Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where Did I Go?

Things are CRAZY at home these days! The tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are going wild and I have already canned 38 quarts of tomatoes, made salsa and pickles and tried ketchup making. The ketchup failed miserably. I'm going to blame the internet for giving me a lousy recipe. My dad sent me a pressure canner for my birthday, I'm super stoked to see what I can do with that!

A large chunk of my time this summer was spent at the baseball field. My youngest played all-stars and the team was amazing! I even like the other parents! The parents really make or break the all star experience, and everyone was great.

For three magical days we were cat owners. Maggie's coach rescued a kitten which had been abandoned by its mother. We took it home, bottle fed it and loved it. He died, but his life was full of love. It convinced the children we need a cat. Our hearts just need time to heal first. Maybe the city will let us have a couple of goats in the meantime...

Goat lobbying has been neglected. Time has been limited, but I plan to bring it back up after the weather turns cold and things slow down.

A great deal of my time this summer went to working with Faith Feeds. KY farmers really helped us out and we have collected 25,537 pounds of fresh produce for the hungry so far. Because I also work for a church who receives donations from faith feeds, I get to see the excitement of those who benefit from the hard work of the farmers and gleaners.

I've also been to the beach, played at the pool, ignored cleaning responsibilities and everything else you'd expect of someone enjoying their final summer before having to get a real job. It has been wonderful, but way too short. The kids are back in school. I start school tomorrow.

I am entering my senior year. I will be graduating from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Sustainable Agriculture in which my curriculum focused on urban ag as a means to alleviate food access inequalities. The next several months will be focused on finding employment. If you know of anything in the central KY area, let me know. Ideally, I don't want to uproot my children. That being said, I am open to whatever comes our way. I have learned my plans are rarely what is best for my family and I am open to serving wherever God sends us.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Moving Right Along

Summer is going by so fast! I didn't realize how hard it would be to make time to blog. When morning glory vine and crab grass try to take over your garden, fighting it becomes more of a priority than sitting at the computer.

Many of my grand summer plans have fallen by the wayside. There will be no outdoor kitchen. The chickens didn't happen. I needed to build a new coop, but no time or materials killed that project. What has happened though is the ripping out of my backyard. The area where my dad parks his camper is still in turf, but the rest of the back yard has been made into beds and are currently in production. I have allowed my blackberries to spread in the back half of our lot so I hope to have a good harvest next year as long as we don't get a citation and have to clear it all out.

The other night Tom and I were working on dinner and it just hit us how amazing it was that what we were preparing came from our yard. I needed another pepper and so I just ran out back. There was no abandoned recipe or quick trip to the grocery. The fruits of one's own labor do indeed taste sweet. There is no describing the sense of freedom that comes from having what you need just outside the door.

At home we currently have beans, squash, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and pumpkin growing. We are going to be starting kale, more beans, more carrots, kohlrabi, cauliflower, peas, spinach and more cabbage when we get back from our beach vacation. I am nervous about being gone a whole week, but I have a friend who is willing to tend the garden while I'm away.

Also when we get back the tap and meter should be installed at the church farm. This process has gone much slower than I could have ever imagined, but we will have time to get in our fall crops and be able to hit the ground running in the spring.

I am already making my plans for next year. The chickens will happen. I just need to work out the logistics. Maybe I can get someone else to build the coop in exchange for food??? The outdoor kitchen might be a bit pie in the sky, but I think we can at least do the rocket stove. I'll have plenty of time to plot over the winter. Right now I have to go attack some morning glory that wants to take over my peppers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Together We Can End Hunger

Tuesday was an amazing day. I got a call from a local farmer telling me to come get 12 bushels of greens for Faith Feeds. I got word from another gleaner that together at all the sites we visited,  approximately 275 pounds of foodwere collected on Tuesday! That's ONE DAY of donations of fresh wonderful food given by Kentucky farmers to help feed the hungry.

The week ending June 26th, Faith Feeds collected 1,000 pounds of food! Kentucky farmers are really bringing it. I am so thankful.

Hunger is a problem we must tackle together. The farmers can't do it all. So next time you are at the Lexington Farmer's Market, the Bluegrass Farmer's Market, local you-pick or talking to your CSA farmer, Thank them. Thank them for working as hard as they do to provide you the food that you are purchasing. Thank them for donating to Faith Feeds. Make sure you thank them with your wallet. They have families to provide for.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer is in Full Swing Part 2

The kids have fully embraced the freedom of summer. Bedtimes are merely a suggestion as long as they can function and get chores done. Sometimes that means that the dishes get done at midnight after catching thirty billion fireflies and roasting marshmallows in the weber grill. So be it. 

Sunday my eleven year old decided to stay awake for twenty four hours straight. Do I need to tell you it didn't work? Yesterday afternoon he was passed out  face-down on the kitchen table with absolute bedlam surrounding him. The other children were "helping" him stay awake by shouting in his ear and banging on pots and pans.

My daughter is taking over the kitchen. As I am trying to prepare the kitchen for my work she shoos me out because she is baking something. It seems each day there is a new recipe to try. I think I'm going to slip a recipe for sourdough into her recipe box with a dollar and see if she makes it for me. Do any of you dear readers have a good recipe for starter? 

Monk, my youngest, is in jock heaven. All star baseball has begun and he has practice everyday and games every weekend. He spent all day Sunday after church at the ball field with Tom. After seven hours I went back to retrieve them and still had to push. Seriously, I don't get it but I love that he's active and has a bunch of friends with shared interests other than TV and video games. 

The days are a flurry of activities between the sports and the community gardens and our little urban homestead. Some days I get overwhelmed and I wish that we could move off to some rural nook where I could homestead in peace, but no one else would be happy. My children and my husband would not thrive in isolation. That isn't the path we are meant to be on. 

We are Urban Homesteaders.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer is in Full Swing

Wow. It's a good thing the days are longer in the summer, I wouldn't get anything done otherwise. This morning I spent three hours doing garden work that should have taken less than one because I had to keep running for cover from the lightning. I can work in the rain, but even I'm not crazy enough to be outside during the light show we had this morning. I've been in Kentucky for fourteen years and I've never seen a summer like this before.

Today I was clearing out the lettuce beds. The unseasonable weather had the benefit of keeping the lettuce around longer. Yum! However, it is past its prime and must make way for other wonderful veggies. I'm going to put buckwheat in that area as a cover crop to encourage pollinators and put in some more summer squash in the adjacent bed that is currently in clover. I want to keep my bees happy!

The kitchen is full of jars as I am trying my hand at several new skills this year. I have always been interested in food preservation, but I am fearful of putting all my faith into my chest freezer. We lost power for a few days in the winter due to storms and I lost a huge amount of food. All I had left were the tomatoes I had canned. This year I plan on drying quite a bit. I wanted to make a solar food dehydrator, but since it seems THE SUN NEVER SHINES to rain frequently, I don't think that is where I should start this year.

I received a book for Christmas full of food preservation recipes that do not involve canning or freezing, so I am reading about traditional/ old fashioned/ whatever you want to call 'em  preservation techniques. I made my first foray into the world of lacto fermentation yesterday. I have a excess of kohlrabi and dill, so it seemed  natural to make lacto fermented kohlrabi spears with dill. Although they could be called pickles, I refuse to call them such because of a family curse. I may elaborate some day, but for now just go with it.

I'll leave you with a picture and an empty promise to post more frequently:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

So Crazy It Just Might Work...

Lexington has seen a spike in violent crime in recent weeks. Mostly gun related, but other stuff too. Gangs are out openly recruiting kids.The policy makers are freaking out and forming commissions and wringing their hands.

Many times when this happens people get so fixated on the symptom: violence, not the underlying problem: poverty. Incarcerating people won't work. Extra cops on the street won't work. We need to provide a means to lift people put of poverty. Desperate communities resort to violence. Empowered communities have better things to do.

I love the opportunity that I have had through urban farming. Things are getting ready to expand yet again. Water at the big field is going to help the hunger ministries a great deal, but how can we save these kids from the gangs?  How can working with a couple of kids for a couple of hours a day counter the other twenty two they have mostly unsupervised? What about all the other kids?

I have an idea. It is big and crazy and expensive and there is no way I can see how to make it happen.

This thought came to me when I was driving the support car for the bike ride. We passed a farm for sale really close to the neighborhood we serve. 

What if we could get a small farm near by...

We could have animals.

We could grow even more veggies.

We could host kids like a camp to get them off the street during the summer. They could grow food to bring back to their community. They could get experience that will help them get into college or get a good job. 

I know it is crazy. I think it's so crazy it just might work. Just got to figure out how to come up with $