Jan 092011
 

January 14, Local Food Systems, Time:  from 6pm to 8pm
Location: YWCA Ballroom
Organized By: Jean Rogers

Event Description:
Bellingham Community Food Co-op: Dessert with the Directors Forum Looking ahead to 2020, how can we create a strong local food system?Free Event—Registration Required. Following up on our conversation about Peak Oil at the October Dessert with the Directors, the Board invites you to a discussion about the future of local food. What role should the Co-op play, and how does that fit into our long range strategic thinking?  What will meet your needs, as member owners, in the coming years? Sue Webber from the Sustainable Whatcom Fund of the Whatcom Community Foundation will start off the evening, sharing some of the new initiatives happening locally to strengthen our food system. While we explore the possibilities, we will enjoy a delicious array of desserts lined up by Swan Bakery manager Darcy McGuirk. The menu will highlight local and regional ingredients and suppliers, and includes vegan and gluten-free options. We’ll also have beverages, fruit and local cheese plates. To reserve your seat if you’re a Food Co-op member, call 360-734-8158 or stop by the service desk at either store. For info contact Jean at 360-734-8158 ext. 217 or email jeanr@communityfood.coop.

January 27-29 Horticulture Growers’ Short Course,  at the Abbotsford Airport in BC. Details and maps here. Click on the link on the upper right for a pdf copy of the brochure which shows all the courses available. The cost if one pre-registers is $67. Many interesting workshops such as “Innovative Berry Production in the Netherlands,” “Small Scale Wind,” and lots of stuff about blueberries and raspberries. Though it seems geared to production farmers there will something of interest for the gardener as well. Plus, you can walk around the Pacific Agriculture Show and kick tires on tractors and look at greenhouses and other neat ag stuff.

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Jan 072011
 

Apple Picking by Andrew Wyeth

Thurid Clark has suggested we undertake planting apple trees in common areas of Lummi Island and, as a first step, will approach the Heritage Trust about doing this at the Curry Preserve. Other locations that we might ask to host trees: the church, the Grange, the store, the county parking lot, the library, Salvation Army camp, the condos. This could be expanded to include other kinds of fruit trees as well as nut trees and is a project that is being carried out in dozens of locations around the world. These trees could provide a source of food for years to come.

I’m going to try and help Thurid with this effort and we will need lots of volunteers, especially folks with some tree growing experience, though certainly not required. And, because of the cost of tree planting (which I’ll explain below, we’ll be looking for financial help as well).

Totnes, UK, where the Transition Town Movement originated has planted 170 trees since 2007.   The Seattle, WA transition group has an active tree planting program. Auckland, NZ has an aggressive program. Tree planting is part of the overall food initiative of Transition Culture.

Typically, trees are planted in common areas and maintained by volunteers. In some places, each individual tree has a “guardian” assigned. Fruit and nut trees require quite a bit of care and attention. If vegetables are a romance, a fruit tree is a long term committed relationship.

Before planting our small personal orchard we took the workshops offered by Cloud Mountain Farm. Workshops are scheduled at Cloud Mountain again this winter and are very worthwhile:

Fruit Tree Workshops Date and Time
Growing Apples and Pears
We will discuss planting, growing techniques, and pruning of apples & pears. Techniques will be covered for pruning newly planted trees to renovating older trees you’ve inherited.
Feb. 5 • 10:30-Noon
Feb. 12 • 10:30-Noon
March 12 • 10:30-Noon

They have lots of other great workshops scheduled as well.

Because of the voracious deer on Lummi Island young fruit trees must be protected. Raccoons will also be a problem. There are no doubt inexpensive ways to fence the trees. We probably did it the most expensive way possible.  Serendipitously, while I was standing in front of the fencing at Lowe’s a couple winters ago a fellow walked up and told me exactly how to fence a fruit tree. At least he told me how he had been doing it for successfully for several years. He used 20′ of two by four inch wire fencing and four six foot metal stakes. The fencing is Zip tied to the  stakes and a twelve inch gap is left at the bottom so one can weed whack underneath. This keeps the deer off the trees but won’t keep raccoons or other critters from stealing your fruit.

I documented our experience in a series of posts on the blog I keep for myself on our garden. I experimented with this idea gleaned from Backwoods Home Magazine (over Linda’s objection) It didn’t work. Don’t try it. The deer finally got hungry enough to walk across the fencing and that tree (now fenced) is a good year behind the others.

You need to dig large holes.  It’s hard work by hand.
Make friends with someone with a back hoe.

We finally finished it up. Five of the trees failed to make it through the winter due to freezing at the nursery and Cloud Mountain replaced them. Had to dig out the holes and replant them.

Everyone seems to agree that these days semi-dwarf trees are the best choice. Easier to prune, care for and pick. But semi-dwarfs have a shallow root system and in our windy clime must be staked which adds to the cost. So, if you buy a tree, stake and fence it each tree requires a fairly significant investment and if we had a lofty goal of several hundred trees we would be looking for 1) donations and 2) ways to keep the cost down.

Cloud Mountain Farms offers a newsletter service for around $40 a year where they tell you month by month what you need to be doing to care for your trees.

More to come later on the Johnny Appleseed Project.

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Jan 052011
 

UPDATED below (Jan 14)

UPDATED below (Jan 27-29)

UPDATED below (Jan. 29)

Starting this month and throughout the year classes in a variety of subjects related to Transition will be offered by Cloud Mountain Farm, Inspiration Farm, The Community Food Co-op, Garden Spot Nursery, Bullock Brothers Farm and Ryan Drum. Let me know of any additional classes you are aware of and I will update this list periodically and post it. Check the websites linked above for details.

January

14th, Local Food Systems, Time:  from 6pm to 8pm
Location: YWCA Ballroom
Organized By: Jean Rogers

Event Description:
Bellingham Community Food Co-op: Dessert with the Directors Forum Looking ahead to 2020, how can we create a strong local food system?Free Event—Registration Required. Following up on our conversation about Peak Oil at the October Dessert with the Directors, the Board invites you to a discussion about the future of local food. What role should the Co-op play, and how does that fit into our long range strategic thinking?  What will meet your needs, as member owners, in the coming years? Sue Webber from the Sustainable Whatcom Fund of the Whatcom Community Foundation will start off the evening, sharing some of the new initiatives happening locally to strengthen our food system. While we explore the possibilities, we will enjoy a delicious array of desserts lined up by Swan Bakery manager Darcy McGuirk. The menu will highlight local and regional ingredients and suppliers, and includes vegan and gluten-free options. We’ll also have beverages, fruit and local cheese plates. To reserve your seat if you’re a Food Co-op member, call 360-734-8158 or stop by the service desk at either store. For info contact Jean at 360-734-8158 ext. 217 or email jeanr@communityfood.coop.

27-29  The Horticulture Grower’s Short Course at the Abbotsford Airport in BC. Details and maps here.

29th—Pruning 101: Basics of Tree Pruning. Garden Spot Nursery.
Before you start pruning, consider a bit of advice from an expert. Local certified arborist Paul Hans Thompson, owner of Arborea Consultants, will take you through the basics of pruning with detailed information on techniques for different trees and forms, including young and older trees.

29th Country Living Expo in Stanwood, WA at the high school

See details at http://skagit.wsu.edu/CountryLivingExpo/index.htm

February

5th—Growing Apples and Pears Cloud Mountain Farm 10:30am to noon (no charge)
We will discuss planting, growing techniques, and pruning of apples & pears. Techniques will be covered for pruning newly planted trees to renovating older trees you’ve inherited.

12th—The Berry Favorites in Landscape Design. Garden Spot Nursery
Marty McPhail, Lynden berry grower, shares tips for selecting the best blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Marty will discuss the ideal growing conditions, maintenance  and harvesting of these edibles. It is good to know where your food comes from, and their varied health benefits. Create room for two or three blueberry plants in your garden. Plant a barrel of strawberries. Line raspberries along your fence. Bring your berry questions. No class fee.

12th— Growing Apples and Pears Cloud Mountain Farm 10:30am to noon (no charge)
We will discuss planting, growing techniques, and pruning of apples & pears. Techniques will be covered for pruning newly planted trees to renovating older trees you’ve inherited.

12th—Growing Stone Fruits; Cherries, Peaches, & Plums  Cloud Mountain Farm 1:30pm to 3pm (no charge)
Growing cherries, plums, peaches and apricots can be rewarding and challenging in our maritime climate. We will discuss planting, growing techniques, and pruning of stone fruits

15th— Biodynamic Farming: From the Sublime to the Divine with Gigi Berardi, PhD Downtown Co-op  6:30-8:30 pm
$7 members, $8 non-members

19th—Designing and Planting an Edible Landscape Cloud Mountain Farm 10:30am to noon (no charge)
Integrating edibles and ornamentals can make a stunning and productive landscape. Come explore what’s possible in the realm of edibles. Selection, design and cultural practices will all be covered.

19th—Garden Spot Nursery. Starting Your Seeds Indoors 101:Learn the secrets from a Pro … our grower, Kim Swanson, will talk about lighting, soil, temperature, containers, and seed germination times. This class is free. Special discounts on all Territorial, Renee and Livingston
Seeds for this class.

20th- Fruitful Graft Gathering $10-$20 donation. Inspiration Farm
Fruit tree pruning season is upon us! As you prune, remember to save scion wood for the Great Graft Gathering! Bring your favorite Apple, Pear, Plum scion wood varieties from your neighborhood. Share with others and graft on root stock to start new trees! People will be on hand to demonstrate commonly used grafting techniques. You then can select scion wood and rootstock and graft your own tree to take home! Apple, pear and plum rootstock will be available for a nominal fee. Different scion wood varieties will be available to share.

26th—Growing Fruit: Espalier Cloud Mountain Farm 10:30am to noon (no charge)
If you’re considering creating a Belgian fence or growing Cherries trained to a fan, this is for you. Construction considerations, training, which plants work and those that don’t – all will be covered.

26th—Growing Grapes  Cloud Mountain Farm 1:30pm to 3pm (no charge)
We will discuss growing grapes in cool climates for wine and eating. Cultural practices including soil requirements, pruning techniques, pest management and harvesting will be covered. Workshop will take place in the vineyard.

27th-U-bar Building Workshop $145 limited to 6 people. Inspiration Farm . Build your own custom Broad fork out of recycled materials and then recycle your rototiller! Not a common tool in the US, though every gardener wants one. The U-bar is similar to a spading fork, but rather than turning the soil, it aerates down 10″ to 20” without mixing the soil strata, maintaining soil health and life force. Perfect for biointensive gardening. Long handles provide extraordinary leverage, allowing a person of average strength to loosen large areas with less time and effort it would take with a conventional fork. Using mostly recycled steel pipes and bar stock, you will build a U-bar specifically suited for you.

March

5th—Growing Small Fruits Cloud Mountain Farm 1:30pm to 3pm (no charge)
Northwest gardeners can grow an incredible variety of small fruits. This workshop will focus on blueberries, raspberry and blackberries, strawberries, and kiwis.

12th—Growing Apples and Pears Cloud Mountain Farm 10:30am to noon (no charge)
We will discuss planting, growing techniques, and pruning of apples & pears. Techniques will be covered for pruning newly planted trees to renovating older trees you’ve inherited.

12th—Growing Stone Fruits; Cherries, Peaches, & Plums  Cloud Mountain Farm 1:30pm to 3pm (no charge)
Growing cherries, plums, peaches and apricots can be rewarding and challenging in our maritime climate. We will discuss planting, growing techniques, and pruning of stone fruits

13th-Practical Permaculture Basics. $30 – $60 Inspiration Farm
A hands on approach to implementing some Permaculture principals. Zones, sectors, ethics, mapping, compost and guilds This fun information stacked day will provide practical ways to design your environment into an integrated system of abundance and productivity. Using design strategies we will explore ways of stacking elements within a system to be more productive and self regulating. The morning will be class presentations and discussion, the afternoon will be a site tour and hands on session working with guilds, sheet mulch, keyhole beds and integrated composting systems.

27th-Fruit Tree Food Forest & Permaculture Guild Plants $30 – $60 Inspiration Farm . Plant a garden and eat for a year, plant a Forest Garden and eat for decades! This hands on workshop will give you a strong understanding for designing, planting and orchestrating a perennial food forest. Northwest fruit and nut tree cultivars suited to our bioregion, guild plants that fertilize, attract pollinators and mulch, will be covered. By stacking the layers of systems one can imitate the productivity of a forest by capturing and storing available nutrients, water and sunlight. Once established it will continue to provide for most of its own needs, and produce food for you for decades!

April

3rd- Critters on the MOVE! Portable Animal Shelters $30 – $60 Inspiration Farm
Incorporate animals and let them do what they do best, weed, feed and fertilize. Sheep & Goat rotations, Duck box, Chicken tractors, Pigorators. Learn about different types of low cost housing and containment for a variety of critters. Integrated animal husbandry practices for small to medium sized herds and flocks. Work with rotations to better manage pests, parasites and manure distribution.

17th, 18th-Mind Body and Soil $100-165 Inspiration Farm. Healthy soils = Healthy people. Learn more about Soil, Compost, Biodynamics, Biochar, Worms and Teas. Just how do these all work together to create better soils that allow you to grow the most nutrient dense food possible. Soil is more then just dirt, it is a universe teaming with a diverse array of interconnected micro organisms working together to perform multiple functions. Learn how to support this community and in turn sequester carbon, build soil, grow healthy disease and drought resistant plants and eat from a more nutritious garden as a result.

30th—Garden Spot Nursery. ‘Make It And Take It’ Hanging Tomato. Get a jump on the season. Plant up a tomato in the (As Seen On TV) the Topsy Turvy Planter. Let it grow inside in a sunny window to be ready to place outside the third week of May. Workshop fee is $20.00 and includes the Topsy Turvy planter, plants and soil.

May

11th-Spring Fling a Seed Ball and Natural Orchards with Special Guest Larry Korn $10-$20 donation Inspiration Farm
Translator and editor of One Straw Revolution. Seed Balls are a method inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka (author of One Straw Revolution) for planting without tilling or planting in harsh environments. Bring seeds if you have them and we will make a variety of seed balls with the mixture of seeds on hand. Then in the afternoon we will walk around Inspiration Farm and talk about natural orchards, food forests the Fukuoka method and more.

15th-Scythes the Cutting Edge of Power Down $30 – $60 Inspiration Farm
Sell your weed wacker and pick up a scythe! Learn the sharper points of this elegant tool. Scythes are thought to be old school, but better blades and set up ergonomic for your body makes it one of the most efficient tools out there. Learn what makes a good scythe, where to get one and how to properly maintain and use it.

20th -22nd Introduction to Permaculture Weekend Workshop At the Bullock’s 30 year old Permaculture Homestead, Orcas Island, WA
Tour, lecture, hand-on projects, presentations, group discussion, and networking. We will cover Permaculture design theory & practice, forest gardening, perennial food systems, plant propagation, efficient water & energy systems, fertility management – beneficial plants/healthy soils, and ecological systems as a model for human communities.
Course Tuition: $200; includes delicious, mostly organic meals & materials. Camping space is provided. Payment is due upon course registration. Course is limited to 50 participants.

29th- Biodynamics Demystified $30 – $60  Inspiration Farm
Applied Basic Biodynamics, Cosmic planting by the calender, using Biodynamic sprays and teas, making Biodynamic compost, bringing the land back into balance. These practices increase vitality and vigor, reduce pests and disease while you Inoculate the land with love and intention.

Continue reading »

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Jan 042011
 

Guest post by Mike Skehan

I find it amusing the financial pundits are all over the Facebook/Goldman Sachs story this week.  It’s like the train is leaving the station, and you’re left sitting on the platform.
Now where have I heard that before?  It seems to me that phrase popped up during one of several housing bubbles I’ve lived through, a dot-com bust, and a financial collapse rivaling the great depression.

Paying so much for a piece of Facebook, they say is worth 50 Bil. is somewhere south of insanity.  A seven year old company, with sales of 2 Bil, and maybe net profit of say 20% would be suggest of value around 8 Bil using a typical ratio of 20:1 (value:annual profit).  And that’s on the high end!

So what’s so leading edge about Facebook that Goldman want in?  “It’s the next big thing.”   “Everyone’s doing it.”   “Board the train at any price or be left out.”   “Start another financial stampede” (oh, I like that last one).  Facebook is a social network, connecting a younger generation with everyone else that cares to be connected.  Soon, they will branch out into other electronic transactions, like Google is doing, and the rest of the wanna-be’s.

So all this importance attached to a PED (Personal Electronic Device).

Can it provide any warmth for you on a cold winter night?  Can it light your house in the dark?  How many calories can it provide if you ate one?  How fast will it travel down Nugent if you hop on it? Well, you get the idea, without me beating you over the head with it.  By the way, they’re lousy clubs for defense.

So, if the cell towers shut down, or your Facebook friends are too busy scrounging for something to eat or burn to text you back, or any number of other scenarios occur, then people’s faith in the unlimited growth in the iPod business is shattered – End of Bubble.
Frankly, I prefer sitting at the station, knitting a sweater, when the train plunges over the cliff with a bunch of investors on it.

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Jan 032011
 

“The recently-passed “Food Safety Modernization Act” essentially hands over control of the nation’s food supply to the FDA. The legislation gives the agency free reign to mandate food recalls at will and require even small producers to jump through burdensome regulatory hoops in order to buy and sell their goods. The entire scheme has nothing to do with food safety and everything to do with giving the FDA more control over the food supply.”

Learn more:

The Vermont Coalition for Food Sovereignty is encouraging concerned citizens to review the resolution and encourage their local and state politicians to co-sponsor it, both in Vermont and in other states.

WHEREAS All people are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and
 
WHEREAS Food is human sustenance and is the fundamental prerequisite to life; and

WHEREAS The basis of human sustenance rests on the ability of all people to save seed, grow, process, consume and exchange food and farm products; and
 
WHEREAS We the People of Vermont, have an obligation to protect these rights as is the Common and Natural Law; and in recognition of the State’s proud agricultural heritage; and the necessity of agricultural, ecological and economic diversity and sustainability to a free and healthy Society;
 
THEREFORE, Be it resolved, that We The People, stand on our rights under the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution and reject such Federal decrees, statutes, regulations or corporate practices that threaten our basic human right to save seed, grow, process, consume and exchange food and farm products within the State of Vermont; and,

Be it further resolved, that We The People, shall resist any and all infringements upon these rights, from whatever sources that are contrary to the rights of the People of the State of Vermont.

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Jan 012011
 

For the last couple of days I’ve been studying the website of Factor E Farm and Open Source Ecology trying to really understand what this group of young visionaries is trying to accomplish.

Their goal is breathtaking in concept. They are trying to design the basic machinery required by a small community to operate in a sustainable way with a certain degree of modern comfort. The following two minute video provides a quick overview of what this project is about:

Marcin Jakubowski  is the leader and visionary behind this effort and was recently named a TED Fellow.

They are also a finalist in Make Magazine’s Green Project contest.

Open Source Ecology is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that for the last 4 years has been creating the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), an open source, low-cost, high performance technological platform that allows for the easy, Do It Yourself (DYI) fabrication of the 40 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a sustainable civilization with modern comforts. The GVCS lowers the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing and can be seen as a life-size lego-like set of modular tools that can create entire economies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, the mountains of Oregon, or in the heart of Africa.

Key Features of the GVCS:
Open Source – we freely publish our 3d designs, schematics, instructional videos, budgets, and product manuals on our open source wiki and we harness open collaboration with technical contributors.

Low-Cost – The cost of making or buying our machines are, on average, 8x cheaper than buying from an

Industrial Manufacturer, including an average labor cost of $15 hour for a GVCS fabricator.

High Performance – Performance standards must match or exceed those of industrial counterparts for the GVCS to be viable.

Flexible Fabrication – It has been demonstrated that the flexible use of generalized machinery in appropriate-scale production is a viable alternative to centralized production.

Distributive Economics – We encourage the replication of enterprises that derive from the GVCS platform as a route to truly free enterprise – along the ideals of Jeffersonian democracy.

Industrial Efficiency – In order to provide a viable choice for a resilient lifestyle, the GVCS platform matches or exceeds productivity standards of industrial counterparts.

Modular – Motors, parts, assemblies, and power units can interchange, where units can grouped together to diversify the functionality that is achievable from a small set of units.

User-Serviceable – 
Design-for-disassembly allows the user to take apart, maintain, and fix tools readily without the need to rely on expensive repairmen.

DIY – The user gains control of designing, producing, and modifying the GVCS tool set.

Closed Loop Manufacturing – Metal is an essential component of advanced civilization, and our platform allows for recycling metal into virgin feedstock for producing further GVCS technologies – thereby allowing for cradle-to-cradle manufacturing cycles

This is a project worth following and supporting.

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