Posts Tagged ‘farming’

support the homestead at seven arrows

June 14, 2012

Last summer, my life was filled with these tiny miracle retreats up in the Catskills. Spending most of my days here in the city, any excursion to expanses of green countryside is welcome and restorative. But what made these trips special was a combination of the company, the work, and the play time. The company: Meg Paska & co. The work: weeding, sowing seeds, harvesting, squishing bugs (okay, maybe that part wasn’t so great). The play: creek wading, strawberry picking, mountain springs seeking, wildcrafting (to me this is play, even though it also benefits my work).

So when Meg told me she’d be setting up a homestead with her man Neil in New Jersey, I started fantasizing about all of the adventures I could have there, too. Of course, this project is so much more than just a good excuse for me to get out of the city. Meg will be creating an educational farm complete with livestock (rabbits, laying hens, goats), beehives, vegetable growing, and mushroom propagation. There will be opportunities for wildcrafting and harvesting from the surrounding woods and waters, too. Nearby swimming beaches, hiking and biking trails are the icing on top. The homestead will be located at Seven Arrows, a yoga retreat center in Locust, NJ. So there’s also yoga and healing retreats, too. This sounds like a place I may visit and never want to leave.

Thing is, in order to realize all of this amazingness, they need our help. The Homestead at Seven Arrows launched a Kickstarter campaign, and it’s an all or nothing affair. The last day to pledge is July 5. They’re just about a quarter of the way to their goal of $20,000. There are some sweet rewards associated with the campaign, aside from knowing your dough will be funding this awesome project.

You can pledge as little as $1 to get your name & web link on their donor page. You can pledge $25 for some lovely pressed wild plants from the area. For $30, you’ll get a Claudia Pearson-designed Buy Local Calendar Towel 24 x 27″ 100% cotton, vibrant illustrations of local vegetables. If you’re rolling in it and really want to splurge, $1,000 will get you a weekend stay at Seven Arrows complete with farm grown meals, morning guided yoga sessions and local libations each night! Plus, you’ll get a care package of veggies, eggs and goat milk! (or a basket of assorted value added goods made from farm produce. And then the top-of-the-line prize is for those with $5K to chip in: a weekend retreat for you and up to 8 friends.

Help make this dreaminess a reality! 

get dirty nyc! harvest festival, friday, october 21

October 10, 2011

It’s time to celebrate the abundance of this year’s harvest! Come on down to the Get Dirty NYC! and The Commons Harvest Festival fundraiser. All of the requisite ingredients for such a fest will be represented: local food & beer, bluegrass music, raffled prizes, and a lotion-making demo by me! Full details below…

Get Dirty NYC! and The Commons Harvest Festival fundraiser

Friday, October 21, 2011
7:30pm – 11:30pm
The Commons
388 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
(btwn Hoyt & Bond)

Celebrate the close of a productive growing season over food, drinks, demos, bluegrass music and merry-making at a joint fundraiser to benefit Get Dirty NYC! and The Commons! The party will be taking place at The Commons’ beautiful space in Brooklyn, which includes a working rooftop farm.

A $30 ticket includes seasonal hors d’oeuvres and a drink ticket. All proceeds benefit GDNYC! and The Commons.

  • Food by the Heat & the Coven
  • Drinks donated by Heartland Brewery and Bionade
  • Music by the Dust Busters bluegrass band
  • Demos by Raganella
  • Raffle Prizes include $65 worth of coffee from Stumptown Coffee, a $100 gift certificate from Jimmy’s no. 43, a $50 certificate from Cook’s Companion, and a $50 certificate from Bierkraft!

Space is limited so please RSVP on this Facebook event page or email stephanie@getdirtynyc.org. You can also pay in advance on the Get Dirty NYC! website by clicking “Donate”. http://www.getdirtynyc.org/

If you’d like to volunteer at the party, please sign up at our wejoin pagehttp://www.wejoinin.com/sheets/rmxww. Volunteers at the party will receive free entry which includes food!

Get Dirty NYC!’s mission is to connect New Yorkers to hands-on gardening and farming opportunities around the city. GDNYC’s hope is to see New Yorkers working together to share skills, cultivate community relationships and nurture our city’s green spaces.
http://www.getdirtynyc.org/

The Commons is a community & educational center dedicated to healthy communities, individuals and environment. Also home to the Foodshed market, open every Sunday 11-5 and Tues 4-8pm.
http://www.thecommonsbrooklyn.org/

reminder! brooklyn homesteader’s backyard farming bootcamp

August 25, 2011

This is going to be awesome…

Brooklyn Homesteader’s
Backyard Farming Bootcamp

Sunday, September 25, 2011 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (ET)

Greenpoint, NY

Ever wanted to learn how to grow, make and preserve your own food in a small space but need some hands-on guidance to do so?

Join Meg Paska, the “Brooklyn Homesteader,” on her own turf as she teaches you how to raise chickens, keep bees, grow a garden, compost, forage, can, pickle, preserve and homebrew all from her tiny Greenpoint homestead.

Coffee and homemade donuts will be served in the morning before the class commences.

It will tentatively go as follows:

– Building Raised Beds and Planning a Vegetable Garden

– Composting

– Chickens 101

– Food Preservation (Freezing, Drying, Canning, Fermentation)

LUNCH ON THE BBQ!

– Beekeeping 101

– Wild Edibles

– Homebrewing basics with Jerry Madden of Tipsy Parson

– DIY Home and Body Care with Liz Neves of Raganella

WIND DOWN with local beers and Q&A

Attendees will get hands on experience in all aspects of the above mentioned topics and will leave with care packages of assorted goodies! (Books on the subjects covered, seeds, canned and pickled items from the class, etc)

Please email Megan@BrooklynHomesteader.com with any questions.

Students are expected to bring notepads and pens, dress in light color clothes, be able to climb ladders and are willing to sign a waiver, as we will be getting up close and personal with stinging, venomous insects, boiling hot jars of food and eating weeds from the nearby park.

All other materials are included in the cost of the class.

Meg Paska is a writer, Huffington Post blogger and instructor at such fine institutions as The New York Botanical Gardens and Third Ward. She currently manages apiaries for hospitality groups and farms in the NY area and has a book on Urban Beekeeping due out on Chronicle Books in early 2013.

$150 for the entire day of learning and fun.

RSVP here!

http://bkhomesteaderbootcamp.eventbrite.com/

a weed is a plant out of place

June 15, 2011

Jewelweed, ally against poison ivy.

I love city life. I can step out of my apartment building door and arrive at just about any place I please in as little as 5 minutes, without getting in a car and even without mass transit. For example, there’s a good bodega on my corner with some decent organic products. There’s a delicious ice cream shop about 5o paces away that sells ice cream made from dairy that comes from pasture-raised cows. Up the hill is a museum, and the botanic gardens. And just 2 blocks away is my urban refuge – Prospect Park. I spend much of my time there foraging, wildcrafting tenacious “exotic invasives” (aka, weeds), or just staring at the open sky. But despite all of these spoils, I still long for more. More green, more wilds, more open space.

There’s nothing as restorative as a visit to the country. Just a few miles north of the city there’s this place most city folk call “Upstate” (there’s also the westward land, like rural New Jersey where I’m from). Though real upstate probably doesn’t start technically until you reach the Catskills. And that’s where I found myself last week, and just south of there the weekend before.

wild weed plant ID field trip with Peeka Trenkle

At the end of winter I completed an herbal medicine course with Peeka Trenkle. At that time, very little was growing to ID, so we had to wait for the plants to emerge to have a worthwhile field trip. So Saturday before last, we went traipsing through the woods and fields of Stone Mountain Farm in New Paltz. I’ve been on several plant ID walks, all inspiring and fruitful, and this was no exception. Of the plants I could readily identify there was: plantain (Plantago major & Plantago lanceolata), sassafras, wild geranium/cranesbill (Geranium maculatum), Jack-in-the-pulpit, cleavers (Gallium aparine), jewelweed (Impatiens), burdock (Arctium lappa), violet, Japanese knotweed, mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris – one of my favorites), curly/yellow dock, wild cherry, wild raspberry (Rubus idaeus), viburnum, goldenrod (Solidago sp), red clover (Trifolium pratense), juniper, oak, white pine, wild rose, buttercup, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), and willow. I was grateful to meet some other plant allies which I hadn’t seen growing in person: wild angelica (Angelica atropurpurea), potentilla, greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), monarda, chicory, yellow sweet clover, milkweed, motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) elder (Sambucus nigra), horsetail (Equisetum arvense), and lesser stitchwort (Stellaria graminea).

Some of the allies we encountered, plus some of their benefits…

Lesser stitchwort, so named for its ability to relieve a “stitch” or cramp in one’s side.

Elder, before blossoming. Elder protects us from viruses like cold and flu. I’ve heard her berries also make a good wine.

Motherwort, ally during times of anxiety.

Horsetail, the great re-mineralizer, ally for strengthening bones and teeth.

 

farm stay at Newton Farm Cooperative

In the tiny hamlet of West Kill lies a beautifully diverse place called Newton Farm Cooperative. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who’s part of this cooperative, farming the land part time. During the short time we spent there, we created long days full of small adventures. Weeding, sowing, watering, weeding. (What is a weed but a plant out of place?) I arose earlier than usual with the sun shining in the large window next to my bed, the dewy meadow calling me to explore. Barefoot, I wandered, inspecting weeds that I’d later craft into medicines, transfixed by tiny insects, distracted by red wing blackbird calls and the whooshing wing beats of barn swallows. The two resident roosters and mess of hens completed the symphony of bucolic sounds.

My morning view.

Weedin’ and hoein’.

Barn swallow nest.

Dewy daisy.

Yarrow.

We ate well, harvesting a little bit of radish and lettuce from the farm beds, adding in some weeds – wild thyme and wood sorrel – as seasoning. Dinner was al fresco, by fireside (Meg is a skilled firestarter). Once it truly got dark – something that doesn’t happen in the city, unless there’s a blackout – we could see the stars. I saw a meteor fall (a shooting star) and we watched satellites blink across the sky. And then the fireflies came out, fervently flashing to find their mates.

We harvested gallons of spring water from a roadside spot in Hunter (Justin did the heavy lifting), and went strawberry picking at Greig Farm in Red Hook (Meg picked the reddest berries, and not surprisingly harvested the quickest). On the way back to the farm we dropped into the Mountain Brook Inn for a drink and chat with Lyndon, resident of the area for 28 years. He was full of useful tips for enjoying the area.

Just a few strawberries and a couple of drops of mountain fresh spring water.

Red clover. I harvested some and left much for the bees.

Lovely lettuce.

Flower of Plantago lanceolata.

Something for the bees to build on.

Before we reluctantly left for home, Ron stopped by with his delicious dark chocolate-covered frozen fruit Trop Pops for us to sample. Then Sarah and I walked down to the creek to dip our feet in. Next time, we declared, we’ll come here to sun on the rocks, maybe bring some inner tubes and float around.

In contrast to the plentiful spaciousness around us, the four of us crowded into my jam-packed Prius (which I affectionately call “Turtleboat rollerskate”) full with our bounty of fresh eggs, buckets of strawberries, gallons of Catskill mountain spring water, plus all we brought with us. It was as if we were trying to take back to the city all we could of this country retreat. Taking our time, we savored as much of the countryside as possible before returning to urban life. First, a stop at Grandmere Yvonne’s for her homemade paté, rillette, jams, mustards, and vinegars to take home. I especially enjoyed hearing how the venison paté I was buying was made with a deer that was struck by a car right in front of Yvonne’s home. The cop on the scene butchered the fallen creature, taking half for himself and giving half to Yvonne. Next we scored $1 clothing items at the Tibetan thrift shop in Kingston (the checkout lady says, “this is a dollar, is that alright?”). The last detour was to New Paltz for a picnic lunch of tasty leftovers, afterwards picking up chocolates from The Cheese Plate (where I’d been doing the same thing just the week before after the plant ID trip).

Though our stay was only two and a half days, I returned feeling restored in some deep way. Resting my eyes on the open, living & verdant world versus the cluttered, hard & constructed one in which I live cleared my mind and gave my heart a space to open into. Having just read Stephen Harrod Buhner’s The Secret Teachings of Plants gave me a newfound perspective and helped keep me present to the pulse of life around me. I plan on returning to Newton Farm soon.

 

an exercise in mindful living

January 6, 2011

If you’ve started down the path of “greening” your home or making your lifestyle more eco-friendly you may have noticed how easy it is to get caught up in minutiae. Maybe you’ve faced dilemmas like, I want to buy the locally produced organic butter but it’s sealed in a plastic container or These vegan shoes aren’t made with organically grown cotton canvas and the soles are made of some kind of synthetic material.

I’ve fallen into this trap of analyzing every little thing I purchase to the point of feeling either paralyzed into inaction or guilty once I’ve deemed my choice was the “wrong” one. This is obviously not helpful. Beating ourselves up or racking our brains over every choice we make is neither productive nor healthy.

Instead, I prefer to look at things more holistically and globally, which is why I’m working on a tool to help heighten the awareness that each of us makes a difference in the world. Essentially, the method is based on permaculture’s zones of use and a series of questions that arise when thinking about our place and choices in the material world.

We are at the center of our own little universe. What we give spirals outwardly and what we receive spirals inwardly. Each level of the spiral gets physically further than the personal, yet there is clearly still a connection to our daily lives even as the spiral emanates away from the self. The following are some of the questions that arose as I thought of each level. You may arrive at more and deeper questions as you perform the exercise. If you do, please share them in the comments. May it be of benefit!

level 1 – me

What goes in my body?
Is it nourishing me?
Is it poisoning me?
Where and how was it grown?

What goes on my body?
How does it make me feel?
Do I recognize the ingredients (body care)?
Do I recognize the material (clothing)?
Can I trace its origin?

level 2 – my home

How do I fill it?
How does what I have in my home make me feel?
Is it comforting?
Is it harmful?
What is it made of?
Where does it come from?

How do I maintain it?
What do I clean my home with?
Is this harmful to me, my family, my pets?
How do I heat/cool it?
Where does the energy come from?



level 3 – my garden

(this represents where your food and other plant-based goods come from)

How are the plants grown?
Is the way they are grown beneficial to the soil? to the ecosystem? to the people around them?
Are there healing plants and foods growing?
How near to my home are they grown?

Who is tending the garden?
What is their life like?

level 4 – my community

How do I support it?
Do I shop at small, locally owned shops or use local services?
How am I involved in community organizations?
Schools? Gardens? Neighborhood committees?

How does it support me?
Do I have all of the services I need nearby?
Do I earn a living in the community/neighborhood?
Do I find joyful activities in my community?
Do I have meaningful connections in my community?

level 5 – the world

What do I contribute?
How do my habits benefit the world?
How do my choices have any negative impacts?
Who am I supporting with my choices?

What does it give back?
Are all of my basic needs (water, sunshine, food, shelter) met?
Do I feel connected to or isolated from the world around me (ie, nature)?
Am I healthy?
Do I enjoy life?

at every level…

I also like to ask the questions: Do I really need this? and Is it of benefit?

Did you come up with any other questions? Please leave them in the comments!

farm city, here i come!

September 9, 2010

I’m super excited to be participating in the Farm City Fair this Sunday (9.12), part of the larger 2-week-long Farm City event. I’ll be leading a worm composting demo and tabling all day alongside the NYC Compost Project in Brooklyn. If you come to the event you’ll also get a chance to learn some other great DIY skills from some of my favorite people, like:

  • Foraging with Leda Meredith (Leda’s Urban Homestead)
  • Pickling with Kate Payne (Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking)
  • Honey Extraction with Meg Paska (Brooklyn Honey)
  • Sausage Making with Tricia Okin (BK Tactical Meet Labs)
  • and much more!

(Thanks to Adriana Velez & BFC for making it possible!)

Full details on the day’s events below:

The Fair is a wild new take on the traditional County Fair.

Join us for a day-long celebration of art and food grown in Brooklyn!

The Fair aims to collapse the boundaries between consumer and producer, reducing disconnect between city dwellers and sources of our food stuffs.

Festivities engage all the senses:

Featured artists premiering new works include:

Featured Chefs putting Brooklyn into the local diet include:

  • Sean Rembold, Marlow & Sons;
  • George Weld, Egg; and
  • Chris “Ted” Jackson, Ted & Honey;
  • Tom Mylan, Famed Butcher from The Meat Hook

Sunday, September 12, 2010
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Invisible Dog Art Center

51 Bergen Street, Brooklyn 11201
FREE!

(Except for The Food Experiments, where you can also have some fine libations courtesy of Brooklyn Brewery)

what’s going on?

May 10, 2010

Yeah, I know. This blog has been very quiet. But that’s only because my life hasn’t been. A lot more doing and a little less documenting. So here, in a nutshell, is a rundown of some of the good stuff I’ve been up to.

Growing Power

If you haven’t heard of Will Allen or his magical agricultural oasis in Milwaukee called Growing Power yet, you must not be paying attention to the sustainable urban agriculture movement. Oh wait, according to Will it’s not a movement, it’s now a revolution! My understanding of revolutions is that they are loud… can’t you hear the roar, the passion in Will’s voice?

We went to one of his Growing From the Ground Up weekend workshops a few weeks back. I just got around to uploading the pictures. Check ’em out!

Master Composter Certification

Soil is the basis of life on earth. Without its nutrients and hard-working microorganisms, plants would not grow, we would all quickly starve. In the city, we’ve got some pretty horrendous soil. Poisoned with petrochemicals and heavy metals, compacted, often just dead. Compost brings life back to the soil. I’m having a great time learning all about decomposition, soil organisms, and all of the challenges city composters put up with in the Master Composter training through the NYC Compost Project in Brooklyn (at the lovely Brooklyn Botanic Garden). I’ve met some really cool, passionate people in the class who all love to geek-out on all things compost.

Rich compost from the Lower East Side Ecology Center site

Fellow Master Composters dig in and get dirty

In the next few weeks, I’ll be working with a classmate on some fun compost-related projects in order to fulfill our community outreach hours. And then there’s the Masters of Succession presence at the Figment Festival happening in the middle of June. Learn more about that here.

The Work Office (TWO)

These days I’ve got compost on the brain. So I’ve poured this love for black gold into creative expression.

The Work Office (TWO) is a project put together by Katarina Jerenic (aka Katsie) and Naomi Miller that mimics the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) role in employing artists and other public workers around the time of the Great Depression. I worked for TWO last week in order to promote a new event – Compost Awareness Week – via mixed media poster made from upcycled and natural materials. You can visit the work at 156 William St (corner of Ann St) until next Thursday, May 20 (hours here).

Herbal Medicine Making

Wednesday nights are spent with Robin Rose Bennett at the Open Center making herbal tinctures, decoctions, and infusions. It’s a joy to make medicine with my own two hands while singing with my classmates and putting ‘good energy’ into our jars of botanical concoctions.

My growing herbal medicine collection

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

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