Getting to Know: Grow Where You Are

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It is my favorite time of year: Market Season!  Woohoo!

This year, Project Generation Gap is implementing two community based incentive programs:  Wholesome Wave and My Market Club. We are doing this in partnership with Lilburn Farmers Market and Stone Mountain Farmers Market.

I reached out to growers in the Metro-Atlanta urban agriculture family and asked them to join us as vendors. I was seeking produce vendors who have ethical growing practices. Grow Where You Are answered the call!   They are highly respected in the Atlanta local food community.

Grow Where You Are's booth at the Lilburn Farmers Market

Grow Where You Are’s booth at the Lilburn Farmers Market

Although I met Eugene Cooke some time ago, I recently had the pleasure of visiting him and Nicole Bluh at their garden project located at Good Shepherd Church in Southwest Atlanta.  Oh my!!!! They are growing glorious food and therefore supporting growth in this community in many ways. Check out this arial shot of the space they transformed into The Good Shepherd Agro Ecology Center:

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They also raised the funds needed to create an outdoor laboratory located on the historical Atlanta Black Cracker Field. Their Indiegogo campaign explains:

We are creating an outdoor laboratory to explore the revitalizing influence of a living growing space and observatory in the Bush Mountain Community…. In the 1920s and 1930s during the height of the National Negro League and deep segregation in the south, the Atlanta Black Crackers utilized this site. Serving as a community center this space created an atmosphere of connectivity and fellowship through outdoor recreation. 

Development of this currently under-utilized 2 acre site will include an interactive native planting and historical vegetable and fruit mini-farm. Additions will be made to the existing campground which holds the annual Great American Backyard Campout. There will be information about the historical significance of the land as well as an art installation tribute to the Atlanta Black Crackers Baseball Team.

In addition to growing quality food and serving as a community advocate, Eugene is a contributing writer for Mother Earth News.  His wife, JoVonna, is owner and co-founder of MaituFoods, LLC, a vegan meal delivery service and vegan nutrition education hub. I purchased one of their really cool t-shirts. Get you one!

Nicole is a woman after my own “food as medicine” heart. Through ThirdMoon Botanica, she educates people about the powerful and necessary nutrition available in wild plants and how to harvest them.

I am so excited to have Grow Where You Are with me at the Lilburn Market. I scored a batch of their fresh green beans last week and they are to die for! This week I hope to bend Nicole’s ear and talk tinctures and oils. I’m heading to visit with the fine folks of the  Arcadia Moblie Market next week and I’d love to bring some southern comfort with me.

Come see me at the Market this season!

Tuesdays, 4-7pm,  Downtown Stone Mountain

Fridays, 4-8pm, @Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Lilburn.

One more thing:

The GWYA team is hosting an event that got my attention so I thought I’d share.

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Feening For Fennel

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It is quite common for people with lupus to have digestive issues and  last  Wednesday was the beginning of a nasty bout for me.  The timing was pretty bad: I had scheduled an aquaponics training for the very next morning and I  had some very excited farmers looking forward to it.

There was no way to mask the pain so it was great that I was in the company of likeminded  ‘food as medicine’ people: High Garden Center farmer George,  Dr. David Epstein, and Lois Peterson; a PGG board member who is currently furthering her study in  nutrition.

Dr. Dave suggested that I consider adding digestive enzymes pre-biotics  and pro-biotics to my supplement regiment. I was experiencing a flare (an auto immune crisis) so that was sound advice. Fortunately I have all of that on hand… including kombucha of course.  🙂

Lois suggested I go gluten-free and dairy free completely until things calmed down.  She also reminded me of the importance of bone broths when trying to  heal the gut. I grabbed Nourishing Traditions out of my office for reference.  Good thing I did! I had never considered putting wine in my broth! While I didn’t go there this time (with the turmoil in my belly I’ve decided to stay away from alcohol for the moment), I have filed that away under things I will certainly do in the near future. I cooked an organic bird slowly over the course of two days.  In addition I added loads of extras: a cinnamon stick, several garlic bulbs, onion, about 2 inches of ginger,  2 inches of turmeric, carrots and celery.

George sent me into the garden.

Grinning and Bearing it.

Grinning and Bearing it.

He mentioned a few plants that I might want to steep and drink as tea but for some reason I went right to the fennel, popped a few sprigs into my mouth. I have had fennel before in salads but have always remained pretty neutral on it. On this day, however,   I was actually craving it.  And I’ve been noshing on it every day since. Fennel has a licorice like flavor so it taste like candy to me. Eating it, was soothing.

After several days of running into the garden for my fennel fix, I decided to see why my body was asking for it.  After researching it further, it turns out it makes perfect sense.  Here are some of the benefits of fennel listed on juicingforhealth.com:

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Anemia:  Since fennel is rich in iron and histidine, it serves as a good natural remedy for anemia. The production of hemoglobin is increased as a result of the consumption of food containing iron.

Breast milk, secretion:  Lactating mothers can consume fennel juice regularly to increase the secretion of nutritious milk for their infants.

Cancer:  The high content of vitamin C, flavonoids and essential oils in fennel bulb all provide synergistic healing properties for the prevention of cancer.

Colic:  Colic happens because of an imbalanced intestinal flora.  The essential oils found in fennel are useful for rebalancing the flora for remedy of renal colic.

Constipation:  The roughage in fennel seeds act as a stimulant in the clearance of bowels.  By taking fennel juice regularly, it helps to rebalance the digestive tract, thus promotes regular bowel movement.

Diarrhea:  The essential oils in fennel like Cineole and Anethole help to remedy diarrhea. By taking fennel juice regularly, it helps to rebalance the digestive tract, thus promotes a healthy bowel movement.

Diuretic:  The diuretic property of fennel helps in the removal of toxic substances from the body through frequent urination. Thus, it helps to reduce inflammation that causes rheumatism and swelling.

Flatulence:  Excessive flatulence happens due to the highly imbalanced intestinal flora in the digestive tract.  Fennel has the capability to reduce the bad bacteria while increasing the good bacteria that help rebalance the digestive flora.

Hair health:  The sulphur content together with all the right amino acids and essential oils in fennel help strengthen hair and reduce hair fall.

High blood pressure:  The high potassium content in fennel helps reduce high blood pressure and thus decreasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Indigestion:  The essential oils in fennel increases the secretion of digestive juices, helping in reduction of stomach inflammation and in the absorption of nutrients from the food eaten. Since fennel also has anti-acidic qualities, it is used widely also as an antacid.

Menstruation disorders:  As fennel is an emmenagogue, it helps regulate the hormonal action in the female body, easing menstruation flow.

Vision health:  Fennel has unique properties that can help protect from eyes inflammation, as well as with other eye disorders which are directly or indirectly connected to muscular degeneration and aging.  Due to the anti-oxidants and the necessary amino acids in fennel, they help rejuvenate and prevent aging. The juice of fennel leaves when externally applied on the eyes may help reduce eye irritations and fatigue.

I am on the mend! Was it the broth? Kombucha?  Fennel?

I’d say all three.   I’d also say that I am healing my body with  comfort food, soda and candy.  Except it’s real food. And that just makes me giddy.

 

 

 

 

Releasing Judgment- An Easter Tale

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This Easter it was really important for me to get home to Savannah.  I just wanted to be with my family.  Spring is my husband’s busiest season so we decided the kids and I would make the trip without him.  Normally, this would not be an issue but we had an evening wedding to attend in Atlanta on Saturday and we had to get Malik (my oldest) back on campus for an 8am class on Monday. Talk about mission impossible!

But… I was determined.  And I have three pretty awesome kids (two of which are drivers) so as crazy as it may seem for us to hit the road at 9pm on Saturday and return at 9pm on Sunday, that is exactly what we did.

But let me back up a bit.

On a good day I wait until the last minute to get essentials for holidays.  Having just returned from the conference, I was in true rare form. Especially given that right before the conference I learned that I had been accepted into the Black and Latino Farmers Immersion program at Soul Fire Farm.  Add the additional level of social consciousness provided by the conference and springtime temperatures and my body just wanted to veg in the soil all week. Friday evening I realized I wasn’t prepared for a wedding or a road trip.  So I headed to the thrift store early Saturday morning. ;).

While I have taken on several new homesteading practices in recent years, thrifting, recycling, and up-cycling is something I’ve done my entire life. I’ve even indoctrinated my kids to the point that they choose the thrifting when spending their own money. It came as no surprise to them that their Easter best would be ‘gently used’.

I almost cried when I saw this. $3.99!!! Can you say continuous brew?

I almost cried when I saw this. $3.99!!! Can you say continuous brew?

During my haste, I came across a Facebook post of a hometown acquaintance. She was expressing her disdain for those who come to church only on holidays. She expressed that she stays home on those days to avoid dealing with those people.

WHOA! So thankful God doesn’t think that way!  As it turns out, (this year at least) me and my family are said people. I had forgotten some folks feel like that! I guess I was too focused on what this precious time with my family means to me. In recent years, my sister and I have taken turns  tearing up I-16 to get to each other. There are just moments when we know it is time. Leading praise and worship at her church is big part of who she is; I wanted to share that with her this holiday. Judgments be damned! ( I think Jesus is okay with me saying that -btw).

This did, however,  make me think of a spiritual practice I have.

When I notice a behavior that is hurtful or offensive, instead of becoming paralyzed (depressed or angry) by the pain of it, I allow myself to consider if I harbor any of that in my own spirit.  In this case, I started thinking about judgement.  What do I assume about others with limited information? How do I let my own issues seep into my views of others? How have I painted people with a broad stroke?

This is a powerful but difficult thing to do. To really sit with yourself. To consider your judgments without judgment.

So I acknowledged my issues and released them… almost immediately. I’ll continue to do this over and over.  It is a ‘working’ practice.

I love road trips with my kids. I am less distracted. We have great talks. This trip we talked about the resurrection; about rebirth and renewal in our own lives. We talked about Judas. We decided that despite his extreme slimy-ness, his role was critical to Jesus’ mission.

My take on the Easter basket this year.  A small shopping basket with road trip goodies for the kids.

My take on the Easter basket this year. A small shopping basket with road trip goodies for the kids.

So off to church we went. For me it was like riding a bike.  I knew the songs and fit right in with my sister and her praise team (or at least I like to think so- lol).  My kids are not as used to the ‘pew squats’ as Malik put it and we fumbled the offering… putting our donation in the benevolent offering. Oops. But the congregation was gracious and quite kind.

My lovely sister and Pastor McClendon.

My lovely sister and Pastor McClendon.

And like any good southern Easter service, there were tons of pictures taken.

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Every outfit thrifted… total cost: less than twenty smackers!

I think we put together nicely… what do you think?

The Best Food Fight Ever

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Conferences have a tendency to attract like-minded thinkers. When I registered for The Food Justice Summit, I knew I’d be in the company of community supporting, food loving, farm friendly folk like me. However, when  I got the topic list I knew I had to make space in my luggage for some big girl panties. I could tell they were going to go at the issues others have been dancing around…HARD.

Power to the People:

I started the first day of the conference  with this interactive workshop. Amber Burns of New Roots Inc., challenged us to share our food stories with randomly assigned members of the group. It was nice to hear the unique experiences that brought others to the conferences. Again, I am reminded that everyone has a story waiting to be told.

Here I am flanked by two powerhouses: Karyn and Amber of New Roots, Inc.

Here I am flanked by two powerhouses: Karyn and Amber of New Roots, Inc.

#quinoaguilt: Problems and Solutions for Conscientious Consumers

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I met Pilar Eguez Guevara(Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) at the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2013.  A few of us connected through our love of food and the study of cultural food patterns. I have learned so much from Pilar; I was happy to be able to hear her speak.

Pilar gave a thought provoking talk on trending discussions(articles, social media, etc..)  that highlight the guilt some consumers feel about how the boom in the sale of imported quinoa las led to food gentrification (yes that is a real hashtag). A similar phenomenon is seen with coconut. Pilar has done extensive research on coconut consumption in her home country of Ecuador; particularly the northern coastal province of Esmeraldas.  The elders of the community explained to her that 50 years ago coconut was consumed at virtually every meal. Today, however, it is consumed (at best) once or twice per week.

While the economy in these regions have benefited from the increased demand in the area of job creation, the dramatically higher prices of the crops have made it challenging for those who live in nearby cities to afford them.   What were once staples in their diet are now reserved for special occasions.

It was clear that the presenters at this conference (at least the ones I had the pleasure of experiencing) were calling for more than food justice. They were highlighting the need for  food sovereignty.

I started day two with a potentially polarizing talk:

The Whitest Profession: Combating Racial and Class Inequities in American Agriculture.

Nathan Rosenburg, Fink Fellow, Natural Resource Defense Council outlined how modern U.S. agriculture policy was shaped in crucial ways by Southern elites during the Jim Crow era. It turns out, that these lawmakers decided that keeping black farmers from achieving success was more important than the clear need to support small scale farming in general.  The result was massive land loss for black farmers and a reduction in aid and support for all small scale farmers. The effects of this are seen in the challenges the majority of farmers face today.

When I walked in and saw Jennie Stephens (Executive Director of Heirs’ Property Preservation) and Natasha Bowens (Author of The Color of Food) on the panel, I did a little happy dance inside. I had the pleasure of meeting Jennie at breakfast that morning. The preview she gave me about her work left me wanting to learn more about Heirs’ Property Preservation.

The organization helps low income land heirs protect their interest. For many, this means helping them understand the true value of their land as well as helping them navigate the sometimes choppy waters one can find themselves in with shared land ownership.

Natasha  is definitely a kindred spirit.  She has spent the last four years gathering stories from Black, Native, Asian and Latina farmers and food activists who are revolutionizing the food system and preserving cultural food ways. She started her project after exploring the intersection of race, food, and agriculture on her Blog: Brown. Girl. Farming.

At this discussion, she shared the story of one of the farmers and it made me remember an excerpt from her book I read recently in Mother Earth Magazine.  There, she shared the story of Sandra Simone.  I related to Sandra immensely. She was an unlikely candidate for farming (a jazz singer) who stumbled into her calling.  Natasha showed tremendous honor and respect for Sandra in that piece and she is just as gracious in person.

I took my silliness with me to Harvard. Thanks Natasha for being a good sport.

I took my silliness with me to Harvard. Thanks Natasha for being a good sport.

Her book is scheduled to be released on April 10th.  I pre-ordered my copy here.

I ended my conference with my dear friend and (traveling companion)Karla Blaginin’s talk:

Bringing U.S. Latinos into the Sustainable Food Economy: The end of nutrition sciences as we know it.

Karla insists that we reconsider commonly understood concepts of health and well-being.  This means, as Karla puts it,  “Deconstructing nutrition science’s notion of food as an entity separate of its social and environmental space.”  In other words the idea of broad, national nutritional/ health standards like BMI and Obesity need to be challenged. We need to consider how people (specifically cultural groups) interact with their food. In doing so, we can support communities as they set their own standards.

Karla and I bunked together at the hotel. My thoughts on nutrition and wellness  are forever evolving… spending the weekend with Karla gave me tons more to consider.

And she made sure that I ate… well and often.

A sampling of the snacks Karla brought from the amazing breakfast offerings from our hotel.  I think I ate every fig and piece of cheese.

A sampling of the snacks Karla brought from the amazing breakfast offerings from our hotel. My portion is to the far right: figs, cheese and dates.

A few notable conference takeaways:

  1. It turns out Diana Rodgers (author of The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook: Over 100 Delicious Gluten-Free, Farm-to-Table Recipes, and a Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Healthy Food)  is responsible for me being at the conference! She told Pilar about it, Pilar told Karla and Karla told me. Ha! Talk about degrees of separation!
  2. You need to check out Equal Exchange. I am not just saying that because they gave be a bag of their organic, fair trade, Congo Coffee and a really yummy chocolate bar.  Okay, I don’t blame you for not believing me but their mission statement says it all:

Equal Exchange’s mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.

How sweet is she? The sweetest for giving me chocolate and coffee!

How sweet is she? The sweetest for giving me chocolate and coffee!

4. I  learned about gleaning from the Boston Area Gleaners. I had no idea that there are people who currently  practice this accent method of improving food security.  They come behind farmers and harvest that which would otherwise be plowed under or what has been planted expressly for donation.  Pretty cool,  huh?

Personal Reflections

Right before I came to this conference I had begun to have conversations with my cohorts and colleagues about the inequities and imbalances I am noticing in my quest to support our local food system. I am finding that I must demand a place at the table. At times, I have to fight for the smallest level of consideration for my organization and the farmers, farmers markets, and communities we serve.  Sometimes I feel like a petulant child with a utensil balled-up in each fist. It was comforting to know that this fight is happening on a larger scale. That people recognize the challenge farmers face. That others are sensitive to the fact that certain populations have been largely left out of the discussion. That people want to fix these problems that affect us all.

I also left the conference with a better understanding of the right to food.

It is not just a right to not be hungry.

It is a right to decide what to feed your family.

A right to not have someone else’s values imposed upon you.

A right to have your voice represented in your community.

Boston was awesome but I’m glad to be home. Not only did I fully embrace the sweet sun that greeted me after 3 days of snow, I returned with a more tangible understanding of my role in  my community.

It’s Spring and there is a lot of work to do…

I think I’ll start in my own back yard.

Natural High: Getting to Know the Farmers of The High Garden Center

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You know how you find something so special that you want to wait until the perfect time to share it with others?  That is how I feel about George and Krista High, owners of The High Garden Center.

I stumbled into their booth at a Farmers Market last summer and instantly knew I was on to something major.  I have met many really amazing farmers/growers from all over the Southeast that have changed the way I see food and my community. Meeting George and Krista went a bit deeper; I had found true kindred spirits.

They are passionate about community, education, and nutrient dense foods. I could not imagine a better fit for Project Generation Gap.

George and Krista

George and Krista are trusted advisors to health-conscious people who want to include a variety of plants in their everyday diet. They are lifelong nature lovers who grow and consume a wide variety of plants (some are wild) each day.

In 2012, George and Krista started creating customized “Gardens to Go” for people who don’t have green thumbs, or simply don’t have the time, energy, or space to maintain a garden. Their handcrafted portable planters give clients easy access to live culinary and medicinal herbs year round.

George and Krista sell live herbs, microgreens, pet greens, and handmade planters/pots at farmers’ markets in Gwinnett County, garden stores, and festivals around metro Atlanta.

An explorer at heart, George discovered at an early age that there are dozens of nutritious and edible plants in our own backyards. He has been picking, identifying, and cooking dishes containing culinary and wild plants ever since.

While serving in the military (he has served in the Army, the Coast Guard, as a civil servant for the Navy, and civilian employee on an Army base in Iraq)  George planned and ran the Community Garden at a Coast Guard base in North Carolina. He also served as the Wellness Officer for the Coast Guard Air Station from 1996-2002. George became a Certified Green Consultant in 2011 to assist others in living harmoniously with the earth.

George owns 6,000 music albums, the entire Danielle Steele book collection, and a John Deere tractor.

Krista is a former Environment Scientist, who reinvented herself in 2003. She became a freelance copywriter specializing in the health, wellness, and spirituality industries. For the past 10 years, Krista has written copy for alternative health and wellness gurus such as Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Al Sears, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Gerald Epstein, and Dr. David Blyweiss.

Krista is ambidextrous, believes there’s “a place for everything, everything in its place,” and enjoys most anything that contains caramel.

I  mean seriously. What is there not to love?

Connecting with this beautiful couple has been a game changer for our organization. The level of service we are set to provide to the community is mind-blowing.  Look forward to more information on nutritious/healing foods, classes and community events.

Speaking of great food, I made the most delicious soup yesterday! I decided that I would use primarily local, fresh, and seasonal food that I obtained from the market.  My oldest son’s girlfriend, Megan, is a very picky eater; I’ve made my personal mission to win over her belly.  She lifted her bowl for seconds!

Harvest Soup

3 tablespoons butter

I used a one HUGE sweet potato from the market and several smaller ones given to me by Ash-Lee farms.

I used a one HUGE sweet potato from the market and several smaller ones given to me by Ash-Lee farms.

1.5 cups chopped onions

5 cups cubed sweet potato

4 cups cubed butternut squash

sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

8 cups chicken broth

2 sweet but tart apples (I use fujis)

Cinnamon and Nutmeg to taste

1 cup of milk or cream

Yogurt

Saute’ onions in butter until soft and translucent. Add the sweet potatoes, butternut squash, chicken broth, salt and pepper to pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the diced apple and either: mash the everything together by hand (for a chunkier soup) or  use a  blender to puree soup in batches (I use my Vitamix of course). Be careful not to fill the carafe more than halfway, the soup is hot and needs its space. 🙂  Pour the blended soup into a clean pot.  If desired, add a dollop of yogurt atop individual servings.

*Notes:

*I purchased everything (except the seasonings) from local farmers including the chicken to the make the stock, and the milk.

*I use raw milk because we digest it better. I suggest organic half and half or cream if purchasing pasteurized/homogenized dairy (so it will be creamy).

*My husband makes our yogurt but if purchasing, I recommend organic greek yogurt for a thicker consistency

*The veggies and fruits I used are all seasonal and fresh but it is ok to let Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods do your chopping for you. Typically not local, and REALLY expensive (I made close to a gallon of soup for around $6,) but trust me, I get it…do what you gotta do!

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If You Build It….

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Some time ago I wrote about starting a health, wellness and community revolution.  After spending years hoping ‘somebody’  would show up and step up, I realized that person was me. 🙂 My close friend, client, and colleague Janice had a similar epiphany at about the same time; we were both overwhelmed with the need to do something.  With that, Project Generation Gap was born.  We incorporated our non profit organization in December of 2013 with the goal of supporting an accessible, healthy, sustainable food system. As we see it,  the key to it all is community; placing a high value on our elders and nurturing our children.   We learned early on that we had to create an organic experience through relationship building.

While our efforts are not new to most of you, this major, exciting announcement is!

The vineyard at The High Garden Center

The vineyard at The High Garden Center

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Real food abounds here!

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The original barn

Project Generation Gap has partnered with The High Garden Center.  Our office will be housed at their farm along side a community center we are building together.  We will work together to bring quality nutrition and food education to our community. In my next post I will introduce you to  the dynamic duo behind HGC, George and Krista. They have been quietly working on their garden center… they seriously have their hands on a little slice of heaven.

One thing I have learned in the last year working with farmers/growers is that they rarely see the magnitude of what they offer. I am blown away with how humbly they work the land and then graciously share the fruits of their labor with their neighbors.  In addition to the supporting the growth at The HGC,  we have identified other farmers, growers, and tradesmen/women to support.  We sent 11 kids to farm camp, facilitated  (along with our partner firm Atlanta Food &Farm) an opportunity for The High Garden Center to create 10 rooftop self watering planters  at the Pittman Park Community Center and  we’ve organized/ participated in volunteer work days on area farms.  Each of these efforts engaged the community, provided education, and supported farmers directly.  Our work is just beginning!   We are  creating a comprehensive internship program  that will provide an array of services to our farmers (we just brought on our first official intern to help us at the High Garden Center and she is AWESOME) and we have partnered with like minded businesses and other non profits to provide the funding and manpower needed to create quality programming. We have family and community events planned and ultimately (through our partner farmers/providers) we will provide access to array of seasonal, local fresh vegetables, humanely raised and  processed antibiotic free meat, and minimally processed prepared food.  It is our goal to make our neighbors aware of the importance of supporting local growers and the value of good quality food.

Equally as important to the work we will do to support the farmers and consumers is our outreach work.  We have found a great fit coordinating  food demonstrations for preschoolers. Such FUN!   We will continue to offer programing to children and adults of all ages  in the form of classes and seminars.  We will be in local schools, at community centers, and presenting at events across the community.  We will also share all that we know and learn about nutrient dense food and self-sustainability to our friends and supporters across the country.

So how on Earth are we going to do it?

Well, it’s a family affair! We’ve been working hard at establishing relationships in our community. The outpouring of support has been incredible.  Our  vision started with a small board of directors and has grown include the ideas/work of  farmers, business owners, other non profits, and agencies.  No need to re-invent the wheel!  We also  did outreach at local farmers’  markets during the summer in order to get to know our community better.  As a result, our network of volunteers has blossomed. The PGG team has  social workers, registered nurses, college students, nutritionists, chefs, social workers, teachers, accountants, health/wellness professionals, horticulturalists, artists, a graphic designer, saleswomen, consultants, a cosmetologist, engineers, stay at home moms, homesteaders, general contractors, a fireman… I am sure I am forgetting something!  We are Caucasian, African American, Columbian, Indian, Mexican, Biracial, Vietnamese, West Indian. We range in age from 9 months to 70+.

The point is, we are the community.

Look forward to getting to know our team better. You are going to love them!

Here are few ictures from our recent work weekend at The High Garden Center.  Magical things are happening there. If you’d like to be a part of it, please email us here. We’d love to have you! Next up:  a community bonfire!

Taking it down to build it back again!

Taking it down to build it back stronger!

Malik and Clarke are smiling!

Malik and Clarke are smiling!

The inside crew had more fun then should be legal. lol

The inside crew had more fun then should be legal. lol

9 Signs You Might Be a Homesteader in Disguise (like me!)

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“It’s not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes, including a reverence for nature and a preference for country life; a desire for maximum personal self-reliance and creative leisure; a concern for family, nature and community cohesion; a certain hostility toward luxury; a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money; a certain nostalgia for the supposed simplicities of the past and an anxiety about the technological bureaucratic complexities of the present and the future; and a taste for the plain and functional.”   JD Belanger, Countryside Magazine.

I’ve been practicing homesteading principles with my family for years (refer to my kombucha obsession as exhibit A). I’ve always known that I was a bit odd  but I always described myself as ‘practical’  ‘pragmatic’,  or ‘functional’.  Although I’ve been  following self-sufficiency pioneers like Kristen Michaelis (Food Renegade)  and Hannah Crum (Kombucha Kamp) for years, I didn’t fully identify with the movement until recently.  It wasn’t until I started hanging out with other homesteaders in my community did I realize that my lack of  livestock and green thumb didn’t exclude me.  As a matter of fact, there are plenty folks just like me!

Curious to know if you qualify? Here are a few signs that you might be a budding homesteader:

You have an urge to ‘grow’

My farmer friend George gave me mullein a few weeks ago. It is doing quite well.

My farmer friend George gave me mullein a few weeks ago. Time to re-pot!

A lot of people think that in order to be a homesteader you have to live on a farm, or at least have a garden and a few chickens. I live in a  suburban subdivision governed by a HOA that requires approval to change paint colors. But the urge to ‘grow’ is still there. I have a few medicinal plants and herbs growing around my house. How about you? Inside plants count too!

SN: Growing in your mindset also comes with the territory.

You find yourself gradually giving up on aesthetics

I used to wish I had more time fix myself (or my house) up… not so much any more. I have held on to some girlie behaviors (mani/pedis and tamed eyebrows specifically) but most days, I just go with the flow.   I will, however,  frantically throw things in closets if you say you are coming by.  Aside from that, I’ve willfully traded a clutter free home for scoby hotels and routine precise haircuts for weekly coconut oil treatments. Did any of that make sense? Yes?  Keep reading. 🙂

You are willing to embrace your own funk

This pairs nicely with letting go of appearances. Once I learned of the connections between the chemicals in most deodorants and disease, I decided I didn’t smell so bad after all. Ha!  Seriously, it is about much more than body odor.  Are you concerned about what you put on your body as much as what goes in your body? Do you find yourself wanting to find non toxic cleaning products to use in your home?  Pretty good chance you are one of us.

Check out our fancy dish ware.

Check out our fancy dish ware.

You recycle, reuse and up-cycle

Do you shop at (and donate to) thrift stores? Is your recycling bin in competition with your trash? In our household, very few things make it to the dumpster. We compost, drink out of reused jars, and can tell you the name of every resale shop within a 10 mile radius.

You appreciate animals 

There are homesteaders who don’t eat meat and those who raise animals for food.  Regardless of the perspective, homesteaders value and respect the role animals play in a healthy society.

You value and support local businesses

Homesteading is about building community. At its core is supporting your neighbors. Do you find yourself getting excited when a mom and pop opens up shop? Does a little piece of you die when you see trees being cleared for yet another strip mall?

My new work boots Brand new from a local thrift store Score!

My new work boots. Unused from a local thrift store. Score!

You don’t believe in throwing food away

Activities like canning and dehydrating are closely connected with homesteading because they are typically practiced by those who grow/process (or purchase) a lot of food at one time.  However,even  if you find yourself taking a leftover chicken and making salad and then using the carcass to make broth, you have homesteading tendencies.

Our family's  version of kick the can. Composting in the City.

Our family’s version of kick the can. Composting in the city.

It is important that you know your neighbors

While sustainable living involves self-sufficiency, it is best achieved in a community. Are you that neighbor that always has a few eggs to give in a cooking emergency? Do you lend tools or your abilities to those around you?

You enjoy giving and/or receiving homemade gifts

Every year we make homemade sweets during the holidays. My kids also make jewelry, bath soaps, and furniture

A Christmas gift from my oldest to my youngest

A Christmas gift from my oldest to my youngest

throughout the year as gifts.  My best friend hand sews clothing and blankets for me and my kiddos and those are amongst our most prized possessions. Do you marvel at true craftsmanship? Do you spend more money and time then makes sense to give someone something you’ve made?  It’s okay. We all do it. 🙂

If I lived 1,000 years I would probably not catch up to the Kristens and  Hannahs of the world. It’s a good thing I am not trying! That is actually part the beauty of homesteading. It isn’t a competition. It is about supporting each other toward the common goal of self sufficiency.  We each have to define what that looks like to us.  For me, it looks like providing the best I can for my family and sharing all that I am with those around me… learning and growing every single day.  Oh and an occasional chai latte  with a bit of dark chocolate with sea salt.  Hey… it’s all about balance. 😉

Did you make it through the entire blog post?  I’m not an authority or anything, but I think you are in!