Saturday, December 31, 2011

L.A. days

there is a big wetlands near where my aunt lives. we went for a walk there on the first day of my visit. i had no idea that there was this wilderness area being restored in this huge city. the most dramatic bird sighting we had was of an egret about fifteen feet from us on the walk down to the trail. i notice the big piles of dried cat tail fronds and think they could be spread out as mulch to reduce watering needs and lend all the other benefits of mulch. i wonder why they instead are piling them all into a dumpster, presumably to take them off sight? could be that there is a good reason.
this brisk walk on a sunny L.A. day was a really nice way to visit with my aunt.

i met this guy outside a whole foods market on the 31st and connected with him on a deeply spiritual, while kind of nonchalant level. he was just sitting there eating his lunch, saying hello and happy new year to folks walking by. when he said hello to me i noticed what a good energy he was putting out and commented, as i went to unlock my bicycle, "what a nice, open spirit there." we proceeded to converse, share food and resonate good vibes. when i left he said, "nice to have shared with you. it's how we heal ourselves. have a perfect day!" and i rode off smiling.

on new years eve i made my first attempt at making egg nog. it did not turn out well. we still raised those glasses and drank it down. i was the only one in the house up at midnight. i went outside in the street, spun around a few times, and looked at the stars. when the time came i could hear the fireworks going off in almost every direction, but could see none. there was a part of me that yearned to be dancing and kissing some beautiful woman.

i got some goat liver at the santa monica farmer's market just as they were closing. nobody in this household is interested, so i've been eating a bit of it every day. i've been aware of the benefits of eating liver for some time now, but it is nice to read a well referenced article now and then to be reminded of them.

on wednesday i went to the santa monica farmer's market again. tis time i got there in time to do more looking around and purchasing of the fine produce. i found the 'fairview gardens' stand and got some beautiful broccoli and red kale. after seeing their place i feel very good about purchasing their produce.
on the way home i stopped at this awesome cafe called uephoria loves rawvolutionto get a juice and finish a logo design i was working on. the energy there was so nice. guess i was creating it... a guy who works there saw me working and said, 'i need a logo..." if i take it on and he likes what i come up with i could drawing a logo for him!

mostly i helped out while here by cooking. raking up leaves was the only garden work i did. i also took out the compost a few times and added some leaves to the worm box. karynn has a nice little vegetable garden in which i found, my favorite, italian parsley! lots of great-looking perennial herbs too! there are a few fruit trees, but the apricot has never produced. maybe one of these years.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

trees and people

we are related to trees. i feel a great gratitude towards trees. i feel a deep brotherhood with trees. when i am riding my bike up a hill or through opressive landscapes i get encouragement from trees by the roadside. trees are great givers, supporting many organisms that feed on them and use them for shelter. in life they have a symbiotic relationship with fungi, and when they die the fungi help decompose their bodies so that they may feed the next generation of trees.

this story about how trees communicate through relationships with mycelial networks was recently brought to my attention.

another beautiful video related to this theme of trees is the man who planted trees, an animated film which i just watched for the first time! beautifully made, just as i had heard.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

ojai to L.A.

larry gave me and the bicycle a ride down to the ventura train station on his way in to santa barbara in the morning. i thook the train from there to L.A. the pacific surfliner trains offer bike hooks for free and easy transport of bicycles! i happened to get on the same train that i had taken in to santa barbara and was greeted by the same friendly conductor.

on the train i met a guy who was on his way back to L.A. after doing a bicycle trip from there to santa barbara on some trails back in the hills and mountains... dirt he said. not sure how to find info about this route, but it sounds interesting. this young man said he was interested in working in law enforcement some day. he thought the friendship bracelet, which i finished while sitting next to him, was pretty cool.

it was a hot day in L.A. and when i got out of the shaded downtown streets the sun felt a little oppressive. i decided to linger in the cool and quiet of the USC campus for a couple hours, since i was in no hurry to show up at my aunt's. there are often such nice trees on college campuses! i like being in their presence. i can usually find places to pee outdoors too, which i prefer to peeing in a toilet. while there i did some eating, reading, wood carving, mbira playing, drawing, and wrote a post card.

there are lots of fixie riders in L.A. i counted at least 18 between the university and downtown. by the bike trail i took part of the way i found a wool blanket in a huge free pile! i'd been thinking recently it would be useful to have over my sleeping bag if i sleep out on colder nights or where there is dew. i often find the things i need along the way. in santa barbara i found a wool, button up shirt on top of a municipal garbage can.
the guy who had put it in there was sitting nearby in the bus stop and said to me, 'that shirt's no good you know, the collar's all messed up," which was the case, as well as that it was missing all its buttons, but i assured him that i could mend it and thanked him for passing it on to me. he was having a bad day... had lost his radio, then found a gold ring, which he thought he could pawn and buy a new radio, then he lost the gold ring! i told him i was sure his luck would come through for him again.
the cold wheather riding gloves i now have were given to me by tom, of the walnut farm. they came along just in time! well maybe just a little late... the week before that i had a frightening experience in which my hands froze numb on a morning ride and i experienced fifteen minutes of strange shock while recovering at my destination.

i arrived at my aunt's around dark. it was cool to get a better idea through this bike ride of how L.A. is shaped and what lies in the places between.

santa barbara area

the day i arrived i spent a couple hours at the wonderful santa barbara library. i used my allotted hour on the computer and then entertained myself with a short science fiction story. back out on the bustling State street i asked a cyclist who looked very um... alternative? with panniers... if he knew where i could find a natural food store. he did not. we struck up conversation though and i ended up hanging out with him for nearly an hour at a cool park nearby he was going to take a nap in. this man, kenneth loch, impressed me as a very clarified spirit. the channel was open between us. he talked a lot about himself, but was a good listener too. i was thrilled to find someone i felt was of my tribe.
my host larry picked me up at a coffee shop near the pier and we went to a wonderful potluck. it was high up in the hills above santa barbara, in a community called 'painted caves'. when we arrived there was caroling underway in a gazebo which was up at the highest point of our host's very high up property. it was a spectacular view for sure. the singing circle ended shortly after we got there, to my dissapointment. i met the my second enlightened tennis player of the day and many other wonderful, relatively aware individuals.

the place where larry lives in meiners oaks, near ojai, has quite a nice little garden with several productive fruit trees and pretty nice, loose soil. this garden has been established by the owner, george, over the years. the was they compost is by digging a hole under the blood orange tree, depositing the quart or so of compost, and covering it back up. it works, and has its benefits i suppose. it felt good adding my pee to the soil in the yard as well. the blood oranges were not ripe when i was there, but the meyer lemons and satsuma mandarins were! my family used to buy satsumas every year around the holidays and they were a favorite treat. this year i got to eat them right off the tree! how wonderful! and i've had the pleasure of drinking almost all my water with lemon in it since santa cruz.

on the saturday the 24th was the farmer's market in santa barbara. i make a point of attending the farmer's markets whenever i am able. there was quite a bit of wonderful produce at this one and i spent $30. my last two bucks i spent on chantrelle mushrooms and the guy hooked me up well! i ran into my friend karolina at this market. she is someone i knew in seattle who has now worked with nash's organic produce for some years. it was funny because nash's came up significantly in the conversation i had with the guy i met on the bus from cambria a few days before... karolina and i made tentative plans to meet up on monday to go out to fairview gardens, a place i heard about first at the potluck and intended to visit.

finding the library was closed for the holidays i wandered back towards the farmer's market, thinking if i could find a place to get cash back on a debit transaction i could buy more food. i went in a cafe called our daily bread, but decided not to indulge, then next door at c'est cheese i bought some creminelli wild boar salami. no cash back. so next i stepped into the little used book store. there i ran into one of my fellow Greenstring interns, Richie! i had forgotten he lived in santa barbara and was so surprised and pleased to see him. inquiring with the sharp, old shop owner about whether there were any henry miller books there, she instructed me to look on that wall under 'H'. the first one to catch my eye was his 'BIG SUR and the oranges of heronimous bache', which i ended up purchasing. no cash back here either though. when i got back to the farmer's market they were breaking down anyway. i picked a few broken carrots off the ground at the stand where i had bought carrots. scavenging feels so natural to me. while munching i stopped to check out the crafts of this girl selling knotwork jewelrey by the sidewalk. i had a bracelet in progress pinned to my pants and i shared that with her. it was nice to connect with someone who also does this kind of work.

later in the day saturday i went to a ukulele club meet up outside the maritime museum. they were playing/singing christmas carols on a park bench by the sidewalk. i joined right in and it was really great fun! at times i was off key or said the wrong words, but i just love singing with other people!

a hula hooper woman did some dancing there before i arrived and then i got to meet her towards the end when she was on her way out. i told her i was on a HOOP TOUR and she said she is traveling too. she mentioned the 'sacred hoop' and i felt a mutual recognition in our brief interaction. her website is hooping allure. she is a beautiful dancer!

i did not end up connecting again with karolina, but rode my bike out to fairview gardens on monday anyways. it is a nice bike ride out to goleta from the santa barbara waterfront. there is actually a bike trail that i did not find that would have made the ride even nicer, though a bit longer. i at my lunch contentedly when i arrived at the farm, then went on the self-guided tour, after which i donated the suggested $3. i had hoped they would have some clementines and avocados for sale, but the stand was closed. when i peeked through the covering i saw butternut squash curing on every surface. this farm is doing some very important work. they have made the self-guided tour very informative with several "interpretive panels".

my father had been telling me i must spend some time with larry's sister and her husband, who is director of sustainability at besant hill school, which is near the town of ojai. we rode bikes up there one evening shortly before sundown (beautiful time of day for this ride!) and then i went back a couple days later to see the farm in the daylight and talk more with tod. peter, the manager of the farm there, which is a CSA providing some of the food for the school and wider community, spoke with me for a while and answered some questions about the practices there. some things i liked were the use of mulch, hand cultivation, and cover crops. one of his main goals is to reduce the water usage of the farm dramatically by increasing levels of organic materials in the soil and mulching, among other things.
tod was pruning an apple tree when i rolled up to his place, so i joined in. we conversed while sawing and snipping. we then shared a late lunch and i used the computer to figure out my travel plans for the next day. google maps has been a very helpful tool for me all along the way. after trying to figure out L.A. public transit i decided i would just ride from the train station to my aunts house. the tree pruning was very satisfying work, something i had hoped to do a little of this year, as i have been learning how it is done in the last few years. it was tempting to stay another day and help out more. there are many places on this trip i've felt this way.

on my way back from basant hill i stopped to check out the natural food store in ojai called rainbow bridge. i really didn't need anything, but got some garlic and ginger just in case it was hard to find good stuff in L.A. the woman in front of me at the register let me go ahead, and i bagged her groceries for her. turned out she was an important member of the local sustainability scene! she was involved in pesticide-free ojai and possibly ojai valley green coalition? or something like that. way cool! more mutual recognition with someone supporting important healing work.

Friday, December 23, 2011

seaside>big sur>grover beach>santa barbara

while passing through forest grove, south of monterey, i stopped to read this educational mural on the bike path. part of the first of three panels read:

"the native people of this coastal area - the Rumsien Ohlone and the Esselen - lived in a world of natural beauty and abundance for thousands of years."

i just got to santa barbara. it was a great trip this morning on the train. yesterday after arriving by bus in pismo beach i meandered around the pier for a while and then went to the train station to see if i could get on a train to santa barbara. the next one was to be at 7am the next morning. i had mistakenly thought i had a couchsurfing host, but he was not able to host me. so i hunkered down and spent the night in the waiting room of the station. the room provided shelter from the wind, but is not a fully enclosed space, so i had to keep bundled up in my sleeping bag. i meditated, ate food, drank tea(able to get hot water at a starbucks), played a little mbira, and chatted with one guy who stopped by for a while. i looked like a hobo, but i was just waiting for the next train.
i was not too cold, but a little uncomfortable on the hard floor. the previous three nights were more comfortable, on beds of evergreen needles (pine, redwood, and cypress). i felt so blessed to find comfortable places each night. really the station was not too bad, just the hard floor.

i took a little side trip in Big Sur, up a winding road in a redwood-lined canyon called Paulo Colorado Canyon. my hosts in Seaside had mentioned a guy who has a place somewhere up there and had some connection to a goat farm? i'd decided it was too out of the way and i probably would not find it, but then when i got to the road i said, "here i go!" and headed on up. maybe it was the trees calling me. anyway i ended up finding lloyd's place, called Merlin's Perch, after talking to several locals who i stopped on the road.
the property has an AMAZING view facing the coast (helps make the steep climb worth it). lloyd was not there, so i gave myself the tour. on these steep slopes there is a terraced garden with many fruit trees. a redwood tree here and there... a couple trailers are set up for seasonal WWOOFers. it looks like there is a lot of trail building/maintenence going on and that more planting is intended.
the nearby neighbor was also into gardenning and said she was going to put in a vinyard! Ecology Action and John Jevons came up, and when i told her i had visited there she was excited. we really hit it off. an interesting thing she does in her garden is to grind up her own coarse bone meal for her plantings. she felt it had great benefits, and of course it does! sadly she did not have her composting system functioning well. her food waste goes in one of those rotating drum contraptions and did not have enough carbonaceous material mixed in. she complained of the fly problem, but didn't seem receptive to the solution i presented of using cover materials as a biofilter. i would have liked to stay and help her build a nice pile. i know that intervention is not always effective though. i wish her all the best in her pursuit of relative self-sufficiency!

wednesday, the 20th, was a pleasantly social evening at a restaurant called Nepenthe in big sur. the young bartender, apolo, had the most welcoming and kind spirit, and recognized the good spirit in me. i connected with everyone around me very easily that night. it was my solstice celebration a day early. i ended up sleeping outside the henry miller memorial library and leaving before they opened the next morning.

just a little north of the town of cambria i stopped to observe the elephant seals occupying their beaches. there were babies talking with their moms, bulls fighting, and huge, old grandpas snoring. it was cool to see the whole scene. along the way through big sur i saw a couple of coyote, other seals, and many birds of course. wonderfully wild coast despite the highway's infringement.

at the bus stop in cambria i meet a fellow about my age who had been a small farmer in skagit valley, near my home of orcas island, in the past few years. we talked a lot as we waited and then on the bus to the next town. for me it was a very important discussion. he felt that it was important for small farmers to be big enough so that they don't get shouldered out by the really big guys. a good example of what he thinks is an appropriate example is nash's organic produce, who opperate in washington state. i could see there was a conflict in this young man, which i could really relate to, between the desire to be of most help to my community (humanity as a whole?) and the instinct to farm in a very intimate and sensitive way, for which we sacrifice the 'efficiency of scale'. we can see that there is a transition step, or many steps, that agriculture can take on the way to that ultimately more holistic practice of subsistence farming. i'd like to see every human live a long and healthy life. but the health of the whole we are a part of, i believe, requires that we adjust our populations to what our environments can support.
diversity is what i see as being the source of health. if we choose to share the blessings of life with all the other creatures we will live on happily!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

embraced at trout gulch

i had a wonderful visit at trout gulch farm.

i got a little tour from my hostess cole when we arrived in the late afternoon yesterday. she even took me down to take a look at the neglected three-acre plot where they want to establish the farm. i could feel the potential there. it used to be an apple orchard. we hung out in the outdoor kitchen before dinner. sean fed us delightful and smokey slices of seared lamb heart he cooked over the fire! i shared slices of a wonderful sweet pepper i had been given from the alan chadwick garden. i prepared a miso soup and sauteed greens (leek, onion, fennel, romanesco, brussels sprouts, and nettle). cole made radical refried beans and fatty rice. after dinner i kept warm by the little fire pit, meditating and then doing some wood carving on the mini-mask project i have carried with me from orcas.

i slept in a treehouse that was tall enough to stand in and just long and wide enough to sleep in comfortably. books line some walls(clever insulation idea!). i read an old national geographic article about micro chips before falling asleep around eleven i think. i felt really cozy with a mason jar of hot water in the foot of my sleeping bag.

it was a beautiful day starting with a beautiful morning. when the goats were moved from their night time pen to the daytime paddock i jumped up to join the herd. i saw that they could use fresh brush to munch and asked jeremy if i could get some. he showed me where i could cut some oak branches for them. this was a comforting chore as i used to do this all the time for our goats at wild's edge. i also harvested some trailing blackberry for these fine goats later.

the family who owns the land requested volunteers for a work party to pour concrete into the cinder block forms that are becoming the walls of a new room below their current house. this room will be for their youngest son. i was happy to have the chance to help, to give back. the position i took in the party was as the one to pour the concrete into the forms, overseen by a most vigilant man experienced with this kind of work. i enjoyed talking with him. he is writing a book about psychology as it relates to biophelia. i think that is basically accurate. anyway he had some interesting thoughts and appreciated where i was coming from.

i didn't get to meet the main farmer fellow there, but met many of the other members of this loving and hard-working community and was very impressed. it was very tempting to stay, but i felt ready to head on and left feeling elated.

tonight i am staying with some very pleasant 'warmshowers' hosts in seaside. the ride here was taxing and i rode the last twenty miles or so after dark. almost the shortest day of the year! tomorrow i'll hit the big sur coast. we'll see what happens there.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

esalen farm and trout gulch farm

do you know of this place called esalen in big sur? i didn't before this last week. after realizing what this esalen institute has going on i made some efforts to arrange a visit there, but it has not worked out. through these videos i got a better idea of what their farm and garden are like. maybe i will visit there at some other point in my life. for now there are other amazing places on my path to experience.

where i will be going today is a new farm project called 'trout gulch farm'. a girl who has been involved there is going to be working with my younger brother at Wild's Edge on Orcas Island this winter. when i was looking for a place to stay in santa cruz she offered that trout gulch might be a possibility. to make it happen i have had to spend a couple more nights than i intended here in santa cruz, which has led to some other good experiences.
trout gulch is interesting particularly as a bridge between urbanized, media savvy youth and radical, ecovillage lifestyle. hard to describe exactly what i mean... here is an article that supports this perspective. when i see it for myself maybe i will have a better idea of what this means.
anyway, i am excited about this opportunity to see and maybe do some work at this farm!

Friday, December 16, 2011

oakland to santa cruz

this is another section i thought i was going to bicycle but ended up finding another way. i figured i would take the BART to Fremont, bus from there to san jose, and then ride about 35 miles from san jose to santa cruz. but a guy on the bus told me there was another bus that would take me to santa cruz for only $5. the idea of getting there with some daylight left and not having to ride over the mountain led me to go with the bus. all the connections were very easy from BART to bus to bus and i didn't have to wait more than fifteen minutes. the trip cost me about $14.50 and took less than three hours.

another guy, a member of couchsurfing in san jose, who was at the bus stop, informed me that the farmer's market was happening that day in santa cruz. what luck! while on my way to the farmer's market i happened upon this hot tub place called well within that is owned by a friend of my mother. he is traveling i found out, but the guy who received me let me use one of the onsen rooms that happened to be free at that moment! it was wonderful! i had time to heat up in the sauna, do some yoga, heat up again, then dunk in the tub of cold water. i felt so rejuvenated! i gave this kind man some turkey tail mushrooms as thanks.

at the farmers market the cosmic good fortune continued. i had a very nice interaction with a gal who had lived in seattle and then been traveling in argentina for a year. we had both bought nice avocados and she overheard me asking about trout gulch farm. she knew of the road... anyway then i found a place to sit in the sun, play mbira, and eat my lunch. i was kind of abstractly imagining someone asking me if i needed a place to stay when this gal in spandex shorts popped up next to me and asked where i was touring from. she proceeded to ask me if i had a place to stay. i found it really funny because it was almost what i had been imagining. she did not have a place to offer as she was also a traveler, cycling down to LA like me. we may run into each other on the road... she had quite a story and a wild sparkle in her eyes.

i went to the library to use the computer. they charge a dollar per 20 minutes, so i had to make it quick. couldn't find an address for trout gulch farm, where i had been invited to seek hospitality. i brushed my teeth in the restroom as another guy was doing the same, though he seemed to be trying to brush his teeth OFF. i let him use some of my tooth powder.

i went back to the farmer's market and found someone who let me use their cell phone. it was a nice fellow working the 'occupy' table. they were trying to get folks together to 're-occupy santa cruz'. through some calls i managed to secure a place to stay with a friend of a friend of my sister. his name is my middle name, Paul. just as stands were closing down i bought some of the fantastic produce just in case i had a chance to cook. i found some nice folks sitting on an adjacent corner selling crochet hats and other crafts. i ended up doing a partial trade of one of my zines and $15 for one of her bear hats. she got a picture of me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

oakland herb garden

went with alicia when she got her car SMOGged. when we took a walk around the block i picked some herbs, mostly from one somewhat neglected garden that had a nice diversity of perennials. the sage plant was doing very nicely. just what i was looking for!

over the next couple days i used the herbs in soup and in two spectacular omelets.

today i decided to go back there and see if i could help in the garden in order to close the loop directly. the young woman who does the gardening there answered the door and was receptive to my offer of help. we got some funky pruners and a slightly bent hori hori from the basement. she couldn't look at the garden because she said it makes her too depressed. i assured her i had some experience and could direct myself. with joy in my heart i went to puttering around in the garden, mostly deadheading the herbs, taking out some blackberry vines, and clearing dead skeletons of annual plants.

my new friend was very grateful and we chatted over tea (mint and lemon verbena perfection!) before i had to be on my way. she dried the herbs which she had trimmed from plants at the nursery she works for.

kindred travelers

today i discovered two kindred traveler's websites. check them out if you have the time. i know there is a lot of work to do!

this guy just came through seattle recently!
whereas this fellow is way down south on his way to argentina!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

story stick

i'd had a significant experience out in the forest above bob connard's home farm on thanksgiving. i'd told the story of this experience to many of my friends and family. while staying at tom's place, the walnut farm, i got a message from a friend back on orcas island in which he told me i should go back and get a piece of that black oak tree, because it might be an important power item. it was not very convenient at that point to make a special trip back to bob's, hike up to get a piece of this tree, and then go back to green string for one last visit. but i figured out how i could do it and decided it was important enough to me to go to the effort.

tom drove me a little ways to give me a head start. i got a flat tire almost immediately after starting towards bob's. i was really upset about this misshap, but felt determined to do what i could to make the trip. what else could i do? i ended up getting a ride with a nice geologist fellow, who dropped me and the bike off at the bottom of the road that leads up a hill to bob's place. i left my bicycle there and hiked on up. when i got to the farm i ran into bob by the house. it felt strange to be there all by myself on such a peculiar errand. bob acted like it was the most normal thing in the world. he was like, "alright, have fun!"

i hiked up at a brisk pace to the black oak which had acknowledged me. i took some time in choosing the piece i would take from the section that had fallen. all of them seemed similarly decayed, but i chose a piece that still had rigidity to it and had an appealing shape. when i got back down i asked bob if he had a patch kit i could use to fix my flat. at first he didn't think he did, but when he scrounged around somewhere he came up with one! just my luck. beaming, i headed back down the hill, patched the tube, and rode all the way to the intern house at green string, where i arrived in time to share one last meal with the new interns!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

walnut farm

sunday was my last day at the Green String Farm, where i was an intern for three months. it was a tiring period and, while it was also wonderful and a greatly beneficial period of growth, i'm glad to be done with it. i feel a lot lighter.

for these couple nights i stayed with some new friends at the farm of tom's family, where they produce mostly walnuts. i helped shell and harvest some and was given some to take with me.

its been beautiful and sunny here the last week. the nights are very cold.

here is a picture of me with the desert of my first night there. it was a quince tart (unsweetened and crustless) which we put unsweetened whipcream and persimmon-whipcream (my idea) on top of. it was nice and light, and we found the quince and persimmon worked well together. these fruits were from Green String Farm.

a song came to me after a morning meditation while in this peaceful home of my friends:

rainbow warriors
warriors of the heart
there's lots of work to do

the time is upon us
this is just the start
let healing begin in you

oooooooooh unfurl your heart
oooooooooh let magic happen through you

oooooooooh unfurl your heart
oooooooooh the love within surrounds too


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

earth healing

one of my goals on this trip is to learn how to help create healthy soils.

the organic matter is what i often think of when i imagine healthy topsoil. there is also the mineral part of it, whether it be in the form of sand, silt, or clay. there is usually some mix of the three. then there is the organic matter in soil, which consists of that living and not living. the living are organisms on the soil surface and below the surface that participate in the soil food web. that not living is the plant or animal material in various stages of decomposition that is the nutrient source for the living things.

in farming practice we have replaced a natural, soil-building ecosystem with a cropping system that we must manage in order to maintain or build soil. in agriculture the trend has been to deplete soils, but there may be some rare cases where soil fertility has been maintained or risen. what i am interested in finding out is if us humans can help to rebuild at an accelerated rate the soils which we have depleted. i think it may be possible through small-scale farming and intensive composting of all organic materials otherwise deposited in various waste streams. if it is possible this is what i want to participate in. i believe humanity depends on it.

at Green String Farm i took the opportunity to practice composting. i built one pile while there i felt was big enough to call complete. the minimum size in order to build the necessary heat in the pile for proper digestion is about four cubic feet. it can be bigger, but at some point it will have so much thermal mass that it will heat up more than is optimal for the desired bacterial activity.

joseph jenkins, author of the humanure handbook, does not believe turning compost is the best way to do it. he cites studies where turning compost was found to cause loss of oxygen, organic material, and water. it also requires labor that might be better utilized elsewhere. if the pile is properly built then the microbial life in the pile can be left to do it's magic over the course of a year after the pile has been built to full size.

before my time at Green String Farm i'd never completed a compost pile. closest i got was just a couple layers shy on a pile i started at wild's edge, where i used to live on orcas island. that one was in a bin made of pallets. this time i built the pile free-standing, using coarse, somewhat rigid materials to create structural support and a barrier against pests on the outside. i did not put these materials on top of the pile, but i see now that it could have been an extra deterrent against pests such as the cats and duck that liked to poke around up there. usually i just used finer material like leaves or straw. every other time i added nitrogenous materials and covered with carbonaceous materials, i also added a thin layer of soil. this seemed to discourage the animals. this is the way i saw the piles being layered at Ecology Action. those folks have some experience with composting.

for the last few weeks of the internship i added my own humanure to this compost pile. what encouraged me, besides the information in the 'humanure handbook', was that the pit under our outhouse had filled up and we were not prioritizing digging a new pit. i'd rather not go to the trouble when there is a perfectly relaxing and otherwise practical alternative, to compost the poop in a thermophilic pile! the 'humanure handbook', the only text i read while at the farm, helped me to feel confident in the safety and sensibility of this activity. there is more chance of pollution occurring from an anaerobic pit than there is from a properly built and maintained compost pile.

towards the end i also added two whole chicken corpses. this is another activity that mr. jenkins encourages in his book.

i took great care and enjoyed the creative act of building this pile. i felt with satisfaction how i was participating in this essential natural process of decomposition and digestion. without this process there would be no renewal and continuation of life.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

hoop hike

here in sonoma county there were strong winds from about 11am to 7pm. for our lesson we had a hike with our instructor bob. the forest we walked through is on a ridge above the sonoma valley. very beautiful land. he pointed out mt. diablo and the cities of the bay area to the south from the highest point on our hike. we found many pounds of golden chantrelle mushrooms at a couple of bob's spots. it was one of my most exciting mushroom experiences. walking through this forest of oak, maple, madrona, bay, and manzanita i felt deeply connected to the spirit that flows through it all. the wind was blowing in a way that feels like some kind of communication. there was a lot of talk of the natives of the area, who bob said used to live on the ridges above this valley, until the last were killed or driven out around 1906. there was said to be a population of about one thousand when the settlers, the takers, arrived. there is an old village site on bob's property. i want to learn more of the story.

previous to this hike i had been up in the forest on thanksgiving. i walked up as dusk approached and played some mbira in spirit of thanks while sitting under a big oak on a lower ridge by a small meadow. when i finished playing mbira i bowed in reverence and release, bending forward in my seated position. making a sort of prayer with eyes closed, i heard a 'crack' sound to my right out of the stillness. when i rose i looked around and was not sure what had made the sound... then another cracking sound came from the tree to my right, about thirty feet away. then the sound increased as a large limb fell from this old tree and crashed to the grassy ground in my direction. i felt like i was being acknowledged. i smiled and laughed and decided to start back, taking a leaf to ask which kind of tree it was. a black oak.

a couple weeks later a friend from my home on orcas island told me i should go back and get a piece of this tree, as it might be an important power item in my life. that story is recorded here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

thanksgiving at bob's

i made some pies. one without crust for the gluten intolerant. and one kind of dry (not the right kind of apples i guess) apple tart with the leftover dough.

misja, mellisa, and kate in the kitchen.

there were other beautiful pies there too!

bob trains the dogs to eat meat in a civilized manner.

hey jude. what do those clouds look like to you?

the buddha statue by a big oak next to the bed of young italian parsley.

the lettuce bed, with comfrey to the right, rosemary hedge and orchard in the distance.

about half of bob's very plentiful chantrelle harvest from the generous forest.

Friday, November 18, 2011

thermophilic benefits

cats sleeping on top of the pile were a sign that the pile was heating up. this sight always made me happy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


this is how i looked towards the end of the festivities of our intern event, the barnival, which was held last saturday at Green String Farm. in my hand is a slice of sourdough bread with rosemary-squash spread, both of which i made. i enjoyed picking flowers, helping people make compostable crafts such (head-wreaths were popular!), and starting a compost pile(including wishes and apple mash from the cider press). the music of the band who played was really the perfect fit. one of them works for petaluma360. on their website there is a gallery of more images from the event.

Monday, November 14, 2011

dexter the dexter

this week my chore is to take care of the animals other than the chickens. we have a dexter cow named Dexter, a sheep named Harry, and two goats, Lily and Maggie. i don't know all of their stories, but i know that the goats were donated to the farm early summer of this year. they are an Oberhasli/Nubian mix and have not been bred yet. i think they would make fine milking does if that is to be their fate.
the animal's facilities remind me a little of Wild's Edge. a bit rickety sometimes but does the job. this area could use a lot more attention and be made more comfortable for everyone involved. visitors really like to see the animals here and it could be a draw to have attractive facilities as well as healthy, happy animals. it is the same with the chickens, needs more attention and better craftsmanship.

i felt good about the amount of fresh, green food these ruminants got today in my care. i found good places to tether them out and nobody got tangled up. one time before i did have to save harry from serious strangulation. the grass and other plants growing in the borders are often growing in lush stands with the arrival of moisture recently. while the animals were grazing this afternoon i filled tubs for them to have back in the paddock. i just use my sharp little Opinel knife to slice through the tender stems, mowing down handfuls at a time.

tonight i am going to can some apple sauce, start tomato sauce, and put the first batch of dried lemon verbena for the store into jars!

Friday, November 11, 2011


rainbows have been a theme the past week.

and the gallon of kraut i made turned out well. still lots of cabbage around here to kraut up! i also want to try roasting it, which i've heard enhances the sweetness of a sweet, green cabbage.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

broadcasting cover crop

in one of our lessons at bob's home farm we learned a technique for broadcasting cover crop. walking at a steady pace, we throw the seeds up and forward in a 180 degree arc. a little like throwing a frisbee forehand. the more active lessons such as this got everyone pumped.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

optimistic morning

the roasted chicken last night was spectacular, with the tart addition of quince, something i've never tried before. i've got stock in the crock pot and kraut in a jar. mint on the line, only part dry so far.

i will do what i can today and accept that i can't do it all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

busy at a farm

well i'm at the first checkpoint, where i'll be until the first week of december. this is a three month internship at Green String Farm, near Petaluma, CA. the experience for me here has been immersive and intense. i've been trying to practice certain things like making compost, planting, and maintaining the garden by weeding and watering appropriately. i've been focusing a lot of time on drying herbs, fruits, and peppers. the foods i mostly dry in the earth oven when it cools to a lower temp after baking. also i've been cooking a lot and trying to use the bountiful produce here in enjoyable ways. i've made a couple nice batches of pesto, lots of pasta sauce, and hearty vegetable soups with chicken stock. we got a bunch of surplus roosters from our instructor's son and have been feeding them and consuming them.

today during our afternoon lesson, which we have every weekday, we piled in two big pickup trucks and went up to this spring that is up on the small mountain above the vineyards that are owned by the company that owns Green String. we are installing a solar-powered pump in order to have access to the water. we are very fortunate to have this spring near us, and i hope i get to drink from it in this last month here.

more details as i have the time...

Monday, October 31, 2011


i made the crusts and filled one of these pies with blackberry, apple, and rhubarb. jude made the pumpkin filling for the other. what a pleasure to behold and devour!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

green string experience

i came here to Green String Farm to learn some ways to give back as i receive. my focus is specifically on understanding the needs of the soil and using composting to heal the soil.
nine other interns and i live in an old farm house and share lunch and dinner on weekdays. we have a regular schedule of chores, every morning starting at 7am, and working for the farm starting at 8. we then have a lesson every weekday after lunch. this is most often with Bob Connard, the main coordinator of this farm. he's the big boss. he is a very spiritually activated and hard-working man.

in one lesson i learned how to transplant starts:

a clump of babies in the right hand, take one in the left, pull soil aside with right middle finger, deposit plant in the hole as finger is pulled out, pinch soil around plant.

other lessons included; compost tea, irrigation, broadcasting seed in flats and as cover crop, compost, building a compost pile, dowsing, stream restoration, repairing tools, gun use, tractor use, chainsaw use, tool care, plant health characteristics, marketing, plant propagation, bud grafting, herbalism, fossil fuel and politics... and more.

check out the green string website if you like.

this is a picture of me sharing mulberries, which were generously given by one of the trees near the farm store and chicken coop.

i'll try to post more about my experience later on with more pictures!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

frogsong in cotati

while at rachels i read a little magazine called 'ripples', which is put out by this awesome organization called daily acts. in it i found there was a free permaculture workshop happening in cotati on saturday. cotati is between petaluma and sebastopol, so it worked out great for me to stop there on the way. i took my time, shopping for work clothes and tools, having a mug of mate at hardcore espresso, and picking up useful things like work gloves and a bandana on the side of the highway. so i didn't end up arriving at the permaculture site, a public park in cotati, until they were just finishing up. they had had plenty of hands there, so i felt alright about missing it. i was able to help a little bit with cleanup and during that time i met a guy who said i might be able to stay the night where he lives!

the cohousing community where this man lives is called frogsong. it an excellent example of more sustainable urban development and there are many wonderful people living there. i got to stay in one of their two guest rooms and was invited to dinner by another one of the residents. they served coho salmon, quinoa/rice, and vegetables from the garden.
the evening i was there was the night the man is burned at the burningman festival. at frogsong they burn a figure of a frog made by one of the residents and then project the streaming video of the burningman event. i drummed with them and danced around the fire. they also showed my short film, 'loopforms'! i got a lot of positive response.
people were so nice to me and i felt very comfortable and relaxed at frogsong. most of the people i talked to knew about green string farm because they had been invited to a dinner there and currently get a lot of the produce for shared meals from the farm.
ways i gave back included:
-pruning lavender and freeing some rose bushes from a choking ground cover
-giving a small package of dried bullwhip kelp to my dinner hosts
-sharing my short film
-tidying up in the kitchen and courtyard of the community building

this was a most wonderful final destination for this first leg of the HOOP TOUR!

Friday, September 2, 2011

thorn junction -> redwoods -> willits -> sebastopol

sometimes i'm occupied with other things and sometimes there is no internet available for blogging. so i've gotten pretty behind. but i want you all to know basically how things are going and where i am.
things are going GREAT and i am going to arrive in petaluma tomorrow evening. the internship at Green String Farm starts on sunday!

(note: this is just an outline that i intend to fill in more details in later)

i spent a week in thorn junction with folks who are close with my mother. it was a very restful and fulfilling time. i swam and bathed in a stream and small river. one day we spent the afternoon at an ocean beach boogie-boarding!

while in arcata i'd heard about an event at richardson grove to honor the trees. there i met some first nations elder women and lots of other nice folks. some folks joined with me as i sang a joules graves song of healing to close the ceremony. i am mention in an article, and there are more photos here!
i swam in the eel river, which was nice, but not the nicest since it currently has slimy algae growing in it and floating around.
at the end of the event a woman showed up who was on her way south to the santa cruz area via 101. i took the opportunity and we ended up camping in the woods near ecology action.

i spent one day working in the garden at ecology action with the awesome interns there. the next day i was recruited for a trip out to 'the coast site', where i did some double-digging of some very hard earth along with a couple good guys. the coordinator of this research garden took us out for burgers at mendo burgers in mendocino. i decided to go without the bun and instead sandwiched it between a couple sturdy leaves of lettuce. yay!

wednesday i got a ride with a guy from ecology action to santa rosa. we had the best conversation along the way... my friend toni had recommended going to sebastopol, so i rode the bike trail between santa rosa and there, called the joe rodota trail, and arrived around 7:30pm.
stayed with a guy who i'd met on the trail. he let me stay in the 'man cave', which was like a little music studio with a clubhouse feel. there was a pear tree right outside the door that was dropping it's gifts all over the hard ground which i took as a sign of support.

the next day i used the computer at the sebastopol library and then used the phone at whole foods to call a friend who lives in SF. she recommended that i check out this eco-village called 'green valley village'. so outside the whole foods i asked the first folks who seemed likely to know, and one of them, coincidentally, was living at that very community! i was in a hurry but had me call his partner to see about visiting. his friend was in less of a hurry and helped me with the use of her i-phone. when it didn't seem to be panning out to visit the eco-village i asked 'can i come help you in YOUR garden?' and got an enthusiastic 'yes!'. she drew me a little map and i rode there while she drove to her little home amidst an apple orchard on green valley rd.

rachel was so kind to open up her home to me, and we found we had many common interests. we meditated together, shared good food (which i prepared for us), and worked in the garden. we also attended a tri yoga class on friday morning. i ended up staying with rachel two nights, sleeping on her porch with the sublime padding of a doubled-over sheepskin. i made mint sun tea and hung some of the mint to dry in her little cottage.

arcata and patrick's point

i hung around in orick for the first half of the day. i was invited by a friend of my host to go see his camp by the river. he has built a few little shelters out of willows, sand, found materials, and tarps. the joy he took in creating this for himself and his girlfriend was apparent and i was happy he'd shared it with me. how he was doing things was exciting to me as an example of a person getting creative with this difficult situation of homelessness. making the best of it. we sat and talked for a while there before heading back to the house for lunch.

it was my host's birthday, and as i headed off to arcata he was about to drive over to a friend's place to pick up a huge salmon that she had caught and was giving to him. he was rightfully very stoked.

i arrived at 'the green house' in arcata just as my friends, of the band shenandoah davis, were getting there. hugs and howdies. i was invited then to stay the night, just as i hoped would be the case. almost the first thing i did was go out a pick leaves and blossoms from the very lush growth of nasturtiums. the garden in the back yard held some nice heads of lettuce and mature arugula. in another spot kale, chard, and artichoke had been recently planted.
i took initiative in the kitchen and ended up being the only one besides danah, the cellist, cooking a simple, vegan meal for everyone. i thought i was just going to be a helper, but i was glad to have the honor of taking the lead. sharing food is a component of house shows i value greatly.
the music was a wonderful celebration of sound. the small audience was obviously soothed as i was. the dancing i did was mostly in spirit.

the next day was another cosmic day. this girl kristen drove us from arcata up to this little state park, patrick's point, where there is some sacred ground of the yurok tribe, and where there is a reconstructed yurok village i wanted to check out.
while sitting up on this huge 'ceremonial rock' i played the mbira i've brought on this trip and kristen played her singing bowls. we also meditated in silence, basking in the sun. a man came up while we were there. he asked us if we knew about this place's significance, and told us what he knew. said it is where two tectonic plates meet. a special energetic spot. meeting of the male and female aspects, where the people would come to have their marriages. our spirits proceeded to connect deeply and we talked about a lot of things, relating our experiences on the path, and about how we see this evolution of consciousness coming. he is about 50 and is from france, traveling from montreal to san diego currently. he had gotten a free beach cruiser along the way and was riding some, bussing some, staying at hiker-biker sites. having a totally cosmic, syncronistic experience similar to mine.during our hours together we shared food with him at his camp site and sat on another of the rock formations and talked while the sun did beautiful things with the clouds as it dipped towards the ocean. we parted with warm embraces.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

riding the redwoods

after the night at the beach i made my way through the wonderful section of northern california coast between crescent city and orick. there are a couple challenging climbs, but the big trees one slowly passes lend encouragement and thimbleberries provide some sustenance.

in crescent city i stopped to get some water at a donut shop. their apple fritters looked really good, but i resisted, reminding myself how many nutritional points they have against them... refined flour, refined sugar, probably fried in veggie oil (used to be healthier with lard), conventional fruit. i remember eating these occasionally on the trip i made down the coast in 2003. my favorite. but now i'm more of a wild berry kind of guy!

when i passed through klamath, on the reservation there, i stopped at a little place that sells smoked salmon. there i was able to learn a bit from a woman about the yurok people's, and her family's, history. she accepted my gift of dried bullwhip kelp on behalf of the tribe. i brought several packages, intending to give gifts to as many tribes as i could along the way in thanks for their people showing us a way to live symbiotically with the earth. so far this was the first opportunity i found.
i bought some smoked salmon and i was given a little extra.
as i rode on i realized i'd left my water bottle back before klamath, outside the cafe across from the 'trees of mystery' tourist site. it was about five miles back, but i decided to go get it and take the opportunity to see the museum there. the woman at the salmon shop had said i should check it out, but i had already passed it... funny twist of fate. so i spent over an hour there looking through the collection of this 90 year old woman who i am told is still collecting! there are many very special objects there, including some remarkable photos that i believe were by this man edward s. curtis. take a look and you might get an idea of the impact these images had on me.

after i passed through klamath again i saw this guy walking who i'd seen since way back up on the highway. i stopped to inquire about his situation. he was walking to eureka he said to get the pay that he way owed. i wondered why he didn't try to hitch a ride. he said he hadn't had luck so he just decided to walk... i told him it was powerful to me to see him out there walking along the highway. i gave him a piece of the smoked salmon.

a while later i stopped to talk to another, younger fellow i saw walking the other direction. he said he was walking from orick to crescent city to work. i've never heard of people doing this... walking 50 miles to work or walking even farther to get ones pay! sure is a nice walk through the redwoods though. this second guy said he'd been munching on the thimble berries and i was like, "YEAH!"

traveling through Prairie Creek Redwoods i was thinking of what wealth is in this ecosystem. you can feel it when in the embrace of the woods. moisture is attracted and held by the trees, and an abundance of soil is built up to support the plants and animals in the understory. most of these forests have been destroyed. what an honor to be in this place.

i'd contacted a man in to stay with in orick through and made it there shortly before dark. he has two goats, a bunch of chickens that roam the yard, and a couple of verdant vegetable plots. those plots were fenced from the chickens. he also grows his own weed legally. the dinner i made myself included nettle i'd found just before orick. i was surprised to find young plants not yet going to seed. i then enjoyed his hot very hot tub. i am so blessed!

i'd ridden a little over sixty miles with the back-tracking. it felt like an easy day though since i had many breaks and the trees and fog had sheltered me from the sun.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

hitching to kellogg beach

i had decided to hitch hike the day following my langlois stay, so that i could get down to arcata easily by the 18th for a show some seattle friends were playing. hitching rides is something i find a lot of enjoyment and magic in. it is a radical act that connects people and can open up the hearts of all parties involved. people often open up to share stories and details about their lives. this day of hitching allowed me to learn something of the people and places i passed through, even though i was travelling much faster.

the first ride, not exactly hitching, was with my host donna, who had to go into the larger town of Port Orford to get some pickling supplies. on the way we talked about meditation mostly. we parted with a hug and well-wishing in the parking lot of a park/viewpoint with beach access at the south end of town. a good spot to hitch from.

i spotted the second ride of the day when they pulled in for a pit stop. this young man and woman looked like good folks, and my intuition told me i'd have luck with them. before i inquired about a ride the guy, coming back from the restroom, said to me, "seen any whales out there?". he had seen grey whales at this spot a while back. none today though. they were fine with giving me a ride and shifted things around in the back of their canopied pickup. they'd just gotten two 'king salmon' fishing poles that were on sale for $40 each. they were going to learn to fish for salmon! i told them i was glad. salmon have always been an abundant food source for humans on the west coast. i shared a little of my 'Loki Fish' salmon jerky with them.
these folks said they are into permaculture and are interested in getting goats next year! they live near to the guy's mother, who is the one really into permaculture, back up in one of the coastal velleys north of Gold Beach.

the next guy i got a ride from had a nicer, larger pickup truck. and he looked pretty straight. but when we got talking i found out he is really into foragging wild mushrooms! there were some similarities to our vision of humanity's future. at first i wasn't sure we would connect so deeply. he lives in Brookings, but took me just beyond to Harbor, where i decided to try my luck one last time to see how far i could get before the evening.

next pickup was a man who lived with his wife in a trailer home that was left to them by her mother, who he had 'gotten sucked in to' caring for until she passed. he is from santa cruz and really wants to go back there. i could see his good heart shining between the negativity about his current situation. one of the last things he said was something about, 'we gotta get more localized.' and he gave an example of folks who are making clothes or printing on clothes... anyway, another connection to what this hoop tour is all about.
he took me to the town of Smith River, where he had to return a movie. at that point it was just another 17 miles to crescent city. feeling satisfied with my series of rides, i continued by bike. the coast bicycle route leaves 101 several miles after Smith River. i almost continued on 101, thinking it is a more direct route, but then felt compelled to go find a place to sleep on the beach, because i realized it might be my last chance before 101 goes more inland. i stooped at the house by that turnoff to fill my water, as i was not sure what would be available at the beach.

the folks at this house were really nice. they had chickens and several raised beds. turns out the husband has just retired from teaching agriculture to middle schoolers! when i told them what i was going to learn, about growing food and stewarding the soil, we thought it a fine coincidence. it was nice to connect over that. he said they had raised pigs in the past and were going to again. they make all their own compost and seemed really interested in responsible food production.
they also said there is this idea with their son, who just bought a home near theirs, to develop a little bicycle stop at this junction. it would be a place people could stop for water, a shower, and camping. there could even be a small garden with fresh produce to offer! if it were me i would keep a very nice composting toilet facility to harvest all that wealth from travelers.

it was a very nice evening at kellogg beach. i took a dip, walked along the beach, took another dip, and sat by the fire of a family who were having smores. i enjoyed a simple dinner of seaweed, hazelnuts, sprouted sun seeds, coconut chips, and salmon jerky. the place i picked to sleep was a deep nook between the grassy dunes, out of the wind, which was pretty mild that night anyway.

by hitch hiking this day i was able to travel about 90 miles in half a day. and i still got to interact with people and get an idea for how they are relating with the food sources in the areas i passed through.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

good folks of langlois

sometimes one wonderful host leads me to another. on the 15th i departed after lunch from lynda's and made my way by bike to the home of some friends of hers in langlois, a small town on the 101. this was only a 35 mile ride or so and i had a tail wind much of the way. soon after i started out i noticed i might have a slow leak in my read wheel's tube. i had a spare tube to put in and i'd patch the hole later at my host's.

i arrived just before dinner. the meal included mutton burger (sans bun) from one of their sheep, cucumber, green beans, and zuchini fresh from the garden. she also told me she had a little pork from a pig they raised, but i did not have that pleasure. once again i was blessed to find myself hosted by kindred spirits.

donna showed me the pasture where the ramney sheep are, then showed me around her garden. there are fruit and nut trees and well-established herbs such as a 6' tall, 6' diameter pair of rosemary plants. she says they may be producing about 70% of their food at home! she has grown grain and dry beans, including oats, farro, and rye, which i got to grind on an old, handcranked mill for porridge! haven't had fresh-ground porridge since i left home, so this was quite a treat. and it was grown right there at the house where i cooked it up in the morning, which adds to the value for me. i decided to give them a packet of the bullwhip kelp i dried and brought along to give as gifts.
donna also saves her own seed and allows some special plants, such as a hopi tobacco, to seed themselves in a volunteer patch. she is fertilizing mostly with horse manure, along with the compost they produce from yard and food waste.
during my stay i dug the two rows of garlic with her and helped her eat some of the strawberries and blackberries. i made a nice pan of sauteed greens and zuchini for lunch.

donna has other self-sufficiency skills too. she had two spinning wheels set up in the living room. she had sacks of her sheep's wool dyed, carded and ready for sale. in her bathroom was a big jar of blocks of soap she had made. and she meditates. this is one radical lady, doing what she can to provide all she needs herself. she's done well in approaching subsistence.
her husband is a computer security specialist, but has gotten pretty good at this farming thing too. it's an unlikely combination that i kind of dig. he showed me great kindness in our brief interactions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

coast arrival

the woman i found to stay with on the coast met me in north bend, where she was working on the 13th. to arrive in time to meet her at 4:30 i had to hitch a ride. i tried in reedsport without a catch, but then when i tried again in winchester bay i caught a ride in a bubble-gum pink pickup! this couple were from eugene and part of my tribe i would say. they are acquainted with maitreya. when we got to north bend we all did a little shopping at the cooperative natural food store there, Coos Head. i've been so fortunate to have access to natural food stores all along my way.

my couchsurfing host, lynda cole, and i shared a nice meal including foods fresh from her garden and fresh tuna from the local fish market. that evening she showed me a couple places she likes to visit on the ocean near her home. it was nice to be in the presence of the ocean and we saw the harvest moon rise. huge salal berries were ripe along one trail and i saw the biggest native huckleberry plants! there were also mushrooms fruiting that i thought might be shrimp russula, but i wasn't sure.

during my stay with lynda i was able to help out in her garden, hang some herbs to dry, do some cooking, and share with this woman whom i relate strongly to spiritually. healing with sound is a big part of this period of my life, and i believe is an integral part of healing all humanity and the earth. lynda was another affirmation of this in my life. i'm so grateful for her sharing her songs with us.

at the coop i got a dozen eggs from a local producer that have some of the healthiest-looking yolks i've ever seen from a store shelf. i also got some grass-fed beef liver, which i think really did my body good. i'd been hoping to find some organ meat!

there is a genuine bucket-toilet at lynda's i used! this is my system of choice, but is rarely an option where i stay. there they compost it along with food waste and apply it to fruit trees and such. chickens are also part of the system here and they used to have goats. lynda is open to the idea of doing more food production and animal husbandry if she could get an intern or two. she's considering getting on the wwoofing scene.

coast range crossing

these two nights (august 11th and 12th) i spent in the coast range between eugene and the coast are the first camping i've done on this trip. just as i have been graciously hosted in people's homes, nature was my gracious host these nights. my concerns going into it were that i would not have access to clean water, mosquitoes might ruin my sleep, and animals might be attracted to the food i had with me.

before i reached the wilderness area i got water at one house. it was an A-frame i was attracted to, partly because the front door was open and it seemed welcoming. i wouldn't have to knock. the guy there was really nice and we chatted for a bit about radical topics. he has a vegetable garden and he said he feels it's the best way to avoid supporting places like safeway. of his house he said, "like living in a burrito." which i found funny.
after his house was the second of three big hills on this route through the coast range, which goes south of the town of Crow, and proceeds through the hills southwest and down the Smith River valley. these hills i took slow of course, stopping to drink water and pick berries, and they were not overwhelming.
i had my first blackcaps of the trip on that second hill. at the top of the third i enjoyed my first salal berries! in these couple days i feasted a few times on very sweet blackberries.

when i entered the forest i was keeping my eyes and ears tuned to any sign of a clean water source, which would be a small streamlet coming down the slope on my left. a stream flowed on my right, but i wouldn't trust it to be safe drinking. soon i heard the sound of trickling water and when i ducked through the thick brush i was able to access the water coming down through a cluster of alder roots, like a mat of thick hair. i set my water bottle there and let it fill slowly while i enjoyed the magic of this spot. nature provides. the source was probably a spring uphill from the road.
along the way down the smith river the next day i saw many of these little waterfalls coming down over the rock faces, where beautiful ferns thrived on the moisture.

the first night i camped on a little pullout where i saw a flat, mossy spot. the second night i slept on the smith river in a spot where a big section of worn rock bed was dry. there i spent the second half of the day sunbathing and relaxing with some little projects. i drew a crayfish skeleton i found. i made sun tea with lemon balm i found growing there! in the morning i found mint too and took some of both with me.
the mosquitoes were not bad in either spot! i thought they were likely to be a nuisance on the river, but when i lay down to sleep i noticed many bats flitting about and understood that it was all taken care of by them, the birds, and dragonflies.
i kept my food close at hand and there was no sign of any animals being attracted to it. later i heard that there are lots of bears in the area right now. a rad hillbilly i talked to at the 'smith river grocery and pub' told me he sees a bear almost every day now from a lookout spot he frequents that overlooks some huge blackberry thickets by the river. he said they are so abundant you can shoot two bears on one tag (hunting license). he also spoke of the excellent blackberry wine folks make in the area. his shirt said 'i have a CRABBY attitude' around an image of a crab. there's a lot of crabbing around the mouth of the smith river i guess.
another topic i brought up was the ranching i noticed dominating the bottom lands of this valley. he said there are four or five big ranchers and their cows are sold at 6 months to slaughter houses in eugene. they are not consumed locally. i thought this a pity. he said they use a fertilizer on the pasture that is safe for the river, animals, plants, and people. sounds like marketing mumbo jumbo to me.

overall a really great couple days of camping and solitude for me.


maitreya ecovillage, whom i had called from corvallis and gotten the okay from, since i hadn't found anyone else to stay with. maitreya had been mentioned to me by a woman at twin brooks farm, the first place i stayed.
i did various little things on the grounds there to help out, though not much around food production. one night i made dinner and brought a few folks together in an impromptu potluck. the last morning there i tidied up their strawbale community house.
this place is really rad, but would benefit from more action in food production and maintaining the common buildings and landscape.

when i packed up to go i decided to leave the bible i had been given in the little room where i'd spent those couple nights. i didn't feel like carrying it on my bicycle and thought maybe someone else would appreciate having it more.

highlights from eugene:

-most awesome natural food store, sundance. also had a great experience dancing to 'digable planets' in the smaller natural food store near where i was staying, where i went to get some yogurt late the first night in town.

- grassroots garden

-camaraderie with other meditators. we didn't meditate together, but i connected with three beautiful souls who currently practice.

-a singing circle i went to my last night there. so uplifting!

Monday, August 15, 2011

grassroots garden

this urban farm in eugene is one of the most exciting projects i've seen providing food and education for urban folks. when i visited on my first day in eugene, near closing time, i was given some zuchini and onions, and the next day i was able to attend lunch and volunteer a few hours. i washed dishes and participated in preparing a couple beds by adding amendments. so many things felt right about this place. they have a public water fountain, wormbins, a composting toilet, and a cob oven! there is some great community being built here and folks learning how to grow food in a relatively holistic way.

from the Food For Lane County website:
"GrassRoots began in 1991 as a partnership between Lane County Master Gardeners, FOOD for Lane County and St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Master Gardeners wanted a training location that allowed them to be of service to the community, FFLC wanted a source of fresh produce for its food distribution program and St. Thomas had available vacant land. The two and a half-acre GrassRoots Garden is developed and maintained by FOOD for Lane County staff, Master Gardeners, school groups, youth from diverse backgrounds and community members all working to make a difference."

4,000 lb. food produced first year - 65,000 lb. produced last year!
2 paid staff - 2,700 volunteers last year

-their soil is made of leaves from the city, manure, and amendments(lime, alfalfa, rock phosphate, and green sand).

-lunch is served every day with produce from the garden (in combination with foods produced elsewhere)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

corvallis to eugene

i had not found a place yet in eugene to stay, and i decided to take a day of rest in corvallis before heading on. i was still not particularly sore after another 55+ mile day, but i needed some chill time. for breakfast i cooked omelets and fried potatoes for all. it was a celebration. we had a very tasty and wholesome dinner in the evening that my hosts cooked, orchestrated by mike. they had lots of work they needed to focus on, but were still the most gracious of hosts.

corvallis is a great bicycling city, like most in oregon. cora is involved in bicycle advocacy and has this blog. they are both avid cyclists and were about to take off on a short tour/camping trip themselves.

behind their little house is a sweet little vegetable garden. cora says they want to "grow as much food as possible". but i still saw a lot of ornamental plants, so... while i was there some kale was planted where peas had finished their fruiting. there are many neighbors around them who are growing food too and they share the bounty! some hungarian hot wax peppers came to the house from one man while i was there.
the second evening i made roasted vegetables in a dutch oven from what i bought when i visited the other location of the First Alternative Cooperative (the original location). they have a great produce department and currently a good selection of locally grown potatoes and other goodies. i was thrilled and also to have a kitchen to cook in! to thank my hosts i left a bunch of good food for them.

on my way to eugene...
-visited a cool farm stand
-happened upon a cycle event snack stop
-picked fallen blueberries off the ground

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

yamhill to corvallis

after my longest day of cycling, about 55 miles rainier to yamhill, there was still no great soreness in my legs. i've been doing a little stretching here and there. keeping a high cadence and taking lots of breaks certainly helps.

yamhill county is oregon's burgeoning wine region. riding through this rolling countryside i was reminded of the riding i did in tuscany, italy. along the roads were crop lands and old farms tucked into the hills and interspersed with patches of woods. wheat was ripening and i saw some had been harvested already. there were many acres cover cropped with red clover. then there is the striking green of corn and many fields of hay. at a junction near some rows of homogenous houses i found my first ripe blackberries of the year!

as i entered the fringe of the city of Carlton i stopped at Cana's Feast Winery, the first one i've passed that was right on the road. it looked nice and welcoming. i thought i'd see about a wine tasting. so i brushed my teeth and headed in. they charge $10 for a full tasting, and refund it for every $40 spent on wine. i like this honest deal, but just wanted a free sample. they were gracious enough to give me a sample of one of their wines, i believe it was their Sangiovese. very sharp while filling the mouth with a feeling of wholeness.
the young man told me they source as much as they can for the restaurant locally and pointed out the small garden where they grow a lot of herbs. he said he wants to get involved with a food-exchange project when he moves to the area. in this one he knows about each member grows something, they pool the produce, and then split it up like CSA shares. cool!
when i was on my way out a woman asked me where i was riding to. she was from portland and said she and her family do some touring around the area. i noticed on their table was a thick-noodled pasta very similar to what i ate at a little hosteria in siena.

in Amity i got three more samples of wine from the area. this was at the nice shop across from a couple nice cafes and a bakery. it was an impressive little strip for the small town. this shop had hazelnuts in the shell and i should have bought some. but i thought to muself, "i can surely find them at the coop in corvallis." that is not the case. nor can you find them it seems at any natural food stores in eugene! i hear there is a guy at the farmer's markets... just seems silly to me in this land of filberts that you don't have the option to get them shelled or not.

i arrived in corvallis much later than i had intended to, but it was alright. i went straight to the coop and got some grass fed meat, eggs, cheese, a ginger brew, some mushrooms, a few potatoes and a yam. i was on my way to a BBQ! the warmshowers host in corvallis was cora and her partner mike. they were already at the BBQ. it was a nice time, and there were even some illegal fireworks shot off by some loony old guy. glad i could be there for this community gathering.

another thing i liked about this day was that once when i stopped to take a drink, in Rickreal, a guy came out of his house to see if i needed anything. make sure i had enough water... so i went in and had some water and used his restroom. he had done some cycle touring himself! nice guy and we really connected. this was the house he grew up in and he takes care of his old mother there. there was a nice grape vine outside the bathroom window he said was planted there for shade, and he keeps a patch of blackberries by the house so he doesn't have to go far for them.
then i stopped again later, close to corvallis, when i was running low on water and saw a guy out planting some flowers by the road. cosmos.

he filled my water bottle as i munched some snacks. his son had done touring like me, but had died when hit by a dump truck somewhere in ohio. the man and his wife intend to put a water fountain and bench by the road in front of their house for cyclists in his honor. i was deeply touched and thought this a great idea.