Edible City Vision

Another city feeding their community locally and adding good policy to keep food front and centre.

The Root Of It All

Here is an inspiring video about the food strategy in Vancouver.

Imagine a city where food is abundantly growing in yards, public spaces, urban farms, and schools.  Growing fresh, local produce meets a basic human need that ensures security and equity for all.  Designing our spaces to efficiently produce food creates a thriving and sustainable community through strengthening local economy and resources. It raises awareness and respect for the environment.

Here in Portland The Mayor’s Food Initiative works to improve health and sustainability of food systems in our community. It supports many of the initiatives of other organizations. The Edible East Bayside project is transforming the Bayside Trail into an edible food forest. Among many events, the Resilience Hub + Portland Maine Permaculture teach permaculture design courses and organize permablitz’ to turn people’s yards into self-producing food forests.  Cultivating Community provides food systems education in schools and to members of the New American farmer’s program. They…

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Bokashi Composting – My early thoughts – after a bit of light reading

I am only starting Bokashi composting, but may eventually want to know and decide for myself what mix of micro-organisms is most beneficial or needed. Also, for small scale use, financial constraints often mean avoiding the commercial and developing ways to make or create products.
Bokashi buddy with liquid Bokashi scraps and leftovers
My vague and naive ideas around the concepts of Bokashi are that some understanding of what should go in to the initial ferment (so the end product is most productive for the intended purpose) would be best.

I will research more before I think I know it all.
Kung Fu Caine
My interests (those which I feel may be enhanced by application of Bokashi method, should my experience bear out it’s usefulness) are, in no particular order:
Reducing waste;
Building soils (to feed my plants and my family);
Broadening uses – neighbours, offices, community gardens, town policies, cities, etc;
Education

I feel the greatest practical understanding is with the few (in this case scientists, farmers and people on the land) but the greatest resource is in heavily populated areas where waste is created and literally going ‘to waste’ (not to mention pollution and disease). I see two basic benefits of suburban Bokashi: less waste; and the end product of that waste reduction. A very large bonus benefit is that cities might have less impact and more respect for rural communities, farmers and natural systems.

Other than the uses by farmers for broadscale food production, there are people/organisations concentrating on specific medium and small uses. For example, town councils and authorities are bringing in a range of diverse methods to clean up and break down all types of problems and stockpiled wastes. This is a great benefit to our lifestyles and maybe to slow up damage to natural systems. On the other hand, some individuals want to do a little to help the environment, but might not be interested in soil, gardening, farming or the science behind these; just the solution to their own problem.

Some people are doing kitchen Bokashi, just to get rid of rubbish or because it doesn’t stink, and maybe even just passing the ferment to others for use.

Would be strange to see resources spreading out of cities instead of being sucked into them. That is but a dream, but I am impressed that such world replenishing techniques are easy, available and acceptable to so many across the world.

Well, these are the sorts of thoughts I had back in February 2012. I am pleased to say that most of my initial views on Bokashi have not been changed by my experiences with it. My endless hours of research gave me much depth of information (along with some supreme shallowness and misinformation which needed to be weeded out of the formation of my basic ideas about the concept).

I found complicated methodology and big noting yardy-yar which near did my head in. I don’t know how my poor husband survived the heady days when I would spend hours researching and then had to spill it all out into the open air, which he sadly inhabited – poor man. Once spoken, it doesn’t take long to realise what things are unnecessary or just don’t make sense. My conceptual brain has a tendency to get completely bogged down in the details until I reach the point where I can just cut through the BS and explain the topic in layman’s terms.
Burying Bokashi spade at the ready
The notes above are a prime example of me in the learning curve stage. I do get more down to earth; let’s face it, Bokashi is just that – DOWN TO EARTH!

Hope in a Changing Climate

Hope in a Changing Climate

Can we clean up our catastrophic messes? Can huge companies want to learn beside us and contribute to correcting historical environmental faux pas? Can we work co-operatively to come up with sensible long-term solutions and to avoid future large scale degradation? Is it as simple as including quality of life and environmental factors into calculations of the “value” and the “cost” of any proposed actions.

I have watched with interest several videos regarding re-greening deserts. I am impressed with how humans can work together to restore depleted (or, in some cases, all but deleted) ecosystems to abundance and, with that restoration, the livelihoods and quality of life of communities.
desert to abundance pic
We, as humans, are a plague and a blight on this planet. We on mass range from totally indifferent to our surroundings to so sensitive we will stop at nothing to stop everything. We need to realise that each of us contributes to the mess we have made. None of us is blameless just because we didn’t educate ourselves on the components that make up our technology or didn’t realise that our homes were built on what used to be the best agricultural land in the district, etc.

We pigeon-hole, de-personify and generalise others (and ourselves) so that we are less likely to band together in agreement and community. “Keep away from the Greenies and the Activists” and “Corporations and Governments are just out to get us”. Although there will always be those that we disagree with or who we believe (rightly or wrongly) are not acting in the best interest of humans or the planet, displaying similarly destructive and disruptive traits probably doesn’t help the cause.

I just reckon if US got together with THEM, that would be a whole lot of hands to do good work. Pretty sure that, if we could all see the good in others and speak calmly and clearly (assertively, not aggressively) we would get a lot more achieved. Win, win for all and the planet and the animals and the soil and the economy….. dreamer me!

Equilibrium! Nature swings on the pendulum, but eventually all the forces and variables bring about an equilibrium. Humans fight equilibrium because we don’t want any change (we want seasonal produce all year round; we dredge channels, fill in wetlands and build break-walls instead of sitting and watching while nature does the repairs and maintenance. We value ourselves, money and our un-necessary wants above all else.

All our actions (and inactions) bring about the very change we tried to avoid, incredibly fast. We are our own worst enemy!

There are stereotypical responses – whether these responses originate from personal experience, education, indoctrination, anecdotal evidence or mere conjecture:
1) success is money and power; to be without money is to hold no power
2) the flip side: anyone with money or with power will wield it against those without.

There are definitely instances to support some generalisations, but none of them help anyone. Many people of humble means are strong and proud of their achievements and others, should the cards they are dealt lead that way, might become wealthy or be in a position of power or authority. For example: an activist who wishes to stand up for the people might well become a politician. Many simple products have become best-sellers and so the creators and authors and designers achieve commercial and perhaps even corporate “success”. Should these people then remove the white hat and put on the black hat????

You would think we could not glorify both power and the virtues of poverty, though it would seem we do. It would appear, to me, that each activity humans undertake seems to hold a value (sometimes monetary, sometimes sentimental/patriotic/spiritual….) and while eeking a living some find that others value their activities and are willing to pay (currency, homage, in kind, etc). However, those that would outwardly appear to be of common thought and who would appear to hold similar values are most likely to separate and segretate than to co-operate and bind their power or their wealth to benefit local, national or global community.

Where there are established community groups and, all of a sudden, a new one appears, there is often consternation and much pointing and shaking of heads. Perhaps the new one is of persons less experienced; wanted to do things a different way; maybe not even aware of the existing group. The logical action would be for one to contact the other and compare notes and see if the two groups can compliment each other’s activities or even join forces on larger projects. In reality, this type of co-operation is rare to unheard of.

There appears to be pockets of community, pockets of activity and pockets of influence. In all of these there are pockets being filled. Too many pockets; each with their own agenda and looking for their own outcomes.

It is easy to click ‘like’ on some global activism or against some authority but, to see the problem and to be the solution the tables need to turn and those seeking change will be the authority…will then the followers click ‘like’ on their solutions. Anarchy is very unlikely to solve the world’s ills; it will most certainly allow for heightened graft and corruption to ensue behind the crazy facade.

I have no answer to these questions. I am just blurting out what has come to my eyes, ears and heart recently.

A few articles I had read and a few conversations I had had brought me to a state in which I found myself seeing proud, profit-driven agendas across all levels of society, across all lands and across the future visions of many otherwise ‘good’ people. Perhaps it will pass and I’ll get back to wondering if I could flog some vegies down the farmer’s markets or start making cupcakes in hopes of being the next great business success story? Perhaps I will trust the companies that say that they are doing their best to strive for good environmental outcomes and rise up with them against those that don’t? Perhaps my government and yours will see what is happening across the globe and realise that no amount of duck-shoving (a term my Dad used to use, seems appropriate) or double-talk will turn the people away from bringing about complete and sustainable (don’t even like using the ‘words’ anymore as they are all becoming catch cries for politicians and marketers – oh, hypocrisy, now I’m generalising!

Anyway, my soapbox blah has certainly got in the way of my introduction to these uplifting videos and articles on a communities that have succeeded in bringing about startling and broadscale change; some light reading or watching material for your enjoyment. Sorry!

Trailer for Hope in a Changing Climate:

An article  by Dr Mercola (includes two videos) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/20/ecosystem-restoration.aspx?e_cid=20130420_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130420

The Open University and Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) – Hope in a Changing Climate.

Pumpkin Sauce Fettuccine

Pumpkin Sauce Fettuccine

We enjoyed this easy throw-together (as if it were gourmet) while doing the Local Harvest Challenge (see my roundup, here). We were lucky enough to have all the ingredients in our garden and pantry. We used lightly sautéed onion, garlic, zucchini and spinach. You might choose different ingredients to suit what you like or have on hand. (we call this Pumpkin sauce, because we call Butternut a pumpkin)

I’d usually use coconut milk to create the sauce (but I don’t think there are any coconut trees within 160km of our place so used home-made chicken stock that week). No, the fettuccine was neither home-made nor produced within 160km, but everything else was local.

Mini ButternutsWe have many mini butternut pumpkins (squash) ready for the eating from our backyard. Our dog dug up buried Bokashi, thus bringing seeds up to the top of the soil, which allowed them to grow. We let the pumpkins run rampant (along with rockmelons). The plants helped the garden survive some heatwave conditions and the mini pumpkins were the result of not cutting back the vines, I believe. We love them baked whole and have been able to hand them out to family and friends, too.

Spinach Mustard small and large leavesWe also have many “baby spinach” plants (Japanese Mustard Spinach). We use the small leaves in salads and on sandwiches; the larger leaves in stir-fries, soups, etc. These self-seeded when we left one of the original plants to go to seed. We collected a bunch of seeds, but some obviously ended up back in the garden. A great picking garden addition. I have plucked some out of the garden and put in a pot nearer to the back door.

Here’s the recipe… Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of the meal. I will take one next time we have it and update the post.

Pumpkin Sauce Fettuccine

Serves: 2 large serves as a main meal 3-4 as a side or with a salad

Ingredients

Approx 225g (1/2 pound) cooked pumpkin or squash, cut into large chunks *see note

Olive Oil

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic,  finely chopped

1 small zucchini (courgette), cut lengthwise and then sliced

1/2 bunch fresh spinach, chard or silverbeet (cut stalk into small pieces, roll leaves and slice)

Approx 1 cup coconut milk (or stock)

salt and freshly ground pepper

fresh or dried herbs of your choice (optional)

Approx 120g (4oz) dry or fresh Fettuccine (or your preferred serving size x 2)

Grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Method

  1. Cook fettucini in boiling salted water as per pack instructions or until al denté.
  2. Drain pasta and rinse if you wish.
  3. Sauté onion, garlic, spinach stalks, zucchini and spinach (or vegetables of your choice), in a heavy based pan, in a small amount of olive oil if desired.
  4. Remove pan from heat.
  5. Add pasta to the sautéed vegetables and stir through.
  6. Add cooked pumpkin or squash to the pan and stir gently (pumpkin will break down to some extent to form part of the sauce, but try to retain some visible pieces.
  7. Return to heat and add coconut milk.
  8. Season to taste (you could add fresh herbs of your choice at this stage or dried herbs doing sauté)
  9. Stir gently until heated through (adjust sauce thickness by adding more coconut milk if necessary).
  10. Serve immediately, topped with grated Parmesan to taste and perhaps with a light salad.

Notes and Tips:

* I baked my butternut whole and scooped out the flesh for this dish, but my pumpkin (squash) was just the right size for the dish (about 450g/ 1lb). Generally, you will get half the amount of cooked baked butternut flesh from a whole raw vegetable (so a 900g/2lb butternut will give approx 1lb cooked flesh). You can boil, steam, microwave or bake squash or pumpkin for this dish.

All quantities are flexible, as are the vegetables used.

Possibilities are endless with this dish: sprinkle some roasted pinenuts and chopped fresh parsley over before serving; use baby spinach leaves and add at last minute; add bacon when sautéing vegetables. Very versatile dish to use as a side to meats or to serve with a light salad. Great for lunch or dinner.

Butternut is a perfect consistency for this dish, but you could try substituting your favourite pumpkin or squash.

Seattle Food Forest Park

Seattle Food Forest Park

Seattle food forest

From a post on 26 Nov 2012 which starts, “131 people made the choice to go out in November and build a food forest this weekend. We moved 80 yards (!) of arbor chip mulch, 20 yards of compost, piles of cardboard and burlap and built a huge Nut tree bed. We put in many trees and almost finished our extensive swale system. Wow, community power.” to more recent post that states, “We successfully sheet mulched another 1200 square feet of grass into forest floor for our Fig and Asian pear trees.” This project is one very happening community garden, indeed.

So, it can be done….who’s next????