Taking the Fart Out of “Jerusalem Fartichokes” Aka Sunroot or Topinambour

Ecotrain, Homestead, permaculture

Topinambour

Though this plant, also known as Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunroot or Sunchoke, is making a revival, I have heard much negative press about this forgotten, yet increasingly popular root vegetable. Largely the negatives reside around the side effect of flatulence due to its inulin content (the same characteristic that has earned it the title of a nutraceutical) and the flavor.

Last night Ini and I made our first harvest of these tubers in the sunflower family. A wild plant to the Americas, they were first tended and selected by Native Americans in the eastern part of the continent, yet now they are popular all over the world after early Europeans brought them home with them.

We have already written about the plant and showed you some very sexy photos of the plant in bloom here so today I want to focus on the roots, their preparation towards the tastiest (and easiest) of dishes and ways we can reduce that fartaffect.

Because last night, let’s just say I was nearly gassed out of my house between Ini and the dog and my own digestive track was doing the rumble and “letting wind” — I have a personal stake in the matter.

 

And as their perennial nature of self propagation, ease of growing, and health benefits, I am not even close to giving up on this plant.

Digging them was like digging for treasure and as we collected the smaller heads and filled the hole with a big head and spread them around the property, we realized what an easy staple food crop this truly is.

Only, how to prepare it and reduce the gas?

Acidify

As one article says,

 I learned that indigestible polysaccharides such as inulin can be converted to digestible sugars by “acid hydrolysis.” In layman’s terms, that means bathing the inulin in something watery and acidic. Lemon juice, perhaps?

and furthermore,

 “Boiling Jerusalem artichokes in an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar will hydrolyze the inulin to fructose and small amounts of glucose,” Rastall advises.

 

Ferment

 

Here’s another solution: Traditional fermentation-style pickling also removes sunchokes’ gaseous effects – while retaining their artichoke flavor. Gardening mavens Linda Ziedrich and Rose Marie Nichols McGee developed a game-changing recipe that yields completely gas-free Jerusalem artichoke pickles that keep all their wonderful crunch and taste.

 

Build Up A Tolerance

 

His fix for the overdose of inulin in Jerusalem artichokes? Build a tolerance. “Rather than avoiding all inulin, I suggest that people consume small quantities on a regular basis,” he notes. “Their gut microbiota will adapt – the proportion of beneficial bacteria will grow, while the gas-producing bacteria will diminish – and after a while they will be able to eat Jerusalem artichokes without discomfort.”

 

The Long Cook

Another site adds this helpful tidbit,

In On Food and Cooking (2004 edition), page 307, Harold McGee indicates that the… erm… flatulent effects of sun chokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes) are due to complex fructose-based carbohydrates that are not digestible by humans.

> Long, slow cooking allows enzymes present in the fresh of the tuber will convert these fructose over time. McGee recommends 12-24 hours at 200 F / 93 C.

And also,

“About half of the remaining indigestibles can be removed by boiling in a large volume of water for 15 minutes.”

Storage

 Harold McGee addresses this subject in his excellent book, The Curious Cook (1990). He explains the Jerusalem artichoke in great detail in the chapter titled, “Taking the Wind out of the Sunroot.” His conclusions are (a) the quantities of the responsible carbohydrate are somewhat dissipated during cold storage of a month or more.

Late Harvest

 As one of the other answers outlines: the most accepted remedy is cold storage or late harvesting. When left in the groud during the winter, the tubers transform the inulin, thus enabling us to effectively digest the Sunchokes. This means that if you are growing your own, you can just harvest the tubers on the day you eat them, provided you do so late in the season.

First Things First

This is so exciting. Ini and I dug up a bunch of sunroots today and last night and will be selling some on the @homesteaderscoop for SBD! We bought these from a reputable nursery and they are select varieties!

First things first, I have some wonderful fodder here to experiment with. I think, to start, we’ll try the fermented aspect. As you know, we’re going on a 10 day meditation retreat shortly and will start a couple batches of classic lactofermentation using these sunroot and some salt (and other herbs and spices, and perhaps vegetables, as the mood strikes.)

 

The sky is the limit when it comes to learning how to most effectively partner with perennial vegetables. One thing is for certain, I feel the joy of life moving through me as a I work with this plant and I feel the familiar happiness and wonder at thinking of all of the humans whose hands this vegetable has passed through and how it has traveled all over the world (via humans and yes of course rodents, which are known to move little tidbits around gardens everywhere– and the plant will grow from the smallest tidbit!)

 

How do you like to eat Sunroot? Start small and let our bodies, which aren’t used to high amounts of inulin, get up to speed with this nutraceutical and it sounds like we’ll be off to a better start.

 

Let me know your favorite ways to eat it in the comments below!

A Case for Edible Landscaping with Perennial Plants | 3 Plant Profiles

Homestead, permaculture

Perennials.

Food production has long been a passion of ours, the scope and scale of which has evolved over the years. What began as forays into annual market gardening has morphed into more of a focus on perennial food crops. With high labor input and annual tillage (in most cases), the model of annual gardening left us wondering if there was another way to grow food.

There is a huge diversity of underutilized perennial plants that represent a great potential for sustainable food production. Apples, asparagus and rhubarb are perhaps the most well known, but indeed there are a host of perennial plants that yield unique and nutritious food. Many of these have interesting histories and their relationship with humans spans generations, yet they have simply been forgotten in our era when ease of marketability, transportation, appearance and shelf life take precedence.

We believe in a future agriculture where our needs are met harmoniously while the Earth and her creatures are cared for.

As we establish a relationship with the land we steward, we are constantly evolving and discovering what works and what doesn’t. We are discovering for ourselves what foods the land is best suited for, not imposing unreasonable demands. We take note of what species are present, which plants thrive with little attention, and the results of certain practices. We’re putting our money on perennials.

Our vision is to grow as many perennials as possible and share the joys and merits of perennial food production.

By starting small and developing nursery stock of useful and productive perennials, we are allowing time for feedback and evolution. Trees of course factor in heavily, but there’s also a large learning curve for us as we seek appropriate perennial vegetables.

Every year we expand our collection and propagate the established plants. Thinking in terms of years instead of months takes patience and the harvest doesn’t come quickly, but through these thoughtful and consistent actions, we align with and leverage the abundance of nature’s natural propagating tendencies. Perennials are inherently more resilient and stable than annuals. Growing with no soil disturbance and well-developed root systems, perennials are a great choice for lower input food production and long-term sustainability. As we establish perennial polycultures, we are setting up for long term resiliency, which becomes increasingly important in a time of unstable and mercurial weather patterns and seasons.

Allying with larger cycles and taking notes from nature, we see acts such as tilling and annual seeding as unnecessary in many cases. The abundance of nature is available to us if we take note of the dynamics inherent in natural ecosystems and their food-producing members. This is apparent as we divide roots, take cuttings and spread seeds. We’ve already seen with several perennials that plants can survive with less care and attention than many annuals and readily propagate themselves.

There’s a great deal of work needed in developing the systems that will feed us into the future. We are excited to be engaging in this most important of tasks. Below we’ve listed a few plants that we’ve added to our living collection over the past 2 years. We also have created a companion vlog that we’ll be sharing shortly.

These plants thrive in our Zone 6b climate and we highly recommend them. We bought the first 2 earlier this year using Steem and are excited to report back.

Chinese Mountain Yam – Dioscorea batatas

As the name suggests, the edible portion of this plant is a yam, a delicious underground tuber. This genus represents a huge potential of untapped food. Rudolf Steiner said that this would be the staple of the future; owing to its high food value and supposed ability to bring light ether into the body. Relatively unknown in North America as food, the Chinese mountain yam is more commonly cultivated as an ornamental. However, in Japan 100,000 tones are harvested annually for food! It is a long-lived tuber that is often harvested when 2 to 3 years old and which can growth 3-4 feet deep!

While the growth habit may look similar to a sweet potato with its sprawling, vining growth habit, this yam is unrelated and has a slightly more floury texture. Chinese mountain yams also produce tiny aerial tubers that can be eaten or planted, although portions of the underground tubers are a more common method of propagation. Tuber production is increased by trellising. We shall see how it does in our rocky soils, but we are excited to keep expanding our production.

 

Groundnut – Apios americana      

The groundnut is an important yet underrepresented nitrogen fixing food crop that grows wild throughout the USA and Southern Canada. It played a vital role in the diets of many Native Americans and was indispensible for feeding early colonists who were ill equipped to survive winter in a new land. Indigenous populations managed or encouraged stands of groundnuts for increased production.

As the name implies, the edible portion is similar to a walnut growing underground, bearing edible balls on a rope like strand. The tubers boast 16 percent protein (triple that of potatoes) and can yield up to 8 pounds from a single plant! Over the past 20 years or so, selections have been bred by Louisiana State University for increased size and ease of harvest. The resulting tubers are much bigger than tubers found in the wild. Groundnuts may take a few years to get established, but can yield annual harvests for many years.

 

Skirret – Sium sisarum

Skirret is a once popular root crop that has since fallen out of favor. Yielding a cluster of pencil thick carrot like roots, it suffers from few pests and produces and multiplies with little to no inputs. If given good moist soil it can produce large amounts of sweet root mass.

With a flavor reminiscent of carrot and parsnip (they are all from the same botanical family) and potato, skirret can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Baked, boiled, fried, or mashed it has filled the bellies of many over the years, but has perhaps fallen out of favor due to smaller root size and difficulty cleaning. This perennial gets its name from the Dutch for sugar root and when tasted you’ll see why. It’s a truly delicious, easy to grow and propagate plant.

With these 3 examples, we hope to encourage you to consider adding perennials to your garden plantings.

You’ll find they quickly become friends due to their easy nature & habit of propagating themselves- who said you have to work hard to grow food? Why not let the food grow itself! We believe in a perennial food future with rich soil teeming with microbes (to take a phrase from the popular book of that same title). While gardening is an enjoyable and healthy pastime any way you slice it, the perennial beds are like gifts to your future self. Each time you plant one, you’re feeding yourself and your friends and family for years to come.

 

Who knows, perhaps in the future we will even sell some of these plants on the @homesteaderscoop for SBD! Let us know if you have interest!

In the meantime, check out our thornless blackberries which are also self replicating, perennial, easy to grow and, of course, tasty!

This is a vision of abundance!

 

References –

Toensmeier, Eric. Perennial Vegetables. Chelsea Green: White River Junction, Vermont 2007.

Homestead Life: What We Would Do Differently with 100K at the Onset

Homestead, inspiration

“If you could start your Homestead over, completely from scratch, and you had a hypothetical budget of 100k USD in your pocket, how would you plan and prioritize?”

  • What kind of priorities would you have or reconsider?
  • What kind of power would you use?
  • In what ways would you use this nest egg first?
  • How would you do your planning again, if you had the option?

 

@thetreeoflife asks us this hypothetical question as she and her partner mentally and practically prepare to make their homestead move.

I am so excited to dig in and think about the aspects of this question this morning as I enjoy a cup of coffee by the woodstove.

Ini and I started off with a much smaller “nest egg” and if we had had 100k, I am not quite sure we would do much differently. First I’ll walk you all through some of our thought processes, what we liked about that and also things we may shift or do in different orders.

 

Land

First off, make land a priority regarding how you use your nest egg. Think about what your dreams are (for us it was perennial food forestry ultimately) and tailor your vision and land choice toward what is important to you. Maybe you want land for raising livestock or extensive gardening, maybe a certain slope orientation is important to you. Take some time to really consider what your priorities are and your long term visions and as you go about finding land, see if you can literally imagine your dreams unfolding there.

For us, we chose Missouri because of its longish growing season (zone 6b), large amounts of rainfall (over 50 inches annually), prevalence of springs and aquifers (one of the highest concentrations in the country), lack of building codes and relatively inexpensive land prices.

In exchange, we live in Trump country and it can get a little bit “backwards” here or feel like it’s outside of time. There is little progressive politics and we are 45 minutes in every direction from a city large enough for a legit food store with organic bulk produce. We do a lot of ordering online. Consider for yourself what your limits are. 20 minutes from such a town? How do your specific dreams mingle with location and community aspects? We have a small progressive community around us that mostly satisfies us, but at times we wish we had larger social circles.

I think for any budget, land takes up a large part of that. And I think it should. It’s the key asset you’re investing in when creating a homestead.

I also wouldn’t be afraid to choose a place and land you really love (consider the long term taxes though) if it’s a bit more expensive. After all, you can’t change your place as easily as you can make more money or tear down or build a building.

 

Home

For us it was ideal to find a place without an existing home. A structure such as a barn or outbuilding was okay, but we knew we wanted to build our own natural home. We didn’t have any building experience so we didn’t start off right away building a home and I think that was a good move. We built our humanure composting building first- this allowed us to practice our building styles, gain experience and have a home for our poop! We would do it again this way.

Permaculture asks us to Observe before we act and this is wise. We waited a year living on the land before we cut trees, established long term garden plans, built buildings, etc. And I love that we did that; I’d recommend it.

To this effect, we purchased a yurt and easily erected that from the start to take the pressure off of the home aspect. 3 years in and we are finally in the position (financially, energetically, stress levels wise, we have a lot of the other foundations of the homestead worked out and are far along on our food forests) to build a “true home”. We have a great relationship and understanding of our place, the sun & wind patterns, and generally how things feel on the land. We feel equipped to choose a home site. It’s good to wait.

If I could do it again, I would still do it this way. Set aside part of your budget for a beginner home that perhaps can be used in the future for travel, guests, etc. RVs or trailers are popular options. We enjoyed living in the yurt for the first year. There are a lot of options depending on your lifestyle and how you’re truly okay to live for the first few years. In this way, you can really get a piece of land that you like and not pay for someone else’s (dream?) home. By purchasing a tiny home or a house on wheels (or building one?), you’re saving your budget for land, water & power, good foundational elements.

You can always work outside the homestead to make more money to fund a future home and perhaps you’ll have more know-how and be more prepared in the future to build it anyway. I know our building skills have increased enough that we feel excited and (mostly) equipped to build!

 

Water

Water, no matter how you slice it, is a priority. We got a well ¾ of the way through our first year on the land. Before that we pumped water from a well into 5 gal jugs from a gracious neighbor and also got water at times from our spring.

Prioritize water on your land. Our land has a spring and a perennially spring fed creek (that has only gone dry, according to locals, about once in 100 years). This was really important to us as food growing is a top priority- to always have water moving around us. It was also really economical to dig a well and that was a plan all along. Make sure it wont cost another $20,000 to dig a well. Get a quote. Definitely put water in the budget.

We still don’t have hot, running water year round. It can definitely be a bummer, but it’s also something we’ve worked with (and are very excited about for our future home!). Depending on your needs, maybe this would work for you, or perhaps you need running water right away. Either way, make sure you have abundant water on your land. Water issues are a real bummer in any homesteading vision.

 

Power

We lived our first 2 years on the land without power. Our land was a raw piece of land without grid tie (and we liked it that way- power companies often get right-of-way for 10 feet on either side of the power line and we didn’t want to grant them that right to cut down trees, etc). It was interesting, to say the least, living without power for the first 2 years. Both of us were raised in homes with ample electricity haha and we got a taste for how people around the world live without it. It was character building!

We charged batteries at the library, at autozone, at friends’ houses when we’d come over for dinner. We used solar rechargeable lights and certainly weren’t tempted to stay up super late into the night on the dark, cold winter nights. Do I regret it? Absolutely not- it was a good experience to have as a modern human, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Know your limits and priorities.

Ultimately, in our second year, we set up a solar system and are happily bringing in and storing via batteries more of the sun’s energy than we can use in a day. We have a freezer, run all appliances and work tools, and are content with this amount of energy. We didn’t even have a generator in the beginning and that would’ve made life easier.

If you are going to plan to build a solar system later on, or budget for it from the beginning, many solar places will happily talk you through what components you need and you can get quotes from various places before you ever buy. That’s definitely a good route and I never regret not going grid tied (we don’t have any incentives to do so either in the state of Missouri and there are no federal or state kick backs). Now we have paid for 10 years of energy needs up front, have no energy bills, feel great about taking in the sun’s energy and are literally empowered that we did it all ourselves.

Foundations

Looking back, I suppose the first 3 years on the land have been about laying foundations, of both skill sets, business (regarding our Permaculture plantings and future nursery ideas), power, water, etc. I think it’s wise to start slow and small instead of jumping into a large vision. Move into the place first. Spend a full 4 seasons there. Let the land talk to you. Let your dreams mingle with your place, its people, wildlife, energetics and the specific piece of land you’re on.

 

I believe in collaboration and synchronicity and that we aren’t only here to establish our dreams on a blank slate (there is no such thing), but to interact with the web of life of which we find ourselves a part. We aren’t humans with a green backdrop, so as you think about establishing yourself somewhere, leave room for that somewhere to establish you.

 

Things we haven’t done yet that we wish we had done earlier

Finalize the roof catchments systems.

We have built 3 structures (5 if you include high tunnels) and are not set up yet to catch and make full use of rainwater. Some roofing material we have built with was reused and galvanized metal and therefore not suitable for many uses due to zinc content. Our solar shed was roofed with new baked on enameled metal which is perhaps the best roofing option for rain catchment. We have yet to set up the appropriate system to collect, store and distribute water. It’s on the list…

Lay out water lines.

We have also yet to bury pipes to create a permanent irrigation and water distribution system. We have plans to lay pipes and hydrants for easy access to irrigate and other uses. Our water systems are still in the development phase and while we are grateful for what we have, we are also looking forward to an even more complete system.

Chip brushy trees

Much of the 3 acres that we are bringing into cultivation was cleared 7-10 years ago. The resulting growth is woody shrubs and small diameter trees. In clearing space to plant perennial food crops, we have had to remove a lot of biomass. Some of which has been burned to return minerals to the soil, and some has been made into biochar.

This has been a little labor intensive and the jury is still out on the effects of biochar. In retrospect it would have been great to have had a wood chipper onsite to turn all that biomass into easy to apply mulch to feed the soil that feeds our plants. We will arrange for this on future clearings and are excited to see how many wood chips we get.

This is our answer after 3 years on the land, ask us again in a decade…

 

150 Years | 7 Generations Thinking: Inheriting Things From Strangers

Ecotrain, Homestead, inspiration

The other day I read that the 7 Generations thinking (originated by the Haudeneshone ie Iroquois Nation) is about a span of 150 years.

That’s really not that long, if you think about it. Those of us who are fortunate to have family records (or some freak down the line who pieced it all together -and I can say that because I’m likely taking on this role for my family), possibly even know the name, profession, or even the face in a rare still black and white photograph.

Were these people thinking about you?

In our day in age, we are very much geared toward the Individual- the rise, the fall, the accumulation and somewhat the passing on. What strikes me so much about the perspective of 7 generations thinking is that it requires a long term view of our actions. What are the ripples into our environments from my actions?

In a world with so many people, too, I think this Individualist thinking is also spurred on because we inherently believe our actions don’t really have that much of an effect.

We wait for others to do things because of this. Certainly I couldn’t be the one to … start a business on the Steem blockchain… make a sustainable invention… solve a puzzling world mystery, etc. These things are reserved for other people, people smarter, more attractive, wealthier, younger, etc. Yet when we start to think about how our actions ripple throughout the next 150 years, we realize that we do have a say about the shape of things.

Is an ancestor thinking about you right now?

I want to broaden the scope of an ancestor through writing this article. This subject has been on my mind a lot lately because Ini and I are talking with a local man about the possibility of taking on a position in carrying on his life’s work which involves a certain forest in our area. This person has been working tirelessly to create a sustainable livelihood in relation with this forest. The forest is too small to employ anyone to sustainably manage it (usually over 30,000 acres are needed unto that effect) and so this man had to get his creative thinking cap on.

On Balancing Wrong Action

Many people know that Corporations make Wrong Actions, especially regarding our ecosystems. Notoriously, driven by capitalistic bottom lines, extract, exploit and devastate more, while adding overwhelming amounts of pollution to the environment. They cut corners, dump toxic waste, and have leaky pipes in the Gulf and through the veined corridors through which they run in this country, which pollutes bodies of water all over the place.

The EPA and governmental organizations make a farce of stomping down this type of action, usually their pockets are lined with bucks, too. One such idea to balance this is the Cap & Trade System. The idea is totally new to me so I can’t write much on it, but essentially it allows those who produce a ton of Carbon into the atmosphere to pay people, essentially trading with them, who are sinking carbon back into the earth from the atmosphere.

What a Forest Does

Forests, of course, through the incredible respiration of trees, naturally act as carbon sinks. This is now scientifically documented at what rate this process happens and a large corporation, that has scientifically deduced the rate at which they are releasing carbon, can invest in a long term trade with a forest to balance out their negative effect.

Our friend has engaged the aforementioned forest in such a Cap & Trade deal, which will last for about 125 years. It is this role which we are talking with him about managing.

 

Could someone you don’t know right now be an ancestor to you?

The fact that this person, who we’ve only known for about 3 years, has worked for the past 25 years setting this up and devising a way to make a sustainable business in our local area – for someone who will come after him! Is incredible. He has essentially worked with the next 7 generations in mind not knowing who would take the work on for him!

Ini and I aren’t sure if we’ll have kids and while we have 1 niece and 1 nephew at this point in time, there’s no telling if a blood relative will want to pick up and carry on what we’ve created here. Fruit and nut trees will be abundant by the time they’re entering college, but who can say what their dreams will lead them to. We’ve often wondered who will carry on our dreams. Could we, like our friend, be preparing something for someone not even born yet who we’ll meet many years down the road?

 

If you can complete your dream in your lifetime, you’re not dreaming big enough.

Winona LaDuke recently crowdfunded a hemp farm that will empower Native American youth and in one of her emails she wrote the quote above. It has sat with me ever since. Am I dreaming big enough? Including a vision which propels and energizes the next 7 generations? Am I dreaming something which is viable or healthy for the next 150 years (and not only of humans, but the entire biosphere)?

Am I thinking of water, soil, income streams, food, shelter, and more? Though it may sound like a lot, I really don’t think it is. It is living in alignment with our true nature which is connected to everything. To be out of balance with this nature creates disharmony and though we may reap short term gains and excuse ourselves for trying to survive, how are we influencing the lives of our great great great grandchildren or even the children of a stranger who will show up one day and fit magically into the puzzle we have created.

I think our friend I mentioned above is the first person I have met who has dedicated so much of his life and toiled to create a sustainable job for someone he’s not even sure will come. He does it because it was his promise to the woman who donated the land into a land trust, which is happening more and more nationwide. How do we not only “preserve” these places, but also allow them to bring in salaries based on good livelihood as we talked about yesterday in our “Putting the Eco back Economics” post? Balancing the negative effects of greedy corporations is one such way.

Putting the Eco In Economics

Ecotrain, inspiration, writing

We’re all familiar with the concepts of economics and ecology, but how often are they combined? Eco economics is not a new concept; in fact it is the original form of economy.

 

Before a globalized industrialized economy, we were much more closely tied to the capacity of the immediate ecosystems. But we’ve strayed from the path and now, as in no other moment in time, it is absolutely imperative that we reintegrate the awareness that we live and are supported by a finite planet. It not only behooves us to ally with and rearrange our lives in relation to eco economics, but it is imperative for the very survival of *homo sapiens* and countless other species whose survival depends on our actions.

Energy Slaves

Since the industrial revolution (and indeed before in some cases) the capacity for human’s influence on the planet has increased at an alarming rate. With the advent of liquid refined petroleum, we could utilize the massive stored energy from sunlight from millions of years ago at a rate previously impossible.

We could simply extract a material that contained so much potential energy that our capacities to “get stuff done” grew in leaps and bounds. This ability allowed for previously unknown levels of exploitation of natural resources at a rate far more quickly than they were being reproduced.

Previously (and sadly still currently) the discrepancies between the “haves and the have-nots” are real and felt by us all. The bourgeois own the property and means of production while the proletarians or peasants do the work. Tenant farmers of serfs worked the land owned by people in positions of power and did so at times against their will. Human slavery was the ugly crutch that these systems relied upon.

With petroleum, all of that changed.

No longer were (as many) human slaves needed, for this liquid fuel in the form of gasoline or diesel enabled the enslavement of petroleum slaves. The physical workforce was no longer needed and so fewer people could affect larger areas of land and sea.

 

Ecosystem Limits

What this did was further disconnect us from natural cycles and the innate limitations of local ecosystems. All natural systems have a carrying capacity, an upper limit of growth, after which point the system culls or sheds the excess. Trees in an overcrowded forest get choked out and die, booms of animal populations lead to busts and heavy mast years are followed by lean harvests.

 

But this is not the case with our human economic system, which strives for infinite growth. With a system that is based upon non-renewable sources of energy (the very core of industrial society), it is by definition doomed to fail. The problem lies in the paradigm, upon which our entire economic system was founded: the belief that there is an infinite pool of resources to draw from to be extracted and manipulated. We humans are not living in accordance with Earth mandated limits. Operating under this false pretense is wreaking unimaginable havoc on many levels.

 

Humans have created a sick society that is propped up on this lie of infinite growth fueled by infinite resources. The economy that believes and in fact requires constant and rampant growth is one that is destined to fail.

 

To begin addressing how eco economics might play out, we must first grasp how ecology worked and at least entertain (if not embody) the Gaia theory that espouses that the Earth is a single self-regulating & living organism.

A body not unlike our own that communicates throughout a system of interconnected parts and feedback loops (much like our own aches and pains, joys and excesses.)

 

This reality runs counter to all the mechanistic understandings and beliefs that are brought to the table with industrial capitalism.

 

In nature, there are natural checks and balances.

There are shortages, illness and destructive forces of nature, but they occur as a natural balancing tool of any ecosystem. This is one element that is sorely lacking in our capitalistic driven economy. The free market will sort itself (or be bailed out- but where is the true cost of this bailing…) we are told, but where is the feedback for whether the foundation upon which all of this rests is sound or not?

 

The current model of privatizing profits and socializing costs is one where the many bear the cost while the few benefit. This is never the case in a natural ecosystem, but this excess and imbalance only takes place when fuelled by greed and fear of scarcity. This has allowed governments and banks to subsidize industries that don’t work! Without subsidies, the structure crumbles and the people have borne the environmental and financial cost of continuing to operate failing industries. This is NOT eco economics

 

Modeling an economy after billions of years of evolution seems wiser than one that is only a couple of hundred years old doesn’t it? The amazingly complex and interconnected web of life has proven effective and supporting life thus far, so why not learn a thing or two?

Wisdom from the Sun

The basis for terrestrial life is incoming energy in the form of solar energy. This is transformed into sugars through the magic of photosynthesis and creates the inputs needed to support life. This is said to occur at about 1% efficiency, meaning that the ecosystems operate with a 1% surplus. The sunlight turns into plant and algae tissue, which feeds the rest of the system. This is a great starting point for modeling our economy after. If we had our economic systems tied directly to real life, we simply could not grow beyond the carrying capacity for life.

Thus as a starting point for eco economics, the growth of any economic endeavor must be directly linked to an ecosystem’s potential to support that growth.

  B Corp

B corporations are making great strides to be more ethical and transparent in their business and this is a great step forward. Fair labor practices, healthier production methods and distribution of wealth are all great improvements. Still there is an undercurrent of constant growth required for business to continue. We must take lessons from past civilizations whose growth outstripped the carrying capacity of the Earth. The result was the destruction of vital resources like water and soil through deforestation, erosion and loss of biodiversity. Simply put, death follows in the wake of this destructive and short-sided acting.

Positive Movement

Moving forward there is great hope as many brilliant minds are working towards a healthier and more sustainable future. We cannot rely on governmental bodies or regulations to determine our direction– it is up to each and every one of us to make the necessary shifts to build momentum toward eco economics. Movements like Permaculture, restoration agriculture (pioneered by Mark Sheppard), the work by Paul Stamets, Vandana Shiva, Wynona LaDuke, Rowan White and countless others illuminate the future of eco economics.

 

We have the potential to turn this ship around and avoid disaster, if only we learn form the wisdom of nature. The fate of the next 7 generations lies in the decisions of us all. What decisions are you making today?

From Forest To Fungi: Growing Shiitake Mushrooms

Ecotrain, Homestead

Shitakes are on at Mountain Jewel! This is our first flush of these fantastic medicinal and prized edible fungi. Not only are we stoked to be eating more of this top quality food, but we are also inspired by the cycles and synergy this process represents.

 

The transformation of tree to mushroom is truly awe inspiring.

 

Nearly 18 months ago, we cut logs from our forest in an effort to liberate the healthiest but overcrowded canopy species like white oak and black walnut. This is part of much bigger picture and yielded plenty of 4-8” diameter logs, perfect food for shitakes. Once cut, we inserted inoculated sawdust into holes in the logs and sealed them up. We stacked them up and let the mycelium get to work.

 

This method takes some patience but is well worth the wait! Known for it’s firm texture and exquisite taste, shitakes are a gourmet mushroom that lends itself well to outdoor cultivation. Shitakes also contain many beneficial compounds that support of immunity. From Paul Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods:

 

”Neutral thermal nature; sweet flavor; beneficial to the stomach; said to be a natural source of interferon, a protein which appears to induce an immune response against cancer and viral diseases. Used in the treatment of cancer, especially against cancers of the stomach and cervix.”

 

We are following in the footsteps of thousands of mycophiles, forest lovers and woodland artisans that came before us.

By creating the conditions for fungi to thrive we are simply guiding a natural process to yield large amounts of a particular fungi, in this case shitake. This technique of inoculating oak logs (although many other species can also be used) is centuries old and was first know to be practiced in China and Japan. Tools and techniques have evolved but the essences remains the same: *create a hospitable environment for mycelium to digest the food you provide them and harvest the fruits.*

 

This is one of the lowest input forms of mushroom cultivation, and we’re happy it’s now yielding as it inspires us to continue.

 

Taking trees as part of our Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) strategy, we choose to cut any less vigorous, crooked, gnarled or otherwise inferior trees.

 

The best part of this situation is that it’s a win/win/win. We give preference to high value trees with strong genetics (btw this is the *opposite* of how most forestry is conducted) so they may propagate, we get mushroom to eat and the forest gets fed from the logs once they’ve been digested by the mycelium.

 

While we could high grade our land and harvest the best and most valuable tress, we are choosing to let the healthiest and biggest trees continue their life here. This has been proven to be a far more productive (for the forest and the economics of forestry) strategy than the short term cut and run approach. Furthermore, we value to long-term approach and keeping trees alive that are already over 80 years old adds incredible value to the landscape.

 

In our efforts to steward this land with integrity and encourage diversity and abundance, we chose to plug these logs with shitake spawn, in hopes of turning small diameter oak wood into high quality medicinal food. One more layer of connection that we are designing into our lives.

 

We’re stoked to share with you the harvest and will be surely cutting and plugging more this spring.

 

This type of cultivation suits our situation well and is much les intensive than indoor methods. That said it also requires logs (which are HEAVY) and land to let them run and fruits. There are many ways to cultivate mushroom and I’d encourage all of you to investigate and immerse yourself in the fabulous world of fungi.

 

Thanks for tuning in!

 

Can You Be A Writer If You Want To Be?

inspiration, writing

For anyone who has ever wondered if you’re a writer, I look at this way (these thoughts, by the way, are spurred on by a friend of mine who is a certified “artist” and whose father was a famous artist — as if we need that distinction for clout– and this can relate to other arts as well):

If you write, if you feel the creative flow moving through you, you are a writer.

We are taught from a young age that only the “best” make it in any given category. If, by third grade, you haven’t made it into the top 3 in your class, that’s likely not your path in life. It sends most of us down a crap shoot wondering what our skills or purpose in life could be. Many find a narrow path when indeed that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

 

Wild Violets

My partner is currently a “late onset hunter”.

Hunting season started last weekend and he has yet to get a deer. All year he poured over books about deer, strategizing hunting and studying the behavior of this gentle yet strong animal. Last year he ultimately got a deer with the help of a friend of ours who is a lifelong hunter, one who started to hunt at an early age.

I’m thankful I have a partner in this homesteading gig who believes he can learn new skills well into his life and isn’t held back by limiting beliefs. It’s one of the saddest things when I hear people say, “Well, I couldn’t do that, I’m not an X.” -or- ” I can’t do that, I’ve never done it before.” When we are kids we often aren’t limited by these types of thoughts as much as we are when we get older.

Though don’t we hear it all the time?

Sadly this is too true! We hear people’s limitations — and our own, all the damn time.

I’m no good at that, I could never try this, etc ad nauseam. Luckily, the universe can be gentle and kind and remind us that indeed “it is never too late” and if you have a passion, by all means, go at it with all you’ve got!!

 Coming back around to writing.

I often find I am “hit” with inspiration. It’s a common occurrence when I’m meditating – my brain comes up with the “best ideas” and sometimes they distract me til I take a moment to jot them down. Other times I’ll read something that inspires a thought train in me and still other times, writing prompts come about from dreams, when I’m taking a walk or when I’ve been ruminating on a subject for a while and I finally know the angle I want to write from.

 

If you want to be a writer, my best advice is to start.

To keep going.

 

To write in private embellishing your secret urges until you are self unconscious enough to share it.

I’ve thought about this many times when people share their hesitancies to make Vlogs and share their face on videos- what are we truly afraid of? Yes humans are notoriously, painfully judgmental, but at the end of the day *who cares?* I’d much rather be seen through the eyes of someone who has a compassionate heart than through, as ole Teddy has said many times, a critic who never enters the ring themselves.

What I admire most about my late-onset hunter partner is that even though he gets discouraged by not getting a deer the first few days of the season, he still wakes (us all) up at 5 AM to go out and try again. Though he may not know the culture of the gun ranges, he still goes and chats it up with people who likely have been shooting a gun as long as they have been chewing gum. We could all learn from this. About the art of not giving a damn what the crowds may say. About the skill of trying, trying again, until we’ve satisfied our own inner muse and they feel that the craft is ready to be shared in the light of day.

Are We Listening? Are You Paying Attention?

Ecotrain

This morning I woke up to yet more news of fires ravaging the landscape in Northern California. Northen California and indeed the Pacific Coast itself is a place I love dearly. There is a feeling of freedom and lightness in the air, perhaps because of the ocean. I grew up going to Southern California to visit family, but when I got older I was attracted to Northern California. I worked on Pot Farms, marveled at the grandeur of the old redwoods and sequoias and I met kindhearted, earth-loving people (and plenty of crazy ones too).

 

It is devastating in so many ways that the force of fire increasingly ravages the landscapes of California. The fire burns homes to a crisp and displaces entire communities of both humans, wildlife, and trees. We are seeing a full scale cleansing.

 

[Photo Source]

 

I woke up and checked my Instagram feed. It is a cold morning on the homestead- the coldest night yet and after I read the post about the fire, I settled in to make a fire in the cabin to warm up the place. As the poem I am about to share so brilliantly conveys, fire is a friend and, in excess, one of the deadliest foes. Yet instead of pitting fire as the “bad guy,” what if we dig a bit deeper and look at the message fire is bringing.

 

Great Fire,

We see you.

We bow before your power

Your majestic roar of life transforming

Everything we thought so solid & sure

Into dust.

Great Fire,

We honor you.

Master agent of Transformation

You teach us

True Radical Release.

Not the wishy washy letting go of some comforts &

conveniences, no.

Us humans.

With all our habits.

Raw coconut water in plastic bottles,

<< Oh but I recycle! >>

No.

Not enough.

True

Radical

Release.

Great Fire, great modeling of this.

When we evacuate

We realize how little needs to come with

How no thing really matters.

When our houses burn

We are left with no thing

We are left so… Alive.

We let go.

All that has been lost.

It is quiet.

We realize.

Being together is all our hearts want.

And all our business burns away.

Us humans, so important is our doing

Until there’s nothing to do but

Be in it.

Great Fire,

You’ll come teach us

Until we learn. “We can’t solve the problems

With the same kind of thinking we used

When we created them.” (Einstein)

So wipe our minds clean

To dust.

Let the Ash inside of us feed

Dormant seeds from long ago.

Let us remember.

Let us pause.

Let us not be so hasty to “rebuild!” If we build it this way

It will burn again.

What does it mean

To start

A

New?

Regenerate.

 

 

Poem by the Gaia School of Healing in California. You can check out there website here.

 

 

What most touched me about this poem is the deep reaching respect the author has toward fire. The admission that the way things had been carrying on would no longer work. The truth that the fire is a message, a wake up call.

 

It is beyond devastating to see destruction on this level. It is even more devastating to think that the clinging of humans (to not let forest fires burn naturally, for example, as is there regenerative cycle, which actually prevents the fuel accumulated which creates large scale fires of this sort) led to this. Their insistency to not pay attention or realize something needed to change.

 

“We can’t solve the problems with the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Einstein

 

When Ini and I looked around for a place to call home to create our land-based, long term dreams, of course we wanted to move to cool and hip places like California, replete with likeminded people to form community with. Yet the proximity to huge population centers, lack of water, prevalence of fires, and inflated land and living expenses, ultimately kept us searching.

 

When my parents said they were going to move to Naples, Florida I had a similar reaction. Why move to a place that is notorious for getting hit with natural disasters? Why move to a place that could be under water within our lifetimes with rising sea levels? The year they moved there Hurricane Irma hit and they evacuated from their home. It was a crazy situation, but surely we all saw it coming. Even now the Atlantic coast of Florida just underwent another crazy natural disaster and many lost everything.

 

Are We Listening?

 

These types of things aren’t going to slow down. Weather patterns are erratic, it’s getting colder when it’s cold and hotter when it’s hot and sometimes cold when it should be hot and vice versa. Are we paying attention?

 

When I asked my dad how they could live in a place that may not be there when his grandkids reach maturity he laughed and said that he would be gone so it wouldn’t matter. I don’t mean to throw my dad under the bus – he takes everything with a good dose of humor – but the truth is that many humans are still perceiving things this way.

 

It doesn’t matter because it won’t matter for me.

 

This isn’t 7 Generations Thinking.

 

Deep in my heart I feel a surge to think 7 generations into the future and align my actions with the wellbeing of those who will come after me. Are my actions creating a better world or simply going along with the destructive flow?

 

We need to start thinking differently and choosing actions that have different results. I’m not saying no one can have any fun (and why is it that that’s how people immediately react, like to align our actions with the health of future generations is a kill-joy?), but that we need to take a good look at the course we’re on and change directions.

 

A mentor and guide for me in this time is consistently Joanna Macy. I’ve mentioned her books before. In this passage below she is questioning on of her teachers, Choegyal, about the Shambhala warriors in the prophecy.

 

 

“So in this time, the Shambhala warriors go into training. When Choegyal said this, Joanna asked, “How do they train?” They train, he said, in the use of two weapons. “What weapons?” And he held up his hands in the way the lamas hold the ritual objects of dorje and bell in the lama dance.

 

The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary, he said. You have to have compassion because it gives you the juice, the power, the passion to move. It means not to be afraid of the pain of the world. Then you can open to it, step forward, act. But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other- you need insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With insight into our profound interrelatedness- our deep ecology- you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, too conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heart of compassion. Together these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world.” (pg 61 Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy)

 

Eyes of Wisdom

 

During these trying times, we must pay attention to what is before us. We are being given signs from every angle and truly life cannot go on as normal, as it has been going on for so so long. We must make a shift. Maybe, as my dad says, it doesn’t matter – Ice Ages and other full scale, sweeping clean catastrophes have happened many times over and this is just another catastrophic epoch. Yet, that urging deep in my heart, that compassion, combined with the insight of interrelatedness, even with those generations who are not born yet, who will come after me, tells me differently. It does matter and it’s for this reason that we’ve come into these times.

 

I feel like I share it all the time, but here are some key lines from the Hopi Elder’s prophecy, fitting for a closing statement.

 

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?

Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

Harvesting Humanure on the Homestead: When nature calls, we choose to let her take care of it

Homestead, Humanure

Today was an exciting day that marked an important milestone on the homestead. We harvested our first round of humanure! Yes, we opened one of the 2 bays of our composting toilet to use the fertility we’d be accumulating and make way for more.

If you’re not sure what humanure is, check out our previous posts on it: 

 

 

humanure composting toilet natural building clay plaster

 The entrance to our fertility laboratory 

Humanure Smells Like Forest Duff

If you’re unsure what that’s like, think about if you went and buried your head in a big pile of leaves on the forest floor. It’s a smell I love!!

 

To be honest I was a little nervous at what we’d find, although my nerves proved unfounded. We last used this bay over 18 months ago and haven’t checked on it since having sealed and dated it like a vault. After leaving our fertility deposits on the daily for a little more than a year, today was the day to make our first withdrawal. For those of you unfamiliar with a double bay composting toilet system I’ll explain it a little for clarity.

composting toilet bays

An early shot of the 2 composting bays. We used local rocks to create the foundation. 

The double bay style of composting toilet is a passive way to harvest fertility and safely manage humanure.

 

As the name implies, it consists of 2 alternating bays that are consecutively filled with manure and urine. After each deposit of humanure and/or urine, a generous portion of sawdust or wood shavings (or other carbonaceous material) is poured on top. This ensures efficient and odorless composting. Using this method, there is no need for lime or other deodorizers. It doesn’t smell if there’s enough carbon!

composting toilet natural building clay plaster humanure

A look at our composting toilet from the ground up.

The first bay is closed off when full and the second one is put into use.

Depending on timing, the first bay may be safe to harvest once the second one is filled. This was the case for us. Given the fact that we are in need of the space in the first bay and intended to use the humanure, we went ahead and applied it directly to the base of some of our fruit trees. Another option would be to move in to another location where it would sit for another 6 months (making for a total of 24 months) to ensure safe low temperature composting.

A look inside at our system. The bin in the middle is filled with a scooper and sawdust or planar shavings.

 Harvesting our fertility is an empowering, easy and rewarding part of homestead living.

Being biological entities, it seem crazy to me that we aren’t more clued into the magical ways in which we can harness the biological miracles we have access to. For instance, black soldier fly larvae LOVE to eat. They happen to dine on a wide range of fare, including feces. They are also known as privy flies, I wonder why?

The Soldier Fly (source)

We can ally with then by allowing them access to egg laying sites on our humanure systems and let them do their thing. This means they further transform our past food into future soil food! We often hear them in incredible numbers taking our humanure one step closre to humus. FYI these flies DO NOT eat as adults (they wont land and spread feces on your food!) and pose no health risk whatsoever. On the contrary, they are of great benefit. (Read more from one of @quochuy’s recent posts on these wonderful beings.)

 

We can let nature take care. It’s what it’s meant to do.

 

By using simple biological processes like composting, we can rid ourselves of the idea of labeling things as waste, and instead see them as potential resources. The fertility lab (our aptly named composting toilet) was the first structure we erected. In fact we hadn’t ever built anything before and we knew this was a crucial element of Earth centered living and a priority on the homestead.

 

Why we didn’t install a Septic System

Where is Away?

We knew that the conventional model for dealing with our humanure (more commonly called poop) was to treat water with chemicals until it’s potable, then contaminate it with potentially pathogenic feces, then mix it with a whole more of the same and either store it in a giant underground tank or send it through a sewer system to be further assaulted with chemicals.

 

Either option is insistent upon the notion of “away”, some fanciful modern construct where our wastes happily disappear. Instead of buying into the existence of “away” and installing an expensive and unnecessary plumbing and septic system, we chose to let nature take care of us and our outputs, and indeed transform them into a usable product!

 

 

When nature calls, we choose to let her take care of it.

 

 

Composting toilets are a simple, low tech and affordable step towards a healthier planet and saner culture.

When organic materials are combined in proper ways, aerobic decomposition occurs with the aid of micro and macro organisms and we easily & responsibly mange our humanure.

The result is humus, the building block of the soil food web. This is the life force in soil that binds and connects elements into a cohesive whole. Through understanding a few simple concepts, anyone can safely transform their humanure and urine into usable soil building compost. (Again, we’ve gone into the practice of humanure in an earlier post. See links at beginning of article.)

The way I learned composting was through the W.O.N.C acronym. If Water and Oxygen and in balance as well as Carbon and Nitrogen, the composting process should proceed smoothly.

 

We achieve this balance by adding planer shaving to our deposits. This simultaneously absorbs any excessive moisture, adds texture (to allow space for oxygen) as well as adding large amounts of carbon to the nitrogen rich deposits. The result is a smell-free system that requires very little in the way of maintenance. In contrast to the popular 5 gallon bucket systems where buckets are emptied into an outdoor composting bin and washed after use, we only spend a few hours a year maintaining the system and never have to handle or move poop (this isn’t to knock the bucket system! We have seen excellent case uses of such a system.) 

 

 Closing the loop

We’re happy to return the fertility to the land that feeds us. The food we eat nourishes us, which ends up in the composting bays, which turns into humus, which feeds the soil food web and ultimately the trees that feed us. Closing the loop on the nutrient flows through our homestead is a major part of what Permaculture design is all about.

While thermophilic or hot composting systems can achieve a pathogen and parasite free product relatively quickly, the mesophilic method takes time.

 

Dealing with poop seems gross, and in its raw state it is. It’s stinky and has the potential to spread disease and parasites. Rather than take on the responsibility ourselves, we let natural systems do the work for us. We eat and excrete, it’s part of our make up. But so does everything else…

 

Compost really is a magical thing!

 

If given the correct conditions (high enough temps to kill pathogens and parasites) and/or proper time (some sources say a full 2 years of curing to render humanure parasite and pathogen free) we can transform a “waste” (which don’t really exist) into a resource.

 

The resulting compost can be safely used on vegetable gardens. In our case we still chose to apply the compost as part of our heavy mulch layer under our fruit trees. This is extra assurance, just to be sure. That said we were both pleasantly surprised how earthy the final product was. It smelled like a forest floor.

 

 For anyone seriously interested in learning more, I can’t recommend The Humanure Handbook by John Jeavens enough! He’s put the time into the research and testing and knows his shit! Read it, buy and it stop wasting your resources.

My 18 Year Old Self Asks, What Kind Of Life Is That?

Uncategorized

When I was 18 graduating from High School and set to play D-1 soccer & study Religion at a nearby University, I would have laughed at you if you told me what I would be doing 14 years from now. What is that? I would have said? What kind of life is that? 

wild woman, lover, writer
I don’t think I would have had any context then – or for the next few years, until I worked on an organic farm in Colorado and got a taste for fresh food that would be the driving force of my early path into Permaculture. Still, I think “what we are about” is out of context for most people in North America. My neighbor who grew up poor with a hole in the wall that snow would come in during winter in his childhood home couldn’t understand why we would choose to live this way.
Hell, sometimes I even question why I’ve chosen to live this way. No one else I know from my early years lives this way, though I did start to meet many likeminded people as I journeyed. It is a lifestyle best geared for those who love the outdoors more than being inside- I can say that much succinctly. If given an option, I would do it all over again.
It’s humorous to me because I often think about how our upbringings influence us and how our early experiences drive us toward this or that. My neighbor, for instance, has prioritized social security, a warm roof over his head, and now likes to fix up old classy cars. Did the snow that fell on him as a boy set him toward making sure that never happened to him again? I’d bet so.

The Planless Path

When I set off to play soccer and study religion in college, I didn’t really have a plan. I think the majority of students enter college in this way- a rough idea about their interests, and suddenly they’re pushed into choosing a life path, one that will not only hopefully engage their interests, but also put food on the table, a roof over their head and then some. It’s a tall order in a culture that no longer can guarantee people with undergraduate degrees jobs out of College. It’s a tall order in a culture wherein the youth can often get lost.
While I spent some time feeling lost, thankfully I do feel I was always at least in a roundabout way on my path. In fact, sometimes when I look back the things I learned, the choices I made, the places I visited or the people I learned from come together to form a miraculously woven tapestry of experiences which has come together to equip me to live this life.
off grid life chill guy beauty nature
Sometimes I call what I do Homesteading – that certainly isn’t listed on Tax forms, where I usually put Farmer. While the earth-based lifestyle I live is still common in many parts of the world, it is out of context in this technologically advanced continent with dozens of brands of robotic vacuums. Ini and I were talking earlier about the early explorers, humans who travelled across the oceans to find places with different weather, plants and people groups with unique art & customs. We marveled at what it might have been like for someone from China to meet those Indigenous to North America. We wondered at the similarities they likely found and also at what they were able to share with one another. Somehow we started talking about plastic and the fact that goods like nylon have only been developed in the past hundred years or so. Combined this with a factoid @eco-alex shared this morning about color television being less than 50 years old and we can see just how quickly our culture has evolved.

No Coincidence

We are really moving at a much faster speed than previous cultures and it makes me consider why I have chosen to come to earth in this specific place and time. I don’t think it’s any coincidence. While Elon Musk talks about colonizing Mars, Ini and I are patiently building soil at Mountain Jewel. For us there is no escape plan. We are firmly Placed and it is in this place that we have chosen to make our lives. While most “drop down forms” or my 18 year old self may not have a context for what we’re doing, ours is an ancient way of life mingling with the present.

As evidenced by this article, we don’t eschew technology; we aren’t Luddites.

While we seek to minimize our footprint for sustainability’s sake, we aren’t hardcore purists. I believe we’ve come into this rampantly developing time to take part in & share a very earth-connected lifestyle in order to Remind others. We use the power of the interwebs to do this and Steem blockchain is a perfect example of how we are getting our message out to thousands of people who live around the world. While this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, the earth is. Our connection with the earth matters. In fact, it’s the foundation of literal matter and, as such, is the essential building block for any civilizations.

 

Instead of looking to the Elon Musks of this world to provide a vision for our future, one that takes us away from what we have, look to those who are humbly embracing what we already have. Development for development’s sake leads us down a very familiar path as humans – in fact, we see that most civilizations have burned themselves out from resource exploitation. We do have a choice to continue down that road, or not.

When I was 18, though I thought hemp necklaces were cool and liked to ride my bike wherever possible, I didn’t understand the realities of the Carrying Capacity of Planet Earth or even how my actions or voice could make an impact. I had to grow into that.

I think my 18 year old self would look at what I’m about as a sort of extended adventure, one that’s fairly hardcore, definitely challenging and a little out-there. 32 year old me nods to that girl and my 18 year old self blushes. I’m glad I’ve found home.