A Visit to Quiet Creek Herb Farm

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A couple weekends ago we made a trek across Pennsylvania to attend the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Herbal Conference. It was inspiring to be in the company of so many like-minded women and I was especially grateful to finally meet one of my favorite herbal mentors, Rosemary Gladstar.  I’ve been an online student of hers for some time, but hearing her speak in person really reaffirmed how wonderful it is to call her one of my teachers.

She has an amazing way of synthesizing the big picture on the interrelatedness of herbs, health, happiness, and our connection with nature into an easily accessible and moving message.  I hope I can be like her when I grow up!

On our way home, we planned to spend several days in the Western part of Pennsylvania visiting old growth trees in Cook Forest.  Serendipitously, as we traveled along the road to our lodge we passed a sign for “Quiet Creek Herb Farm”. Continue reading

Homegrown Mushroom Tacos

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When I saw a Mushroom Mini Farm for sale nearby, I knew that it was something I needed to try. It’s made by Back to the Roots, a company that seems to be trying out forward-thinking indoor food production systems.  They also have a pretty neat mini fish farm that might end up as a holiday present for a few family members.

Growing these mushrooms was incredibly easy – I cut a hole and soaked the bag holding the spores for 8 hours, and then I gave them just a little water each day.  Within a day or so, I noticed the little bulbous beginnings of the mushrooms and then they grew immensely each day thereafter. Finally, they looked like the right size to eat and so I decided that it was oyster mushroom taco day! Continue reading

Lately

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I think we’re finally getting close to having a rhythm again.  We are settling in to this as our home.

As everything around us blossoms and comes into fullness, so do we.

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Homestead Update – We live here!

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We’ve been swirling around in the whirlwind that is moving. I am so grateful that we are finally living in our new home.  It’s been a long road here — we put our first offer in on this house early last September.

I guess moving is never easy.  Everything takes longer than anticipated and random inconveniences happen regularly.

Luckily, I have an accommodating family that let us camp there for quite awhile.  I’m too tired to write much else, but I thought I’d share some photos for a bit of a homestead update.  I hope to be back to writing more regularly soon.  Continue reading

First Cob of the Season

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There’s nothing quite like sinking your toes into cob for the first time in the summer (or the first time in your life!).

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There’s something about cob that draws people to it like insects to glowing lamp lights.  We hover around it, watch it with amazement, and can’t help ourselves but to dive right in. Continue reading

Homestead Update – The Beginning

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We’re still in the process of getting our house move-in ready, but it’s always a treat to go visit the land we’ll soon be living with.

Without any input at all there are many strawberry blossoms!

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Our New Homestead!

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After at least 10 years of dreaming, 2 years looking at properties, and 7 months working on closing on this particular piece of land, we finally have our permaculture homestead.  These 23 acres are the land that will sustain us into the future, where we hope our dreams will blossom into fruition, and where we will grow together as a family and into our community.

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Back to the Garden (+ the Littlest Permaculturist)

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Today was the first day I really dug my hands into the soil for quite some time.  I’ve been putting it off for a few reasons — mostly because of the weather, but also because I’ve felt conflicted about whether or not I should invest the time when we will hopefully be moving in the next couple of months.

However, the soil still calls asking me to dip my hands in, refresh my immune system, and connect with the Earthly energies.  I couldn’t resist.

A lot of today was just clean-up.  I was very pregnant last fall and didn’t get the beds taken care of the way that I should have.

There were also little surprise tasks like baby garlic plants ready to be separated and begin life anew.  Hopefully somebody will be able to harvest these culinary delights in the fall!

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Permaculture for Urban Homes and Small Spaces

Image source: permaculturesunshinecoast.com

One of the best things about blogging is discovering a new community of people with shared interests and goals.  One such kindred spirit is Mari of the blog Gather and Grow.  She is a fellow lover of permaculture and has graciously shared some great tips and inspiration for many of us who are interested in being more self-sufficient but feel limited by the space constraints of the urban environment.

Whether you live in an urban environment, or on many acres of land – I think you’ll find something useful here!

Permaculture Strategies for Urban Homes and Small Spaces

Permaculture designers love challenges. After all, permaculture is not just a set of organic gardening techniques, but a toolkit, a decision-making process, for designing sustainable human settlements. And one of its fundamental principles is: “The problem is the solution.”

What if we apply this principle to a challenge that many of us are all too familiar with: living in small urban spaces with little or no access to actual soil on which to grow food? Permaculture and gardening books present pictures of lovely, lush farm landscapes and large suburban lots overflowing with greenery, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens, perhaps even with small livestock. But what do you do if you live in an apartment, or have only a postage-stamp-sized bit of yard by your front door?

The permaculture answer: you can still do a lot. In this case, seeing the problem as the solution means turning the seeming constraints of an urban environment – the density of buildings, people, and resources – to your advantage, and doing things like intensive planting, vertical growing, and maximizing solar exposure in- and outdoors. Here I present ideas and strategies first for the apartment dweller, and then for those who do have yard space but it’s limited. Continue reading

Forest Farming, Inoculating Mushroom Logs, and a Surprise

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Recently I attended a weekend workshop focused on forest farming.

I can hear you ask, “What’s forest farming?”

Well, it’s the process of growing non-timber forest crops beneath the canopy of an established forest. In this way, forest farming is a form of “productive conservation” – you’re reaping benefits of crops grown in the forest while protecting the land from destruction. Examples of non-timber forest farmed products include: maple syrup, medicinal plants, mushrooms, nuts, ornamental woodland species, and fruit. (Learn more here.)

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