Posts Tagged ‘organic gardening’

I just read this on a blog I just started following!! This is an AMAZING commercial! All my feelings on the farming industry summed up in 2 minutes. Check it out!! Back to the Start –

Back to the Start

Two Barn Farm

I’m not one to post back-to-back entries, I’m usually good for one a week but if you didn’t see the new ad for Chiptotle, take a couple of minutes and watch it. This is Chipotle’s first tv ad and wow! They nailed it, amazing. Smart campaign to target a “Back to Basics” farming approach in this short animated commercial featuring Willie Nelson covering Coldplay…


It reminds me of Pixar’s “Up” when they were able to convey so much emotion in the first ten minutes (when she was unable to have children) completely through nonverbal means. I’m not saying go to Chipotle’s (owned by McDonald’s) but I am saying what they made here is gold and will hopefully force change in the industrial agricultural factory farming community.

Baby steps, right?

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A single week's fruits and vegetables from com...

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As I prepare my last batch of hot pepper jam for this season and plot out the holiday baking madness for the upcoming season I am also preparing to put our garden down for an extended rest.   That’s right, for Garden Season 2012 we will not be planting anything in our garden plot.   Does that mean this Farmgirl has given up only 3 years and 6 chickens in?  On the contrary,  this Farmgirl has been inspired by a great book that I picked up at my local Tractor Supply  The Backyard Homestead:

This book is a must have desk reference for anyone who wants to start a backyard homestead or begin to dabble in producing  their own food from scratch.    Upon purchasing this book I had some AHA moments about  being a bonified urban homesteader.    I have not mastered anything mind you (as clearly illustrated by this year’s less than bumper crop of carrots and beets),  but I do feel that I have a good handle on growing vegetables in a garden.    So 2012 our goal is to make our yard a well-rounded food bearing garden retreat.   We would like to add apple trees and perhaps some pear trees.  We would like to clear out the random and useless rock garden next to our pool and create a blueberry patch.   We would like to plot out a location for  raised strawberry and raspberry beds.   Perhaps a deck and real live fireplace and/or bread oven.   Perhaps a door yard full of berries and nuts.  Boxed herbs and of course a handful of containers loaded with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  Oh and maybe, just maybe we might actually get that compost system set up that we have been threatening to put into operation for 3 years now.

So,  you ask what will these homesteaders do for fresh and local produce next year?   Well, we will start by getting a full share in our CSA, Maplewood  Organics.   My final calculation after this last pick up of what we received for this season was nearly $350 of organic potatoes, peppers, onions (which, I might add, organic onions were going for $2 a lb. today at the grocery store) brussel sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes, fresh-cut flours, swiss chard, kale, radishes, lettuce, green beans and more.  Given that, I am super excited to see what a full share will garner us.  Of course there is always our local farmers markets and farm stands where buying in bulk is encouraged.  Having  just filled my belly with Gluten Free Lasagna made with delicious homemade tomato sauce, we will make sure to do whatever it takes to get our hands on fresh tomatoes.  So. long story not so short, we will do what our ancestors have always done and give our garden plot a rest after what can only be described as a “challenging” season for growers across the nation.    We will fill it with winter rye,  and host a potato sack race over the top of it for leap year in July!!!  We will build the backyard homestead/haven of our dream and in 2013 recreate the veggie magic of old.   And by then, ideally, I will be picking my first apples from our own tree, making my own soap, jewelry and clothes (try to contain your envy) and munching on homemade yogurt and string cheese.   At the end of the day, homesteading is an attitude and a lifestyle.  Gardening is a huge part of that, but anyone can grow a vegetable, a true homesteader grows and decorates an entire buffet.

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There is nothing quite as magical as going to an open air market on a beautiful day. Whether you are in Africa or Hometown USA, the overall feeling is still the same: COMMUNITY. Where else can you go with $15 in your pocket and leave with $30 worth of produce and kettle corn? Even here in my hometown, which could stand to amp up it’s farmer’s market a scootch, the market has an amazing feeling of warmth and highlights all the wonderful things our town has to offer. In two hours I tasted honey, smelled kettle corn and chit chatted with a local farmer about his growing methods while negotiating a salsa/dilly bean trade with my friend and neighbor. I learned a little about soap making (one of my next big homesteading endeavors) and I learned that a local crafter makes these amazing fleece backpack blankets, perfect for even the coolest of preschoolers. This is not the same experience you get a big grocery store. Upon stopping at our local grocery store my farmer’s market perusing com-padre and I reveled in our fresh and frugal successes when compared with store prices. For example: I got nearly 6 pounds of zucchini for $1.00. At our grocery store, $1.49 per pound for not so fresh or delicious looking zucchinis. You do the math. Beyond the joy of the market experience there is also a certain thrill for every aspiring homesteader and/or culinary artist of drawing inspiration from the bounty you have gathered whether from the market or your own garden:

Creative inspiration

When I look at all of that delicious, fresh, vegetable goodness on my table I see not only zucchini, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, hot peppers, green beans and apples, but I see salsa for a Mexican fiesta in January and zucchini bread on a cool fall morning. I see a pasta dinner with no noodles and a green bean casserole (that is my favorite GF Recipe) on Thanksgiving morning. I see money that I will not have to spend and meals filled with fresh, delicious and local ingredients. In fact, I was inspired to make an entirely local dinner on Saturday night that featured vegetables from my stores not even shown here. It included carrots, beets, pork, honey, maple syrup and cabbage. Every bit of it produced within 30 miles of my house. Without getting on a soap box about eating local, I can tell you that there is nothing quite so tasty as a vegetable grown in your backyard or just down the road. When you put your food on the plate and it is composed of whole and delicious foods there is a sense of pride and accomplishment and a feeling that you are providing your family with a healthy meal packed with nutrients.

Spicy Glazed Pork Chops, Sauteed Red Cabbage and Roasted Root Vegetables

So the moral of the this story? Whether you are into the localvore movement or growing your own food or not, a visit to your local farmer’s market is always worth the trip and you never know what kind of practical magic it might inspire.

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Today was a good day for our homestead kitchen. Not only was it CSA day (in which we got almost $35 worth of organic produce including broccoli, beans, beets, squash, kale, chard, onions, garlic and cucumbers) but we got enough tomatoes to make a batch of sauce. This year I decided that I had no time to meticulously seed and skin my tomatoes. This has been a super busy and hot summer for us so I did what any good modern day homesteader would do, and Googled it. I found Kalyn’s Kitchen She recommends making the tomato purée in your food processor. What a novel and brilliant idea. So this evening I chopped my carrots, onions, and garlic and sweated them in the sauce pan while I pureed my tomatoes; skins, seeds and all. Add some mushrooms, chopped garden herbs, turkey burger or chopped portabellas, and some gluten free pasta and you have a magical and uber-fresh weeknight dinner. So purée on and enjoy the tastes of the season!!


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We have chickens.  We live in what by Vermont standards is considered an “urban” area.   We have less than 1 acre of land, yet we still have chickens.   It seems almost like an urban legend, but in reality 1 in 3 families raised livestock prior to WWII, regardless of their location.   In the grand scheme of history, WWII was not that long ago.   Everyone knows at least one person who was alive during that time.   Like so many practices of old, urban livestock went the way of the DoDo with industrialization and suburban sprawl.   Why raise a chicken when I could go to my neighborhood grocery store and get one all cleaned and ready to cook and serve?  Why spend a morning collecting eggs when I can pick a dozen up on my way home from work? These are valid questions that I ask myself daily, because, raising backyard chicken’s can be a challenge, but they are worth every minute.  In today’s post I would like to address some of the myths/questions surrounding raising the urban chicken:

1. You cannot have chickens in the middle of a city.  That may not be true.   Take a look at the Backyard Chicken Forum and see what the ordinances are in your state/city.  And yes, there is a Backyard Chicken Forum.  This is the 21st Century, even chickens have an online forum.

2. You need to buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment.  Absolutely not true.  We spent a total of $450 dollars to build a coop, actually purchase the chickens and get heat lamps and feeders.  We brooded our chickens in the old dog crate in the basement.    My husband built the coop from scratch.   In truth, they were pretty easy to raise.

3. Do you really have to clean poop off the chick’s butts? Yes you do.  There really is no way to church that up, other than to tell you that gently washing chicks’ butts with your significant other is truly a bonding experience.  Please note, you should never pull the poop off.   You will definitely take feathers and may even get some intestine.  Pouring warm water over the dried on poop and gently massaging it does the trick.  If you don’t clean the poop the chicks could get really sick and a sick chick becomes a target of his/her brooder mates.  Now that I own chickens I truly understand the meaning of “hen pecked”.   Long story short: Clean the poop.

4. How do I know what breed of chicken to get? Well I would love to tell you that we did  A LOT of research before we pulled the trigger on owning chickens.  I would love to, but I cannot.  We woke up on a Saturday morning, drove to our local Tractor Supply and researched our chickens by using the little signs on the outside of their display.   The Black Australorp said it was a good layer, good for meat and didn’t mind living in a small space.  Free Range chickens might be a bit much for our neighboors.   Next thing we knew we had 6 girlies in our basement chirping the day away. The moral of the story:  figure out what you want them for, than if you must do some Googleing or visit your local extension, Co-Op or Hardware store.   Let experts help you pick the right chicken for your situation.

5. What on earth to chicken’s eat? Again, check out the Web for some great advice.  Our girlies eat grass, antibiotic free feed, grit, oyster shell and garden greens and bugs.  I think they will start to eat things like oatmeal and other leftovers once the cold weather sets in.  Don’t feed them eggs or chicken, it just seems wrong.   Definitely visit the Backyard Chicken Forum or pick up a Backyard Chicken Magazine.  Both locations have lot’s of amazing tips and tricks.   I will post more sites on here as I continue to do my own research on backyard livestocking.


6.  What do we do with them in the winter?  I don’t know.  I will get back to you in a couple of months with what we do.


So when all is said in done, if you are interested in having your own fresh eggs, a little feathered entertainment and just a fun overall summer project but live in a less than rural setting, don’t give up hope.  The legend of the Urban Chicken can become a reality in your backyard just like it has in ours.



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