Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

September 30, 2010

Some quick photos...

Don't quite have time to write much detail, but thought you might enjoy a few pics from the Fair.

Being a Mother Earth News event, there were of course animals...

I was particularly interested in the wood fired oven demo that was there.

There was also a variety of alternative power generation devices from Wind...

To pedal...

there was a monster wind generator...

and even a wood burning car...

Not quite sure I'm ready to stoke up a fire in the old sedan yet, but It was great to see the out of the box thinking.

Ever more to come...

September 29, 2010

Gary Nabhan on Food Traditions

One of the Keynote speakers during the Mother Earth News Fair last week in PA, is a pioneer in the effort to restore the Food Traditions in America, an ecologist, ethnobotanist, farmer and author Gary Nabhan. He was one of the speakers that I was really looking forward to having the chance to hear more from. I wasn't disappointed. I had first heard Mr Nabhan speak on my local NPR radio show. I was really impressed. He's been working for decades now to bring attention to the foods that we ate for centuries prior to our "Green" Revolution in a hope that we can bring some of those foods back from the precipice of extinction and begin to re-localize our food stream.

It's known from history, that food scarcity and/or high prices can cause chaos and food riots. It may be something that we generally associate with the "third world" countries, but it's really something that we are every bit as susceptible to as well. In this time that we are living in, with the possibility of dramatic economic and climatic change looming, it is greatly in our best interest to work to learn about and work to restore our local food traditions.

What do I mean by that? Well, local food traditions are kind of like local holiday traditions. Just like people living in Minnesota may go out building snowmen or something and people in Florida may put lights on their boats and cruise the harbour, so too will people in Maine perhaps enjoy some chestnuts roasted over an open fire while in San Diego they may have fish taco's on the beach. All things are perhaps possible in both locations, but I think it would require some serious inputs in the form of heat in Maine to sit around any beach, as well as some serious inputs of gasoline miles in order to get chestnuts to San Diego. The food traditions of our localities may have some items in common, but in many cases they have far more differences. Embracing those traditions will help us to become familiar with foods that are easily produced, with the least inputs, locally to where we consume them.

If we accept, and I know that this is a topic for an entirely separate conversation, but if we accept that at some point in the future we will either have used up or seriously depleted our allotted reserves of oil, then we have to accept that local food will be the only food we will be able to get too. That condition being accepted, we then have to think of the types of food that we will be able to produce in that location with the least amount of inputs in the form of pesticides and fertilizers. (You do know that those two key components of the green revolution are based almost exclusively on oil to produce them right?) The logical choice to turn to will be the foods that were naturally selected over thousands of years of evolution to grow and produce in those conditions. And therein lies our dilemma.

Because our climate is changing, and whether you want to believe that that's because of the natural cycles of the earth or because we are changing it by our behavior, it is changing and some of our local foods will no longer be able to survive. These valuable genetic antiques of our culinary past will be gone. Compound that by the fact that industrial agriculture is selecting only a very very selectively small cross-section of the available foods to focus on and is slowly helping the antique and heirloom varieties to disappear and you will understand why it is so imperative that we learn to grow, eat and sustain these local foods. I think the best reason to preserve these varieties is because most times they taste far superior. They may not have been selected for shelf life or shippability, but their flavor is amazing.

To sustain ourselves in the future we will need to rely on the biological wisdom that has evolved over the millennium. To preserve that biological wisdom, we will need to cultivate and maintain our cultural wisdom. The most important thing is to buy, grow and eat these items though. As Poppy Tooker from Lousianna has said, we must "Eat it to Save it!". Meaning that if we don't buy these local foods and support our local food traditions, then they will be selected out.

So, what can you do?
• Check into RAFT (Renewing Americas Food Traditions) and see what you can do to spread the word and to practice in your own home.

• Know where your food comes from.

• Participate in heirloom seed and scion wood exchanges in order to propagate the species.

• Talk, share and bring attention to this issue with folks you know.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am lecturing myself here as much as I am to anyone else. I've been much better at this in the past, but have been terrible at it lately. How about we all try just a little harder so we can all have more to share in the future.

Till Next time...

September 28, 2010

Mother Earth News Fair recap

What a great weekend... In case you didn't know, I've been out in Pennsylvania for the weekend at the inaugural Mother Earth News Fair. It was fantastic.

So many things stood out over the weekend that I found myself hard pressed to single out a particular part that impressed me most. The speakers and presenters were knowledgeable and informative, the product vendors - but for perhaps a few - were relative to the overall "theme" of the fair, the organization - particularly for an inaugural event - was exceptional and the venue itself left little to complain about shy of it's sheer "three dimensionality", as I heard it so aptly put.

To put truth to paper there was, at lease in my opinion of it, no single stand out part of the event. Nor, was it merely the event as a whole that was the standout.For instance, imagine you went to a symphony performance. Imagine it was Beethoven's 5th, an incredibly powerful and moving piece no doubt, but that it was just you in the hall to hear it. Beautiful as the music would be, and as much as you may love to hear it, it would ring sort of hollow wouldn't it? There's an intangible quality that comes about when people, passionate about a thing, get together to share in that thing. That passion adds, I think, an entirely new dimension to the event in question. It was that x-factor, that passion and shared purpose, that filled me the whole time I was there. At any junction of the day be it standing in line for a class, sitting down to write a few lines or catching some air after the live music Saturday night, the opportunity to sit and connect on a very personal level with a perfect stranger was more than available, it was unavoidable!

I was moved by the fiery man from Detroit who is fighting to change the zoning laws in the "food deserts" of the inner city. He wants to farm, not garden but actually farm, the vacant lots and abandoned land that's been made available by the auto-industry collapse and economic decline. His passion was incredible.

I enjoyed brainstorming with a young lady who, with her partner, wants to find a way to put themselves on a piece of land of their own. They've been working on an organic farm for that last year or so, so they have experience, enthusiasm and some great ideas but were getting a bit discouraged. I hope they were able to come away as energized as I was.

There were too many individual interactions to list them, but I hope I've made my point. As Bryan Welch, Editor and Editorial Director of Mother Earth News, said in his closing key note address, we are at an amazing point in our history. I could not agree more. We are indeed at an amazing time and seem to be more focused on that future that we desire more clearly than at any other time in history. I am so excited to truly feel like I am in some small way a part of it.

Finally, I'd like to extend a thank you to the Mother Earth News staffers who worked so hard to make this such an enjoyable event, as well as to the presenters for sharing their knowledge and time and for being so approachable as well.

Now, where's my calendar... I need to find out the dates for the next fair and mark them off as occupied.

Hope to see you at the next one.

September 26, 2010

Starting Day Two

Day one ended up being as fantastic as it started. The classes I sat in on were really really good, perhaps a bit abbreviated for the liking of some of the presenters, they are of course very passionate about what the speak of, but very informative nonetheless. Then after a day of cramming my brain with great info, I got to enjoy a couple of bands playing folk and bluegrass (some of my favorite music by the way) while I ate my dinner. It was a great day!

I'll give you all more information in more detail later, but so far I've been able to get into a class on peak oil and the things we can do to both mitigate the damage and prepare ourselves and our homes to deal with it, should it come to that. I had a chance to sit down and have a great talk with the presenter, Matthew Stein, and found he was a very nice guy with a lot of good information and ideas.

I was also able to get in and listen to a phenomenal keynote talk from Gary Paul Nabhan, whom I'd really looked forward to hearing here, and also found him to be a very approachable and genuinely concerned man. He's doing great work on the local food and restoration of food traditions front and listening to him I really got the sense of passion about what he's doing.

In addition to that I caught a couple of cool demos and presentations, for instance on building a geodesic dome greenhouse and part of one on biochar, and look forward to more today.

I was also given an opportunity to meet with a number of authors and a couple of radio personalities in the sustainable and "green" fields at a publishers reception that evening and met even more wonderful people, with whom I hope to work with in some capacity in the future.

There's much more to do, so I'm going to head out to do it, I'll make sure to get lot's of good info for you all and will write more later. If you just can't wait to find out more, check out Mother Earth News' fair blog for updates throughout the day.

Take care all

September 25, 2010

Going to the Fair

After an exhaustive trip across the country, I am finally enjoying the beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside and the sites and sounds of the first ever Mother Earth News Fair.

I woke up this morning and sat in an old wicker rocker on the porch of the dairy where I'm spending the weekend. As I drank a fresh cup of coffee, I watched the cattle lolling about in the fields just beyond the creek and behind the changing leaves of the hardwood trees. They were happy, or seemed to be in a very cowlike way, and free to roam as they pleased. This is what farming in America is supposed to be like. This is what farming in America USED to be like until we made it not.

After a home cooked farm breakfast, I headed off to the fair. Passing down the beautiful narrow tree lined road, passing by small farms and large, I realized the wisdom in coming to this beautiful, albeit somewhat remote, locale to host this event. This is a lot of what will be talked about, small family farms, community and finding ways to make them work in our new economy.

I'm a little over a half way through the first day now, but it's been wonderful. I've had the opportunity to listen to a number of very interesting presenters, have spoken with a couple of remarkable guys, and have seen a bunch of great products and services at the vendor displays.

Looking forward to more...


September 14, 2010

For all my troubles....

At least there are still the simple pleasures.

Like a basket (Or three) of fresh tomatoes and peppers and such from our backyard. By the way, that's a 3/4 lb tomato sitting there... 12 oz! Not too shabby...

This year has not been our most productive, nor our least frustrating (Did I mention that we had yet ANOTHER broken bone on second boy, and then the third one, C~, has been in and out of the Dr. with some frustratingly elusive mystery ailment that causes lethargy, 101+ fevers and head & belly aches???) but to still be able to walk out back, harvest fresh food and enjoy it...
Well, I guess when all else fails you, you relish in the simple things.
Be well all!

September 8, 2010

Going to Mother Earths Fair

Hi all! Just thought I'd drop you all all a little news bulletin about some big "outta town" type news.

I don't know how many out there read Mother Earth News, either online or in print, but you may recall that I also do some freelance writing for their sister (Or would it be brother??? ) magazine GRIT as well as posting an occasional blog post on their web site. Anyway, Mother's decided to host a "Fair" with "dozens of practical, hands-on demonstrations and workshops" and I'll be heading out to take part.

I should qualify that statement of course, I will be taking part as a spectator and enthusiastic participant, not as a demonstrator or anything. I foresee having a wonderful time though.

The only downside to it is that I'll be making the trip by myself. I wish I could bring the whole family, but on this one we agree that I'd be better off on my own. With the potential of over 100 (And I believe I've even heard of up to 180)demonstrations and two days of Sustainable farming and garden geekery to be had, I tend to get pretty into what I'm doing.

I look forward to getting some great new info that I can share with you all of course, and meeting lots of new people interested in the same things as I am.

If your in the Central PA area, or are close enough to get there, The Fair will be the weekend of Sept 25-26 at the Seven Springs Resort.

That's about it for now... Take care.