Community Garden

I just came across this link and it got me thinking – what a totally terrific idea! Set aside an acre or two and rent them out annually:

Background
Kinder Farm Park’s community gardening program consists of about 125, 20 * 30′ gardening plots. More than 100 gardeners rent plots each year for $40/plot to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, and flowers. A program teaching eco-friendly and sustainable basic vegetable gardening skills to families is located at the Apprentice Garden and is sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension Office Anne Arundel County Master Gardeners.

The community gardening program remains a highly-regarded leisure-time pursuit for many of the park’s neighbors. The waiting list for plots has increased with each passing year. a recent resurgence of people cultivating home-grown food is sweeping the country. Both President Obama and Governor O’Malley have installed their own vegetable gardens in 2009 at the white House and the Maryland Governor’s Mansion, respectively, increasing news stories about gardening (with references to the famed “Victory Gardens” that were popular during WWII).

Community Garden

photo courtesy kinderfarmpark.org

Of course I have no idea what the demand might be, but it’s certainly something to consider! One of my greatest desires for this farm is a strong relationship with our community. I hope to grow a farm-to-school program and even a Heifer International-type program for local needy families. Knowing that our family cannot consume all the milk from even one single cow, I would like to start a Dairy Share program to help finance her upkeep, the milking equipment, and the time involved in caring for her and her calf. So many exciting opportunities – I’m still just trying to decide where to begin!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

We are due to finish up our first book club selection, Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin, and after a vote, we have chosen to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver next. I read this book a few years ago, shortly after The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. AVM had come highly recommended from more than one good friend, so I knew I would at least like it. But when I discovered the author was writing about her family’s farmstead in rural Virginia, I knew I would love it. And love it I did.

It’s been a few years, and while this book certainly helped get me started down the path to homesteading, I look forward to re-reading it. I hope to find even more great information and ideas.Animal Vegetable Miracle Barbara Kingsolver

Become a Master Composter

NEW Master Composter Program

If you enjoy working with people, digging in the dirt and talking “trash”, we want you to become a volunteer Master Composter with the Athens-Clarke County Master Composting Program! Become a home composting expert and teach your family, friends, neighbors, and fellow community members, “How to Compost”.

Master Composters are an elite group of volunteers who have undergone an extensive training class in all aspects of the composting process, and then use that information to teach others how to turn their organic material into a beneficial soil amendment.

Master Composter Program Information Expectations:

  1. Complete the training course and field trips – (8 classes and 2 field trips)
  2. Complete class project
  3. Volunteer a minimum of 40 hours back to the program


Typical Volunteer Duties:

  1. Teaching or assisting staff with compost workshops.
  2. Staffing composting information booths at various public education and outreach events.
  3. Giving lectures on composting to various civic, community, and garden groups.
  4. Giving hands-on presentations or assisting staff with school compost programs


Program Details:

DATES: Tuesday evenings, January 10th – February 28th, 2012 including two field trips on Saturdays (February 11th and 18th) to exemplary commercial, farm, and residential composting facilities.

TIMES: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

LOCATION: ACC Solid Waste Department Administration Building Training Room, 725 Hancock Industrial Way, Athens 30605

COST: $100

TO REGISTER: Contact ACC Cooperative Extension at (706) 613-3640

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit athensclarkecounty.com/recycling or download the registration form here.

~ Special thanks to my dad for this awesome Christmas gift,
even if you do think it’s weird to love compost! ~

Garlic & Cayenne Oxymel

When I came down with my 2nd nasty cold of this season, I decided it was time to test my apothecary skills. While on our Ladies Homestead Gathering Retreat, we were honored to attend an herbal class with Patricia Kyritsi Howell of BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies in Mountain City, Georgia. (You can check out her website at WildHealingHerbs.com) She brought along her knowledge and ingredients to make a few winter-time remedies for us. We discussed three remedies in great detail: Elder Rob Syrup, for use at the on-set of illness; Garlic & Cayenne Oxymel, to loosen a stuffy nose and soothe a sore throat; and Elderberry Wild Cherry Cough Syrup.

So last week I tried my hand at medicine-making and brewed a batch of Garlic & Cayenne Oxymel. And lest you fear I re-printed this recipe without permission, worry not! I cleared it with Patricia before publishing this. (As a new real-life blogger, I often forget to document my work as I go along, and thus, have no in-progess photos to share with you. My apologies…)

Garlic Oxymel

8 ounces cider vinegar
1/4 ounce each crushed fennel seeds and caraway seeds
1 bulb fresh garlic (approximately 10 cloves), pressed
3 fresh cayenne peppers
10 ounces honey

Put the vinegar in a pan with the seeds and bring to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add garlic and cayenne peppers. Let mixture cool. Strain back into pan. Mix in 10 ounces of honey. Warm over a low heat until thinned slightly. Store in a sterile jar in a cool place.

To use, take 1 tablespoon and dilute in 1 cup of warm tea. Drink as often as needed to clear congestion and soothe a cough.

Shelf life: Approximately 1 year.

My adjustments: I did not have any fennel seeds or caraway seeds so I omitted them. I did not have enough fresh garlic, so I used dried garlic. I did not have any fresh cayenne, so I used dried cayenne. But other than that…! It was delicious and effective, nonetheless.

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Hard-Working Mama

A few weeks ago we attended a wood cutting party at a good friend’s 60-acre farm in Madison County, GA. We spent the day using chainsaws, axes and even a gas-powered wood splitter to clear out a few downed trees on her property. By the end of the day, I had a pickup truck load of practically free firewood! So today I got out there and stacked it all while the kiddos dug around in the dirt.

Ready for winter!