 hour long, and 3 classes happening per block. You can attend as many or as few classes as you wish, so make the most of it and attend the whole day!

Won’t you help fund this incredible event? I just did. So far they’ve received $221 in funding. That means they only have $979 to go. You can pledge as little as $1. So after you pledge (click on the widget above or go here), go tell 978 of your friends to help out with this amazing day of skill sharing.

Oh, and here are the details for the event:

The First Annual Brooklyn Skillshare
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10th, 2009

@ Gowanus Studio Space
119 8th street
Brooklyn, New York, 11215
Suite 202, Between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

See you there!

a feel-good film about fuel

September 18, 2009

Fuel, it’s a star-studded little eco-documentary that won some awards at Sundance last year. The title is pretty self-explanatory, as is the trailer. Woody Harrelson, Larry David, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, and of course Willie Nelson (the face of BioWillie) all grace the screen. Check it out:

Although it was released last year, it looks like it’s getting another chance on the big screen. Fuel is playing at AMC Theater Time Square, starting tonight. Get your tickets here.

Visit the film’s official site.

hop on the waterpod while you still can

September 17, 2009

Have you caught a glimpse of that fantastic vessel, the one growing squash & tomatoes & chickens? The one that composts, harvests rainwater & sustains its shipmates? Perhaps you have, perhaps you’ve stepped on board. But if you haven’t, and have the slightest inkling of curiosity as to what the Waterpod holds, you only have 2 weeks to quench your thirst.

The Waterpod is about to sail off into the sunset (well, technically, it doesn’t “sail”). Below, a message from the pod regarding their last hurrah.

The Waterpod would like to invite you to join us for our final two weeks open to the public on New York waterways. We will celebrate the closing of our amazing four-month journey with “Future of Mobility, Urbanity, and Water(pods)” at the World’s Fair Marina Pier 1 in Flushing, Queens from September 16 – 27th. Visit our website for up-to-date information and events: www.thewaterpod.org.

This celebration will include events with The Queens Museum of Art, Conflux Festival, Underwater New York, Swimming Cities, Terreform, Wicked Delicate’s Truck Farm, Andrew Faust and the Center for Bioregional Living [aside: this is who’s teaching me the wonders of permaculture], hands-on workshops for Thriving After the Flood by artist Christopher Robbins, Secret School and the K.I.D.S and Natalie Jeremijenko’s Environmental Response Systems.

We will conclude with an all day “I Remember Future” party on Sunday, September 27, 2009 from 11am-11pm in conjunction with the Queens Museum of Art. There will be trolley service from QMA to the Waterpod. The day will include, “Ascend” a pirate television broadcast/planetarium installation by artist James Case Leal, a globular sound installation curated by Lauren Rosati, and DJ Trent Wolbe from WFMU, among other futuristic happenings.

We are at the Worlds Fair Marina Pier 1 from Sept. 16- Sept 27.
We are open to the public Thursday/Friday 8am-4pm and Saturday/Sunday 11am-7pm.

Here is schedule of events, please join us!

Friday 9/18:
Conflux Festival 2-4:30pm on the Waterpod. Waterpod team talks about life on board.
5pm Piledrivers music

Saturday 9/19:
3pm Urban Permaculture workshop with Andrew Faust; Regenerating Today’s Cityscapes
5pm Betsy Bradley,Father Knickerbocker Meets the Future: Lecture about the World’s Fair

Sunday, September 20:
1pm Christopher Robbins & Matt Bua –Waterborn edibles in New York / Build a solar cooker
3pm Underwater New York Readings
6-10pm Swimming Cities Fundraiser Party

Saturday, 9/26:
1pm- Christopher Robbins & Douglas Paulson-Jerry-rigging 101: Build your own boat from urban detritus/Knot tying-bring stuff that might float
3pm Secret School and the K.I.D.S. host a “wild tea party”: a workshop on making jam and tea from foraged wild edible fruit.
4pm: Terreform Lecture founders Maria Aiolova and Mitchell Joachim. talk about the Future of Urbanity
6-7pm Artist Hector Canonge “Utopia” video showing
6-8pm Jérémie Gindre and Frédéric Post, Special show case and sound performance, co-curated by Espace Kugler in Sweden

Sunday 9/27: Final Day of Waterpod
11a-11pm “I Remember Future” all day Goodbye Waterpod Party in conjunction with The Queens Museum of Art (Trolley from QMA to Waterpod)
12pm Barbara Flanagan “Water Homes” lecture and book signing
1pm – Christopher Robbins & Ian Warren-Making portable gardens, Cereal banks (D.I.Y. protectionism) and food preservation
2-6pm Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis present their Truck Farm
3pm Urban Secret School and The K.I.D.S. make jam and tea and Cassie Thornton Barter System Beauty Salon
4-6pm Natalie Jeremijenko’s Environmental Response Systems
6-8pm Lauren Rosati curates sound installation in dome
4-11pm James Case Leal’s Ascend Planetarium video installation in dome and broadcast at The Queens Museum of Art
8-11pm Trent Wolbe of WFMU will DJ
9-11pm Band TBA

Subway Directions: From Grand Central Station take the 7 train to Willets Point Blvd – Mets Station. Head towards Citi Field. Take the sidewalk to the left of Citi Field until it ends. Cross the Whitestone Expressway and the World’s Fair Marina Pier 1 is across the street and to the right. Waterpod™ is located at the end of Pier 1.

Google Map:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=108226320777055742290.0004739489a1697c86cf6&ll=40.76148,-73.85381&spn=0.010792,0.021265&z=16

Thank you,
The Waterpod Team

even old new york was once new amsterdam

September 14, 2009

It’s been 400 years since Hudson “discovered” what is now the great city of New York. And people are celebrating this historic occasion in varying ways. Here are a handful of interesting events happening now:

New Amsterdam Market

I got a taste of delicious local food at this open air market where the old Fulton Fish Market once called home. Pasture-raised dairy from farms like Hawthorne Valley, Painted Goat Farm, and Valley Shepherd Creamery; natural meats from Fleisher’s and Dickson’s; and other tasty treats from the like of Marlow & Sons, Stone Barns, Saltie, and Hot Bread Kitchen filled the stalls, doling out samples and food for purchase. A couple of newcomers included Maple Hill Creamery and Basis, a healthful/local/affordable food market coming soon to 14th Street in Manhattan.

Three more opportunities are coming up for you to get in on the scrumptious action: Sundays October 25, November 22, and December 20. Get the details.


(left: peppers from the Garlic Farm; right: olive oil cake from Saltie)

Pioneers of Change

Longing for a bit of the old world? Look no further than Governors Island this coming weekend:

A festival of Dutch design, fashion and architecture on New York’s Governors Island to celebrate a 400-year Dutch-American friendship

Conceived and curated by Renny Ramakers, co-founder and director of Droog, as part of the NY400 week celebrations, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Dutch to New York.

Pioneers of Change highlights a more responsible and sustainable approach to living by celebrating the blurring of low- and high-brow, establishing new collaborations, encouraging involvement, emphasizing sustainability and valuing handcraft and the local context.

Activities will take place in and around eleven officers’ houses at Nolan Park, Governors Island, New York.

[via Droog]

Open: Fri 18 Sept, 10am – 4:30pm
Sat 19 Sept / Sun 20 Sept 10am – 6:30pm
Download Ferry schedule.

Get the full details here.

Enviromedia Mobile: Urban Trekkers’ Summer Festival ’09
Designated as an official Quadricentennial Ambassador by the State of New York.

I happened upon The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy’s Enviromedia Mobile Museum yesterday in Red Hook (after hopping on the free water taxi to Ikea). What an impressionable display complete with tepees, information on falconry, info about threats to native wildlife and health, and a live barn owl!

The Enviromedia Mobile Museum will be back at Erie Basin Park (next to Ikea, one of the sponsors) on October 10th. But if you can’t wait that long, here’s their full schedule.


(top: barn owl in tepee; bottom: info on PCBs)

mountains, moose, and more mountains

September 14, 2009

Deep breath in… and out. The smell of pine and sagebrush. The feeling of rock and dirt beneath my boots. Sharp mountain peaks, bright midday sun, glimmering glacial lakes. And the sounds: call of the magpie, chirping of chipmunks, gurgling and whooshing of mountain streams, crackling of moose footsteps. This is the experience of a national park. I am grateful to those who had the foresight to preserve these places. I am thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to visit them.

Here’s some of what I saw on the latest trip – to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

of course, there are the mountains


Didn’t realize at the time that this was about where Ansel Adams snapped a famous photo, I think he was a bit further upstream.


A forest fire burns at the base of Mount Moran. Fires are most often started by lightning and are closely monitored while they are left to burn. They are beneficial to many plants, such as lodgepole pine.


Mount Moran has a distinctive geologic feature — a basalt (molten rock) intrusion.


Cascade Canyon Trail, an 11-mile hike (or 9 if you take the boat across Jenny Lake both ways, 13 if you skip the boat altogether) with breathtaking views.


Glacial till from the last ice age. We looked for marmots among the rocks, but they happen to be hibernating already.


Part of the park’s “sustainable” menu: elk/bison burgers at Jackson Lake Lodge. They were delicious, and so was the view.


This view inspired JD Rockefeller, Jr. to preserve this place as part of the national park.

families of fauna


Mama and baby moose (called cow and calf, respectively), on the appropriately named Moose-Wilson Road.


Papa moose (or bull), seen on the Cascade Canyon trail.


An elk bull and his harem.


One of 5 or 6 bald eagles we encountered on the trip. They like to hang out by waterways, like the Snake River.


A “least” chipmunk. Tiny and adorable.

pollinators aplenty, and maybe some pests


Butterflies abound.


Bees, too.


This may or may not be an Asian longhorn beetle. If it is, I’m sorry I didn’t report the little bugger (I didn’t know they frequented these parts). I was too busy trying to get this shot as he was perched on my shoulder.

lovely flora


Leafy spurge, I think. One of the wanted weeds.


Thistle or spotted knapweed?


This one’s not a weed, it’s a columbine.


Sagebrush bathed in sun.

adventure!


Hot air balloons launched right near where we are staying (Teton Village).


If we were staying one more day, I think I might have wanted to try paragliding. We watched this guy take off from Rendezvous Mountain.


Weeeeeee!!