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Chelsea Green - Page 3 of 418 - The Politics and Practice of Sustainable Living. : Chelsea Green

The Nourishing Homestead: Practiculture and Principles

January 19th, 2015 by admin

Whether you live on 4 acres, 40 acres, or in a 400-square-foot studio apartment, the lessons you’ll glean from The Nourishing Homestead by Ben Hewitt (with Penny Hewitt) will help anyone hoping to close the gaps that economic separation has created in our health, spirit, and skills. This book offers practical ways to grow nutrient-dense food on a small plot of land, and think about your farm, homestead, or home as an ecosystem.

Ben and Penny (and their two sons) maintain copious gardens, dozens of fruit and nut trees and other perennial plantings, as well as a pick-your-own blueberry patch. In addition to these cultivated food crops, they also forage for wild edibles, process their own meat, make their own butter, and ferment, dry, and can their own vegetables. Their focus is to produce nutrient-dense foods from vibrant, mineralized soils for themselves and their immediate community. They are also committed to sharing the traditional skills that support their family, helping them be self-sufficient and thrive in these uncertain times.

The Hewitts’ story is reminiscent of The Good Life, by Helen and Scott Nearing, and is sure to inspire a new generation of homesteaders, or anyone seeking a simpler way of life and a deeper connection to the world.

Ben Hewitt uses the term “practiculture” to describe his family’s work with the land—a term that encompasses the many practical life skills and philosophies they embody to create a thriving homestead.

What is “practiculture”? Here is how Ben Hewitt describes it:

The term practiculture evolved out of our struggle to find a concise way to describe our work with this land. Of course, no single word or term can fully explain what we do. But in practiculture, I feel as if I have something that is concise but also opens the door to a broader conversation. It’s an intriguing word, and not one that yet enjoys widespread understanding. It also contains elements that are immediately recognizable: Practical. Agriculture. Practiculture. And not just agriculture, but culture, as defined by our work with the land, cultivating its teeming populations of beings and bacteria. The longer I do this work, the less I feel as if we are practicing agriculture so much as we are simply practicing culture.

Practiculture also refers to our belief that growing and processing our food, as well as the other essentials necessary to our good health, should be both affordable and, for lack of a better term, doable. Practical. It should make sense, not according to the flawed logic of the commodity marketplace, which is always trying to convince us that doing for ourselves is impractical, but according to our self-defined logic that grasps the true value of real food to body, mind, spirit, and soil.

Finally, practiculture is about learning practical life skills and the gratification that comes from applying those skills in ways that benefit one’s self and community. This sort of localized, land-based knowledge is rapidly disappearing from first-world countries in large part because the centers of profit and industry would rather we not possess it. They know that its absence makes us increasingly dependent on their offerings.

The Hewitts also live by some touchstone principles, ideals and ideas they return to at times when they are faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer. We’ve listed a few of them below, but additional principles (and full descriptions) can be found in The Nourishing Homestead, and are worth reflection.

As Ben Hewitt writes, “This is not a literal list, etched into stone or rolled into a yellowed scroll, although years ago we did create a written document to help us determine the direction of our land-based practices. Truthfully, we are not always able to act in harmony with these principles. There are times when circumstances compel us to behave otherwise. But even in these cases, it’s valuable to understand and acknowledge the compromise we’re making.”

Guiding Principles:

  • The way we think, act, and perceive the world is a reflection of the world we wish to inhabit.
  • We will produce the most nourishing food possible.
  • Real nutrition comes only from vital soils that enable plants and animals to express their full potential.
  • The labor to produce nourishing food is itself of value.
  • Do not let the logic of the market dictate the logic of the homestead.
  • Resilience of systems is the outgrowth of diversity, redundancy, simplicity, and, ultimately, resourcefulness.
  • Resourcefulness of body, emotion, spirit, and skills is just as important as resilience of systems.
  • The manner in which you spend your time is, in fact, the manner in which you spend your life. Time is not money; it is life.
  • We are not stewards of the land; the land is the steward of us.
  • Interdependence, not self-sufficiency.
  • Living in alignment. It is important to us that our daily activities comprise as much as possible actions we enjoy and which can be defended ethically and intellectually, not only from the perspective of humanity, but also from that of the natural world.
  • When in doubt, be generous.

Consider adopting a list of your own. If nothing else, it may compel you to think carefully about your guiding principles, and in this regard, become a step toward living life on your own terms.

 

Grow Your Own Sprouts This Winter

January 14th, 2015 by admin

At this point in winter, if you haven’t already exhausted your cellar of root vegetables, then you’re probably exhausted with it. But just because the ground outside may still be frozen, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fresh greens.

One simple and healthy way to breathe life back into your winter diet is sprouting your own seeds. In the excerpt at the end of this post from Wild Flavors, author Didi Emmons shows you how to make nutrient-rich sprouts from all kinds of edible seeds right in your own kitchen.

Once you’ve mastered the skill of sprouting, you can incorporate sprouted seeds into nourishing and tasty dishes. Check out this recipe for Vietnamese Sprouted Spring Rolls and Korean Soybean Sprout-Miso Soup from R.J. Ruppenthal’s Fresh Food from Small Spaces and the below recipe for Sprouted Amaranth Alegria Energy Bars from Katrina Blair’s The Wild Wisdom of Weeds. According to Blair, amaranth is one of the easiest wild seeds to gather and sprout.

Sprouted Amaranth Alegria Bars
1⁄4 cup sprouted amaranth seeds
1 cup sprouted sesame seeds
1 cup sprouted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons raw honey

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and shape into bars. Dehydrate either in the sun for a day or in the dehydrator for several hours until firm. Enjoy this living raw treat as a snack on adventures in the wild. You can also make this bar by toasting the amaranth in a dry skillet and then adding raw, unsprouted, lightly ground sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Although sprouting the seeds brings a higher energy to the bars, toasting them is another way to make the recipe in a very short time so as to have it available when you need it and to bring a unique flavor into the recipe.

Happy Sprouting!

*****
Growing Sprouts: The Eva Way
By Did Emmons

Growing sprouts is one of the simplest things you can do to breathe life into the deprivations of winter. As an urbanite who doesn’t have much space or sun to grow food, sprouts are one thing I can grow at any point in the year. Sprouts are replete with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes. Sprouting is easy, as easy a process as cooking rice. And there is a satisfaction in fostering and watching them grow and prosper. It feeds my maternal side, without the crying and diapers.

Most any edible seed can become an edible sprout, but I like to sprout wheat berries, kamut, quinoa, lentils, and chickpeas. Other possibilities include hulled sunflower seeds, buckwheat groats, spelt, soybeans, peas, brown mustard seeds, radish seeds, broccoli seeds, rye seeds, cabbage seeds, and herb seeds. You can also sprout raw peanuts, black-eyed peas, adzuki beans, green channa, and, more commonly, alfalfa, clover, and mung bean. Tomato and potato sprouts are said to be poisonous.

Two Ways To Grow Sprouts

There are two main ways to grow sprouts at home: in a jar or in a bag (of any sturdy mesh fabric, whether natural or synthetic fiber).SproutsfromWildFlavors

  • In either case, start by rinsing about 1 cup of legumes or seeds and then letting them soak overnight.
  • Drain, rinse again, and transfer the legumes or seeds to a big glass jar or mesh bag large enough to hold five times the quantity of seeds or legumes that you have.
  • Tie the bag closed or secure cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar to keep debris out and to facilitate easy straining. Hang the bag or store the jar in a dark, humid place if possible, and rinse morning and night.
  • Eventually, after somewhere between two and ten days, depending on the type of seed, you will notice that the seeds have sprouted.

You may have noticed that there is a lot of rinsing involved here, and watching all of that barely used water head down the drain goes against every fiber in Eva’s body. When she rinses the seeds or legumes the first time, she catches that liquid in a bowl. To rinse the seeds or legumes afterward, she simply dips her bag into the captured water, lifts it up, and shakes the liquid out. Once the seeds or legumes have sprouted and the rinsing has ended, she uses the liquid for a variety of creative uses, from cooking her morning cereal to watering (and nourishing) plants.

Sources

Don’t buy your seeds at a garden center, there is a risk they may be contaminated with chemicals or bacteria. I get my seeds at a local natural foods store and they sprout—no problem. But if you are serious, there are plenty of websites like Sproutman.com that sell seed grown specifically for human consumption. “The Sproutman” also offers a helpful circular sprout chart for $5 that lists an array of seeds you can sprout, with the corresponding sprouting times, the suggested method, the level of difficulty, uses, flavors, and so on. It is worth getting.

Storage

After giving sprouts one final rinse, put them back in the same container you grew them in or in a plastic bag poked with a knife to ensure air circulation. Sprouts are living plants. They last about a week in the fridge in a plastic container, though legume sprouts may last longer.

A Conversation With Winemaker, Farmer, Author Deirdre Heekin

January 12th, 2015 by admin

Named one of the best wine books of 2014 by The New York Times, Deirdre Heekin’s An Unlikely Vineyard takes readers on a journey of learning how to grow wine in the unlikely hills of Vermont and tells the story of her quest to express the essence of place in every bottle.

“Heekin gives a lyrical description of her earthly discoveries…and imbues her accounts with the wonder of a child discovering an earthworm in the mud for the first time,” writes Lauren Mowry, wine and travel writer for The Village Voice. And, when it comes to capturing terroir and following the principles of natural winemaking, Heekin told the wine columnist for The Boston Globe, “I am constantly listening and responding to what the fruit wants to be.”

However, more than just a book on winemaking, An Unlikely Vineyard covers the evolution of Heekin’s homefarm from overgrown fields to a fertile landscape that melds with its natural environment and includes a wealth of information on growing food naturally using the principles of organics, permaculture, and biodynamic farming.

Chelsea Green’s Shay Totten sat down with Heekin to talk about her new book and her efforts to deeply understand the land from which both her food and grapevines are grown. See below for their conversation.

Related Links:
Wine Pairings from Deirdre Heekin
Capturing Landscape in a Wine: The Unlikely Vineyard

ST: What inspired you to start growing grapes on a hillside in Vermont – of all places – and what were the first grapes you grew?

DH: Initially, I was inspired by our land. We have a southeast facing meadow that is perfectly situated to capture sun and air. Our soil is complex and full of stones. But for a long time we only kidded about growing wine here. It wasn’t until I visited Lincoln Peak Vineyard over in the Champlain Valley and tasted their wines that I understood that Vermont had great potential as a winegrowing region, and that it was possible for us to turn that meadow into a vineyard.

That day we visited Lincoln Peak, we left their nursery with over 100 vines to plant! A combination of Marquette, La Crescent, Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, and Frontenac Blanc.

ST: How long have you been growing food on the farm for your restaurant, and how much of the restaurant’s food starts from your farm?

DH: We started growing ingredients for our restaurant kitchen about 16 years ago. Our goal is to try to produce 100 percent of the produce for Osteria Pan e Salute (our restaurant in Woodstock, VT) all year long. We are very close to that during the growing season and getting closer and closer during the winter with our winter greenhouse and the root cellar. This year, livestock came on to our home farm in Barnard, VT, so now our eggs for Osteria all come from here as well as our chicken, and soon we will have our own pork.

ST: How do you measure the success of your harvests, and have they improved in recent years?

DH: I am still so amazed that I am growing wine, I am always delighted that the vines actually produce fruit! All kidding aside, I look to the quality of the fruit and how the vines have handled the growing season in relation to the year before.

I look at how the bunch is formed, how the plants weather the weather. If it is a rainy season, how resistant are they to mildew and black rot? I look at the new wood they are producing, how much, how strong, how clean of disease, and when does it harden off in the autumn.

Given that we are dealing with either young vines, or recuperating vines, I look to their production. Some vines we are taking back to square one and limiting their bunch production until they are stronger and healthier, so I monitor how much well-formed fruit they are producing.

But each year is different, and I don’t expect a constant jump in quantity or growth to measure success each year. What I do measure is quality and nuance. Individuality. While it is certainly a good thing to have minimal to no disease in the vineyard, when you work organically or biodynamically, growing seasons won’t be perfect, and vines won’t be perfect. I try to flex with nature and know that some seasons will be better than others in terms of the conditions. What I ultimately look for is the quality of the juice from the berries and the wine they make. As long as I feel the berries that go into the wine are saying something about where they are from and the vagaries and little victories of the season, it is a good harvest.

ST: How are the harvests now at the new vineyards that you have taken control of, in terms of managing the fruit during the growing season?

DH: In just two growing seasons, we have seen big changes in the vines, especially this year. This year was a near perfect growing season, so we were very lucky to have so much sun and dry weather to which the vines really responded. But the pruning we did this year also really redirected the energy of the plants back to their center, back to their roots, and as consequence the fruit was beautiful. We grew a little in our tonnage of fruit this year, but then we doubled the juice itself. The ratio of fruit to stem was greater this year. The natural fermentations took off immediately and the yeast colonies from the field have continued to be healthy and strong.

Plants that we didn’t expect much from this year, produced better than we thought, and plants that had been previously destroyed by girdling by field pests a couple of winters ago, grew new trunks, giving us healthy new plants that won’t need to be replanted next year. I am looking forward to next year’s revelations.

ST: Throughout the book the phrase “Wine is made in the vineyard” appears. What does that mean?

DH: I believe that wine is made in the vineyard rather than the cellar. The work that the winegrower does in the field during the season is where I see most of the craft in creating interesting, thoughtful wine. I see the winegrower as a guide or a companion to the vines and the fruit that comes in at harvest, not as a manipulator in the cellar. Most of the effort takes place during the growing season; for me the true winegrower or maker is simply responding with a very light hand to what he or she understands what the wine wants to become as the season continues from crush to bottle.

I have a lot of friends on the west coast who don’t have their own vines, but buy fruit from local growers and make really remarkable wines. In this instance, these winemakers educate themselves on the parcels that produce their fruit, and they work with the grower, either helping to formulate the growing plan, or working in concert with the grower’s understanding of his or her land.

And that’s what it’s all about in the end: Understanding the land and how the plants grow in a particular place. For me, it is the vine’s relationship to its terroir, the personality of the field, that dictates the wine.

Hurry! Holiday Sale Ends Today

January 11th, 2015 by admin

This is it. Today is your last chance to save with our extended holiday sale.

Save 35% off every purchase with discount code CGS14. But hurry – it’ll be gone tomorrow.

Don’t forget about our new releases, DVDs and bundles!

Need a recommendation? We’re here to help. Email us at [email protected].

P.S. Remember we offer free shipping on orders of $100 or more!

The Heal Your Gut Cookbook

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation

Hemp Bound

Integrated Forest Gardening

The ALL NEW Don't Think like an Elephant!

The Art of Fermentation

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock

Edible Forest Gardens Set

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds

An Unlikely Vineyard

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

Angels by the River Gaia's Garden Defending Beef Grass, Soil, Hope

 

View All Books Instructional DVDs New Releases Bundles and Sets
Gardening Food Simple Living Renewable Energy
Nature and Environment Green Building Business Science

*Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only).

The Latest Offerings From Our Publishing Partners

January 8th, 2015 by admin

In addition to publishing our own books on the politics and practice of sustainable living, Chelsea Green offers a helping hand to smaller publishers and those based overseas to bring their books to a wider audience. For the latest selection of titles from our publishing partners, check out the list below.

You’ll find books on a variety of topics including examining plants across the globe, observing natural landscapes in the United Kingdom, revealing the secrets of the truffle, and more.

Here’s an update on the new books from Permanent Publications, one of our strongest partnerships:

Around the World in 80 Plants- This book takes us on an original and inspiring adventure around the temperate world, introducing us to the author Stephen Barstow’s top eighty perennial leafy-green vegetables. Sprinkled with recipes inspired by local traditional gastronomy, this is a fascinating book, an entertaining journey, and a real milestone in climate-friendly vegetable growing from a pioneering expert on the subject.

The Vegan Book of Permaculture- In this groundbreaking book, author Graham Burnett demonstrates how understanding universal patterns and principles, and applying these to our own gardens and lives, can make a very real difference to both our personal lives and the health of our planet. Interspersed with an abundance of delicious, healthy, and exploitation-free recipes, Burnett provides solutions-based approaches to an eco-friendly, truly vegan lifestyle.

How to Read the Landscape (coming soon) - From his years of experience observing the landscape across the UK, author Patrick Whitefield explains everything from the details, such as the meaning behind the shapes of different trees, to how whole landscapes, including woodland, grassland, and moorland, fit together and function as a whole. Opening How to Read the Landscape is like opening a window on a whole new way of seeing the living world around you.

And, coming soon from some of our other publishing partners, Slow Food Editore and The Greenhorns, check out these new titles:

For the fourth consecutive year, Slow Food International offers an English-language edition of their guide to Italian wines whose qualities extend well beyond the palate. With visits to 350 cellars, its 3000 wine reviews describe not only what’s in the glass, but also what goes into the winemaking process for each label. (coming soon)
An aura of mystery surrounds the most precious of the earth’s fruits. This Slow Food manual dispels it, describing the various types of tuber, explaining how to recognize and select them, and offering suggestions for buying truffles, cleaning them, storing them, and using them in the kitchen. This practical advice is complemented by a series of itineraries in the homeland of the Alba white truffle and a selection of classic and creative recipes. (coming soon)
The theme of the second New Farmers’ Almanac is “Agrarian Technology.” In this volume, you will find answers to practical questions about institutional forms, and future-making: restoration agro-forestry, reclaiming high desert urban farmland, starting a co-op, pickup truck maintenance, pirate radio utopia, cheap healthcare, farming while pregnant, farm terraces, and quite a few more. (coming soon)

Year in Review: Award-Winning and “Best” Books of 2014

January 5th, 2015 by admin

As we take our first steps into the New Year, we wanted to take a few minutes to look back and tally up some of the awards, honorable mentions, and “best of” accolades that our authors racked up in 2014—our 30th anniversary in publishing.

Awards

The Resilient Farm and Homestead won the American Horticultural Society Book Award. The reviewers said Falk’s book is full of “exciting ways to more fully engage with the land you call home.” The book also “eloquently advocates for taking a holistic approach to self-sufficiency that can have broad applications beyond the farm … a thought-provoking and comprehensive resource, unlike anything else out there on the subject of sustainable living.”

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land by Gary Paul Nabhan won a silver medal in the Garden Writers Association Book Award for 2014. Nabhan and his book won a New Mexico Book Award, too.

Judith Wicks and Judith Schwartz won Nautilus Book Awards. Now in its 15th year, the Nautilus Awards is a unique program honoring books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, communities, and global citizens. Wicks received a Gold Award in the Business and Leadership category for her book Good Morning, Beautiful Business, while Silver Awards in the Green Living/Sustainability category were given to Schwartz for Cows Save the Planet.

Several of our authors were also recognized with Atlas Awards. This initiative was established to honor climate heroes that are focused on building a converging, unified, and urgent voice for the climate movement. Congratulations to Jorgen Randers (2052), Greg Pahl (Power from the People), Susan Clark and Woden Teachout (Slow Democracy), and Amory Lovins (Reinventing Fire).

Sometimes it truly is just an honor to be in the running – especially when it comes to such prestigious award ceremonies as the International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Awards and Taste Canada Cookbook awards. The New Cider Maker’s Handbook was a finalist for both awards. Author Claude Joliceour didn’t win, but was in very good company as a finalist.

In addition, two other authors were finalists for big writing prizes this year:

Saroyan International Prize for Writing – awarded to newly published works of both fiction and non-fiction. The finalist in this prize was Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America by Mark Schimmoeller.
Kirkus Book Prize – a new cash prize of $50,000 given annually to three outstanding books that have received Kirkus starred reviews. The one book of Chelsea Green’s that fit the prize criteria was Gene Everlasting: A Contrary Farmer’s Thoughts on Living Forever by Gene Logsdon.

Best of the Best

At the end of the year, some of our favorite writers and publications compile their “best of” lists, and Chelsea Green authors found themselves on a number of those roundups.

An Unlikely VineyardAnUnlikelyVineyard

An Unlikely Vineyard was called one of the best wine books of 2014 by New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov. Here is part of what he had to say: “I won’t mince words … . I love this book, which conveys beautifully why the best wine is, at heart, an agricultural expression. … The book is not solely about grape-growing. Ms. Heekin places wine in the context of a diverse farm, an alternative to the agricultural and critical view of wine as a monoculture. In the end, she writes, what’s most important is ‘the shared experience around the table that is defined by the culture of food, wine, friendship, ideas and heart.’ If you can find her soulful wine, produced in tiny quantities and labeled La Garagista, it resonates with every sentiment in the book.” Similarly glowing reviews appeared in The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, and other notable publications.

Defending Beef

Nicolette Hahn Niman’s Defending Beef was named by Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott as one of the best food books of 2014, claiming, “A longtime critic of industrial agriculture and a lawyer by training, Niman mounts a lawyerly case for pasture-based beef production. She does so from an interested position. She’s the wife of Bill Niman, one of the nation’s most celebrated grass-based ranchers. But critics who want to dismiss Niman’s advocacy on economic-interest grounds have to grapple with the mountains of evidence she brings to bear.” The organization Food Tank also named Defending Beef one of the best food books of 2014, saying: “In response to the ecological objection that cattle production produces more harm than good, biologist, environmental lawyer, long-time vegetarian and rancher, Nicolette Hahn Niman presents the case that raising cattle can in fact have many environmental benefits. Using scientific data, Niman argues how small-scale, grass-fed cattle operations are actually part of a long-term sustainability solution. Niman’s book picked up fantastic reviews from The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic (which also included it among the “best” of 2014 books) among other key publications and food writers; a sure sign the book has the attention of foodies and food writers around the country. Look for more on this book in 2015.

The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to MeatGourmet-Butcher

The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat is Vermont-based butcher Cole Ward’s how-to guide to home and small-scale butchery (along with a history of gourmet butchery and includes a step-by-step how-to CD of images). This book, published in February, was named one of the best food books of 2014 by The Atlantic’s award-winning food writer Corby Kummer. In his review, Kummer also gave a nod to two other Chelsea Green books, the award-winning and bestselling The Art of Fermentation as well as the aforementioned Defending Beef.

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation

Tradd Cotter’s impressive debut received plenty of praise from mycologists and fungi fans around the world, and Booklist editors named it one of their Top 10 books on gardening and crafts for 2014. “With plenty of photographs and other illustrations and comprehensive back matter, including glossary, bibliography, list of resources and suppliers, and index, Cotter’s advanced how-to is best for those seeking serious mycological knowledge,” Booklist’s reviewers wrote.

Forget Something? Holiday Sale Extended!

December 31st, 2014 by admin

Our Holiday Sale was such a success that we’re extending it through January 11, 2015! So, while the holidays have passed, you can still save 35% on everything when you use the discount code CGS14 (plus free shipping if you spend $100 or more).

Need some inspiration? Browse some of our new releases. Or maybe you’re planning ahead for spring? Check out our gardening, homesteading and permaculture titles. Want to beef up your foodie skills? Give our preserving, fermenting and cooking books a look.

Happy New Year from the Employee Owners at Chelsea Green

P.S. We’ve highlighted some books below but you can always browse our full online bookstore here: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore

Gaia's Garden

Edible Forest Gardens Set

The Art of Fermentation

Four Season Harvest

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

Integrated Forest Gardening

Organic Mushroom Farmiing

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock

Heal Your Gut The New Cider Maker's

Wood Fired Oven

An Unlikely Vineyard

Chelsea Green Reader Angels by the River The Wild Wisdom of Weeds Defending Beef

 

View All Books Instructional DVDs New Releases Bundles and Sets
Gardening Food Simple Living Renewable Energy
Nature and Environment Green Building Business Science

*Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only).

Our Most Popular DIY Projects of 2014

December 31st, 2014 by admin

If leading a more sustainable life is topping your list of New Year’s resolutions, then check out our most popular do-it-yourself projects of 2014.

These how-to blog posts share a common focus on developing the skills and knowledge needed to create true change—the kind that begins with us in our own backyard. Whether you’re interested in identifying wild edibles, using a wood-fired oven, learning to graft fruit trees, or increasing your garden’s productivity, this list of projects is sure to inspire a greener, more resilient way of living.

For more of 2014′s most popular content countdowns, browse our lists of Top 10 Blog Posts and Top 5 Food & Drink Recipes.

Happy New Year!

#6: How to Use Lambsquarter from Root to Plant to Seed

This excerpt from Katrina Blair focuses on the edible and medicinal uses of lambsquarter, one of the “super weeds” that can be found growing all over the world. Featured in the New York Times gardening roundup, The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds that focuses on the thirteen plants which together comprise a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.

#5: Build a Wood-Fired Oven in Your Backyard

In this excerpt by bread expert Richard Miscovich, you will find a few general masonry design recommendations to get you thinking about how to turn your dream wood-fired oven into a reality. Check out the rest of From the Wood-Fired Oven for a wide range of useful recipes for home and artisan bakers, as well as oven designs, live-fire roasting techniques, and more.

#4: The Endless Arugula Bed

What does it take to extend your gardening season? In The Resilient Farm and Homestead, Ben Falk shows how using a simple structure of quick hoops and greenhouse film to overwinter arugula can provide fresh greens as early as mid-March. Try producing your own endless bed of arugula using these instructions, or experiment with another crop from Falk’s book.

#3: How to Graft the Perfect Fruit Tree: 5 Grafting Techniques

Interested in keeping an orchard but intimidated by the prospect of grafting? R.J. Garner’s The Grafter’s Handbook is the classic reference book on plant propagation by grafting. This excerpt, revised and updated from the original 1947 publication, details five key techniques for grafting established trees, such as cleft, oblique, rind, veneer, crown and strap grafting.

#2: Michael Judd’s Blueberry Soil Mix

Michael Judd, permaculture designer and author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, reveals his special recipe for blueberry soil mix. How does it work? Instead of pulling material from distant ecosystems, Judd creates a soil mix that imitates the plant’s natural forest edge habitat.

 #1: The Ultimate Guide to Sheet Mulching

The number one do-it-yourself blog post of the year is a tutorial on how to prepare and install the ultimate, bombproof sheet mulch. Starting new layers of mulch in the fall is ideal for spring plantings. Be sure to check out the rest of Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway for more expert gardening advice on creating your own backyard ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

 

Time is Running Out on Our Holiday Sale!

December 28th, 2014 by admin

UPDATED: Our Holiday Sale has been such a success we’re extending it through January 11, 2015! So, while the holidays may have passed, you can still save 35% sitewide with discount code CGS14 (plus free shipping if you spend $100 or more).

This is it. Your last chance to save with our holiday sale.

Save 35% off every purchase with discount code CGS14 until the end of the year. But hurry – there are only a few days left!

And don’t forget about our DVDs and bundles!

Need a recommendation? We’re here to help. Email us at [email protected]

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Our Top 5 Food & Drink Blog Posts of 2014

December 23rd, 2014 by admin

This time of year always makes us feel a little nostalgic and a little hungry. What better way to combine these two feelings than with a look back at our most popular food and drink blog posts of 2014. In this top five list, you’ll find nourishing whole foods to improve your gut health, ideas on how to use wild edibles in the kitchen, preserving techniques for your fruit harvest surplus, and more. Not surprising that two entries on this short list are from our favorite fermentation guru—Sandor Ellix Katz.

And, for some extra countdown fun, check out our overall Top 10 blog posts from 2014. Did your favorite make the list?

2014′s Most Popular Food & Drink Blog Posts

#5: Be Good to Your Gut – Nourishing Food for Better Health

Restorative diets, whole foods, and traditional cooking methods have certainly gained traction this year. The Heal Your Gut Cookbook by certified holistic health counselor Hilary Boynton and whole-foods advocate Mary G. Brackett features all of these nourishing trends, plus 200 family-friendly, appealing recipes designed to heal and seal a leaky gut.

#4: Move Over Squirrels, It’s Acorn Harvesting Time

Foraging for wild edibles plays a big part in living a more resilient and sustainable life. In the following excerpt from The Art of Fermentation, author Sandor Katz encourages readers to explore an abundant food resource that falls from the trees every autumn—acorns.

 

#3: Breathe Life Back into Winter With Sprouts

Growing sprouts is one of the simplest things you can do even in the winter months and they are packed with nutrient-rich vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. According to Didi Emmons, author of Wild Flavors, most any edible seed can become an edible sprout, but her favorites are wheat berries, kamut, quinoa, lentils, and chickpeas.

 

#2: Homemade Hooch – Dandelion Wine

This winemaking process takes some patience, but it is worth the effort. In his book Wild Fermentation, Sandor Katz says, “Dandelion wine is the classic flower wine, made with the bright yellow flowers of the plentiful and easy-to-find weed. Don’t believe the hype of the manicured lawn lobby; dandelion is not only beautiful and tasty, but potent liver-cleansing medicine.”

#1: Make Your Own Whole Fruit Jam

The #1 food blog post of 2014 is…drumroll please… a recipe for whole fruit jam with no added sugar from Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning. This recipe relies on the natural sugars in fruit to provide a balanced flavor and sweetness. All you need is very ripe fruit of any type, a large saucepan, and canning jars.


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