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March 16, 2014  Lynchburg College, Lynchburg VA. Feeding Ourselves Sustainably Year Round. Cindy will be joining Ira Wallace, author of Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, and Pam Dawling, author of Sustainable Market Farming, for a program from 10am-3pm in Hopwood Auditorium. Free admission. Seating is limited. Email yos@lynchburg.edu to reserve your seat. Books and DVDs available for sale.

April 9, 2014 Summers County Public Library, Hinton, WV. Cindy will be giving the presentation Grow a Sustainable Diet and signing her new book. 3pm. www.summers.lib.wv.us.

April 10, 2014  Washington County Public Library, Abingdon, VA. Cindy will be giving the presentation Grow a Sustainable Diet and signing her new book. 6pm. www.wcpl.net.

April
 12-13, 2014  Mother Earth News Fair, Asheville, NC. Look for Cindy on the speaker schedule. www.motherearthnewsfair.com.

May 31-June 1, 2014  Mother Earth News Fair, Puyallup, WA. Look for Cindy on the speaker schedule. www.motherearthnewsfair.com

 

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Rethink Everything1Rethink Everything! is the title of the last chapter in my upcoming book Grow a Sustainable Diet: Planning and Growing to Feed Ourselves and the Earth. The official release date is March 1, 2014, but I should have copies for some events I’ll be at in February. You can check my website for those dates and locations. When we are growing up, we are pretty much brainwashed by our parents to live according to their beliefs and habits. That’s just how it is. Then we do the same with our children. But, now that you are grown, you are free to decide for yourself. If you are still blaming your parents for how they raised you– shame on you. It’s your life; get on with it. I want to encourage you to rethink everything you do and look at things with a holistic approach. Don’t be afraid to decide that some of the activities you have been active in are not so important in your life anymore. We should clean out our social/activity life regularly, just as we should clean out our closets on a regular basis.

I’m working on a new book. This one is about seed libraries. If any of you are involved in a seed library, I’d love to hear about it. While researching that topic, I came across the website for the Center for the New American Dream where I found a webinar about starting a seed library.  The new American dream that this website is referring to is about more of what matters, not more stuff. It is about developing a plentitude economy; one which has reduced work time, allowing more time for do-it-yourself projects at home and more commitment to community. I have a feeling you are already participating in this type of an economy that will contribute to a better society. Having a garden, preserving your own food, supporting a farmers market, and developing your homestead, whether it is in an apartment or in the wide open spaces, are all part of the New American Dream. Decide what your dream is while you are rethinking everything.

Christmas gift bagsChristmas is a great time to rethink everything. A holistic approach would bring your holiday actions more in sync with the other ecological things you do all year. One thing, if you haven’t already done it yet, is to get rid of Christmas wrapping paper. It is easy to pull out the Sunday funnies to wrap an occasional birthday present, but when faced with wrapping more presents at one time, it took us a little longer to ditch the Christmas wrap. When we did that a number of years ago, it made an enjoyable difference. That first year I had found some Christmas fabric on sale at a deep discount and bought a few pieces to make gift bags. Not all the bags have to be Christmas fabric. Some are solids or prints that could also suit for birthdays. Sometimes I’ve wrapped large packages in an old flannel sheet, usually a red or green one. You might keep that in mind when picking out new sheets. Pillow cases work really well for gift bags, also. The year we were replacing the roof on the barn, we made tool boxes for each of our children from the old boards we took off the roof. Pillow cases were the perfect wrap. I even save the strings we use to close the bags from year to year.

earthingbookcoverdropshadleft21Life can be pretty stressful. So, as people go into the New Year they often begin thinking of how to live a more relaxed life. I have been reading an interesting book that can help with that. Earthing, by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, and Martin Zucker explains how grounding ourselves fills our bodies with the unlimited supply of electrons from the earth that will connect with the free radicals floating around doing damage in our bodies. Those free radicals are why you always hear of needing to consume antioxidants. Although you can buy special earthing products to use, the authors make it clear that you can ground yourself just by walking barefoot on the ground outside. I have long known that being in my garden has a calming influence on me and communing with nature is widely known to be good for you. In the summer I don’t wear shoes if I don’t have to. I’ve found that by going barefoot I don’t track as much dirt in the house, but I didn’t realize just how good for me going barefoot was. I have to say, I haven’t been strolling barefoot in the garden since the weather turned colder. Walking barefoot on the beach or swimming in the ocean are also grounding activities.

Apparently you could get the same grounding effect by having your feet on an uninsulated, unpainted concrete floor. If you have a basement with a concrete floor, you could ground yourself there in the winter. The grounding mats that are available for sale allow people to be grounded while they sleep, are at their desk, or just watching TV. People who have used them say they sleep better and pain is diminished or gone, doing away with inflammation that is the cause of so many diseases, including heart disease. Grounding thins the blood and sets your body up to heal itself. One thing I thought was particularly interesting was that you can avoid the stress of jet lag if, when you get to your destination, you take off your shoes and socks and spend ten minutes with your bare feet in the grass.

All this is fascinating. Combine grounding with meditation and just think how healthy we can be! Meditation involves work on our part to discipline ourselves to it, but it is free and you can do it anywhere. Can you imagine doctors writing prescriptions for their patients to go sit in the grass and clear the chatter in their heads? I hope you have a wonderful holiday and terrific New Year. I’m taking a short break. My next blog post will be January 14. Until then—rethink everything!Homeplace Earth

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vabf logoI attended my first sustainable agriculture conference in 1990. At the time I was a home gardener and hadn’t ventured into the area of market gardening yet. That would happen two years later, and when it did, I was much better prepared than I would have been if I hadn’t had the benefit of hearing real-life stories of how others were doing it. Besides hearing from the farmers, I learned about the research being done at our land grant colleges. That first conference I attended was sponsored by the Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF) and was their third annual, if I remember correctly.  There was a disconnect sometime in the 1990’s and no conference was held for a few years. I see that this year’s Virginia Biological Farming Conference is billed as the 15th annual, the count beginning over when things started up again. Now the conference is a joint project of VABF and Virginia State University. In 2014 it will be held January 31-February 1 near Richmond, VA, with extra workshops offered on January 30.

Attending a conference such as this is a terrific opportunity to meet the movers and shakers in the sustainable agriculture movement. At my first conference Fred Kirschenmann was the keynote and told of how he returned to the conventional family farm to help his father and converted it to organic production. Fred stars in the film My Father’s Garden that has been made since then, showcasing the struggles that farmers face and why they make the decisions they do. I highly recommend it. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak again at a conference in 2007. A word of advice—if you ever have to take a plane to speak at a conference, make sure you are wearing something you wouldn’t mind getting up in front of hundreds of people in, in case the airline loses your luggage. That’s what happened to Fred in 1990.

The first edition of Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower was published in 1989 and he was a presenter at one of the early conferences I attended. His books helped many market gardeners get started. Coleman was back in Virginia to speak at the VABF conference in 2011. I used his book Four Season Harvest as a text when I taught at the community college. Conferences are a good place to meet authors with new books. Jean-Martin Fortier is on the schedule at the VABF conference this year. His new book The Market Gardener is not out yet, but the previews remind me quite strongly of New Organic Grower. Fortier may just be the new leader of small-scale market growers.

pasa conference 2014I got a taste of what it was like to attend agriculture conferences and even started a market garden operation, only to have no conference to attend for a few years. I always shied away from organizational politics, so I don’t remember what happened there, just that there was no conference. By the time VABF was ready to put on another conference in 2000, I had made plans to attend the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) conference. It was wonderful! Some presenters that come to mind are Vandanna Shiva, William Woys Weaver, and Elaine Ingham (vermicompost tea was a hot new topic at the time). PASA’s Farming for the Future Conference is February 5-8, 2014 in State College, PA.

Southern SAWG puts on a large conference each year. This year it is in Mobile, Alabama on January 15-18. Some years a busload of folks went from Virginia. I heard it was great fun for all, but always at a time when the college semester was getting started and not a good time for me to be away. I attended the Southern SAWG conference in Chattanooga, TN in 2011 as a presenter. Being in another part of the country, it was great to meet a whole new set of faces. That year was the first time in over a decade that I wasn’t teaching at the community college in January, with a new semester of students to be planning for.

oeff conference2014sbThe Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association holds a conference each year. In 2014 the OEFFA conference will be February 15-16 in Granville, OH. I have not been, but according to their website, 1,200 people are expected to be in attendance. I’m sure there are many more conferences planned by many more sustainable agriculture groups around the country. In addition to the speakers, these conferences are a great place to meet like-minded people. When our daughter was a volunteer at Heifer Ranch in Arkansas years ago, she and a few other volunteers attended the second day of a goat conference. They went for the information they knew they would receive, but were confused because so many people already knew each other. It appeared to be a gathering of friends and not quite what they expected. A few months later, she was back in Virginia and attended a VABF conference with me. Then she understood—it was a gathering of friends. It was a time for those of us who already knew each other to catch up on each other’s lives, which made for a lot of friendly banter. It is a time to make new friends, also. I encouraged my students to attend and chided them if they sat together at meals. They could see each other in class each week. I wanted them to embrace the opportunity to meet new people.

Farmers, researchers, authors, vendors, and friends (both new and old)—what more could you want to nudge you out of your winter hibernation and get the wheels turning in your head with new plans? Times have changed since 1990. Back then, most people I knew didn’t have a computer yet (including me) and of course, didn’t know anything about the internet. Now you can watch webinars and youtube videos about every subject imaginable. What you can’t do is witness the passion that a speaker has for the subject as you can in their in-person presentation, with the added benefit of impromptu conversations about the matter with other attendees. I’ve told you about the people I was most impressed with who presented at the early conferences I attended. I’ve left it up to you to check out the conference schedules to find out who you might want to see this year. If there is no money in your budget for a vacation, make continuing education a line item and find a conference near you to attend.Homeplace Earth

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BOOKS-12-2012-BLOGThe cover crops are growing nicely in the garden, with the harvesting of greens and roots being the only thing going on out there right now. The days are short and nights are long. Winter is the time to spend on some self-directed education. Reading this blog and studying my DVDs is a fine start. I have some suggestions for good books to add to your program. All through my blog posts you will find mention of books that I will not repeat here. There is a short list on the resource page on my website. For the others, well you’ll just have to read the posts. These books are more recent and I think you will find them helpful on your journey. I’ll list them from newest to oldest.

sustainable market farming coverSustainable Market Farming is so new that it isn’t even out yet. The release date by New Society Publishers is February 1, 2013. I have been looking forward to this book all year and was fortunate to have the privilege of reading an advance copy. Author Pam Dawling is the garden manager at Twin Oaks, a community of about 100 people here in Virginia. She shows you how she plans the 3½ acre garden, manages the crew, coordinates with the kitchen, and generally, what it takes to feed 100. When you grow for the markets you are usually not so intimately involved with your customers as Pam is with her community. Everywhere she goes and every meal she eats, she is getting feedback about her efforts, which is the same as growing for a family, just on a much larger scale. If you have enjoyed my garden planning ideas and would like to get another take on it all, you will like Pam’s book. She has suggestions for planting and harvesting that are helpful whether you are growing for your own kitchen or for your market customers. There are excellent chapters on crops, including peanuts, potato onions and okra- crops you generally don’t hear a lot about. The last two chapters are about saving seeds, a topic of increasing importance to gardeners everywhere. Find out more about Pam, her book and her blog at http://sustainablemarketfarming.com/. You might want to catch her at one of the conferences she will be speaking at this winter.

Permaculture Handbook-BLOGThe Permaculture Handbook by Peter Bane, editor of Permaculture Activist magazine, was published by New Society in June, 2012. It is nice to have a permaculture book written in the U.S. showing case studies of various farms and projects. Besides permaculture theory, this book gives practical information and shows it being put to use by Peter and his partner on their .7 acre property in Indiana. Peter discusses coppicing—allowing multiple trunks to grow back for future harvests—a subject I can never find enough information on.  I was also particularly interested in his chapter on Diet and Food. Learn more about Peter Bane, his book and where you can find him at http://permaculturehandbook.com/.

The Art of Fermentation-BLOGThe Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz was released by Chelsea Green Publishing in May, 2012.
If you are a beginner to fermentation, this book might be too much for you. If what you want is some recipes to get started, read Wild Fermentation first, also by Sandor. If you have already played around with fermentation and really enjoy learning about the culture of food beyond the ferment, you will like this book. To Sandor Katz, food is a celebration. You will learn the deeper stories behind the food. Learn more about Sandor Katz, his books, and where you might find him at www.wildfermentation.com.

The Small Scale Poultry Flock-BLOGThe Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery, also a Chelsea Green book, was released in 2011. This book is much more than a how-to-raise-chickens book. A particular interest of Harvey’s (and mine) is Feeding The Flock From Home Resources, which is also a chapter title. Harvey explores raising worms and black soldier fly grubs. He grows cover crops to benefit his garden and his birds. As much as he can, Harvey integrates his chickens with his garden and is always experimenting and tweaking his system. Being in Virginia, his climate is the same as mine. Find out more about Harvey Ussery, his book and his homestead at www.themodernhomestead.us.

These books are hefty in both weight and content and not for someone just looking for some light reading. Be ready to delve headlong into the subjects. If your budget doesn’t allow putting them on your shelf, find them at the library. If your library doesn’t have them, fill out a request form. They can get it for you through interlibrary loan or purchase it for their shelves. That’s what libraries do. In fact, it is always a good idea to browse a book at the bookstore, library, or at a conference before you buy it to make sure it will be useful to you, no matter what the reviews say, including mine. Be assured that these authors are passionate about what they do and have written these books because they are just as passionate about sharing what they know with others.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday. These books should keep you busy right on into the New Year, as if you don’t already have enough to do. I am taking a break over the holiday season, so my next blog post won’t appear until January 8. See you in 2013!Homeplace Earth

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On Tuesday, May 29, 2012 our daughter, Betsy Trice, and I will be presenting Sustainable Vegetable Gardening for Everyone at Ashland Coffee and Tea in Ashland, VA.  In case you marked it on your calendar after reading Tuesday’s blog, this is the correct date.  Tuesday’s post has since been corrected.  Betsy and I will share how we grow healthy food, while at the same time feed the soil and build the ecosystem.  Learn how we manage our gardens and take home ideas for your own vegetable growing. Betsy found her own place in sustainable agriculture during her years in Arkansas and has since moved back to Virginia.  She now teaches the sustainable agriculture classes I left at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and operates Lightfoot Gardening Coach, a consulting business for those interested in vegetable gardening, backyard chickens, and homesteading.  This is the first time we have joined together for a presentation.  We will be on hand beginning at 6:30 and the presentation begins at 7:30 pm.  Come early to claim your seat.  There is no cover charge, however, reservations are recommended.  

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boot birdhouse-BLOGI hope all of you are enjoying the holidays.  December is always such a busy time.  If you are like us, Christmas is a time of gift-giving and feasting with loved ones.  Often homemade gifts are exchanged, such as the boot birdhouse we received from our daughter and son-in-law.  The week between Christmas and New Years, however, is usually a welcome slow down for us.  It’s a time to shift gears and think of changes ahead.  As you eat your way through the holiday, I would hope you would keep in mind others around the globe whose table is not so full.  You can learn more about some of these people and how to understand and assist them through the following organizations.

Ecology Action teaches people worldwide to better feed themselves while building and preserving the soil and conserving resources.  Find out more at http://www.growbiointensive.org/.  My teaching is based on Ecology Action’s GROW BIOINTENSIVE methods.  Ecology Action puts out a quarterly newsletter that has a garden report you might find interesting if you are serious about GROW BIOINTENSIVE.

Heifer International works with communities to end hunger and care for the earth.  They are best known for donating animals and training to community groups in impoverished areas around the world, but they also have other sustainable projects, such as tree planting.  Heifer publishes the magazine World Ark which is a wonderful resource to learn more about their initiatives and meet the people they help through the pictures and stories.  There are several Heifer International centers where you can learn more about world hunger and what to do about it.  I’m most familiar with Heifer Ranch in Arkansas.   Find out more about Heifer at www.heifer.org 

Lambi Fund of Haiti works toward economic justice, democracy, and alternative sustainable development in Haiti.  The Lambi Fund is based on the premise that the Haitian people understand how development is best achieved in their country. Therefore, the Lambi Fund follows the lead of grassroots organizations in program and priorities. The Lambi Fund never dictates to a community organization what should be done. Through discussion and reflection, the peasants decide what is best for their community and present the project to the Lambi Fund for support.  Learn more about their work at http://www.lambifund.org/.

Tillers International encourages an attitude of experimentation to produce more local food with less global fuel.  This organization maintains a farm/learning center with classes in appropriate technology farming techniques, draft animal power, blacksmithing and metal work, timber framing, woodworking, cheesemaking, and many other skills. Their work includes maintaining a museum of farm tools and machinery which they use for inspiration to create tools needed in developing countries today. Tillers International Cooks Mill Learning Center is located in Scotts, Michigan.  Find out more at www.tillersinternational.org.

Trees, Water, & People develops and manages continuing reforestation, watershed protection, renewable energy, appropriate technology, and environmental education programs in Latin America and the American West.  Part of their work is with fuel-efficient stoves.  Find them at http://www.treeswaterpeople.org/.

Think globally, act locally has never meant more to me.  These organizations will give you a glimpse into how others around the globe live.  My work is with food.  I feel strongly that in order to make sure people around the world have enough to eat, we must first learn to feed ourselves, and do it sustainably.  In 2012 my blog posts will concentrate on what it takes to truly feed ourselves from homegrown and/or local food supplies.  Understanding that and making it a part of your daily life, helps to give you the skills and knowledge to better know how to help others do the same, no matter where they live.  Besides growing the food, or buying it from a local farmer, learning to cook for yourself from scratch and getting the food all the way to the table using the least fossil fuel is all part of it. 

thanksgiving 2010Thank you for following my blog this year and for being part of the journey.  As we head toward the New Year, my prayers are with you.  May your table be full of good food and happy people.

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Liebster Award–Thanks!

Back in September, Shanon Hilton named me for a Liebster Award.  Thanks Shanon!  I had never heard of a Liebster Award, but soon found out that in the blogging world it is a way to recognize blogs that you like.  Copying from Shanon’s blog here’s what it’s about:

The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. ‘Liebster’ is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. What a gift to be awarded with such kindness! Now for the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all – have fun!

Shanon has the blog http://www.foodfarmhealth.ca/.  She has a small child with multiple food allergies and is a gardener.  As you can imagine, food is a big deal in her household.  I know that some of you out there have food issues and will find her blog and the links there interesting. Okay, now I have to choose five blogs to pass on the Liebster Award to.  That’s why I haven’t responded until now.  I don’t get around in the blog world much and I’ve been kind of busy this fall, but my cover crops are in now, so I have time to think about it. This does sound something like a chain letter and to those that I name here, it’s okay with me if you don’t pass it on.  That said, there are readers out there who would like to know about you anyway, so my picks are:

1.  Dan and Margo Royer-Miller and their Circle of the Sun blog.  Dan and Margo spent years studying GROW BIOINTENSIVE Mini-farming at Ecology Action and Golden Rule Farm in California.  Now they are in Ohio going it on their own.

2.  Justin Cutter and Nick Runckle converted a truck into a traveling garden education center and have been touring the country powered by used veggie oil.  You can follow them at www.compassgreenproject.org.

3.  Every community needs a blog talking about local food and Richmond, VA has the Richmond Food Collective.  You will enjoy what they write about, but beware, the pictures will make you hungry.

4.  Contrary to what some of us might think, there’s more to life than food.  When I was contemplating having a blog, my friend Vicki Welsh gave a talk to our quilt group about starting a blog.  That was a great help to me–I literally took notes.  Field Trips in Fiber is Vicki’s blog about adventures in quilting, hand dyed fabric, and fiber art.  I’m bending the “rules” a bit here because I see Vicki has more than 200 followers, but take a look and have some fun. 

5.  I have some cotton that I have grown in 2011 and before.  I’m ready to learn how to spin it and came across http://www.newenglandsimpleliving.com/spinningcottonhandspindle.htm which led me to the blog at www.newenglandsimpleliving.blogspot.com.  I appreciate the cotton spinning tutorial.   Have a look around her site.  There are some interesting things there. 

Cindy in MENF 2011 booth

Cindy, there for the people, at the 2011 Mother Earth News Fair in Pennsylvania

I looked at many of my favorite websites to include,  but they didn’t have blogs with them.  I’m still getting used to communicating across the world on the internet.  I prefer communicating face to face, but I’m open to learning new tricks.  I have to admit, of these five blogs, except for the last one, I either know the people who write these blogs personally or we have mutual friends.  My husband, who only follows my blog and that’s because he proofreads it, thinks that maybe I should get out more among the bloggers. 

I only joined Facebook when I was ready to start a blog because I knew that people liked to spread the word with Facebook.  Daughter Betsy sat at my side and helped me through that experience.  Don’t bother trying to friend me on Facebook, but you are welcome to sign on as a fan of Homeplace Earth, LLC.  Musician Tim Barry, one of the members of the Homeplace Earth Gang (those in our garden plan video), has over 5,000 Facebook fans!  Tim has given me some pointers and some of his fans are Homeplace Earth fans, also.  Gardening is the equalizer that brings so many different people together.  One of the great things about teaching at the community college all those years is that I met so many diverse and wonderful people.  Now I’m spending time meeting a larger community across the web.  I enjoy your comments and ideas–it shows me that someone is listening. 

There are many great blogs out there.  I made my picks from those that I know, that have great pictures, and that are current.  Being old-school, books are still tops on my list for getting information, but blogs are a great way for people to connect and exchange ideas.  I hope you enjoy my top five picks.  In my next post in two weeks (November 29, 2011)  I’ll give you an update on the solar food dryers.  See you then and enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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