Archive for November, 2009


Countdown to Thanksgiving: Roast Narragansett Turkey with Jerusalem Artichokes

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

The following article and recipe was excerpted from Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods.

Narragansett Turkey

Named for Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, where it was first developed by early colonists, this rare standard breed of heritage turkey emerged from crosses between the wild turkeys of eastern America and already domesticated turkey breeds such as the Norfolk Black. The Norfolk Black is one of the breeds derived from the Mexican turkey landraces that were first brought to Europe in the sixteenth century and that then returned to the Americas in the first century following colonization. The Narragansett breed is legendary for its stunning beauty, with black metallic plumage on its breast and back, banded black and gray tail feathers tipped with white, and toes and shanks that turn a deep salmon. The wattles on the face and throat typically have a rich red hue.

And yet its colorful feathers are not the only reason that the Narragansett has been so highly esteemed throughout most of American history. It is larger and hardier than most common farmyard turkeys, with mature toms weighing in at thirty-three pounds and hens at around eighteen pounds. In its Clambake Nation homeland of Rhode Island and Connecticut, it can survive without much supplemental feed, subsisting on grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects that would otherwise damage farmers’ crops. The Narragansett was therefore kept in large flocks that foraged through fields and orchards. According to the December 1872 issue of The Poultry World, at that time it was not uncommon to find on a single farm a flock of some one or two hundred Narragansetts, whose population was sustained year after year by a dozen or so breeding hens. The rest went off to market, with young toms dressing out at fourteen pounds and six-month-old toms reaching twenty-eight pounds by Thanksgiving time.

One of the few species of tended fowl originating in the Americas, the turkey was first domesticated in Mexico more than 2,000 years ago. Although there were already wild subspecies of the turkey in North America by the time the first farmers harvested their crops there, the domesticated turkey was introduced in prehistoric times from Mexico into what is now the U.S. Southwest. It not only proliferated as a multipurpose farm animal but also garnered considerable ceremonial and symbolic significance. Multicolored petroglyphs of domestic turkeys still adorn the sandstone walls of canyons in the U.S. Southwest, near prehistoric Pueblo ruins where turkey bones and mummified turkey carcasses have been excavated.

Soon after the Spanish reached Mexico, domesticated turkeys were taken both to Europe and to regions of the North American continent, where some heritage breeds crossed with the local wild subspecies, diversifying the gene pool. Eight to ten American standard breeds have been recognized over the last century and a half, with the characteristics codified by the American Poultry Association’s (formerly) annual publication, Standard of Perfection. The Narragansett was first admitted to the Standard of Perfection roster in 1874, although by that time it was already a widely recognized breed. In fact, it became the foundation for the historic turkey industry in Clambake and Maple Syrup Nations, where it remained prominent into the early twentieth century. And yet by the end of that same century, it had been all but replaced by modern breeds of white turkeys, with only sixty-six hens and twenty-eight toms of Narragansetts comprising the entire gene pool for the breed by 1999.

Since then, the Narragansett has garnered considerable interest among producers, consumers, and chefs as one of several standard breeds of heritage turkeys that have suddenly received a flurry of media attention. Through a collaboration that was spearheaded by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy with the help of Slow Food USA, dozens of producers have been enlisted to produce these standard turkeys for Thanksgiving feasts once again. The breed is listed on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, which has helped to bolster its revival along with that of other standard breeds such as the Bronze, Black Spanish, Bourbon Red, and Slate.

For a traditional recipe used in Clambake Nation during the time this breed was in its heyday, we have adapted one that appears to have been popular in the mid-1800s. It features another Native American food that was then popular along the mid-Atlantic coast, the Jerusalem artichoke (see page 71). It was included in Mrs. B. C. Howard’s (1873) edition of Fifty Years in a Maryland Kitchen.

Roast Narragansett Turkey with Jerusalem Artichokes

  • 1 small Narragansett turkey, plucked (typically 12 to 18 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram or sweet basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaved parsley
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted Jersey cow butter
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Golden Yellow celery stalks
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery tops
  • 1 small white Egyptian Walking onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1 quart Jerusalem artichokes, washed and peeled

Several days before roasting, wash a small to medium-sized Narragansett turkey until it is clean, then rub its skin all over with salt; rub the cavities of the bird with salt, pepper, sweet basil or marjoram, and some of the finely chopped parsley. Stuff the cavities with a mix of bread crumbs, a lump of butter mixed with salt and pepper, the rest of the chopped parsley, and half of the chopped celery and onion. Set aside, sealed in a plastic bag, for 2 days in a refrigerator.

On the day of the feast, place some lard in a Dutch oven until it melts and is boiling, then brown the turkey in this grease, turning the bird from one side to the next until all sides are equally browned. Pour off all the grease from the Dutch oven and then pour a quart of boiling water into the oven until the bird is entirely covered, with at least an inch of water above its highest crest. Add the rest of the chopped onion, the celery tops, and the celery stalks, the latter tied with string into a compact bunch. Begin cooking all these ingredients in the Dutch oven about one and a half hours before serving, slowly stewing them, ladling the juices over the bird. About 40 minutes into the cooking in the Dutch oven, pour a quart of washed and peeled tubers of Jerusalem artichokes around the turkey, and occasionally ladle juices over them as well.

My Annual Cheese Nightmare

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

By Gordon (“Zola”) Edgar

In an odd twist, my annual pre-holiday cheese nightmare wasn’t about cheese at all. No—for whatever reason—I feel confident that I haven’t over-ordered this year. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to receive all the cheese myself anymore…

Still, while I take a perverse pride in having my sleep interrupted by cheese anxiety, last night I had a nightmare about fake cheese. That’s just downright undignified.

There’s this new vegan flavor of the month “best vegan cheese ever” that we have been going to great lengths to carry. It’s called Daiya. It’s from Canada. It’s made of cassava root (like tapioca) and it is really good for what it is. It tastes kinda like the butter flavoring you get on popcorn. It comes pre-shredded and I don’t think it’s a trade secret that the Amici’s chain is now using it on their vegan pizzas.

Unfortunately, while we are selling tons of it, the food service demand for it hasn’t been what the distributors expected and there’s a little Daiya drought. Obsessed vegans are feeling betrayed that we don’t have it on our shelves. I made the mistake of checking my work email upon returning home from a short trip last night and my co-workers were begging me to tell them when it would be in. Evidently it ran out even sooner than expected and the vegans were upset.

Last night I kept having dreams about my coworkers and I being trapped behind the cheese counter, frantically shredding Play Doh and cupping it as a substitute for the unavailable Daiya. There was a huge mob of them having their equivalent of a bread riot, trampling the weak to get their shredded Play Doh cups so they could make their vegan lasagnas for the holidays. They were gathering the remains of the strength in their little vegan bodies in order to elbow their way to the front of the lines. The sneakier ones were jumping the successful elbower-outers as they ran away from the cheese section and jacked their Play Doh that way. Vegan Melee! Very stressful!!

Please Mr. Sandman, if you give me back my dreams of rotting Swiss and maggoty Brie — I will never complain again!

(ETA: oh thank god. I just got word that we’ll get more on Wednesday)

Climate Justice Fast, Day 10: Why I am fasting

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

By Diane Wilson

From the Community Blogs

When I talk about my reasons for going on a long hunger fast, people often look at me like I’m crazy and I’m reluctant to correct them because fasts are difficult to explain. But I will explain, again. Before the hunger strikes, my life belonged to the bay. My dad and his Dad and his Dad were commercial fishermen so I was the daughter of a son of a son of a son of a fisherman. Then, too, growing up on a Texas bay and having a Cherokee grandfather who liked talking with the dolphins and spotting moon signs in the sky before night turned to day made me into something of a mystic. I remember being out on the shrimp boat with my daddy and feeling my skin stretch and thin like fog, leaving gaping holes that the waves and wind would run into and the sea would fill until my blood was so thick with salt that I could taste it on my tongue. At night, we anchored in a far bay where sea horses hid under the rocks and pink sea birds dined on oysters and I’d lay on top of the wheel house with a blanket up to my nose, and it was like going to bed with a hunk of seaweed and deck load of shrimp and fish and crabs. I didn’t need a sleeping pill. The smell knocked me out.

I learned a lesson or two on the bay. How to spot shrimp from a mile away. (Look for the sea gulls!) What does a watermelon smell on the bay mean? (trout just threw up) How to tell if a squall was gonna knock your boat over or lay down as harmless as a kitten. (anybody’s guess) But the best lesson that came home to roost was that boundaries were lies. There was no separation or division. No brick wall that divided San Antonio Bay from Esprito Santo Bay. Nothing to keep the sky from the water or the wind from the sea. Nothing to keep one person from a billion others. There was just flow and continuity of water and moon and dolphins and ratty ole captains in ratty ole shrimp boats hauling boogie across the bay to find those most elusive shrimp.

 
Photo: Moni Hofler

Chasing Ray Interviews Nature Writer Sy Montgomery

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

There’s more to this world than just humanity. A lot more.

Here’s an interview with nature writer Sy Montgomery in which she talks about photographing animals in a natural state, absorbing local myths and folklore about the animals she studies, and teaching children to love and protect nature.

Sy was kind of enough to invite me to interview her over the phone and in the course of our hour-long conversation we discovered shared passions for books and animals and writing and all manner of other subjects (even, bizarrely, to include discussion of banshees in Ireland of all things). To say chatting with her was delightful would be a gross understatement and I hope someday to meet her in person so we can talk again, for hours and hours and hours. Because the conversation jumped in so many different directions, I decided to split the interview in half so be sure and check back tomorrow for more. And now, here’s author and adventurer (grin) Sy Montgomery!

CM: How did you and Nic Bishop come to propose the Scientist in the Field series?

SM: Nic and I met at a nature writing conference at Boston’s New England Aquarium in the mid 1990s where I was a speaker. Strangely, I was the only woman on a panel and even though I wrote at that time for adults, when a question came up about nonfiction for children everyone turned and looked at me! I came up with an answer and later Nic approached me, explained he was a wildlife photographer specializing in books for children, and asked if I might be interested in working with him. He sent me some of his work and we came up with the idea of developing a series of books on scientists for kids. (CM – Sy has referred to this series elsewhere as “a line of nonfiction adventure books that told, with equal parts photos and text, true stories about passionate people whose love of wild animals leads them to solve scientific mysteries and to dedicate their lives to protecting these animals and their homes.”) Nic approached Houghton Mifflin and we connected with editor Amy Flynn (Kate O’Sullivan is the current editor). The idea was not embraced by everyone at first – some folks at HMCO wanted “fact books” but we really wanted to focus on people working in unique situations who loved animals and wanted to give something back. It’s not just about solving the mystery, but conservation which both Nic and I feel very strongly about.

People are fine but just one species among many and you can’t just focus on humans. So much in this world is strange and real and needs your attention, in fact demands it.

CM: What’s it like working with Nic? You’ve been together on four books now.

SM: Nic handles the creatures he photographs – he actually captures their faces. He doesn’t refrigerate them first to keep them docile. (CM – I had no idea some photographers did this for spiders, etc. I’m totally freaked out now.) I was a snake wrangler for him for the Green Boa which was a lot of fun. What I really like about Nic is that he takes the time to get to know the animals he photographs; he likes to show them “as they really are” and make them as comfortable as possible.

Read the whole article here.

 

Related Articles:

What Afghanistan Can Teach Us About Reproductive Freedom

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

By Madeleine Kunin

From the Community Blogs.

Some 536,000 women die in pregnancy, according to the World Health Organization. That figure has not changed in 30 years, even as child mortality rates have been reduced.

How do we save those women? I found one answer in a small story in The New York Times last week. The dateline was Afghanistan.

The reporter described a group of mullahs attending a class on birth control. Afghanistan has the second highest rate of maternal mortality, second only to Sierra Leone. The mullahs were “reluctant participants”; the writer acknowledged and had been paid to attend. Yet they listened, partly because the class was taught by one of their own, a fellow mullah.

Islam does not forbid birth control but having a child is considered a gift from God, the more births, the greater the blessings. On average, women bear six children in this country which has an average per capita income of $700 a year.

What were the lessons? Wait two years before having another baby to give your wife’s body a chance to rest, breast feed babies for 21 months. Simple advice, but new to a country where old traditions are difficult to change.

Providing birth control information and giving out pills is still dangerous in some areas. Many fear that birth control is an American plot to weaken the country.

If the mullahs decide to approve spacing their children and keeping both mothers and babies healthy, the transformation could be dramatic. Islam has one advantage: the mullahs are obeyed. “If the clerics will support this, no one will oppose it, “ one trainer said.

If spacing children takes hold, not only would the maternal mortality rate plunge, but the average family income would rise. It may seem strange to have to ask for the approval of the mullahs to enable women to survive childbirth. But as I think about it, we in the United States of America, who do not suffer like women in poor countries, still have to ask for the approval of the 83% male Congress for the right to have insurance plans cover abortions.

Collapse: Portrait of a Loner

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The documentary Collapse, Chris Smith’s character study of Michael C. Ruppert, has been called “gripping,” “riveting,” “mesmerizing.”

The force of Ruppert’s persona sustains the film, but it’s the ideas he present that really take center stage. Humanity is facing some serious challenges that, if left unaddressed, could lead to the collapse of modern industrial civilization. Peak oil, global energy consumption, the industrial food complex, the world’s economies—all are interconnected. If one system fails, it could have catastrophic consequences on the others.

In this interview with Grit TV’s Laura Flanders, filmmaker Chris Smith discusses his approach to the man and his ideas.

In the new film Collapse, filmmaker Chris Smith follows Ruppert and looks into his theories. Is he a genius, or just paranoid? The film allows you to make your own judgments, while showing the risks and rewards of having–and publishing–unpopular opinions. Smith joined Laura in the studio to discuss his film and whether or not he believes Ruppert.

Read the whole article here.

Related Articles:

Pop Star Joss Stone Under Attack for Marijuana Comment

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

By Mason Tvert

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.

English pop singer Joss Stone has come under fire for highlighting the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol, a viewpoint that has sparked intense debate this month in the UK.

As Stone told the UK Daily Mail:

Weed has been given this evil stamp, but how is it dangerous? It’s going to make you laugh your arse off? You might go to sleep? I think alcohol is much more harmful.

People beat the f**k out of each other on alcohol. But I don’t smoke weed all day long.

I live in Devon and hardly ever go to clubs. When I do, I’ll drink three or four beers then move on to a vodka. I don’t want to take all those horrible drugs. Although some sound fun, so I might dabble now and then!

She was unapologetic about her outburst, adding:

I’m very honest and I’ve been punished for that over and over again. Every time I say what I think I get s*** for it. But that won’t stop me from being an honest person.

Yet Stone is not alone, both in her belief that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and in the absurd treatment she is enduring for conveying this simple fact. Rather, she has some pretty solid back-up amongst the UK’s scientific community.

Just last week Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the UK’s official drugs advisory body, was fired after giving a lecture in which he described marijuana as less harmful than alcohol.

Following the home secretary’s request that Professor Nutt resign, the remaining 28 members of the ACMD issued a joint statement expressing serious concerns about the situation and threatening to resign if they were not addressed. Some (including the nation’s top chemist) have since resigned in protest. The UK government’s chief science adviser and the chief executive of the Medical Research Council, Britain’s leading medical research organization, also spoke out against the treatment of Professor Nutt, citing the all too frequent and often dangerous clashes between politics and scientific evidence.

Like UK pop star Stone, Professor Nutt did not go quietly, speaking out vigorously in defense of his evidence-based position.

Last night Professor Nutt said he stood by his comments. ‘My view is policy should be based on evidence. It’s a bit odd to make policy that goes in the face of evidence. The danger is they are misleading us. The scientific evidence is there: it’s in all the reports we published. Our judgments about the classification of drugs like cannabis and ecstasy have been based on a great deal of very detailed scientific appraisal.

Gordon Brown makes completely irrational statements about cannabis being ‘lethal’, which it is not. I’m not prepared to mislead the public about the harmfulness of drugs like cannabis and ecstasy. I think most scientists will see this as an example of the Luddite attitude of governments towards science.’

He repeated his view that cannabis was “not that harmful” and that parents should be more worried about alcohol.

The greatest concern to parents should be that their children do not get completely off their heads with alcohol because it can kill them … and it leads them to do things which are very dangerous, such as to kill themselves or others in cars, get into fights, get raped, and engage in other activities which they regret subsequently. My view is that, if you want to reduce the harm to society from drugs, alcohol is the drug to target at present.

Clearly Professor Nutt — a University of Bristol professor of psychopharmacology who is certainly more qualified in this area than the politicians who fired him — was not out to harm anyone; he was just doing his job, working in the best interest of the citizens he had been charged with serving. And Stone was not encouraging anyone to use marijuana; rather, she was speaking honestly about why she sometimes prefers to use it instead of drinking, and why she thinks she should be able to do so. Both have plenty of scientific evidence to back up their shared viewpoint, as every objective study on marijuana ever conducted has concluded that it poses far less harm than alcohol to the user and to society.

In the end, this all begs a very important and timely question that has yet to be addressed by opponents of marijuana policy reform or the mainstream media: just what is the bloody problem with pointing out the facts when it comes to cannabis and drink?

Oregon: Funding Rail with Vanity Plates

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The following is an excerpt from Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service by James McCommons. It has been adapted for the Web.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_impression_that_i_get/3759770041/

I got off at Salem late that evening. The next morning, I went to the Oregon DOT where I had hoped to meet with Uznanski’s counterpart, Kelly Taylor, administrator of the rail division. Over the phone, she had been quite honest regarding Oregon’s efforts.

“We don’t have as good a story to tell you as Washington. We just haven’t had the money to put into the trains, and the real problem is where to put the money we have,” she said.

When the Cascades Service was first initiated, Oregon envisioned running five trains a day to Eugene, 111 miles south of Portland, but it hasn’t come up with the money. By statute, the state cannot use any portion of its gas taxes for rail. Those revenues must go toward highways, so DOT has used lottery-backed bonds, a tax on lawnmowers, and some general funding to run just two Amtrak Cascades trains on to Eugene. Amtrak does not have the money to help with funding. In 2007, Taylor was able to convince the legislature at least to channel income from the sale of vanity license plates into passenger rail and bus service.

I met with Bob Melbo, a rail planner who had been president of the Willamette & Pacific Railroad, a short-line freight railroad, before coming to DOT. Melbo put the issue simply: “There has not been a lot of political support for trains.”

Instead, Oregon has subsidized buses between Eugene and Portland to make connections with the remainder of the Talgo trains going north to Seattle. Through the summer of 2008, when gas prices were high, the buses ran full. The overall ridership on the Amtrak Cascades service in both Washington and Oregon rose 14.4 percent in 2008.

“People are moving to the trains and the bus services. Something has to be done because what we offer today is not adequate,” admitted Melbo.

Whether Oregon would buy or lease its own trains had yet to be determined. The Talgo, in Melbo’s words, is “a nice piece of equipment but it isn’t what Oregon needs.” There are few curves in the mainline tracks south of Portland so the tilt technology isn’t needed. Also, Oregon wants an easily expandable train set, something like the bi-level coaches on California’s Capitol Corridor; each coach, depending on its seating configuration, can carry nearly 100 passengers and can hook up to an Amtrak Superliner car.

But there’s a further financial problem: Oregon cannot run any more trains until it pays for additional slots on the Union Pacific main line. Although Union Pacific has cooperated with Oregon on some projects, it essentially wants what Melbo described as “megabucks” to expand the infrastructure’s capacity. Between Portland and Eugene the main line is single track, and though there are eleven passing sidings, the track already is jammed with freight trains. In the next ten years or so, freight-rail volume in Oregon is expected to double. If the state wants to run five or six round-trips daily between Portland and Eugene, he said, Union Pacific wants it to finance a second set of tracks.

However, Oregon may have an alternative. The Portland and Western Regional Railroad has 500 miles of track in northwest Oregon and it runs a line that largely parallels I-5 between Eugene and Portland.

“And it’s all low-density rail,” said Melbo. “By going there, we won’t have to deal with twenty-five freight trains a day.”

The Portland and Western (P&W) has already worked with TriMet, Portland’s public transit system, and has shown a willingness to accept public money to upgrade its infrastructure. A big question would be Amtrak’s participation. States that subsidize train service typically choose Amtrak to run their trains. Amtrak has experience in the business, it runs a national, centralized ticketing operation, and, most importantly, it has a statutory right to run on the tracks of railroads that originally signed the Amtrak agreement.

In other words, to get access to the tracks of any Class 1 railroad, a state really has to go with Amtrak. Not so on the P&W. Oregon could choose another operator or even contract with the short line to operate the passenger trains. However, until there is money and momentum it’s all academic. Oregon, like Washington, will add another million residents by 2020 and most of those people will reside along the I-5 corridor where highway traffic will get worse.

“If we start running trains up to 80 mph and getting the time between Eugene and Portland down to two hours, we’re going to move a lot of people off I-5,” Melbo said. “We know there is a market there.”

The next morning, I rode a Talgo to Portland, just fifty-two miles to the north of Salem. I had a few hours before I caught the Empire Builder back to the Midwest and had arranged to stop at the café in Powell’s City of Books to meet Fred Nussbaum, a director with the Association of Oregon Rail & Transit Advocates (AORTA), a rail advocacy group. Nussbaum holds an urban studies degree from Portland University and a planning degree from MIT and has worked as a rail planner for transit agencies.

He placed a city bus schedule on the table and told me we had an hour to talk before he had to catch the bus home to give a music lesson. He plays cello as a member of the Pacific Northwest Contra and English Country Dance Band.

When it comes to mass transit and intercity rail, Oregon, like much of the country, is at a crossroads, he said. Although it has established the Cascades Service and aided construction of Portland’s new light-rail system, the state so far has been too timid to make the types of investments needed for the future, he said.

“Why does Washington have more trains than Oregon? Money talks. Oregon can only muster $10 million while Washington has spent more than $100 million,” he said.

AORTA would like to see Oregon create a passenger system capable of running six to eight trains a day at speeds of 125 mph along the corridor. The Union Pacific main line between Portland and Eugene should be double-tracked—in some sections triple-tracked—to enable the fast passenger trains to go around freights, said Nussbaum.

All of these proposed improvements have been studied and costed out at around $2 billion. Big money, yes, but big payoffs, said Nussbaum.

“You get that many trains going back and forth between here and Eugene and then tie that into what Washington is doing and it would start making a major difference,” he said.

I asked Nussbaum about the chances of Union Pacific’s cooperation or the possibility of moving to the P&W infrastructure. It didn’t matter which was chosen as long as the freight railroad was presented with a business plan that buys the slots needed for passenger trains, he said.

“With all the growth that is coming in the Northwest, both freight and passenger, we need to move much more aggressively. It’s really time to act, but in Oregon it’s just not happening.”

Cannabis Café Opens in Portland

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Smoke if you got ‘em! (“’em” in this case being a valid license to smoke medical cannabis, a membership in NORML, and a $5 daily fee.)

Café Rumpspankers will soon be changing its name to the Cannabis Café. That’s to reflect its changing status: the café will be the first in the nation to cater exclusively to certified medical cannabis users. (Personally, I like the name Café Rumpspankers, but I guess they want to be taken more seriously. Oh, well.)

From CBS 4 Denver:

A coffee shop in Portland, Oregon is the nation’s first marijuana cafe where certified medical cannabis users can come to get the drug and smoke it, as long as they stick to state law and smoke out of public view.

Cafe Rumpspankers, which will soon carry the name Cannabis Cafe, is testing a new relaxed policy by President Barack Obama regarding medical marijuana users. The policy, handed down by the administration in October, restricts federal attorneys from prosecuting patients who use the drug for medical reasons and dispensaries in states that have legalized them.

Other states, such as California and Colorado, have legalized medicinal marijuana, but their laws only allow for dispensaries.

Read the whole article here.

 

Related Articles:

The New Wave of Urban Farming

Monday, November 16th, 2009

No land? No problem. You can garden. Here’s how.

Small-scale (we’re talking very small scale: like a kitchen countertop) urban gardener R. J. Ruppenthal talked to Chelsea Green’s own Makenna Goodman—farmer, writer, and blogger extraordinaire—one-on-one about gardening in small spaces. Turns out you can grow or raise a significant portion of your family’s food yourself—without breaking the bank…or your back

Fresh, delicious, home-grown, organic produce? Nom nom indeed.

Q. Without the luxury of land or space, is it really possible for someone to grow and produce their own food?

A. You do not need much space to grow some of your own food. If you live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse, you might not think that you have enough space to grow anything, but my goal is to change your mind on that. You can grow nutritious sprouts on a counter top, salad greens on a windowsill, dwarf fruit trees on a patio, tomatoes on a balcony, and much more. Most vegetables, and even fruit trees and berry bushes, can thrive when grown in containers. Indoors, try mushrooms, sprouts, and fermented cultures such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Q. What are the top five things a city resident needs to know about urban gardening?

A. First, you need to know that you CAN grow a lot of different food crops in limited spaces, even in apartments, condos, townhouses, and other small homes. I described some of the possibilities above, and there are more in my book. Hopefully, you will try some of these and also come up with new ideas on your own, as many of my readers have done. Second, start with something that is relatively trouble-free (such as salad greens, peas, or even tomatoes) and work up from there. You will learn a lot from your successes and your failures. If you try some simple crops and do everything you can (such as provide good soil and water) to ensure their success, then you WILL experience some success. Third, do not be afraid to fail. All of us have our hits and misses. Sometimes you forget to water or you planted the wrong variety for your climate, or for whatever reason, a particular plant simply was not happy. A lot of people would quit after an initial failure, but I hope you will stick with it. The only difference between a “black thumb” gardener and a “green thumb” gardener is that green thumbs learn from their mistakes, try again, and keep trying until they get it right. Then they replicate, and build upon, their successes. A black thumb gardener would quit after the first failure or two, not understanding that there is a learning curve associated with gardening, just as there is with anything else. Stick with it and you will succeed.

Fourth, people do not realize that they can build a garden bed directly on top of concrete, stone, or rocky soil. Almost anything can grow well in containers, but even a patio, driveway, or walkway can be converted to a productive garden bed by building the soil up (as opposed to digging down, which you would not be able to do without a jackhammer). I built two beds on top of my patio, and today, I cannot tell the difference between what is growing on them and what is growing in my soil-based beds. Twelve inches of soil is deep enough to grow almost anything. I’ve had two kale plants that each grew nearly six feet tall on those patio beds, plus peas, chard, beets, lettuce, and a few potatoes. I believe that this really increases the available growing space in cities; so much of our good space is paved over, but it is not longer off-limits to creative gardeners!

Fifth, try to reuse your resources in the garden. I wash my produce in a bowl or basin, and then dump that water back into the garden. It conserves water and saves a small amount of good soil from going down the drain. Then compost your food scraps along with any coffee grounds, newspapers, cardboard, and old plant material. Start a compost pile or buy a tumbler, bin, or worm composter. Check and see whether your city or county provides discounts or free bins for people to compost. Each year you will need to continually add organic matter to your garden soil, and compost is a wonderful source of both organic matter and soil nutrients. For plant fertilizer, though, do not rely on your own compost: you will need to add some organic fertilizer as well, which is available from your local nursery. Most kinds have a base of manure or seed meal for nitrogen, plus natural sources of phosphorus and potassium, which are all key plant nutrients. Kelp extract makes a great supplemental source for both trace minerals and natural growth boosters.

Read the whole article here.

Photo: grist.org/i>

 

Related Articles:


Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com