Garden & Agriculture Archive


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do?

We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading list. With topics ranging from sustainable meat production to the secret lives of black bears to life lessons from a contrary farmer, and more, these books are sure to lighten up your days and keep your mind active long after the first signs of spring.

So throw another log on the fire, grab a blanket, and tuck in for the long haul with these new and classic favorites from Chelsea Green.

Winter Reading List

An Unlikely Vineyard by Deirdre Heekin
Ranked one of the best wine books of 2014 by The New York Times, An Unlikely Vineyard tells the evolutionary story of Deirdre Heekin’s farm from overgrown fields to a fertile, productive, and beautiful landscape that melds with its natural environment. Accompanied throughout by lush photography, this gentle narrative will appeal to anyone who loves food, farms, and living well.
Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America by Mark Schimmoeller
Slowspoke is about more than a cross-country trip on a unicycle; it’s a meditation on a way of life that Americans find increasingly rare; one that practices a playful, recalcitrant slowness. Schimmoeller intersperses recollections of his journey with vignettes of his present-day, off-the-grid homesteading with his wife in Kentucky and their effort to save an old growth forest. This memoir, deemed “profoundly simple, funny, and sincere” by Publishers Weekly, will help you slow down and appreciate every winter day.
Grass, Soil, Hope by Courtney White
This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity, environmental stress, and economic instability? White believes the answer lies in the soil beneath our feet and our efforts to sequester carbon.
In the Company of Bears by Benjamin Kilham
In this book, Kilham unveils his groundbreaking work observing communication and interactions between wild black bears. Diagnosed with dyslexia, Kilham comes to discover that thinking differently is truly his greatest tool for understanding the natural world. You might not master the art of hibernation this winter, but In the Company of Bears will open your mind to the insights the non-human world can offer. Now available as an audio book!
Angels By the River by Gus Speth
In this compelling memoir, you follow Speth’s unlikely path—from a Southern boyhood to his career as an influential mainstream environmentalist to his current system-changing activism. Speth calls for a new environmentalism to confront the complex challenges of today.
Gene Everlasting: A Contrary Farmer’s Thoughts on Living Forever by Gene Logsdon
How do farmers relate to life and death? In this collection of essays, Logsdon reflects on the intimate connection farmers have with the food chain through his experiences as a farmer up to his most recent bout with cancer. Kirkus gives this book a starred review and calls it a “perceptive and understatedly well-written meditation.”
Carbon Shock by Mark Schapiro
It may be cold outside, but things are heating up in the atmosphere. Schapiro’s book is an investigative study into the relationship between climate change and the economy. His in-depth analysis into the cost of carbon in our daily lives will inspire you to not only think deeply about the impact of climate change, but also to put on another sweater.
Defending Beef by Nicolette Hahn Niman
Niman writes from the unique perspective of an environmental lawyer and vegetarian turned cattle rancher. In her latest book, she explains how, contrary to public opinion, cattle are neither inherently bad for the earth nor for our nutritional health. She convincingly shows how, with proper oversight, cattle can play an essential role in maintaining grassland ecosystems and are an irreplaceable part of the world’s food system. According to the LA Times, Niman’s argument for sustainable meat production “skewers the sacred cows of the anti-meat orthodoxy.”
The Seed Underground by Janisse Ray
In this award-winning book, Ray explores the crucial value of saving seeds in the local food movement and shares stories from numerous seed savers, as well as tips on how to save seeds yourself.
Taste, Memory by David Buchanan
In this book, Buchanan examines the relationship between past and present farming through the value of culturally forgotten foods and new varieties. He draws from his experiences as a grower of various heirloom species to show that thoughtful selection is necessary when matching diverse species with the needs of a particular land and climate.

A Look Back at 2014: Our Top 10 Blog Posts

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

As we look back on the year almost finished, we’ve started to take stock in what our community has found most useful to them. If it’s one thing (or two) we know about our readers, it’s that they love growing food and getting their hands dirty. How can we be so sure? Six of our ten most popular blog posts from 2014 are garden related.

See for yourself: We’ve listed them all below, they offer a wealth of information on topics from growing mushrooms on a pair of old jeans, to drinking nutrient-rich sap straight from the tree, to tips on cooking the perfect grassfed steak, and more. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more about some of our favorite blog posts from the past year. So, be sure to check back.

For now, though, let the Top Ten countdown begin!

#10. What is a Plant Guild?

Plant experts and permaculture designers Wayne Weiseman, Daniel Halsey, and Bryce Ruddock share what they’ve learned about plant guilds in their new book, Integrated Forest Gardening.

#9. How to Plan the Best Garden Ever

This post features author Carol Deppe’s techniques and tricks, from her book The Resilient Gardener, to help alleviate some of the hard work that goes into growing your own food. Also, be sure to check out Deppe’s new book, The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, where she explores the practical methods as well as the deeper essence of gardening.

#8. Building Your Backyard Permaculture Paradise

More information on building plant guilds and drafting a master species list is shared in this excerpt from Paradise Lot.

#7. Grow Mushrooms on Your Jeans. Seriously.

The ultimate way to recycle, use old clothes to grow food! Tradd Cotter, author of Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation provides an easy, step-by-step outline of how to grow oyster mushrooms using the most unlikeliest of materials – a pair of jeans.

#6. The Ultimate Raised Bed: How To Make An Herb Spiral

The herb spiral: A beautiful year-round focal point for your garden that is easy and fun to build and saves both space and water. In Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, author Michael Judd shows how to create this edibles-producing superstar.

#5. Tree Sap: Nature’s Energy Drink

It’s not as sticky as you might think. Tree sap, whether from maple, birch, or walnut, is comprised mostly of water with 2 percent or less sugar and loaded with minerals, nutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, and more. Learn about this incredible, all-natural beverage from Michael Farrell in this excerpt from The Sugarmaker’s Companion.

#4. How to Start Seedlings in a Cold Frame

Harness the heating power of the sun even in the winter months with these guidelines on how to start seedlings in a cold frame from master gardener Eliot Coleman. Excerpted from his book Four-Season Harvest.

#3. Recipe: Ginger Beer

A top 10 list certainly wouldn’t be complete without a couple contributions from the fermentation guru himself, Sandor Katz. Check out his recipe for all-natural ginger beer using a “ginger-bug” to start the fermentation process.

#2. DIY Dilly Beans: Voted “Best Snack Ever”

Sandor Katz is a self-proclaimed “vinegar obsessed freak on the verge of collapse every time a pickle is near.” His recipe for Dilly Beans will hopefully convince you these are indeed the “best snack ever.”

#1. How to Cook the Perfect Tender Grassfed Steak

It’s heartening to see so many people are supporting small-scale farmers and actively seeking out ways to properly cook their ethically sourced grassfed steak. This #1 most popular post features pointers from farmer and cookbook author Shannon Hayes (Long Way on a Little, The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook) on how to cook the most tender grassfed steak both indoors and on the grill. For more information on the environmental and health benefits of sustainable meat production, read Nicolette Hahn Niman’s new book, Defending Beef.

Here’s to a successful 2014 and we’re looking forward to sharing even more great content from our talented authors in 2015.

Cheers!

Wine Pairings for the Holidays

Monday, December 8th, 2014

As you prepare to celebrate with friends or sit down with family this holiday season, it’s good to know what kind of wine to serve on the right occasion with the right meal, right? Deirdre Heekin, wine maker and author of An Unlikely Vineyard, is here to share some of her favorite wines along with food pairing suggestions. Her selections include a variety of wines that pair well with anything from shellfish to roasted root vegetables to a plate of aged cheeses, and more.

In her latest book, Heekin tells her unlikely story of growing wine in the hills of Vermont and her quest to express the essence of place in every bottle. Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times lists An Unlikely Vineyard as one of the best wine books of 2014. He writes, “I love this book, which conveys beautifully why the best wine is, at heart, an agricultural expression.”

The natural wines on this list succeed in this expression of terroir and capturing landscape in a bottle.

Salut!

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Sparkling Wines

For the holidays, the desire for celebration is always front and center, so having a few different kinds of bubbly on hand makes those impromptu toasts or dinners easy. Sparkling wines are a little higher in acidity making them great companions for all kinds of dishes— anything from raw oysters to roasted root vegetables beneath a golden roast goose.

Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco– Italy
This family makes one thing, and one thing very well, an ancestral-style biodynamically farmed prosecco. It’s distinctive, real, and very well-priced.

Podere Saliceto L’Albone – Italy
If you want to surprise and cause a little bit of stir, the L’Albone is your number. It’s a dark and savory, dry red Lambrusco, great when paired with good, fatty cured meats and stuffed agnelotti pasta in broth.

Furlani – Italy
For a splurge, any of the Furlani wines will please. These are true alpine wines from high in the Dolomites. They make a very dry Brut Natur and a stunning sparkling rosé. These wines make me think of snow and sitting by the fire.

White Wines

For whites, I look for wines with a lighter and intriguing offering that pair well with all kinds of appetizers and starters made from vegetables, smoked fish, shell fish, or salty cured meats.

Meinklang’s Somlo – Hungary
This wine is from northern Hungary. Biodynamically grown, this blend of four rather obscure Hungarian grapes, tells well the story of the landscape there.

Domaine Guillot-Broux – France
This medium-bodied Chardonnay is from one of the oldest certified organic vineyards in France. Elegant at the start of a meal, but also holds up to the main course, even that beef tenderloin.

Tanganelli’s Anatrino or Anatraso – Italy
These two wines come from vines more than 110 years old and their character is resplendent in a deep amber, or orange color. Because of the color, aroma, texture, and tannins these wines are the epitome of versatile, working effortlessly with oysters to aged cheeses.

Red Wines

The red wines that beckon to me during all these celebratory meals are ones that will not weigh me down. Since holiday food is often rich, I like a little counterpoint in the wine. My go-to bottles again exhibit that flexibility which allows them to go with so many different foods.

Montemelino Rosso – Italy
A cunning and silky blend of Sangiovese and Gamay, the wines from this tiny vineyard are naturally fermented and aged in old oak barrels that sleep under the farmhouse and in the little chapel on the property.

Paterna Rosso – Italy
Another medium-bodied to lighter red from outside Arezzo in Tuscany. The wine shimmers with flowers and fruit and a little earth and pairs well with vegetables, meat, and fish—think pork shoulder, or roasted trout.

San Fereolo Dolcetto – Italy
For a slightly brambly wine, though still very feminine, the biodynamically farmed San Fereolo Dolcetto always inspires me. Crushed cranberries, woodland fruit, slate and ink come to mind in winespeak, but the reality is the wine transports you to the edge of the forest. It makes me think of roast fowl, juniper, and clove, celebrations around the table, and raising glasses to the new year.

Celebrating 30 Years of Publishing and Planting Trees

Monday, December 1st, 2014

The internationally best-selling book The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono, with wood engravings by Michael McCurdy, appeared in Chelsea Green’s first catalog in 1985 and has remained in print ever since. This powerful ecological fable continues to remain relevant, as you can read for yourself below, and best exemplifies our core publishing mission.

The following excerpt of this award-winning book appears in the forthcoming book, The Chelsea Green Reader, which is being published in celebration of our 30th anniversary as a book publisher. Each book excerpt is preceded by a short introduction, which we have included here.

Enjoy!

Jean Giono, one of France’s most celebrated twentieth-century novelists, wrote this ecological fable in the early 1950s. It was far ahead of its time. Chelsea Green persuaded the wood engraver and fine press publisher Michael McCurdy to make twenty engravings that dramatically enhance the book’s simple but powerful narrative. For the first time—almost three decades after its publication in Paris in Vogue magazine—the story appeared in book form in 1985. In time it became an international bestseller, and in 1992 Chelsea Green created an audio edition, with Boston’s WGBH classical music host Robert J. Lurtsema reading and original music by the Paul Winter Consort. In many ways this book embodies the spirit of our company.

1ManWho

There was peace in being with this man. The next day I asked if I might rest here for a day. He found it quite natural—or, to be more exact, he gave me the impression that nothing could startle him. The rest was not absolutely necessary, but I was interested and wished to know more about him. He opened the pen and led his flock to pasture. Before leaving, he plunged his sack of carefully selected and counted acorns into a pail of water.ic by the Paul Winter Consort. In many ways this book embodies the spirit of our company.

I noticed that he carried for a stick an iron rod as thick as my thumb and about a yard and a half long. Resting myself by walking, I followed a path parallel to his. His pasture was in a valley. He left the dog in charge of the little flock and climbed toward where I stood. I was afraid that he was about to rebuke me for my indiscretion, but it was not that at all: this was the way he was going, and he invited me to go along if I had nothing better to do. He climbed to the top of the ridge, about a hundred yards away.

There he began thrusting his iron rod into the earth, making a hole in which he planted an acorn; then he refilled the hole. He was planting oak trees. I asked him if the land belonged to him. He answered no. Did he know whose it was? He did not. He supposed it was community property, or perhaps belonged to people who cared nothing about it. He was not interested in finding out whose it was. He planted his hundred acorns with the greatest care.

After the midday meal he resumed his planting. I suppose I must have been fairly insistent in my questioning, for he answered me. For three years he had been planting trees in this wilderness. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of the hundred thousand, twenty thousand had sprouted. Of the twenty thousand he still expected to lose about half, to rodents or to the unpredictable designs of Providence. There remained ten thousand oak trees to grow where nothing had grown before.

That was when I began to wonder about the age of this man. He was obviously over fifty. Fifty-five, he told me. His name was Elzéard Bouffier. He had once had a farm in the lowlands. There he had had his life. He had lost his only son, then his wife. He had withdrawn into this solitude where his pleasure was to live leisurely with his lambs and his dog. It was his opinion that this land was dying for want of trees. He added that, having no very pressing business of his own, he had resolved to remedy this state of affairs.

The oaks of 1910 were then ten years old and taller than either of us. It was an impressive spectacle. I was literally speechless and, as he did not talk, we spent the whole day walking in silence through his forest. In three sections, it measured eleven kilometers in length and three kilometers at its greatest width. When you remembered that all this had sprung from the hands and the soul of this one man, without technical resources, you understood that men could be as effectual as God in other realms than that of destruction.

He had pursued his plan, and beech trees as high as my shoulder, spreading out as far as the eye could reach, confirmed it. He showed me handsome clumps of birch planted five years before—that is, in 1915, when I had been fighting at Verdun. He had set them out in all the valleys where he had guessed—and rightly—that there was moisture almost at the surface of the ground. They were as delicate as young girls, and very well established.

Creation seemed to come about in a sort of chain reaction. He did not worry about it; he was determinedly pursuing his task in all its simplicity; but as we went back toward the village I saw water flowing in brooks that had been dry since the memory of man. This was the most impressive result of chain reaction that I had seen. These dry streams had once, long ago, run with water. Some of the dreary villages I mentioned before had been built on the sites of ancient Roman settlements, traces of which still remained; and archaeologists, exploring there, had found fishhooks where, in the twentieth century, cisterns were needed to assure a small supply of water.

The wind, too, scattered seeds. As the water reappeared, so there reappeared willows, rushes, meadows, gardens, flowers, and a certain purpose in being alive. But the transformation took place so gradually that it became part of the pattern without causing any astonishment. Hunters, climbing into the wilderness in pursuit of hares or wild boar, had of course noticed the sudden growth of little trees, but had attributed it to some natural caprice of the earth. That is why no one meddled with Elzéard Bouffier’s work. If he had been detected he would have had opposition. He was indetectable. Who in the villages or in the administration could have dreamed of such perseverance in a magnificent generosity?

To have anything like a precise idea of this exceptional character one must not forget that he worked in total solitude: so total that, toward the end of his life, he lost the habit of speech. Or perhaps it was that he saw no need for it.

Make the Most of Your Woods with Forest Farming

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Many people think forests are primarily reserved for timber and firewood harvesting. Not so, according to forest farmers Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel.

In their new book Farming the Woods, they invite a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicine, and other non-timber products.

Permaculture Magazine calls this book, ”a tome destined to become a classic.” It includes a wealth of information on how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamental ferns, and more.

Check out this excerpt from chapter 4 to learn about the variety of food crops you can grow using forest farming techniques. You just might be inspired to plant a grove of pawpaw trees or elderberry bushes in your nearby woods.

Also, Steve Gabriel is featured in a new documentary film, Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective, premiering in 2015. Watch a sneak peek of Steve talking about our role in the forest ecosystem.

INHABIT: “Farming the Woods” with Steve Gabriel from Costa on Vimeo.

Chelsea Green Publishing Turns 30!

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Explore a slideshow of cover images from some of our most iconic books over the past 30 years. Excerpts from these books and close to 100 others are all part of a new Chelsea Green anthology celebrating our 30th anniversary – The Chelsea Green Reader.

This collection offers readers a glimpse into our wide-ranging list of books and authors and to the important ideas that they express. Interesting and worth reading in their own right, the individual passages when taken as a whole trace the evolution of a highly successful small publisher—something that is almost an oxymoron in these days of corporate buyouts and multinational book groups.

Take a walk down memory lane with us and check out this selection of book covers from 1985 to the present.

Indoor Oyster Mushrooms: Big Yield, Small Spaces

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Grow pounds of oyster mushrooms right in your home with fairly little effort and just a small amount of space. All you need is 16 square feet, a few plastic buckets, an organic material to the grow the mushrooms on, like spent coffee grounds, and some spawn. Use recycled or salvaged items and this hobby becomes a low cost investment that produces delicious returns you can eat and share with friends.

In the following excerpt from Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, mycologist and author Tradd Cotter shares his plan for a 4×4 indoor growing system. Also from Cotter’s book, learn how to grow mushrooms on your jeans, seriously!

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Urban Mushroom Cultivation
By Tradd Cotter

No forest? No spare garage? With a little creativity, mushrooms are easier to grow in tight places than you might think. You can grow a substantial amount of mushrooms by incorporating them into community or rooftop gardens, or even by growing them indoors in closets and spare bathrooms. Of course, the amount and type of space you might have can vary considerably. Some people have horizontal space; some have vertical space; some may have both. The key is to evaluate your situation—with a site analysis or, if you are indoors, a walk-through—and choose the methods that will help you maximize yields for your given situation.

Indoor Small-Space Cultivation
The most common and efficient mushrooms for fruiting indoors in small spaces are oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.). You’ll be surprised by how little space they take up. You can pasteurize small batches of growing medium on your stovetop. You do not need a humidified room; an extra bathroom or closet works fine as long as you provide a simple humidity tent over the fruiting cultures, so that the primordia don’t dry out and abort.

You can house as many as thirty 5-pound bags of inoculated fruiting substrate—enough to produce 8 to 10 pounds of oyster mushrooms a week—on a five-tiered rack placed near a window, which typically takes up about 6 square feet of floor space and rises to a height of about 6 feet (which coincidentally is very close to the size of a small closet, if you have an extra one you would like to devote to fruiting). Or you can cultivate them in buckets on spent coffee grounds. Wherever and however you grow in your small space, if you’re indoors be sure to provide ventilation to allow for gas exchange, add a fluorescent light if your setup isn’t near a window, and cover the rack or containers with a humidity tent. (I would line the floor and walls with plastic if you are experiencing excessive moisture buildup. The object is to provide extra humidity to the mushrooms, but you also need to protect your structure from excess water to avoid rot.)

The 4×4 Indoor System
This 4×4 system will require about two hours of work per week to maintain, but the returns are worth the effort. You can locate your containers in a closet, spare bedroom, or bathroom, or even outside during warmer months. The system is scalable depending on the container size. I call for 5-gallon buckets here, but you could also use pails from a local restaurant or stacking plastic bins in the 5- to 13-gallon range. Just pick a size that is appropriate to the space you have available and that you can easily fill with the amount of growing medium you can prepare on your stovetop. Oyster mushrooms fruit about three weeks after spawning and can flush at least three times over the course of thirteen weeks, so to keep your operation going consistently, you’ll use as many as fifteen containers. Drill 1/2-inch holes evenly spaced around the sides, about every 6 to 8 inches. Make sure all the containers have secure lids and can be stacked several units high without any danger of tipping.

To begin, procure your growing medium. This can be spent coffee grounds or any kind of pasteurized agricultural by-products, such as grasses and cereal straws. To pasteurize a substrate, heat a large pot of water, three-quarters full, to a near boil, then add dried plant debris such as shredded garden plants, chopped cereal straw, plant-based kitty litter, or any other organic material that can be used to grow oyster mushrooms. Push the floating medium down to submerge it, heating for one to two hours on low heat with the pot covered. Remove from the heat, drain all the water, and allow the medium to cool completely. You may have to pasteurize two separate batches to have enough substrate to fill the container completely; if you want to make it a onetime cooking event and you don’t mind having a smaller harvest, just use smaller containers, such as 2-gallon buckets. If you are having a hard time finding growing media for oyster mushrooms, try pet or livestock feed stores to see if they have any bulk shredded straw pellets (such as the Streufex type); or you can buy bags of wood pellets (for use in pellet stoves). Both shredded straw and fuel pellets are good for oyster mushroom substrate when you mix them with a little shredded alfalfa (from a pet supply store) as a nitrogen supplement.

Mix the growing medium with your spawn. You can do this right in your growing container, but to make things easier I generally mix the substrate and spawn in a larger tub and then transfer the mixture to the growing container. Fill the container, and then label it with the date, the substrate, and the type of spawn you used. (Keep a log and record what you are doing if you wish to improve your yields.) Snap the lid onto the spawned container, and move it to your growing space. Keep all your newly spawned containers under a loose layer of plastic; this forms both the humidity tent and the fruiting chamber.

Once you have a series of containers under way, you can organize them by the order in which you expect them to fruit. Oyster mushrooms will generally pin (begin forming mushrooms) in three weeks. Keep the pinning buckets in the front and any resting or colonizing buckets in the back. Once the mushrooms flush and you harvest them, you can rearrange the containers to position the buckets that will fruit next in the front. If you want to stagger the harvest, once the mushrooms are producing and harvested, let some of the buckets rest and dry out a little, which means pulling them out of the humidity tent and reducing misting for at least two weeks, then return them to the humidity tent and resume misting and watering.

The second flush will typically produce half the weight of the first, and the third will produce half of the second (5 pounds, 2.5 pounds, and 1.25 pounds, for example), so if you are making a container a week, all of the containers will have overlapping flushes producing different amounts. Weigh and add up the yields of each flush every week to see if you are producing too much or too little for your goals.

For calculating yields, after the first thirteen-week cycle, when your system is up and running and you have mushrooms in all stages of cultivation, I would use a starting estimate of 1.75 pounds of oyster mushrooms for every gallon of substrate you prepare every week. So my 5-gallon-bucket system should average 8.75 pounds a week.

The up-front costs for this system would probably run about $170: $65 for buckets, $10 for a shallow tub in which to mix the growing medium with the spawn, $20 for the growing medium, and $75 for three bags of spawn. Of course, it will be cheaper if you use secondhand or salvaged items. During your first thirteen-week cycle you will basically be paying off the cost of any purchased materials, but the return on your investment will only get better after that. Thereafter, your costs for every thirteen-week cycle will be for the spawn and the growing medium (approximately $95, or $7.31 per week).

Given potential yields of 8.75 pounds per week and a value of $10 per pound, this production system can be a good investment. Aside from preparing the growing medium and filling the weekly container, the only maintenance it needs will be to rotate the containers once a week, to mist frequently, and to harvest the wonderful, protein-rich mushrooms—enough for a family of four to enjoy year-round. What is amazing is that this entire system takes up only about a 4-foot by 4-foot space, or 16 square feet, but it can be scaled to produce as many mushrooms as you, your family, and your neighbors can use. And after the buckets are finished fruiting, you can add composting red wiggler worms to produce soil that can be used to grow greens and other vegetables on sunny balconies and rooftops!

Film Celebrates Life of Food Pioneer Joan Gussow

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

The New York Times has called Joan Gussow the “matriarch of the eat-locally-think-globally food movement.” Bestselling author Michael Pollan agrees, saying “Once in a while, I think I’ve had an original thought, then I look and read around and realize Joan said it first.”

This month, a new, 75-minute documentary film celebrating Gussow’s pioneering work will be premiered at the Teachers College.

On Monday, November 17th at 6pm, the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College Columbia University will present the world premiere of Cultivation, a documentary film by Gioacchino Taliercio featuring the ground-breaking work of Gussow, the Mary Swartz Rose Professor Emeritus of Nutrition and Education.

Gussow has been teaching the life-transformative course, “Nutritional Ecology” since 1970. With this course Joan pioneered a way to teach generations of nutrition students broad systems level thinking connecting human and ecological health. The film captures the essence of Joan’s teaching and celebrates her continued influence.19.3-M-gussow

She is also the author of the award-winning books Growing, Older and This Organic Life.

Filmmaker Taliercio is an Emmy Award-winning video journalist and graduate of the Nutrition and Education program at Teachers College.

The Tisch Food Center, housed in the Program in Nutrition at Teachers College Columbia University, cultivates research about connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating and translates it into recommendations and resources for educators, policy makers, and community advocates, with a focus on schools as critical levers for learning and social change. For more information about the Center, visit www.tc.edu/tisch

Tickets for the screening are free but space is limited. To register please visit: http://tccultivationfilm.eventbrite.com

If you would like to tweet about the film, use #CultivationFilm.

Want to Learn About Ecological Agriculture?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Interested in all things agriculture — sustainable, organic or eco? Want to learn more about the most up-to-date, or time-tested, techniques designed to improve animal, soil, and human health and the food you eat?

Our friends at Acres U.S.A. are hosting their annual conference next month in Columbus, Ohio, and there’s still time to register for a full slate of workshops, pre-conference seminars, and keynote presentations.

Join several Chelsea Green authors along with dozens of others of the country’s best and brightest in agriculture for this three-day event. Among the featured speakers and the workshop leaders, will be the following Chelsea Green authors:

Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett will be at the conference to lead a Saturday morning workshop on using the GAPS Diet and making it work for your life and family. The workshop is partially based on their popular new book, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet. Dr. Joseph Mercola — the conference’s keynote speaker — featured their book on his popular website in September.

Gianaclis Caldwell, author of The Small-Scale Dairy, The Small-Scale Cheese Business, and the award-winning Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking. Caldwell is well-known on the conference circuit for her engaging and informative workshops. At this year’s Acres conference, she’ll present two workshops — one on the benefits and challenges of working with goat milk, and another on once-a-day milking strategies.

Cole Ward, author of The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat, will present a workshop on the basics of butchering and the opportunities it presents for farmers. A native of Vermont, Ward is an experienced butcher, teacher, and his workshops are always informative, and with just a dash of humor. Ward will also present an introduction to gourmet butchering during the pre-conference Eco-Ag U.

Find out more about each of our authors’ recent books below, and be sure to get your tickets now for what promises to be another great Acres U.S.A. conference.

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook
by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett
In The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, readers will learn about the key cooking techniques and ingredients that form the backbone of the GAPS Diet: working with stocks and broths, soaking nuts and seeds, using coconut, and culturing raw dairy. The authors offer encouraging, real-life perspectives on the life-changing improvements to the health of their families by following this challenging, but powerful, diet. With more than 200 straightforward, family-friendly, nutrient-dense recipes, this book is a must-have if you are considering the GAPS Diet, or simply looking to improve your digestive health and—by extension—your physical and mental well-being.
SmallScaleDairy_lorescover The Small-Scale Dairy
by Gianaclis Caldwell

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How to Use Lambsquarter from Root to Plant to Seed

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Some people might take one look at a patch of lambsquarter and yank it out of the ground to rid their garden or yard of an undesirable weed. Not wild-foods advocate and author Katrina Blair. At her home in Durango, CO, she tends to her lambsquarter and a number of other so-called weeds with the utmost care.

Why, you ask? Because according to Blair’s extensive research weeds are entirely misunderstood plants. In her new book, The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, she focuses on the thirteen plants which together comprise a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.

Blair’s philosophy is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our feet, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we could potentially achieve true food security and optimal health.

Lambsquarter is one of Blair’s 13 “super weeds.” You can blend its leaves into a green juice, sprout its quinoa-like seeds and use them in a salad, mash its roots into a cleansing soap, and more. In the following excerpt, learn all about the edible and medicinal uses of lambsquarter and find recipes for a variety of lambsquarter-based foods and products.

Happy foraging!

*****

Edible Uses of Lambsquarter

Lambsquarter is exceptionally nutritious. Our bodies can produce fourteen of the essential amino acids, but eight of them need to be found in external sources. Lambsquarter is one of those valuable sources.

The whitish dust present on each leaf is made up of mineral salts from the soil and is an indication of its mineral-rich value. Often the lambsquarter leaves will taste salty and therefore make quite a nutritious salt replacement or addition to dishes! Lambsquarter seasoning is made easily by drying the leaves and mixing them with other spices.

Lambsquarter is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. For example, 3.5 ounces of raw lambsquarter, which is about 1 cup of greens, contains 73 percent vitamin A and 96 percent vitamin C of your recommended daily allowances suggested by the USDA. It is also a fantastic source of the B vitamins complex including thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.

Use Like Spinach

Wild lambsquarter vary in their tastes. The flavor is related not only to different species, but also to the stages of growth and to the soil conditions. In general, however, all lambsquarter leaves are edible. The wild greens can be used just like spinach. They can be eaten fresh in salads, juiced, and added to any recipes that call for greens. They are best eaten when younger, however; when the leaves mature with age, the flavor can change due to a greater potency of oxalic acids. I find that when lambsquarter has built up too many oxalic acids, I experience a slight burning sensation in the back of my throat. This is why I recommend tasting the leaves by themselves before harvesting any quantity of them. This is especially important when making green juices or smoothies. When downing a liquid in several gulps, your body does not have the time to tell you to stop.

Harvest Seeds in the Fall

The seeds make a highly nutritious food staple for multiple uses in recipes. They can be harvested in the fall and ground into cereal or used as flour for bread. Similar to quinoa, lambsquarter seeds can be easily sprouted in one to two days. Add the sprouts to any meal to benefit from the rich nutrients.  Lambsquarter seeds also make great microgreens. They start out small and frail looking but given time grow into healthy plants with delicious flavor.

All lambsquarter seeds are edible; however, some are easier to use for a food staple than others. The wild versions have varying natures of seed production. Some varieties are easy to harvest and separate the chaff, while others are quite difficult. When possible, separate the seed from the outer layer and always taste the wild grains alone before adding any seasoning or salt, to get the true taste of the food. This practice will protect you from overeating something that your body would normally tell you to stop eating.

Wild grains are more potent than domesticated grains and a small amount is often enough to sustain your energy. Another way to increase the seeds’ resources is not to cook them, but instead to sprout them. Sprouting the seeds is a natural way to let the outer layer fall off on its own. Using lambsquarter sprouts is a way to increase seed benefits and sustain your winter storage to last even longer! If wild plants are potent already and go a long way, sprouted wild grains are even more concentrated in nutritional value and truly go the extra mile for supporting your optimal health.

Medicinal Uses of Lambsquarter

Lambsquarter is an important source of food that can be considered a key staple, while at the same time it is also an extremely valuable medicine. When the leaves are chewed into a green paste and applied to the body, it makes a great poultice for insect bites, minor scrapes, injuries, inflammation, and sunburn. The greens are beneficial for soothing arthritic joint pain when chewed into a mash and placed directly on the sensitive areas.

The leaves support the decrease of pain by reducing inflammation and bringing about an increase of circulation.

A tea of the leaves is beneficial for diarrhea, internal inflammation, stomach aches, and loss of appetite. The tea can also be used as a wash to heal skin irritations and other external complaints. Soaking the body in bathwater with lambsquarter tea added will support skin health by toning and tightening the tissues.

The green leaves when eaten in their fresh raw state are particularly beneficial for supporting the healing of anemic blood conditions. The leaves are exceptionally rich in iron and help to increase blood cell count and overall vitality of the circulatory system. The greens and seeds are very high in protein and phenolic content, and also have significant antioxidant capacity for eliminating unwanted free radicals in the body.

The roots contain a significant amount of saponin, which creates a natural soapy quality when mashed or beaten. In addition to the roots being extremely useful in making a cleansing soap, the composition of saponin also creates a cleansing and laxative effect in the body when drunk as a tea. Lambsquarter root tea is helpful for removing excesses from the body by the way of assisting elimination.

The young greens, especially when tender in the spring, can be juiced for their calcium and vitamins A, C, and B complex in addition to vital enzymes, chlorophyll, and trace minerals. The juice has a gentle detoxifying nature. Lambsquarter is an important green in this day and age of accumulated pollution. The greens are valuable for purifying the body of unwanted toxins due to their exceptionally high chlorophyll content. The chlorophyll binds with or chelates toxins that may be stored in fat cells and removes them in the urine. Our body is wise and tends to isolate toxins away from our vital organs by storing them in fat cells. When the toxins are released into the bloodstream it is key to have a source of chlorophyll to bind up the toxins until they are discharged from the body. We want to assure that they are not redeposited in the body while in the bloodstream. Fasting is a beneficial way to detoxify the body; however, because of the concentrations of petrochemicals found in our daily environment, it is wise to avoid fasting on water alone. It is best to have the support of wild greens in the form of dilute juices to protect our cleansing bodies from the potential side effects of environmental toxins causing harm on their way out.

The young lambsquarter green juice is delicious, but when the leaves get older, make sure to taste them first to know if the flavor is agreeable to you. The gentle astringent properties of lambsquarter make it healthy for tightening internal organs as well as externally for skin. The juice makes a beautifying and cleansing body wash. It is also a useful mouthwash for tightening the gums and eliminating bad breath.

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: Lambsquarter Recipes


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