After another disappointing day of homestead hunting last Saturday I headed over to Mountain Farm for the kind of consolation only a dreamy twenty-four acre lavender, blueberry and dairy goat farm on a mountaintop can give.Read More
Last Saturday we visited the Yancey County Farmers Market. Our new rental house sits right between two weekly markets, this one in Burnsville and the other in Spruce Pine, NC. You may notice it’s been a long while since I posted to the blog and that I’m posting today from a new place! We have moved back “home” to NC after eight wonderful years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Let me say that preparing to move, moving, setting up a temporary abode from which to hunt for our next homestead…it will eat your life! But now that we’ve settled in enough to locate dishes and clean socks, the next task is finding local food!
After a few years of eating primarily from our own garden and from the fields and pastures of the local growers of Fayetteville, we are completely spoiled to the tastes and experience of it and eating from the grocery (even the organic one) or take-out on a regular basis just doesn’t feel as satisfying.
Not to mention that in the weeks prior to moving and during the process we ate more packaged foods than in the last few years combined with the exception of meals brought by during those crazy day by kind friends!
Note to self: If you hear any friend, family or neighbor is in the process of moving and you bring them over a meal of any kind, you will be forever remembered with great fondness!
Once we were back in front of tables piled with fresh food, things start to feel normal-ish again. Including noting that by arriving in the last hour of the market, we almost missed some tasty favorites that sold out earlier! But we snagged some sugar-snaps, kale, collards, homemade mustard (yum!!), pork, grass-fed beef, candy-roaster squash bread (like pumpkin bread)….as well as some shortbread biscuits and cheddar scones that, um, never made it to the house.
I loved the shopping totes made from feed bags and picked up a “hillbilly” wine bottle tote made from the same. The prices couldn’t be beat! I am looking forward to being a regular at this market. Hope you enjoyed these iphone snapshots and hope to see you here at the blog again as I post more regularly…lord willing and the creek don’t rise!
—A Larrapin Garden…currently in search of a new home in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina. My posts on this blog may be boom or bust depending on the season, but if you subscribe here you’ll get one weekly email—usually on Wednesdays—to let you know what’s new. You are also invited to get garden related miscellany and recipes at the brand new Facebook page or on Twitter.
Yesterday afternoon I was pulling some weeds out of a few garden beds that I didn’t cover with chopped leaves or cover crop last fall. The cover-cropped and leaf covered beds are beautifully weed free and will be easy to plant when I’m ready.
Easy is a good thing since I’ve been happily buried in preparing for Dig In! Fayetteville’s First Food & Farming Filmfest. I’m working with two wonderful local farm gals to bring foodie and locavore films to NWA. These films have been popular and won many awards in film festivals around the country. Several will be shown for the first time in Arkansas. The films are selected to inspire and empower us all—in a positive and encouraging way—to go local and organic. You can read about what we’ll be watching and watch film trailers here at OzarksAlive.org.
But back out in the garden… The uncovered beds have weeds, mostly henbit and chickweed. Note that foreshadowing… I actually don’t mind pulling the clumps up. In the soft raised-beds it’s very easy to do AND it’s so much darned fun using the weeds in the manner explored in the video below! But I also know that those exposed beds were also exposed to rain and weather, which compacts the soil….and those exposed, uncovered beds are much less kind the to soil microorganisms which make veggies grow so much better. So winter cover crops are my new best friend now that I’ve seen the incredibly crumbly soil underneath them.
When I do have weeds, this video shows what I do with them. I also chat a bit about chickens in your garden. Enjoy!
—A Larrapin Garden www.larrapin.us
Posts most wednesdays & weekends. Don’t miss any—you can subscribe by Email here. You can also get bonus links and recipes by “liking” our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/larrapin.garden. Geesh, we’re even on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LarrapinGarden. A special shout-out of gratitude to NWAMotherlode.com and OzarksUnbound for helping us spread the word about the Dig In! Filmfest!
Northwest Arkansas is preparing for another ice storm nearly to the day of the anniversary of the catastrophic ice storm we had in 2009. It’s predicted to be much less severe though, and that’s an anxiety-ridden comfort. Such is our fate I guess now that the rain/ice/snow boundaries of the country have shifted a bit north. I recall with irony my first drive through southern Missouri a few years back thinking, “what on earth happened to so many of their forests with the tops snapped off the trees? Gosh, sure am glad our trees don’t look like that….” Now my backyard and much of the region has looked like that for the last year…
On the comedic side of things, I went to Wal-Mart last evening to add to our stash of emergency candles, like about two billion other locals decided to do at the same time. Nothing like the reaction to a predicted snow/ice event in the South. I love it, being a Southerner. It has kind of a crazy emergency-holiday feel to it. When I lived in places where snow/ice was “normal” I found it such a downer that no one was dashing out to strip the shelves of bread and milk…and emergency candles. (And, um, Beer!) But they were yesterday!!
As I walked toward the store, people pushing huge baskets motioned to the storefront and said things like, “Hope you are ready for that!” and “You’re gonna wish you brought your waitin’ boots!” Clever wordsmith. Somehow, this all puts me in a festive mood. Like the school aged Southern thrill when YOUR school is named on the closures list on the radio just because some road dozens of miles from you has an icy patch. It’s all still a thrill to me. Go figure.
I had a great time though they were already sold out of emergency candles. The retail maestros had emergency supplies lined up along the center row: deicer, snow shovels, propane, generators…sleds… You would have thought an ice-Katrina was headed our way and life as we knew it could end shortly. Which I guess is always true… But I did pick up a few little camping propane bottles for the cookstove, just in case. Nothing like being without power for seven days this time last year to put a little wintry-mix PTSD in your day, festive mood or not!
But I digress, I’m here to share some of my favorite dirty movies of late: “Fresh,” “Food, Inc.” and “Dirt.” (Yes, Dirt is already a favorite even though I haven’t seen it yet!) Enjoy the links below!
Fresh, The Movie (freshthemovie.com)
I got to see this night before last. It’s both thought provoking and uplifting too as it features interviews with farmers ranging from industrial to conventional to ecological. Calvin Bey moderated our local screening and suggested that we notice the affect (aka the “vibe”) from the various people interviewed. That was a pretty remarkable exercise and sure affirmed the “do what you love” principle of life. A good intro to food issues with a nice balance of hope and portraits of uplifting trends in the midst of our industrialized food system. Don’t miss this film!
Dirt: The Movie
This is the one I haven’t seen yet. But it’s got a lot of my favorite farmers in it AND it celebrates my favorite thing on the farm: soil. (I couldn’t resist the jazzy title of this post, but I have been corrected by teacher-farmers in the past to never confuse the two and never treat your soil ‘like dirt.’ Wise words!)
Food, Inc. (http://www.foodincmovie.com/)
This one is tough. It shows you what’s really at stake when we make food choices. But strong medicine has indeed helped me make better food buying choices because the pain in my wallet to buy what I call “ethical meat” does not compare to the suffering of the animals in the industrial food system. And I want to lessen my contribution to that system, and that suffering.
So check out some food and sustainable-agriculture films, get educated and get gardening! Nothing like dirty movies the whole family can sit down and watch! Here’s to envisioning a lovely snow instead of ice for NWA. Stay warm! Please leave a comment via the link below and let me know what you think of the movies.Read More
Welcome to the first podcast at A Larrapin Garden. Wow, this stuff is fun. If you scroll down to the bottom of this post you’ll see an audio player. Click the arrow and you can listen now, or click the download link to download the file and listen whenever you want. (If you are reading this via an email subscription, I think you’ll have to go to the Larrapin Blog Site to listen.)
My first Fayetteville gardening teacher, Dr. Calvin Bey of Harmony Gardens, agreed to a chat on getting ready to start gardening this spring. Calvin is an amazing organic and ecological gardener who approaches the process in a systematic, experimental process that befits his background as a scientist. Calvin’s garden is about 2000 square feet, he tells me, and he regularly gets 2000 pounds of produce a year from our NWA growing season that runs from mid-April to late October.
But that 2000 pounds is not “ordinary” organic produce. Calvin’s focus is “nutrient-dense” produce, grown in re-mineralized soil so that the produce will contain the maximum nutrition.
Turns out you can measure the nutritional quality of a vegetable with a special gadget, and of course Calvin has one! But the results can be startling. Even the loveliest-looking, organically grown vegetable can be lacking in the nutrition we all believe is in there. It all depends on the soil. And don’t get me started on the nutrient content of typical store-bought conventional produce. (Ok, can’t help it: One study I read suggested we’d have to eat about 3-5 times the portions of modern vegetables to really get the vitamins and minerals supposedly contained in one portion. The quality of most commercial-farm soils—which is where the veggies get the nutrition to pass on to us— has diminished to that point.)
Besides human health, other side effects of nutrient-dense produce include increased productivity from the plants as well as increased shelf-life and disease/bug resistance. When you ask Calvin how he handles many common diseases and insect attacks in his garden, he will often shrug and smile. He doesn’t have them!
It all goes back to the soil. Well, doesn’t everything. Literally.
If you are into veggie gardening and willing to expand your mind (and understanding of soil) exponentially, I would heartily encourage you to take one of Calvin’s Saturday classes. He’s offering several of the one-day courses this Spring. (See http://harmonygardens.blogspot.com/ for info and signup.) You’ll learn enough in one class to keep you exploring for the next several years, or lifetimes. Plus, best of all, you get to see Calvin’s lovely garden and smart home. But you’ll see the real treasure when you push back a little mulch and take a look at that soil. (Guests are asked to refrain from the temptation of bringing shovels and buckets!)
Click the player below to listen to a 23 minute interview with Calvin, or download to listen at your convenience. (10mb mp3 file)
Thanks for stopping by Larrapin! Let me know what you think of the new audio feature!Read More