Monday, January 31, 2011

farm & garden design class

Hello Everyone,

Sharon and I will be running our annual Garden and Farm Design Class for six weeks in February and March. This is the perfect time to plan the garden season, expand what you’ve been doing and try new things out. The class is online (ie, you don’t have to live near us, which is good, since we live 1000 miles apart in New York and North Carolina), asynchronous (ie, you can be working on the class material whenever it is convenient, on your own schedule) and designed to make sure that you have a garden plan that is actually implementable.

We’ll cover everything from the basics of fertility, water and annual gardening for new gardeners to perennial agricultural crops, orchards and forest gardens, small space, container and vertical gardening, urban and community gardening, cover crops, seed saving and small scale home breeding, and integrating livestock into the small farm or garden.

My training is as a landscape architect, but I’ve also been a CSA farmer and am presently serving as the Local Food System Program Coordinator for my county. I know, quite a mouthful. Sharon has been growing gardens that range from balcony gardens in cities to a 22 person CSA for a long, long time, and running her farm for a decade. She says she’s made every mistake humanly possible, just out of the goodness of my heart so that you don’t have to ;-).

I gardens in a hot climate in a small city, Sharon gardens in a cold climate in the country, and between us, we can cover a pretty good landscape. As you know, we wrote _A Nation of Farmers_ together, and we want everyone to have a great garden!

Classes begin on February 1 and run until the second week of March. Cost of the class is $175. We do have a limited number of spaces available to low income participants who are unable to pay. We welcome donations of additional spots for low income participants – 100% of your donation goes to making more spots available. Email Sharon at jewishfarmer@gmail for more details, to register or to inquire about scholarship spots.

As mentioned before, the class is online and asynchronous, suitable to just about any climate and circumstances (we’ve had city gardeners, community gardeners, container gardeners, large farmers, small farmers, and everything in between, with climates ranging from Fairbanks and northern Sweden to the Tropics), and fun. The idea is for you to use the specifics of what you know about your place to expand your garden skills and create a garden that is productive in the near term and provides you with longer term food security without a lot of inputs. You will come out of it with a bunch of model designs, and one year and five year plans for your own site.

Here’s the Schedule:

Week February 1:Welcome, Introduction, Sun, Soil, Water; Taking Measurements;
The Project of Design, Meet Your Graph Paper ; Addressing Garden Challenges,
Thinking in terms of Depletion, Getting Started

Week February 8: Soil Preparation, Perennial Plantings, Orcharding and Woody
Agriculture; Permaculture, Seed Starting and Variety Selection, Building and
Maintaining Fertility, Calorie Crops, Beginning to Plan, Container Gardening
Design Project 1 – A Courtyard Garden

Week February 15: Transforming a City or Suburban Lot, Dealing with Zoning,
Small Space and Urban Gardens, Small Livestock and Polyculture; Finding More
Land; Gardening Cheaply, Gardening in an Unstable Climate, Design Project 2 – A
Suburban Yard

Week February 22: Community and Garden; The CSA Model, Making Money, Children’s
Gardens, Year-Round Gardening, Maximizing the Harvest Garden Design Project,
Public Space Gardens. Design Project 3: An Urban Farm – in Many Yards

Week March 1: The CSA Model, Farm vs. Garden, Making Shade Productive, Vertical
Gardening, Succession and Long term Planning, Deep Food Security, Designing for
Personal Resilience. Design Project 4: A Larger Farm in Smaller Pieces

Week March 8: Visions for the Future, Cover Cropping, Undercropping and Long Term
Fertility, Larger Livestock, Becoming a Victory Farmer; After the Design Phase;
Where to from Here?

Email Sharon at jewishfarmer@gmail for more details or to register.



Friday, January 28, 2011

do average u.s. citizens really support democracy in the middle east.?

They might right now. They might be in support of the uprisings that might lead to democratic reform. The truth is most U.S. citizens have no idea what the effects of democratic revolution in that part of the world might mean to their everyday lives. Nor do they have any understanding of the um, complicated relationship the U.S. has had with nations in that region in an attempt to keep cheap oil available in this country.

So I was very surprised to hear an honest conversation- albeit a brief one- regarding the connection between the price of crude and the violence spreading across the Middle East. Why was I surprised? It happened on MSNBC. Reporting to Joe Scarborough no less, this exchange took place.

"One more thing," [Erin]Burnett remarked. "If this spreads, the United States could take a huge hit because democracy in a place like Saudi Arabia, you've talked about who might come in power, what that means for oil prices. They're going to go stratospheric."

"There's no doubt about it,' MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said. "No doubt about it!"

I am not against democratic reform in dictatorial countries. I'm just not sure if the violence we're witnessing will actual lead to more democracy. It's certainly not a cart-follows-the-horse kind of relationship in situations like these.

And I find it interesting to hear so many American's cheering the uprising and talking about support for potential democracy in the Middle East with no idea of the past support of oil-importing countries given to oil-rich dictators. Or any notion of the fact that democratic reform in the Middle East would make driving their cars quite a bit more costly. If they knew the implications would they still support reform?

You might be able to watch the video by clicking on this image.

If not try this link.

By the way I don't necessarily think Erin Burnett supports dictatorship. She just forgot for a few moments that you're not suppose to share that connection between dictatorship and cheap oil on the air.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

television as priority

I just read an article in The New York Times. It seems,
Americans watched more television than ever in 2010, according to the Nielsen Company. Total viewing of broadcast networks and basic cable channels rose about 1 percent for the year, to an average of 34 hours per person per week. source
34 hours per person per week! The focus of the article wasn’t even about that insanely huge number or the annual increase in viewing but mostly just covered what shows Americans were actually watching in 2010. It skipped right past that huge number and started talking about cable news and Jersey Shore. So I thought I’d do some math.

34 Hours X 307,000,000 Americans = 10,438,000,000 Hours of TV viewing nationally per week. Yes, almost 10 and a half Billion hours each week.

How many work weeks is that?

10,438,000,000 Hours / 40 Hours in a Work Week = 260,950,000 Work Week Equivalents

In other words if Americans weren’t busy watching mindless crap on television we could harness the equivalent of almost 261 million Americans WORKING FULL TIME EACH WEEK to do something useful.

This is what I'm really thinking when I hear people tell me they don’t have enough time to garden or prepare meals from scratch for their families. This is what I'm really hearing when I’m pretending to listen to someone at a party bitch about some problem that person will never get up off the couch and try to really understand or address through actual civic participation.

Everyone needs some down time to relax, I get that. And sure, not everyone likes to read or play with their kids. But 34 hours? That’s ridiculous.

It’s also a huge potential labor force for addressing the pressing issues that face our nation but my guess is that this national habit of ours won’t change just because I bitch about it. In fact I bet it gets worse as the social fabric of our society is further strained and people have an increasing need to escape reality.