Thursday, June 28, 2012

young farmers

recently i found this radio broadcast on the topic of 'young farmers'. it is quite pertinent to the shift that i see taking place in the world at this time. sometimes i feel silly pinpointing one thing or another, because almost everything seems to relate to this shift... but certain things seem more clearly to reveal the way this positive change is taking place.

perhaps i will find time to write more on this later...

spiritual center

the spiritual side of this journey has become more and more of a focus. i continue to meditate daily and seek out opportunities to join with others in prayer and meditation. almost everywhere i travel i meet people who i am able to relate to over deep truths of our shared spirituality. at the mention of 'LOVE' people seem to light up, as if awakened from daydreaming, as if it is the voice of god whispering in their ear. sometimes people feel inspired to donate money for the journey when i declare, 'i'm traveling for love!'

here i want to share some parts of my own experience and words of others that resonate with my own feelings.

"we have the capacity to manifest our own destiny, to create 'real magic' in our lives, to make our lives an expression of divinity, to remove ego from our conciousness, and to make love our top priority. to do these things, however, it's essential that we create an inner balance, a sense of harmony and equanimity within. happiness is not the end of the road; it's the beginning."

Dr Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

thomaston to race brook farm

the woman i stayed with said shortly before my departure, "love to give you a ride if i could afford the gas..." and i was thinking of that as i rode away. it occurred to me that i could afford to pay for gas and maybe it would be good for she and her aunt to see the farm i was heading to. just a couple minutes after i was thinking that they caught up to me in the car... i had forgotten my embroidery thread, which i make the bracelets out of. it had fallen out of my bag in the back yard the previous night!
so they drove me out and it was as i had thought, very beneficial all around!

when i arrived at the little camp where the farm project is working out of temporarily they were just getting into a conversation about humanure compost! i was able to contribute my perspective and some information that may be useful as they proceed. the humanure handbook was ordered that night by the farm coordinator!

being there for a few nights was very good for me and i was able to encourage the folks working there. i built a compost bin to hold their weeds from the farm. i realized they could just build flat-topped wind rows, but it was kind of a symbolic gesture. the idea is also that eventually all materials will be incorporated in such bins together. their system currently is to separate food scraps, humanure, and weeds from the farm. the kitchen at race brook lodge provides quite a bit of food scraps. the next step will be to include ALL food scraps, as they now only take vegetable material.

the last night i was there i attended a performance by a band called interlopers. it was a blast and i was influential in getting folks dancing. i really couldn't help moving to their music!

Monday, June 25, 2012

branford to thomaston

new haven natural food store, Elm City Market

jamaican garden, found near bike path in new haven! guy said he wants to get on TV.

nice trail

shelter from rain near cheshire. dave, from forestry department at yale, feeds meat(no bread thanks) and donates five dollars!

cop tells me i can't bicycle on highways in CT

kind hosts in thomaston! thank you!

---too busy having new experiences to write details----

Sunday, June 24, 2012

guilford to branford

molly rode with me to branford, which is maybe ten miles west of guilford.

on our way out of Guilford i found a little blue and yellow hula hoop on the side of the road! when i was in brooklyn i began to feel like it would be cool to have a hula hoop to travel with. less than a week later one comes to me! the hoop encircles my body on the bicycle. it is like i am emerging through the hoop! this one is too small and light to hula hoop with, but i can spin it on my arms.

i enjoyed singing with everyone at kirtan.

the first guy i talked to when kirtan ended was a nice man named brendan. he ended up hosting me for the night! he plays and fixes guitars, and had a dozen or so standing around his living room when i arrived. during my stay he shared a lot of his ideas and view about energy and the magic of this world and it's forces. he is a math and physics teacher and has been working in the field of nuclear fusion. he is also into sailing and has designed and built some boats. he made me a wonderful omelet in the morning!

guilford visit

sharing meals with my old friend molly for these couple days was really nice. she enjoys some of the same foods as i do, like fermented vegetables and miso soup. she made a wonderful smoothie for us! here is a picture of one of our meals: tempeh (i had cheese on top), miso soup, sauteed beets and greens, and fresh radish.

the last of the yogurt cheese i made in east brunswick was enjoyed by me. i like this little container i got from the bin of those available for reuse at the fourth street coop in manhattan.

there was no active compost pile at molly's place, so i set aside food scraps and tea bags in hopes of finding some place to donate them. on the second day molly showed me to a garden of a nice man nearby. he was out in his garden working when we went by in the early evening, on our way to swim at the beach. the garden is very well cared for and productive. he accepted the food scraps and gave up some beets and beautiful, huge, bolting cilantro in return! amazing! he said he doesn't let other people work in his garden because, "you never know what they will bring in on their shoes."
he was not there when i dropped off more food scraps and a little sample of dried bullwhip kelp on the morning of my departure.

on my second day there molly and i planted a couple of medium-sized plants by the driveway. i like when i can be helpful in these simple kinds of projects that seem like a big help to my hosts. it was nice to have some time to work on little projects of my own too, like sewing buttons on the vest i found on a sidewalk in brooklyn that is now part of my superhero costume!

molly showed me some of the places in guilford that were special to her. i liked these places, especially the beach where i collected shiny seashells.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

brooklyn to guilford

the ride to grand central terminal from red hook, brooklyn, was quite a rush; weaving through the dense traffic of new york and slipping through intersections against red lights. i made it just in time to buy a ticket and $5 bike permit before getting on the 12:07 train to new haven.
on the train i struck up conversation with a young woman sitting near me who had a print of a bicycle on her t-shirt. i was working on a bracelet. she impressed with my work and said she used to make simpler ones. she felt inspired and said she would have to make one when she got home. we spoke of many things, including her work as a nanny. she is interested in yoga, nutrition, and coming out of addictions. yay!

in yale i rode through some light rain over to the yale farm, where my friend, who i was on my way to visit in guilford, CT, had suggested i might volunteer. they have an open volunteer policy, and i happened to be coming through on friday, their designated volunteer day!
the farm, complete with chickens and a covered community space with a large brick oven, is very orderly and well-kept. there is one long bed overflowing with perenial herbs. i was happy to see the healthy patch of stinging nettle among the vegetable beds.
i started by transplanting some chard with an intern. then we transplanted some lettuce, did some weeding, and finished the day with a push to prep four beds. it was my first time using a broad fork.

the composting system there utilizes the open pallet bin. there are four side-by side and one smaller, two-sided bin by a greenhouse. we were tossing some soil plugs in which the seeds had not germinated onto that smaller pile i noticed how it was narrowing towards the top. this often happens with a pile when the materials are not spread flat towards the edges. there are some benefits to keeping the top of the pile flat, the most important in my opinion being the even infiltration of water. from joseph jenkins himself:
"Keep the top of the compost pile somewhat flat. This allows the compost to absorb rainwater, and makes it easy to cover fresh material added to the pile."
so i decided to flatten the one small pile near the greenhouse. i was joined by one of the girls also working there. it was quite satisfying and one of the interns thanked me for taking the initiative.

since it looked like it might rain again(at this time it was raining buckets in brooklyn i believe), i took the train the rest of the way to guilford, where i was received warmly by my old friend molly and her family.

Friday, June 22, 2012

brooklyn is what's up

the community where i spent most of my time in brooklyn is called red hook. i met the hoopers at a park on the northern border of this neighborhood. they lived nearby. the teacher is named celia, and she also a food healer. the student i met that first evening is ann marie.

i attended the tuesday evening hooping class. it was so fun to be among all the positively energetic kids! they were beginning to rehearse for a little show they would put on for their parents (i think). after the class celia, ann marie, and i went to hoop in a paved playground nearby. when i began to get dark ann marie invited me to have dinner with her at her art studio. i had gotten some things earlier at the fourth street coop and was able to whip something up in the very limited kitchen with ann marie's help.

i joined ann marie, her daughter, and another little friend to manhattan beach on thursday. it was quite an adventure! i found these sun glasses under the watre and turned them in to a lifeguard.

on wednesday i volunteered at an interesting food production site called red hook farm.

i didn't see any of the cool rooftop gardens in brooklyn, but i heard about some, including the very exciting farm in the sky. i thought i noticed some greenery on top of one of the buildings in red hook...

more on this later...?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

east brunswick to brooklyn

i gave the last few of my hand-made business cards to people i met on the henry hudson bike trail. one girl was carrying a hula hoop, and some other kids were sitting in the middle of the trail talking. it made me think that it could be good to share this blog with more youth who might be really inspired by this story to create positive change.

after the 21 mile ride from east brunswick, i took the ferry from belford to the world financial center in manhattan. on the ferry i ate lunch and enjoyed the view out the front window as the city loomed closer and we passed the statue of liberty. when i got on shore the first thing i did was walk through the irish hunger memorial. it was impressive to me as a cultural and ethnobotanical work. the stones resonated with the spiritual energy of ancient ways, and the way the plants were arranged helped to give the sense of being on an old piece of farm land that had been cared for over the centuries. and there it sits right next to sky scrapers.

a young man from germany took this photo as i passed through the scene. i gave him my info and he was nice to send me the image! thanks joerg!

after over a week in relative seclusion at soft path farm i was intoxicated almost by the spiritual energy of all these people in close proximity. i followed the directions i had written down towards red hook, in brooklyn, NY.
just before getting to red hook i passed a small park that had a really good vibe. i decided to stop for a look and did a u-turn. there were two women hula hooping there in the grass! i've decided to always approach hoopers on this trip, because it has always led to positive interaction.
we chatted for a while and i was invited to attend the class the next night, in the same park. i'd have to see if it could be coordinated around sharing a dinner with my hosts...

my friend hannah showed me around red hook a bit. there are many little gardens, and one small farm, in this budding green community. it is very exciting! hannah said all she had to offer me were sweets, which she loves to bake and share with friends, but i suggested maybe she could pick some herbs from her garden... 'yeah! i could pick you a salad', she said. so before we parted she carefully picked and filled a small bag with peas and greens from the vertical pallets, planters, and pots out on the lower apartment roof. in addition to this little garden, she is keeping four chickens in a little side yard of a restaurant across the street. i'm so happy to know she is expressing this farmer part of herself in the limited capacity of the urban setting.

my final destination that evening was the friend of my east brunswick hosts, willy. i was accompanied to as far as prospect park by a friendly local guy on a hot pink peugeot. i had asked him to tell me where 9th was and he decided to ride with me, as he was heading home that way, to park slope. from prospect park i made my way down ocean parkway, where there is a designated bike path, which took me almost all the way to my host's old apartment building in 'midwood'. he was very hospitable and we chatted late into the night.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

soft path compost bins

peter and i built these large bins together using salvaged pallets and old fencing that were already on the property when i arrived. we used a few screws and nails, and tied sections together with scrap wire and twine. there are lots of building materials around the place, including hundreds of beautiful old bricks. a lively farmer could build a little house to live in!

i got peter and quentin out there for the ritual of adding the first layers. we had some great materials to work with, including partially decomposed leaves from last fall and fresh grass clippings. i emphasized the importance of balancing the carbon and nitrogen, wetting any dry materials, and incorporating stemmy materials for aeration. it is beneficial to have a diversity of materials in the pile, from fine to coarse. it is not advised to add woodchips or branches with more than a 1/4 inch diameter.

the next evening we had another workshop with the whole family. i showed them how to incorporate food scraps and humanure into the pile. this method, which is demonstrated well by joseph jenkins in this video, is to:

1-- pull back cover material to the edges of the bin.
2-- pull compost material (the last deposit, which has been 'cooking') to the edges in the same manner, making a depression in the center-top of the pile.
3-- deposit the new material into that depression.
4-- wash out any buckets (what have you) and add the water to the pile.
5-- move the cover material over the new deposit *
6-- add more cover material as you see fit to make a generous layer

*note that the previous deposit, having had it's time in the hot seat, now has been shifted to the outer edges of the top layer! in this method the pile is being turned in a way, with very little effort! brilliant!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

soft path sourdough

i taught this no knead method of sourdough bread while at soft path. we had three great batches of bread during my stay. so nice to share this.

Monday, June 11, 2012

soft path food sharing

dinner the night i arrived was simple and special. i contributed german rye/seed bread from soltane breads and spreads, and two raw cheeses i'd gotten at the market in york, PA, petra made a beautiful salad from soft path greens, kelly contributed refried beans, and we also included a bullwhip kelp my mother sent in a glorious care package, all the way from the san juan islands! connecting the coasts!

osage enjoying dinner with the family.
you can see i was in heaven.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

soft path

soft path farm is the name i gave to the home of these friends of my family who i had the great fortune of spending over a week with in east brunswick. my first day there i was walking around the place and noticed how soft all the paths are. that means there is a lot of living and non-living organic material in the soil! off the beaten paths, and where there is no heavy mulch,there is protective ground cover growing. it is so pleasant to walk on!
there is also a way that the land is worked with at soft path that makes the name appropriate. there is a flexible, nurturing, yielding, accepting kind of relationship between the humans and this 4.6 acre piece of land.

my first day there a friend of the family's, tim, came out to help around the place, and then quentin, one of the sons, and i joined tim to his farm about 25 miles away out in the countryside. he is renting a little piece of another farmer's land for $400/mo. and growing a good amount of vegetables near his trailer home. we transplanted starts of pepper, eggplant, cucumber, summer squash, and a few wildflowers. these starts came from seed tim saved himself. i was told he is somewhat of a seedsman.

after the work at tim's we went to have a dip in a swimming spot he frequents next to a small bridge. he let me borrow some boxers, but they were too big, so since there was nobody else around i decided to take a quick dip in the skinny. quentin was up on the bridge, way up on top of the truss, so when a cop came by he stopped on the bridge to see what was up. from there is could see i was nude, and he told us all to come up to the street.
long story short, i ended up getting arrested for skinny-dipping. i was really scared, and had all these thoughts about how it could interupt my trip and cost money i didn't have... but in the end all i had to do was stay a few days longer at soft path, sit for two hours in the court room (i meditated through some of it), and pay a fine of $133. my kind host peter paid the fine.

while at soft path i fully expressed my love of sharing good food. we ate dinner around the dining room tabel most nights, which my hosts said they rarely use normally. when kelly, the mother, and the daughter petra showed interest in learning, i shared with them how to make the sourdough bread, fermented oat porridge, yogurt, and yogurt cheese that have been staples for me. i also made a couple batches of stock for soup while i was there. the first was with conventionally raised beef bones and the second was with bones from grass-fed beef produced on a nearby farm.

there are volunteer scallions growing in some big patches of the vegetable garden. we used them instead of onions in all our cooking while i was there. they take a lot of work to process, and we were only getting small, secondary bulbs. i'm not sure when shallots are supposed to be harvested... i found one website that said they should be harvested when the leaves die back, before flowering. but the way it is done at soft path is to let them flower, break off the flower top, and then harvest the secondary bulbs. kind of like garlic? i discovered that many of the bulbils were almost as large as a clove of garlic and decided to use them in the kitchen too. we peeled and added them whole to the roast chicken we made for father's day.

peter, the father, is a reuser and recycler of the useful materials that others cast off. he picks up bags of leaves, grass clippings, and other valuable organic materials from around the neighborhood. this is the kind of thing i love to do too! we want to see it all used, not thrown away. many municipalities do compost these materials, but many send them to landfills. this reminds me, i got some produce at the farmer's market from chickadee creek farm, which gets leaves from the nearby city of pennington, NJ. it is cheaper for the city to bring them to the farm than to pay someone else to dispose of them. brilliant!

sheet mulching is practiced around this place in a very intuitive way. the materials decompose right in the beds, which is an alternative to composting in piles. even though i love the system already being used, i decided to build some compost bins while at soft path so they could try this method out too. i thought it might save time in some cases when materials are brought back and there seems to be no obvious place for them to be utilized as mulch. food scraps and humanure from their bucket-outhouse can also be deposited in the bins. with the greater mass of materials in the bin, the heat accumulates and can destroy any pathogens in the food or manure. these valuable materials have previously been burried in the ground here and there. in these spots they surely have some benefit, but may not contribute to the fertility that vegetable crops depend on. anyway, it was very satisfying for me to contribute these bins, and the family seems receptive to using them, at least on a trial basis.

i was honored to be taken out on some of the yard care jobs that peter had in the neighborhood. i earned some money for the trip and met some really awesome elders! i also felt it was a really important part of peter and i connecting as friends.

one day towards the end of my stay i participated in taking a pickup load of metal to the recycling center, or 'scrap yard'. i really enjoyed the whole experience, from sorting metal bits to the rush of unloading the scrap metal as fast as possible in order to make way for the next in line. i learned that you can make quite a bit of money with a load of metal. we got over $200 for this load.

the barn burned down some time ago. we put up these aluminum rooves as a temporary shelter. it was fun building the pillars out of blocks with petra and quentin.

another day we moved a bunch of finished compost and created a new spot for storing landscaping rock. quentin is pictured forking up the last of this rich, coarse compost.

the day lilies blooming and blooming!

the beautiful, and vigilant dog nishi.

an old german paper egg i found in a basket of old sewing stuff. it was in need of repair and when i had fixed it (gluing a new piece of cardboard inside so the two sides fit together) i sent my nephew's bithday present in it!

a very important aspect of the soft path farm, the bucket toilet. i found this one to be very aesthetically apealing. peter got some sawdust and wood shavings, the ideal cover material(best when fresh milled) while i was there.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

philly to east brunswick

scott showed me the community garden he is participating in, and i meditated there before before getting on my way. the simple reminder written on the wall told me i was in a good place.

as i proceeded northeast of philly on the bike route, another rider caught up to me and we decided to ride together. he was going to his parent's to borrow a car. he takes care of the vegetable garden at their house and showed it to me when i stopped there with him. very nice little example, with peas and strawberries producing well and blueberries on the way.

in trenton i almost missed the tow path, but found it by looking carefully. at one nice green spot with a couple mulberry trees i stopped for lunch. there was a garden nearby which looked like some kind of community vegetable garden. i decided to write a note encouraging them to harvest the wonderful nutrient source of leaves piling up on the path nearby. this is the response i got!

"Received your Paper-plate-O-gram, and would love to tell you about the garden. Thanks for the heads up on the compost…we often collect leaves to add to our tumbler. This is our third season for the YouthGrow garden, which is an extension of the alternative high school next door (part of the national YouthBuild program). We work with students as part of the afterschool program and also run a 15 member CSA from June-November. Funds from subscribers go directly to create jobs for graduates of the school, who tend the garden. They also assist with a multitude of other community and school gardens in Trenton. Let me know if you have other questions! I’m also a member of the Trenton Cycling Revolution…you just missed our annual bike tour."

it was sent by Jim Simon, Program Manager of Urban Agriculture at Isles, Inc.. he also gave me web address of the local bicycling organization, which looks pretty cool!

i love what happens sometimes when you reach out and make contact!

about half of the ride that remained was on packed dirt paths next to an old canal that is now an important wildlife corridor. i saw a great blue harron and deer. when i got off the towpath near princeton and went by the James Forrestal Campus as i tried to find my way to the roads i had written down to follow to east brunswick. someone i found walking told me which way to go. i got water and used the restroom in a gym. the country roads that google had advised led me through some pleasant scenery, and some just so-so. somehow right at the end i took a wrong turn and rode perhaps an extra ten miles. a guy in an SUV was able to help me with his i-phone. this device has helped me find my way perhaps a dozen times so far on this trip.

exausted after bicycling over 70 miles between philladelphia and east brunswick, i arrived at the home of family friends. there was no address on the mail box, but i guessed it was theirs from its rustic flavor. also the property looked wonderfully overgrown, rather than overly controlled.

camphill soltane to philly

i met some nice people in a little town i passed through on the way to phoenixville. i stopped to ask for directions. i later received this message from one of them:

we saw ya today in the tiny historic town of yellow springs, pennsylvania.
my name is ed and the girls are lindsey and sarah.
we were really feeling the truth in your quest!
such a great thing to do my friend!
good luck in your journey and thank you so very much for the reminder
that we really can do anything we set our minds to."

this feedback confirms that i am doing what i set out to do. it makes me so happy!

in phoenixville i went to bakery, soltane breads and spreads, which is run by folks from camphill soltane, where i stayed the last night. there i got some frozen cider ('slushy') that was incredibly sweet! only apples from camphill soltane's orchard. very nice. the bread i decided on was a damaged, free loaf of the german-style rye bread. this bread is very much like the sourdough bread that i and my brothers make.

when i got on the trail headed for philly i met an older rider, former racer, who had just turned around at phoenixville. he was helpful in getting me to pick up my pace and stay on the right trail. we talked a lot, which always makes the riding more pleasant.
when we parted ways he asked a woman standing by if she would escort me the rest of the way into philly. she was waiting for her husband, so i took a break for those several minutes and answered her questions about my story. sharing the ride with these folks helped me to make it to philly in about half the time i may have otherwise! like magic!

i met a few other nice people in philly on the way to scott's place. i find talking to people on the street is almost always rewarding!
scott and i shared dinner, cooked by me using some of his and some of my ingredients, with him as my assistant. his housemate, who was not present for dinner, contributed the leftovers of a wonderful salad.

by visiting scott in philly for just one night i saw the the city is one of the most exciting 'regreening' metropoli in the U.S.!
there is a compost coop which is getting started with the help of a compost company that started in 2009. these are very exciting developments to me!
scott shared a magazine with me in which there was a short interview with the wise fermentor, sandor katz. in this magazine were numerous interesting articles about the positive change that has been going on in philly 'towards a sustainable philladelphia'.

the pictures are of the community garden scott is a part of.