New to permaculture? Start here.

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What’s it like to fairly take care of people and the earth? It’s a concept called permaculture, and it can provide a guiding spirit to the creation and tending of your landscape.

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Our Year on the Farm – 2015

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I had fully intended to upload these photos to the blog, but mistakenly uploaded them to the main Light Footsteps website. Instead of doing everything all over again, I hope you’ll hop on over to see this post in its entirety – I think you’ll truly be inspired by our 2015 on the farm!
Come join us next year!

Light Footsteps

I’ve been taking these last days before the New Year to slow way down, reflect, and dream of what I’d like to manifest in the coming year. After the fast-paced preparation for the holiday season, this time of quiet reflection is essential and has been bringing me a lot of joy.

It makes me wonder — how can I keep this appreciation for quiet reflection alive throughout all of next year?

Today I began going through some of our photos from the year and I have to say: none of the reflecting I’ve done comes close to the way I feel after going through our photos.

Wow –  we have accomplished A LOT.  It’s so hard to realize all that is going on when you’re in the midst of life.  Looking back, I feel such joy at what we manifested this year and the beauty of our life.  I couldn’t…

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Autumn Wellness

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Wandering around the yard it’s really starting to look like Autumn. Our big old oak has splotches of orange leaves, the sunflowers are falling over, and animals are scurrying about getting ready for winter.

IMG_1821IMG_0012Autumn is a beloved season by many — there are pumpkin flavored treats, spooky holidays, and the beautiful colors of late blooming wildflowers along with the splendor of changing trees. It is a time to treasure. However, the changing weather can also lead to increased susceptibility to colds, and some blue moods as the days get shorter and cold weather starts creeping in.

IMG_1538IMG_1544This season’s herbal wellness box is designed to help support your enjoyment of autumn’s beauty while also facilitating the inevitable transition to darker and colder days.

A spiced sugar scrub will delight your senses and leave you reveling in the joy of autumn while a hand cleansing gel with traditional anti-germ oils will help buffer you from seasonal illness.

sugar scrubhandgelWe continue the celebration of autumn’s harvest with an apple cider infused soap, inspired by our prolific apple tree. There’s also a relaxing tea designed with my love of cozy fall nights in mind. It’s relaxing, but won’t totally put you to sleep either so it’s great for a mid-day break, too.

applesYou’ll also learn about the importance of Bitters for digestive health as well as the role of adaptogenic herbs like holy basil in managing stress that can occur during seasonal transitions. Each of my wellness boxes comes with an informational letter teaching you about each of the products and how to use them appropriately.

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The Autumn Share of my Seasonal Wellness boxes is available for you to enjoy for purchase through my Etsy shop. I’m also happy to arrange for pick-up of local orders!

AutumnWellnessBoxI think you’ll enjoy celebrating the transition to this wonderful time of year with an Autumn Wellness Box. We thank you for your support, too!!

{We also have a class coming up this Thursday (10/8/15) on the farm. We’ll go for a plant walk around the yard and then discuss some recipes that you can make to support your transition to Autumn. Find out more here.}

Ben Falk, World Renowned Vermont Permaculture Designer is Visiting Northeast Ohio!

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Credit: Whole Systems Design

Internationally renowned ecological designer and award-winning author Ben Falk will visit Cleveland October 21-24. Falk’s Vermont-based landscape design firm Whole Systems Design utilizes permaculture techniques and systems thinking to design for ecological regeneration, resilience and abundance. Falk will hold consultations with six small farms across northeast Ohio during his tour, which will also include a public lecture and a meet-the-author dinner.

Ben Falk’s award-winning 2013 book The Resilient Farm and Homestead (Chelsea Green), an indispensible manual for small-scale farmers, is based on Falk’s experience developing his own largely self-sufficient homestead on a degraded site in Vermont. Falk’s book provides guidance on a wide range of topics, including water management and earthworks, fertility harvesting and cycling, tools, social systems, species composition, health and preparedness considerations, and leaving a positive legacy.

Falk has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds a Master’s degree in land-use planning and design. His book was honored with an award from the American Horticultural Society and is described by Chelsea Green as “an inspiration in what can be done by imitating natural systems, and making the most of what we have by re-imagining what’s possible. A gorgeous case study for the homestead of the future.”

The Whole Systems Design client list includes The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University; Cape Eleuthera Island School, Bahamas; Vermont State Prison Farm; and a significant installation at Teal Farm/LivingFuture in Vermont. Falk has been a featured speaker at ecological food and farm association conferences and given a TED lecture; appeared in Mother Earth News, FastCompany and the Utne Reader and in the recent film Inhabit.

Falk will give a public lecture on Friday, October 23 at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland in Shaker Heights; an author dinner at Spice Kitchen + Bar featuring the restaurant’s signature local cuisine on Wednesday, October 21; and a Forum for Farmers at The University of Akron Field Station in Bath, Ohio on Thursday, October 22. For more information, and to purchase tickets for any of these events, visit: http://bit.ly/1PJmqOq

Ben Falk Tour Event Schedule

Author Dinner at Spice Kitchen + Bar

Wednesday, October 21, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

5800 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

Plated dinner of venison or vegetarian option; includes wine and dessert.

Limit 20 guests.  Tickets $120.  Includes a signed copy of Ben’s book.

This event has been cancelled.  We will be having an informal evening around a cob pizza oven at Kelly’s Working Well Farm.  Join us from 7:00 – 9:00!

Forum for Farmers and Designers

Thursday, October 22, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

University of Akron Field Station at Bath Nature Preserve

3864 W Bath Rd., Akron, OH

Limit 40 guests.  Tickets $40.  Includes heavy hors d’oeuvres.

Public Lecture & Book Signing

Friday, October 23, 7:00-8:30

First Unitarian Church of Cleveland

21600 Shaker Heights Blvd, Shaker Hts., Oh 44122

Tickets $10 suggested donation.  Ben’s book will be available for purchase.

While in Northeast Ohio, Falk will consult with Thorn Valley Farm in Newbury Township, Kelly’s Working Well Farm in Chagrin Falls, Spice Acres Farm in the Countryside Conservancy in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Light Footsteps Herb Farm and Learning Center in Chardon, Hershey Montessori School’s Adolescent Program on the Farm in Huntsburg and Terra Firma Farm in Walton Hills.

Homemade Lavender Mustard

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Around here, summer is still in full swing.  It’s been hot, the garden is starting to produce a lot, and we’ve been enjoying our very full days around the farm.

Recently, we had family visiting for a week and I had a request for mustard.

Uh-oh!  I had the mustard seeds sitting right there ready to make a fresh batch, but this summer grilling essential still had not been made.

I decided it was time, and it’s too bad it took me so long because it’s really very easy.  The hardest part is that you must soak the mustard seeds for two days so in this respect it does require a little advanced planning.

I decided to get a little adventurous and try this lavender mustard recipe by Rosalee de la Foret.

Yum! I’m glad I did.

Here are all the ingredients, most of which I gathered from Mountain Rose Herbs

  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds (or you could use only yellow mustard seeds as we did for a milder flavor)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon lavender flowers (omit or choose a different herb if you desire)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

First, the mustard seeds, apple cider vinegar, and water are mixed in a bowl.  Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for two days.

After the seeds have softened for two days, place the seed and liquid mixture in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.

Blend together until you have a mustard paste. Easy!

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This recipe makes about a pint and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

To see Rosalee’s original recipe on Learning Herbs click here.

To purchase ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs click here.

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

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FTC DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary or other compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services within this article. However, it is my promise to you that I am sharing my honest opinion and that I only recommend products or services that I have personally used or recommend and are in alignment with Light Footsteps ideals.

Common Sense Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for educational purposes only.  It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition or ailment.  Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns and before making changes to your lifestyle, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a preexisting health condition.  

Next Hands-On Learning Day & Updates

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Next Hands-On Learning Day: Saturday, May 23.

Come anytime after 11 AM.  Potluck at 5:30.  Bonfire to follow!! Free camping if desired! Bring drums, musical instruments, questions, enthusiasm, and your free-spirit!!

Now for what we’ve been up to and what you may find to help with….

With this being our first official spring on the homestead, we’ve been working long hours trying to get Phase 1 of our plans in place.

This year, we hope to have our educational medicine wheel garden up and fully functional, add 2500 sq. ft. of keyhole market garden space, and start our first area of food forest.

Progress with the medicine wheel garden...

Progress with the medicine wheel garden…

Making progress on the keyhole gardens...

Making progress on the keyhole gardens…

We’ve also added chickens and bees to the farm.  A few new barnyard creatures should be arriving this week.

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IMG_1643Ideally, we’ll also be putting in a greenhouse or hoophouse this season.

Why, you ask?

Because we are absolutely committed to being the change we wish to see in this world, and we are more eager and ready than ever to share why we love permaculture, homegrown food, herbs, and simple living with our community. We’ve been studying these ideas for well over 10 years and it’s time for us to share!!

Here’s the thing. This is a LOT for us to handle on our own.  We really need your help and we’d love to share some of our knowledge with you! And of course, we’d love for you to share some of your knowledge with us!!

Are you interested in permaculture? Sustainable living? Homegrown foods?

Bees? Chickens?

Do you wonder why a keyhole garden is preferable to long square gardens with rows?

Have you ever heard of a food forest?  Do you wonder why perennial crops are gaining more attention?

How have we done all this without tilling? Why have we tried to avoid that?

Do you know why this plant is one of the most valuable medicines in Ohio?

IMG_1765Have you ever wanted to grow your own medicine and are you curious about why I would have designed a medicine wheel garden?

Do you want to meet some awesome, like-minded people?

Please come visit us!! We’d love to have you this weekend for this next hands-on help day, but we are TOTALLY OPEN TO YOU COMING WHENEVER YOU’D LIKE!!

You can even stay for a week at a time if you need a country getaway!  We are open to anything!

Also, let us know if there are specific things you’d like to learn about that would help us entice you to our home!  We are open to any and all suggestions.

See you this Saturday, May 23!!

The Bee Bus Arrived!

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Mr. LF and I have planned to add bees to our homestead for quite some time.  In our permaculture design, bees are an important part of how our plants will be pollinated, and we use a lot of raw honey in our herbal medicines.  Bees have always been a must-have!

We are happy to announce that they recently arrived and we are now beekeepers!

Mr. LF went to a local garden store where he previously took a beekeeping class and picked up the Bee Bus.

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Scenes from (Early) Spring

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It’s starting to feel more and more like Spring on the farm!

…And it’s starting to feel more and more like we actually live on a farm!

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Maple production has continued.  We finished our 3rd batch this past weekend and it was the best one yet.  This week we’re in the midst of the fastest rushing sap we’ve seen so there will be at least a 4th (and probably a 5th) installment of our syrup!

We’ve tried boiling the sap down a number of ways – a grill, a rocket stove, and this last time we used a portable electric cooktop that we placed outside.

I think the rocket stove was the most fun, but we had a hard time keeping the sap boiling and it took a lot longer than it should have (like, 10 hours!).  We finished the last bit of sap on the kitchen stove and ended up with a decent amount of syrup.

The electric cooktop definitely won the contest for the most efficient way to boil down the amount of sap we collected. Continue reading

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