Posts Tagged ‘Local Food’

Julian Rose ~ How to Establish a Food and Farming Model that Works for Everyone

While many people know of Julian Rose’s involvement in the Polish ban of GMO’s, not as many people seem to know that prior to moving to Poland, Julian “launched an innovative project to make the market town of Faringdon, Oxfordshire, self-sufficient in ‘food, fuel and fibre’ by 2015.” I don’t know if Faringdon, Oxfordshire has 100% met its 2015 goal, but I am certain they’re far, far ahead of most other towns or cities! Here, Julian shares the plan he has developed from over 30 years of involvement in organic farming and localization. Thanks to Julian and to Lance White, who forwarded this piece to me at Julian’s request. 🙂

‘How to Establish a Food and Farming Model that Works for Everyone’       
Julian Rose

Intro: Julian Rose lays out a pragmatic model for bringing together local and regional food production and consumption. Julian has had more than 30 years experience in this field; selling the great majority of his organic farm produce within a ten mile radius of his farm. This article is drawn from his book “Changing Course for Life – Local Solutions to Global Problems.”

If Cathedrals are meant to stand as symbols of man’s aspiration to a higher spiritual consciousness, then hypermarkets are surely  monuments to society’s lowest level of material greed.  While the farmers and factory workers who toil to provide the products that line their plastic shelves receive the absolute minimum economic reward for their labour, the hypermarkets boast huge profits and evermore grandiose expansion plans. So distorted is the scale and motivation of this form of trading – and so destructive to both human and environmental welfare – that any caring individual should find it abhorrent to carry on worshipping at this golden calf.

In a world where everything is subordinate to the Free Market, the superstores are indeed the gods.  Their emissaries specifically include the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, The International Monetary Fund, the United States Food and Drug Administration and virtually all Western governments, as well as the dominant agrichemical, genetically modified seed and food conglomerates.  It is a club that knows no end in its ambitions to dominate and control global resources and international trade. A club that stands squarely behind the clinical cloning of farm animals and the genetic engineering, patenting and declared ‘ownership’ of our common genetic resource base.

In order to reinforce the revival of appropriate scale, local rural economies that are the antithesis of this apocalyptically reductionist approach, we must stick to some important basic principles.  These I have described in other publications under the heading the “Proximity Principle”, a phrase coined to emphasise the need to create a reciprocal supply and demand chain within the immediate circumference of population centres. A system that ensures that full utilisation is made of the local resource base, before turning to areas further afield for the community’s basic needs.

There are number of simple steps to be put in place to achieve this:

Firstly: the town or village committee must do some simple calculations concerning approximately how much food, energy and building materials (fibre) are required to maintain the sensible needs of their community.

Secondly: Farmers and local foresters must be approached in order to establish how much of this need can be supplied.  Initially a round table discussion between all parties concerned can set the process in motion.

Thirdly: A contractual agreement should be established between the local farmers and local citizens (consumers).  Preferably led by the local citizens, who will be able to tell the farmers approximately what volume of specific products they would like to have grown for them on an annual basis.

Fourthly: the economic return to the farmer must be fair, with no attempt made to exploit his or her labour or to use the threat of going elsewhere to buy cheaper food or commodities.  In return the farmer must guarantee to use ecologically benign systems of agriculture, and to strive to produce good quality nutritious and flavourful foods that can be enjoyed by all.  The same applies to foresters, who must adopt sustainable, environmentally sound practices of timber management.  Both will need to save their seeds and swap them locally to perpetuate native diversity.

Fifthly: The means of transportation, display and sale of these goods must reflect the minimum use of non-renewable polluting fossil fuels and non-degradable packaging.  This is fundamental and reflects the pride of place essential to any homogeneous community, as well as to broader environmental care.

Sixth: The consumers and producers must not act like entrenched camps. There should be a sharing and mutual understanding of needs in recognition of the fact that good community care is a common responsibility and a rewarding process, in which everyone plays an important part.

Seventh: Cultural, spiritual and artistic expressions should be encouraged to flourish; particularly those that give expression and impetus to the evolving way of life of the community.  Young and old alike should be involved and recognise the values of their respective talents and wisdom.  Rural communities all have the potential to be dynamic and colourful centres of life.  Our world is composed of millions of such communities – even big cities are a composite of hundreds of interconnected communities or boroughs.

This is the way we should consciously see and design the world in which we live, because the scale, lay-out and visual beauty of our landscapes, villages, towns and working places must find harmony and resonate with our own sense of inner peace and security.  The laws of man and the laws of nature must find themselves ever more closely intertwined, harmonised and mutually enhanced.

Eighth: The Proximity Principle establishes a model which can be replicated right across the land, so that all villages, market towns and even larger towns re-find their connection to the land upon which they were built – and re-establish their direct links with the surrounding landscape and natural resource base.

Market towns have a particularly important role to play here, as they were historically designed to attract trade to their central market places through a road system radiating out from the centre like spokes from the hub of a wheel. Their pedigree suggests that they should now become ‘rural enterprise hubs’, echoing anew their historical raison d’etre and leading the way towards the development of thousands of similarly placed local economies.  The widespread adoption of the Proximity Principle will ensure that local, fresh, seasonal quality food will be available to all citizens, not just a minority currently able to afford such produce.

Where the production of local food, fuel and fibre is insufficient to meet the needs of the community it connects to, then the nearest area with a surplus can make up the difference.  Likewise, communities with considerable surpluses can be providers of adjacent under supplied communities and so on, replicated throughout the country and monitored at the parish, district and county levels so as to fulfil the internal self sufficiency and food, fuel and fibre needs of each region of the land.  Ultimately, only any national surplus or deficit will trigger an export opportunity or an import requirement.

But the random import and export of globally or inter-continentally traded basic commodities has no place in this system.  It does not preclude the continued trading of products that are not what can be defined as ‘staple needs’, but it will cut out the appallingly wasteful practice of importing and exporting foods easily grown or raised in both countries of origin.  Thousands of communities, all operating to the simple criterion of the proximity principle, can and will provide a major reduction in polluting emissions which simply cannot be successfully achieved in any other way.

It is a question of re humanising our existence and re nurturing our deeply wounded planetary health.  It is only when we have created some momentum in bringing about these changes that we will be in a position to offer so-called ‘Third World’ countries a reasonable model to emulate.  The practice of sending ‘experts’ to teach natives of less industrially developed nations how to repeat our own bad habits is one of the outstanding examples of post colonial arrogance still widely practised today.  In fact, were we not so headstrong and so falsely sure of the innate superiority of our western ways, we would have long ago recognised that we had as much, if not more, to learn from the peasant farmers of the world than they have to learn from us.

This lesson will soon come home to roost, whether or not it is voluntarily absorbed.  Most of what we call ‘progress’ and ‘development’, is essentially a profit motivated, blinkered and completely unsustainable rush to cash in on the last ounce of available wealth still there to be stolen from unsuspecting communities across the world.

Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, an international activist and author. His latest book ‘In Defence of Life’ is available at and via his website ‘Changing Course for Life’ is also available
from this source.

If It’s Not Fun, Then It’s Not Sustainable

While riding the synchronicity train this weekend, I passed several stops on the way to Whitley Strieber Station, most of which had to do with local food and the phrase, “You are where you eat,” which I found in a book and then online. The following series of videos from Canada’s ChekNews explores “the importance of self-sufficient food farming on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.”

I love, love, love that this appeared on mainstream news and that they later posted the videos on YouTube! Even though Jennifer Crosby investigates Vancouver’s local food scene, she includes copious details about North American agriculture in general and why we would all benefit from stronger local food security. This video series interviews farmers, chefs, grocery store owners and gardeners, and it gives lots of tips for ways that anyone — from consumers to growers — can contribute to a strong, local food movement. Each video, shown throughout the week, explores a different facet of local food security.

Synchronously — or should I just say, “in the ever more intricately and obviously organized and expanding web that is my life” — my friend Mitch sent me the last video below, which finishes with the title of today’s post: “If it’s not fun, then it’s not sustainable.” Yep! Pretty much sums it up for me. Education, community, delicious food, creativity … fun! What’s not to love?

The why of local food security:

The economics of farming and the importance of supporting local farmers if you want access to local food:

Creative use of space: “beyond the backyard” … using public space:

Part 4 is MIA!

“Have attitudes changed enough for farmers to have a future on Vancouver Island?” This farmer is so enthusiastic!

And finally, the video I found in my inbox this morning explores a new type of community garden using a new model in order to make use of vacant land that might sell again if/when the economy recovers. It’s “an excerpt from the upcoming feature-length documentary: Promises of Urban Agriculture, directed by Joseph Redwood-Martinez. Jay Rosenberg speaks about Hayes Valley Farm demonstrating urban agriculture as a strategy for interim land use in San Francisco.” As with the Vancouver information above, this video offers ideas applicable to any town or city with vacant or underutilized land:

On Wednesday, I’ll also be meeting with some people from our Historic South Side Neighborhood to discuss ways to connect non-gardening people with sunny yards with would-be gardeners blessed with tall trees, shady yards or no yards. Land use in exchange for produce — one step at a time towards local food security!

Winter Gardening, Cold Frames and a Greenhouse

We’ve had a few days of warmer weather in Goshen, so I pulled back the plastic from our cold frame to give the babies some sunshine and rain.

cold frame greens

The above photo was taken after harvesting this whole messa greens:

messa greens

It’s so great to have fresh, homegrown greens (and a turnip) in December! I’ve found that homegrown greens don’t refrigerate the same as store bought ones, so I’ve experimented and found a method that preserves them really well. I tear up the greens and de-stem them, then fill bowls and top with plates. This method works far better than any produce bags, drawers, paper towels or other experiments I’ve tried. The greens will store unwilted for many days this way:

greens storage

The cold frame has definitely made a difference compared to the open air plants of the same variety. Most of my uncovered chard — both rhubarb red and Lucullus — has turned to mush outside the cold frame. Inside, the rhubarb red still struggles a bit, but the Lucullus looks great. The Lucullus growing under an old shower curtain in one of the InstaBeds continues to grow, but very, very slowly, alongside some soon to be harvested leeks:

shower curtain instabed

Unlike chard, kale loves the cold. You can see four different varieties growing here:

various kales

So far, Winterbor seems the hardiest, even compared to Siberian and Red Russian varieties:


This winter gardening bug is really beginning to catch on in Elkhart County. This afternooon, four of us carpooled from Goshen to Elkhart to attend a cold frame workshop hosted by Elkhart Local Food Alliance (ELFA). I was the last stop for the pickup so that everyone could see what we have going on here first. Then we got to see our friends’ homemade greenhouse in progress, made from a repurposed garage frame, discarded windows and aluminum siding. The only thing they’ve had to purchase is the plastic for the roof:


Note all the wood mulch in the background. I never thought I’d say this, but someone actually has more wood mulch happening than we do here! It did my heart good since I am still slogging my way through Mount Mulchmore. As I told my gardening buddy Kimber: emphasis on the MORE! Sheesh, that’s a lot of wood and leaves. The ELFA folks visited some of the gardens/farms in Detroit this August, where they grow right on top of concrete. All it takes is massive amounts of organic material layered on top, hence all the leaves, compost and mulch everywhere.

We looked at a homemade lean-to style cold frame on the south side of the house, and then built a simple, untreated wooden cold frame topped by an old window:

cold frame workshop

This one rests on wooden blocks attached at the corners, so it’s a fairly low cold frame that would be supported on bricks to discourage quick rotting of the wood. Taller crops couldn’t grown here, but spinach would do well:

finished cold frame with vent

It was wonderful to see nearly two dozen people interested in growing their own winter greens and extending the growing seasons on either side of summer. On the way home, I realized that I could use my crates filled with soil as cold frame walls around my rosemary and then cover it with the small window I took home from the workshop. Moving those crates will be tomorrow’s project before our balmy weather turns bitterly cold:


Row covers will also go inside the hoop cold frame to add further protection from temperatures below 20 degrees. David cut some of my 6 foot long bamboo pole into 2 foot sections, which will support the row covers so that they don’t weigh down the greens.

I also had a welcome epiphany on the way home! I have been wracking my brain for how to fit a lean-to cold frame on the side of our house between the summer’s morning glory trellises and the outside wall. It’s a pretty skinny space, and I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work. On the way home I realized that our landlord’s garage/workshop behind our house also has an unbroken southern exposure, but with open access. He already gave me free reign to plant whatever I want there, and I had wanted to grow hops on huge sunflowers. Well! If I mulch it out now with leaves covered with the rest of the wood mulch, I can let that rot down all winter. In the spring, I can lean several windows against the garage and put a couple straw bales on either end to seal it off.

That will make a toasty little cold frame to give sunflowers and hops or scarlet runner beans an earlier start, and then in the fall, once those have died back, I can plant some additional winter greens. My black raised beds don’t lend themselves too well to cold frames, and this summer, everything was already growing and lush with no room to plant winter crops. This new space might just work.

Adventures in Mad Scientist Gardening … the experiments continue. I’ve been talking with the folks at The Garden Tower Project in Bloomington, too. Looks like I may buy one of those complete units so that I have a living sample to show people in Goshen who don’t believe they can garden on very little land. One way or another, I’m determined to reach anyone with the teeniest interest in fresh, local food — through an edible front yard, vertical gardening, raised beds, kooky cold frames, and yes, a complete vermicomposting, 50-plant growing tower that would fit on a small patio. Yep, exciting times in the Land of Goshen … at least for me …


Beverly Bell: The True Cost of Industrialized Food

Beverly Bell: The True Cost of Industrialized Food

Co-authored by Tory Field

“We are the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe. And reclaiming the democratic control over our food and water and our ecological survival is the necessary project for our freedom.” — Vandana Shiva, physicist and activist

The objective of much of our industrial food system is to provide a profit to shareholders and CEOs. Coca-Cola’s advertising budget was more than $2.9 billion in 2010, money well spent from a stockholder’s point of view: profits that year were $11.8 billion.

The current system, however, was not built only to amass wealth. Many policymakers and supporters, historically as today, have been driven by the conviction that industrial agriculture is the best way to produce massive amounts of affordable food. And in some ways it has accomplished this. People in the U.S. spend relatively little on food — about 7 percent of their total spending, as compared to 13 percent in France, 23 percent in Mexico, and 38 percent in Vietnam. Most individuals in the U.S. devote less time, energy, and money to feeding ourselves than they ever have historically.

On the buying end, it seems an irresistibly good deal, our 99¢ soda or $1.50 loaf of bread. But these prices represent just a fraction of the true costs of getting that soda and bread into our shopping bags. We pay for the hidden costs of the corporate food supply chain in multiple ways, not all of them financially.

We subsidize food corporations through our taxes, which pay for public works like transportation infrastructure for long-distance shipping (highways, airports, and railroads), communication infrastructure (satellites, television, radio and Internet), energy infrastructure (coal plants and nuclear power stations), and research and development (like government-funded crop research). Tax dollars also fund the government subsidies that keep certain crop prices low, allowing corporations to create their processed foods so cheaply.

Small- and medium-sized farmers pay extremely high hidden costs. Their farms have been steadily disappearing as land is further consolidated into the hands of fewer people. The U.S. has lost 800,000 farmers and ranchers in the last 40 years. Between 1900 and 2002, the number of farms in the U.S. shrank by 63 percent, while the average farm size increased by 67 percent. The dairy industry has undergone an even starker decline: in just over 35 years, between 1970 and 2006, the country lost 88 percent of its dairy farms, while the average herd size per farm increased from 19 to 120 cows.

Some populations, depending on class, race, nationality, and livelihood, pay more dearly than others. As mentioned in our previous post, black farmers and land owners suffer. Farmworkers and other laborers all along the food supply chain also pay by receiving inadequate wages; they are twice as likely to live below the poverty line.

As consumers, we all pay with our health and well-being. Our country’s most popular cuisine is affectionately called “junk,” after all. Eating the highly processed food made readily available to us has led to epidemic levels of diabetes and heart disease. Individuals get chastised for their own diet-related problems while junk food is much easier and cheaper to access than healthy food.

Recent outbreaks of Listeria and stomach acid-resistant E. coli are other manifestations of the costs to our health. Food-safety experts blame the industrialized production of grain-fed cattle and poultry for the emergence of these dangerous bacteria strains.

Our planet pays profound hidden costs: polluted water, air, and soil; deforestation; acid rain; species extinction; and climate change. The corporate food system wreaks countless ecological harms.

Spraying toxic pesticides on our food has become the norm, so much so that we have come to view it as part of “conventional” agriculture, though there’s nothing conventional about it. Introduced in large scale only after World War II, using surplus warfare chemicals, pesticides are now applied at a rate of 1.1 billion pounds per year in the U.S. That’s 22 percent of the world’s total use. These chemicals move throughout our ecosystem, making their way into groundwater and our drinking supply, traveling down streams and rivers, and eventually reaching the ocean. In just one example, fertilizer running off fields and down the Mississippi River has created such an imbalance that there is a “dead zone,” where nothing can survive, in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey. Pesticides also wind up on our plates and in our bloodstreams. In 2005, the Environmental Working Group tested the umbilical cords of 10 babies from different U.S. hospitals and found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in their blood, including a number of pesticides.

Monocropping, a farming system where the same crop is grown on a piece of land year after year, is foundational to industrial-scale agriculture. Yet it depletes the soil, upends the ecological balance, and creates conditions highly susceptible to pests and disease, requiring more pesticides and fertilizers.

If all of these costs showed up in the prices we pay at the store, things would be very different. If prices reflected the oil that powers the jet to bring a banana thousands of miles, together with the air pollution that results, the workers’ health care costs after handling pesticides, and the future loss of soil health due to monocropping, this fruit would certainly be a luxury item in the North rather than part of an average American breakfast.

Has agribusiness won such control that a turnaround is impossible? No. Small farmers, grassroots groups, and advocacy organizations are demanding food sovereignty, meaning the right of every people to produce adequate, healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food for all. They are everywhere creating and supporting community-controlled, scaled-down, local food networks. Dismantling the governmental policies and global trade rules that have taken agriculture out of the hands of small farmers the world over is the prerequisite for claiming a just and healthy food system.

Download the Harvesting Justice pdf here, and find action items, resources, and a popular education curriculum on the Harvesting Justice website.

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Copyleft Other Worlds. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Tory Field and Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

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Uniquely You, Divinely One

I’ve had my friend Tania Marie‘s painting and title on the brain: “Uniquely You, Divinely One.”

Painting - Uniquely You, Divinely One

She painted this years ago, but I always remember it when I see snow. I love how each snowflake is gorgeously unique, and yet they all work together to create “the snow.” Each serves its purpose in a beautiful form, but the power comes through community. I’ve increasingly found myself pondering Collectivism, or rather, two seemingly similar yet radically different manifestations of Collectivism.

On the one hand, we’ve got a growing recognition worldwide that, despite all the attempts to ostracize the Other, we are more alike than different. We’ve got a growing movement of Universal Love and interconnectivity as people begin to see the humanity in people of different cultures, religions, countries, dietary persuasions, skin colors, genders and education levels. Concepts like “Namaste” (the Divine in me honors the Divine in you), “In Lak’ech Ala K’in” (I am another yourself) and “Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen” (Reiki distant healing symbol meaning, “the Buddha in me honors the Buddha in you to promote enlightenment and peace”) have become more mainstream. Increasingly, people who love humanity and love the Earth have begun working together to nurture and honor the planet with local farms and farmer’s markets, permaculture, organic principles, actual tree hugging, eco vacations, urban food forests, social justice and community clean-ups.

This kind of Collectivism builds a sense of community, honoring each person as an individual who also exists as an intrinsic part of a larger group. I’m reminded of the movie, “Lost Horizon,” in which residents of the magical Shangri-La each perform work according to their gifts and skills. The community thrives because each person finds dignity and purpose as they work together, not as mindless automatons, but as creative individuals who form important networks of support, love and service.

In permaculture, we see this idea in the deliberate joining together of “plant guilds,” in which each plant serves multiple purposes — attracting beneficial insects, pulling certain nutrients to the soil for another symbiotic plant, repelling pests, providing shade, etc. Each function has multiple backups, just like in Nature, and each individual species, plant or feature fulfills multiple functions, just as in Nature. Permaculture creates a conscious model based on Nature, which helps humans to live in abundant harmony with their surroundings. Barren lawns become self-sufficient food forests, beautiful garden retreats, and Nature preserves, all rolled into one, with minimal work after set-up. The rising interest in permaculture principles has grown along with the growing urge for strong community networks. In permaculture, you start planting guilds in isolated spots, but they eventually grow together as the natural web of life expands. In the same way, local community movements of people can naturally increase their impact as more and more people come to recognize the benefits and joy of working together.

All of this sounds lovely! It’s voluntary, organic, natural, and can be done in any number of ways in order to accomplish any number of specific goals. Ultimately, permaculture and local sustainable communities recognize the unique aspects of each situation and the individual participants; however, they result in stronger overall networks. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts precisely because the whole honors and supports the individual needs and potential offerings of each part.

The opposite of permaculture is monoculture. Think vast tracks of perfectly, uniformly manicured lawn. Think vast fields of MonSatan’s GM corn. Think of the vast tons of pesticides, herbicides, armored tractor wheels, patents, and legal shenanigans of the chemical companies and BigPharma folks who rape our planet and force BigAg “phood” on dumbed down, fluoridated and otherwise drugged masses whom they know would refuse to consume their products if they only knew what was in them. Think of the perversion of Nature, Beauty and all that’s right in the world, forced on planet, people, animals and plants, all in the name of “progress.”

Then think of the newly released DSM-V, the psychiatric listing of disorders, which literally classifies every single human emotion as a disease. Even psychiatrists have begun to cry BS! I recently read that over 50% of the US takes some form of mood altering pharmaceutical drug … and this is before the DSM-V goes into effect. I’m reminded here of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” in which people live on SOMA in order to keep them in a perpetually dulled and quasi-blissed out state. I’m reminded of the first and only time I watched “Bladerunner” for a University of Chicago graduate course in Film Theory and English Literature. I wanted to vomit. Every fiber of my being rejected the professors’ insistence that this future scenario was not only plausible, but preferable.

Turning people into machines has already moved behind Hollywood and into reality. We’ve got super soldiers and video game drone bombers. People so addicted to texting that they can’t converse face to face anymore over dinner without checking their iPhone. We’ve got TV-aholics, twitter junkies and the peculiar syndrome that nothing is “real” until the masses get hypnotized by it on the evening news. People have begun micro-chipping children, and in the UK, they can monitor your body with implants to observe cancer or see if you’re taking your drugs as prescribed. The Affordable Care Act has within it vague enough wording to permit mandatory RFID chipping for all participants, and even though science itself shows that genetically modified organisms cause cancer, obesity, IBS and endocrine problems, Codex Alimentarius mandates GMO’s and RbGH as the only legal foods. International Codex compliance also means no more natural remedies, only BigPharma drugs. Codex Alimentarius went on the books in 1992 — with creeping implementation akin to boiling frogs.

Meanwhile, the US will deploy troops in 35 African countries now, not counting wars in the Middle East. Thirty-five African countries! This Corporate United States of America has gone far beyond self-appointed policeman of the free world; it’s now the Police State of the world, using remote controlled drones to kill any and all dissidents, including the secret, executive ordered and recently affirmed legal murders of any American citizen, without accusation, without charge, without trial, even on American soil. Kafka’s “The Trial” comes to mind: it tells the story of a man, K, “arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed to neither him nor the reader.” At least K gets a trial, though! If things unroll as planned, we can soon expect to see 30,000 drones in American skies. That is a lot of surveillance technology and weaponry — all in the name of “security.” Then we’ve got the UN, NATO and Agenda 21 — all in the name of global “peace” and “sustainability.”

But this ain’t your mama’s “peace” and “sustainability.” Collectivism implemented from the top down is fascism. Faceless, rapacious corporations replace the inherent urge for humans to love and cooperate with one another, and instead give us laws, regulations, civilian police forces, all-seeing-eyes of many types, paid snitch on your neighbor programs, debtor’s prisons, unreasonable searches, secret Presidential kill lists, and mandatory cooperation with a one-size-will-be-rammed-in-to-fit-all totalitarian dictatorship.

On the surface it all sounds so similar, though: peace and sustainability, enough food for all, no need for borders, no differences between nations, states or races. One form of community arises naturally and honors diversity: Uniquely You, Divinely One. Global Collectivism, by contrast, demands a one-world government, one-world religion, forced disarmament, and forced slave labor in which everyone’s equal because no one has any rights or privilege. Well, almost no one. Somebody needs to keep the masses in line! Just like monoculture gardening evokes a war on Nature –nonstop weeding, pruning, spraying, attacking– so does monoculture Collectivism. What could naturally flourish with just a little bit of planning and working with Nature (or human nature), suddenly requires nonstop vigilance in order to maintain order. An artificially imposed order. An order that bucks Natural Law and requires chemicals, weapons, murder, propaganda, and a Police State to maintain.

I’ve been studying Runes again, even more deeply than I have in the past. Some people know that the Nazi’s co-opted Runes, as well as ancient, sacred symbols like the swastika, and the burgeoning German Folk movement, perverting a natural wellspring of humanity and turning that into what most people consider the most famous repressive regime in history. Deeper research into WWII reveals that the same small groups of people who have funded both sides of every single war in the last many centuries made no exception with the Allies and Axis powers. What I find so interesting, is that then, as now, humanity had this upsurge of latent spirituality and empowerment. The puppeteers quickly capitalized on those emotions and perverted the movement, but its initial spark came from a deep soul longing to reconnect humanity and the Divine. Today I stumbled upon the following video that compares and contrasts Hitler and Rudolph Steiner. Both drew from key concepts the Thule, but what they decided to do with those ideas made all the difference in the world! Literally. Perhaps we can learn something from the contrast. Although simplified in the video, the issues do illustrate how noble ideas can quickly turn to something else, unless we remain pure and clear in our intentions and actions.

We live in potent times! Here, in 2013 and beyond, what form of global awareness do we wish to invoke? What type of Oneness do we wish to invoke? What kind of peace and sustainability do we wish to invoke?

(Here’s the link. It won’t let me embed the video anymore. You might want to turn down the background sound on this video. I personally found it quite distracting.)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Uniquely You, Divinely One," by Tania Marie

“Uniquely You, Divinely One,” by Tania Marie

Urban Farming Guidebook

There’s a new resource out to support local governments and food growers (or potential growers) to create urban resources for local food. If you click here, you can read about it and even download a free PDF for you and/or your local government. I’ve already forwarded the link to someone we know on the Goshen Town Council, as we would love to see edible landscaping and additional local food resources around town.

The link above will land you on Milkwood Farm’s permaculture blog from Down Under — an inspiring resource with info on tiny houses, community farming, mushroom cultivation, and all sorts of wonderful eco-adventures. Enjoy!

Greening the Ghetto

The two TED talks in this post both share inspiring South Bronx sustainability and environmental justice projects. I have long had visions of schools growing their own food, which would solve so many problems on so many levels, all at once. The first video describes the turnaround from 40% attendance to 93% attendance in a mostly disabled, mostly homeless group of students who have become experts in their field. The second video tells the story of a woman who grew up across the street from a crack house in an area with the most garbage and sewerage dumps in New York, along with the fewest green parks. She shares her story of synchronicity and community triumph, greening the Bronx and empowering her community.

Both videos address the bottom line, showing how sustainability makes good financial sense, while revitalizing communities from the grassroots up — far surpassing top-down corporate or governmental strategies. As Stephen Ritz says, we can move from “The audacity of hope to the hope of audacity.” If you live in a city, you will probably find these videos extra-inspiring; however, as citizens of a crowded planet with food and ecological crises, we can all learn and celebrate our options. We can reclaim our cities and our planet — as individuals, communities and cooperative contributors. Enjoy!

Know Where Your Food Comes From: Real Time Farms

David stumbled upon this information on Facebook, and we watched it together this weekend. I love this idea and the ways in which it encourages us all to reclaim control over our food supply. Surveys show that voters consistently support labeling of Genetically Engineered “foods.” When given a choice and explanation, people also support cleaner foods without antibiotics, Agent Orange, growth hormones and factory farmed cesspool conditions. People want more information and control, but with governments in the pocket of BigAg, then what can consumers do?

Answer: find our own ways to share information about local, organic, sustainably grown food. By becoming more informed, we can vote with our dollar (or whatever currency pretends to run the show right now).

We can also barter time or other products and services for food. Of course, there are other answers, too, like growing our own food, learning to forage, shopping at Farmer’s Markets, joining CSA’s, and volunteering on local farms. This Real Time Farms idea expands those options to include supporting restaurants and businesses that make extra efforts to offer quality food with true transparency. Check it out, and if you see something missing in your zip code, please add to the information. Collaboration and innovation bring freedom:

“Know Where Your Food Comes From”

Real Time Farms is a crowd-sourced nationwide online food guide that allows you to make informed food choices using real-time, transparent information.

Real Time Farms –

Real Time Farms on Facebook –

Easy Gardening Anywhere

David and I just bought a version of these Garden Grow Soxx, so that we can maximize the restrictive gardening options at our home. With lots of neighboring trees, our sunshine spots occur in unusual areas that don’t necessarily have the richest soil. I learned a lot last year with my 3-side of the house garden in containers, on the ground and in raised beds and window boxes. This year, we’re opting for maximum yield from minimal space and effort. We saw the Garden Grow Soxx in 3-foot packages or 50-foot rolls at a local gardening event and bought the 50-feet for $50. We’ll get some organic compost this week to add to our own compost and fill up some bags.

For anyone wondering how they can grow a garden wherever they live, here are some ideas, including waist-high garden beds for people in wheelchairs, hanging plants, hydroponic window gardens, and growing on concrete:

I’ve had potted herbs growing inside all winter. Although my thyme-oregano pot seems to have declared “the end of thyme,” everything else, including basil, parsley, rosemary and sage have thrived. I’ve also turned my southern window home office into a plant starter spot with different types of kale, chard, lettuce, nasturtiums, tomato and collards soon ready to stick into those Garden Grow Soxx. I will be seeding some cucumbers and marigolds outside, too. I’ll let you know how it goes this year, but between the compost-rich garden and some strategically invited “weeds” like stinging nettles, apple mint, peppermint and perennial chives, we’ve already got fresh things growing in a less than ideal gardening plot.

The more that we reclaim responsibility and control over our food supply, turning it local, reducing packaging, waste, and transit time and energy, the more we can remove ourselves from the failing corporations and lifestyles of the old paradigm. Plus, fresh and wild foods pack more nutrition and just taste better! If you live in an apartment, consider a window herb garden, or some potted fruit trees or veggies on a patio or deck.

You can also grow sprouts in any kitchen with just a small jar and a mesh top. Some people use an angled dish rack option for draining, but I’ve grown sprouts and just used a towel under the jar to keep the angle appropriate to drainage. Super easy! Any time you add fresh, living food to your diet, you add more oomph to your nutrition and your body, mind and spirit thank you for the jolt of life.

I hope this post inspires you to take the next step from wherever you already are. Millions of baby steps around the world add up!