Nevermind the Politics, Forests Can Help Cool the Planet

Forestry and climate change are complex and emotionally charged issues. In this post, we focus on the forests themselves and how they can contribute to global cooling when forest management practices are adjusted through the incentives in the multi-billion dollar carbon credit programs being launched.

The Market Gardener: A Successful Growers Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming

A step-by-step guide that lays out practical know-how, Fortier has done his due diligence to learn from those who have innovated in the past and compiled successful strategies into one small successful farm. In a time of “feel good stories” that may or may not be financially solvent, Fortier simply hands over to the reader the blueprints to confidently launch and run a small-scale market garden.

Walking Makes Strides in All Kinds of Communities

“The health benefits of walking are so overwhelming that to deny access to that is a violation of fundamental human rights,” declared Dr. Robert D. Bullard, father of the environmental justice movement in a keynote speech at the National Walking Summit in Washington, D.C. “All communities should have a right to a safe, sustainable, healthy, just, walkable community.” We found inspiring stories from places across the U.S. where people got things started in communities not so different from where you live.

What is Biodynamic Farming?

I have heard the term "biodynamic" and wondered what was involved. Some consider biodynamic gardening or farming as voodoo science and quackery — or simply a scam. Others feel it is holistic, natural way of gardening leveraging mystical forces. The description I like is defines it as organic permaculture with a spiritual twist.

Forestry, Global Warming, and the Multi-Billion-Dollar Carbon-Credit Grab

Most forests are working forests. They are cut regularly for lumber production and other uses. Only 12.7% of the earth's forests are protected. Wood is carbon. Carbon volumes sequestered in the woods need to multiply to significantly contribute to global cooling. Without this, the carbon credit market is mostly wasted as a tool for significant global cooling. We still have time to save our forests.

Woodworking Arborist Salvages Urban Trees

Working as an arborist in Colorado, Ryan Baldwin saw an opportunity to salvage city trees destined for the dump into usable lumber for woodworking projects.

Convert Your Lawn to a No-Till Permaculture Garden

When we bought our homestead, the only gardening area was at the bottom of a fairly steep hill. Though fine for growing a winter’s worth of potatoes and squash, it’s less convenient for greens, which we prefer to grow close to the house. Having read about a method called "lasagna gardening" (named for its layers; learn the basics here), we decided to try it. Egged on by its success, we extended the garden the following year only this time incorporating hugelkultur techniques. Here’s how we did it.

Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History

An understanding our human history teaches us much about our present day perspectives and our behaviors that manifest those perspectives. We can observe this in all facets of our human society, and it is most poignantly made aware to us in Dan Flores’ newly published book, Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History. Read on!

The Exciting Herbal Resurgence

Herbalism has a rich, beautiful history and is once again finding a place in many modern homes. Now is a vibrant, exciting time to be an herbalist!

Cover Crops for Spring, Summer, and Fall

If your cover crop was successful, and crowded out all of the weeds, you can go ahead and plant your new crop right into the cut cover crop. If your timing is right (with your cover crop in flower, cut very low to the ground, and is one of the crops listed) you can plant right into the undisturbed roots of your cover crop.

Keeping Dairy Goats on Rotational Pasture 24/7 to Reduce Internal Parasites

Rotational grazing can reduce the parasite load of goats, but this is difficult to accomplish with a dairy herd which needs to return to the same location every day for milking. On our homestead, we developed a rotational shelter and management system that allowed us to keep the herd on pasture 24/7 during the warm season. This significantly reduced our reliance on chemical de-wormers and helped us feel better about the quality of our milk and our soils.

Working with Nature to Build Organic Soil, Part 5: Sustainable Grazing

Ruminants have been maligned for causing desertification and worsening climate change, but when we emulate the way nature designed herds to graze, the result is a rapid improvement in soil, forage and animal health. Our planet's health is also improved because rotational and mob-grazing takes atmospheric carbon and stores it as organic topsoil.

Ecotourism in San Diego, Part 2

Surprisingly, the San Diego area is home to one of the largest collections of small farms in any county in America. Green travel is boosted by these farmers supplying the farmers' markets and farm-to-table restaurants. There's a few lodging options for the eco-minded, too.

Soil Sisters: 3 Ways Women Cultivate Food Change

Women make up one of the fastest growing groups of new farmers today, increasing over twenty percent in the last ten years alone. More than mounting numbers, these women rock fresh ideas when it comes to agriculture, farming and – ultimately – what’s on America’s plates. Here’s a sneak peak summary of what I’ll be speaking on at the FAIRS: Three ways women today are cultivating food system change.

‘Worst Walking City’ in U.S. Gets Back on its Feet

We are in the midst of a walking renaissance as millions of people discover a daily stroll can prevent disease, boost energy, ease stress, connect us with our communities, and is just plain fun. The number of us who regularly take a walk has risen six percent in the last decade. Oklahoma City is taking part to improve life for people who walk — and reaping big benefits.

Sane and Sustainable Homesteading, Part 1

Many people in the world long for a life in the country, lived on their own terms, close to nature, honest and hands-on. But too many of these people find that homesteading is harder, less fulfilling and more painful than they imagined. Learn how to thrive on the land without burnout, despair and failure.

Organizing a Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence, Part 2

A permaculture convergence is a coming together of people interested in permaculture, with presentations, plenary sessions, networking, hands-on skill building, and tours of the site or nearby places of interest that show what applied permaculture looks like. The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence took place in August in Eugene, Ore., with the theme “Greening Our Neighborhoods with Permaculture.”

Agroecology Rebuilds Rural Livelihoods of Women in Post-Earthquake Nepal

Many rural Nepalese faced persistent food insecurity even before the recent earthquakes. Now, because of the destruction of livelihood assets, the situation is substantially worse. With support from Groundswell International, family farmers in post-earthquake Nepal are learning and using ecological agriculture principles to restore their farms, become more resilient, and create a more equitable landscape for women.

Cultivating Communities through School Gardens

As an educator and ecologist, I am learning from my students that the most important survival ingredient may actually be a sense of community. Grow Your Own! was born in 2012 to address a problem: Local teachers and parents were building school gardens that were lying empty from disuse. The mission of GYO! thus became support for school gardens and their leaders through guidance, curriculum, and resources to foster gardens that were at the same time beautiful, educational, and functional.

How to Find the Right-Sized Town for You

The first question on the path to creating a sustainable homestead is: Where should I live? Find out how population and topography characterize a town and use a simple method to map your region and locate and research the right-sized town for your home.

Top 5 Cities That Incentivize Solar

The benefits of your solar energy system significantly increase when you take advantage of available rebates, tax credits and incentives. Incentives will reduce upfront installation costs, and as a result accelerate your payback period – paying less up front means breaking even more quickly. These programs can reduce the upfront costs of your system by 30 to 50 percent, but vary state-by-state as well as city-by-city. See if your city makes the top 5!

Community Education through Farm Tours

The residents of Leavenworth, Wash., decided that they wanted to showcase how their community is working to create a more sustainable future, so they created the second annual Sustainable Living and Farm Tour. We invite you to join us this coming September 12-13th, 2015.

Minto Island Growers Seek Balance As Their Farm Expands, Part 2

Elizabeth Miller and Chris Jenkins have turned Minto Island Growers into a multifaceted farm that features a tea plantation, vegetable CSA, u-pick berries, food cart, farm stand, and more. Now they’re finding that growth brings many new challenges.

Minto Island Growers Seek Balance As Their Farm Expands, Part 1

Elizabeth Miller and Chris Jenkins have turned Minto Island Growers into a multifaceted farm that features a tea plantation, vegetable CSA, u-pick berries, food cart, farm stand, and more. Now they’re finding that growth brings many new challenges.

A Closer Look at Recycled Countertops

When one home-building couple first started looking for sustainable countertop materials, they were focused on options made with recycled materials. In their quest for the perfect tops, they stumbled upon a more cost-effective way to incorporate recycled countertops into their home’s design.

Organizing a Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence, Part 1

The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence will be held in a suburban neighborhood for the first time. Also for the first time, outreach to the general public is a core part of this convergence with site tours and educational Expo, free and open to the public.

The Heart of the Home: Planning a Sustainable Custom Kitchen

Planning a custom kitchen design that incorporates sustainable materials and supports a self-reliant lifestyle can be done. Read one couple’s experience and thought process as they do just that. The graphic shown here is a computer-generated draft modeling of the cabinet design for their future kitchen, but note that the colors and materials do not reflect what will be the final look.

Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st-Century Cornerstones

In the shadow of increasing climate chaos, human survival requires not only the intelligent actions of individuals but also thousands of communities of human beings who have had their inate intelligence awakened and who realize the fundamental link between life and land. In this regard, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) provides a useful and egalitarian model for sustainable food systems of the future.

So You Think Your City is Green? Introducing a Sustainable Cities Rating System

As the question of what it means to be “green” is becoming more frequently asked, many new rating systems have been introduced to measure the performance and sustainability of everything from appliances, food, buildings, and corporations. But what if we could rate the largest and most complex things that humans build with one methodology? The International Ecocity Framework & Standards Initiative takes on the challenge of rating cities.

Working to Keep Seed Diversity in the Public Domain, Part 2

Dylana Kapuler and Mario DiBenedetto are public-domain plant breeders and seed-saving stewards. Their Corvallis, Oregon company, Peace Seedlings, is focused on continuing the work and building on the legacy of Dylana’s parents, Alan and Linda Kapuler.

Working to Keep Seed Diversity in the Public Domain, Part 1

Dylana Kapuler and Mario DiBenedetto are public-domain plant breeders and seed-saving stewards. Their Corvallis, Oregon company, Peace Seedlings, is focused on continuing the work and building on the legacy of Dylana’s parents, Alan and Linda Kapuler.

‘The Tao of Vegetable Gardening’ by Carol Deppe

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening by groundbreaking garden writer Carol Deppe explores the practical methods as well as the deeper essence of gardening. She focuses on some of the most popular home garden vegetables—tomatoes, green beans, peas, and leafy greens—and through them illustrates the key principles and practices that gardeners need to know to successfully plant and grow just about any food crop.

‘The Nourishing Homestead’ by Ben Hewitt

In The Nourishing Homestead, Ben Hewitt along with his wife Penny tell the story of how we can create truly satisfying, permanent, nourished relationships to the land, nature, and one another. With plenty of practical ways to grow nutrient-dense food, build soil, and develop traditional skills, this book is sure to inspire a new generation of homesteaders.

‘Farming the Woods’ by Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel

In Farming the Woods, authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel teach readers how to fill forests with food by viewing agriculture from a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other non timber products. Forest farming is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.

Grow Where You Are: Community Partnerships Support Local Food Production

Grow Where You Are is a social enterprise focusing on assisting communities in creating local food abundance systems. After creating small-scale urban food systems nationally and internationally for over 15 years, we see that even the most effective systems can be easily dismantled without land security. We propose supporting local growers in a transition to home ownership with a dynamic web of community partnership.

What America’s Most Walkable Suburb Can Teach Towns Everywhere

Suburban life has always been synonymous with long hours in the car. That’s changing now. Arlington, Virginia, shows how feet on the street helps a community thrive. Learn about how Arlington is promoting walking through city initiatives as well as 10 more cities that are striving to make their communities more walkable.

Starting a Flock of Chickens: 5 Important Tips for Success

For first-time chicken owners (or even for experienced chicken enthusiasts), selecting, purchasing, and preparing for your home chicken flock can seem like a daunting task. After thirty years of raising chickens, here’s Forrest Pritchard’s personal guide to ensure your new flock remains safely tucked beneath your wing so you can start a flock of chickens without worry.

Sustainable Flooring Options

How to choose a sustainable flooring product. Review of sustainable flooring used over time and links to more material choices.

Remembering 'Harvest of Shame'

This is a must see film about the poverty America’s migrant farm workers faced 55 years ago. Although many of these scenes are far from pretty it can be used to inspire and motivate people to support their local and sustainable farms.

Ideas to Strengthen Your Farmers Market or Help Get One Started

Farmers markets are becoming more common every day, but many fail after a year or so, and others are having trouble getting off the ground. Here are a few ideas from a couple of long-time Oregon farmers market pros that might help keep your market going strong.

Getting to Know the Farmers at Winter Green Farm, Part 2

The six owners of Oregon’s Winter Green Farm have effectively navigated the journey from homestead to successful biodynamic farm. This profile of Winter Green Farm has been excerpted from "Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement."

Getting to Know the Farmers at Winter Green Farm, Part 1

Originally founded as a homestead in 1980 by Jack Gray and Mary Jo Wade, Winter Green Farm has grown to become a successful biodynamic farm in Oregon’s southern Willamette Valley. This profile of Winter Green Farm has been excerpted from "Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement."

A Personal Perspective on Oregon's Sustainable Farm Movement

John Clark Vincent excerpts from his book Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement and shares information about new developments in sustainable farming practices coming out of the state of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. His interests range from seeds to slow food and include pretty much everything in between the two as they relate to Oregon’s sustainable farm movement.

Maine Leads the Way with Unique Farms

Mary Quinn Doyle shares a background about how she became involved in a volunteer project traveling around Maine for over two years visiting over 180 unique farms to take photos and write stories about them for an educational book and website.

10-Day Local Food Challenge

Could you eat only food grown within 100 miles of your home for 10 days? Learn more about this challenge and why you should consider taking it on.

‘Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation’ by Tradd Cotter

In 'Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation,' author Tradd Cotter offers readers an in-depth exploration of best organic mushroom cultivation practices, shares the results of his groundbreaking research, and offers creative ways to apply cultivation skills—whether the goal is to help a community clean up industrial pollution or simply to settle down at the end of the day with a cold Reishi-infused homebrew ale.

Permaculture as a Global Solution

Permaculture is at the heart of the solution of many environmental crises. Permaculture is alive with the possibilities of positive change.

Find Sustainably Harvested Wood

If you’re getting ready to build a home or begin a woodworking project, consider building with sustainable wood products. With help from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council databases, you can locate sustainably harvested wood.

Woody Harrelson Partners With Step Forward Paper

Step Forward Paper is a new type of paper made most from wheat straw (80 percent to be exact) with the remaining 20 percent made of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood fiber.

'The Farm Then and Now' by Douglas Stevenson

"The Farm Then and Now" by Douglas Stevenson tells the story of The Farm: an intentional community that has defied the odds, blending idealism with a practical approach to create a model for sustainable living.

Releasing an Accidentally Trapped Skunk

Organic gardeners often need to remove mammal pests such as groundhogs and raccoons. Like many, I use live traps. How to deal with a skunk you accidentally catch, without getting sprayed?

Vandana Shiva to Visit Kansas City

Leading food sovereignty activist Vandana Shiva will present “Cultivating Diversity, Freedom and Hope” in Kansas City. Many other farming and gardening workshops and events are planned for April 17-18, 2014.

Sustainable Farming with Reynaldo Ochoa: Rainforest Hero

Reynaldo Ochoa, the subject of a new short film, grows with a goal of teaching and practicing permaculture unique to an individual's region, emphasizing sustainable farming as opposed to “slash and burn” agriculture.

Uncork Sustainably When You Wine and Dine

While you may already look for eco-friendly organic wine when you select a bottle, you're probably not aware of the environmental implications of opting for a wine closed with natural cork in lieu of a less sustainable synthetic stopper.

Feast Days And Potlucks

Celebrate meals with homegrown or local food. Tips for making your celebration gatherings zero-waste events.

Healing the Earth

Self-dubbed “lunatic farmer” Joel Salatin describes how sustainable living and more conscientious agricultural practices can mend and revive a planet pushed near the brink.

Sustainable Food Lessons From Kenya

In Kenya, even for middle class families, much of what ends up on the dinner table is grown or raised at home. With food prices rising, more and more Americans are looking towards ways of growing some of what ends up on their table at home. Both in terms of personal health, and the environment, this is a very good trend—it's a food source as local as you can get.

Rethink Everything

Every now and then we need to re-evaluate our thoughts, just as we re-evaluate our things. Learn about making cloth Christmas gift bags and find out how walking barefoot in the grass is good for you.

Attend A Winter Conference

Many sustainable agriculture groups sponsor conferences in the winter. Learn more about these opportunities to continue your learning and broaden your network.

First Experiments In Natural Building

Eric, Michael and Loren decided to build a winter shelter from natural and re-used materials two winters ago, their first ever natural building experiment. This is an account of that experience that changed their lives in mysterious and unforeseen ways (for the better!).

Eat These Birds to Keep Them Alive!: Developing Sustainable Poultry Flocks

So, what makes a flock of poultry sustainable? What is standard-bred poultry? If you purchase chicks from a hatchery, are they true to the breed? Why does every hatchery sell Rhode Island Reds and they all look different? Why do the Cornish Cross meat chickens have so many problems? Raising standard poultry is the only true way to improve the sustainability of quality local food while preserving the strength of Heritage poultry.

“Grow a Sustainable Diet” — the Book!

“Grow a Sustainable Diet” is an upcoming book (spring, 2014) that helps you plan what to eat and what to grow, feeding you and the Earth while maintaining a small ecological footprint.

Biochar: Not All it's Ground Up to Be?

Incorporating charcoal into the soil helped Amazonian farmers grow better crops, and its new industrial version is promoted as a panacea for both agriculture and the global climate. Those claims are not realistic.

Why We Farm

It is a regular occurrence, a question we're asked: Why do we do all this work?

Regenerative Agriculture

Focus on Food records an episode from Chaffin Orchards and discusses sustainable farming and the ethics of eating meat.

Towards Perpetual Motion Machines-Part 3

A 3-part series on sustainable comfort systems for heating and cooling homes using passive solar design, solar electric power, system controllers and newly popular heat pump technology.

Tree-Planting Season

It is a busy time for planting here. Not tomatoes, peppers, or squash, though. We got in our order of trees from the Missouri Conservation Dept. last week. In the past, we had planted mostly walnut, but we have a good enough supply of our own walnut seedlings that we are focusing on native trees that could use a boost to restore the forest to what it once was. So we are planting pecan on the bottom areas, shortleaf pine on ridge tops where the soil is poor, and burr oak on the better upland areas.

Towards Perpetual Motion Machines - Part 2 of 3

A three-part series on sustainable comfort systems for heating and cooling homes using passive solar design, solar electric power, system controllers and newly popular heat pump technology.

Gutter-Planted Garden Greens

It was becoming pretty obvious the crowding and lack of light were real limitations to my mini garden. Then, the idea of a trough on the windowsill came to mind, combining a way to water all the plants uniformly and efficiently all at once. Great, now how to make this trough? Wood? Sheet metal? The choices all seemed expensive, clumsy, prone to leaking...then the light bulb went on in my head: gutters!

Including Animals In Your Diet

Animal products provide vitamin B12 in your diet, which is necessary for a healthy nervous system. Learn what and how much you would have to eat to meet your daily B12 need and other considerations for adding animals to a sustainable diet.

The Unsustainability of Local

A few months back I heard a comment on an NPR radio program that really caught my attention. The program was about the local food movement and at one point the guest on the show said, “Now remember - just because it’s local doesn’t necessarily mean it has a smaller carbon footprint. That Argentinian apple that was shipped on a barge with thousands of tons of other apples may actually have required less fuel per apple than the apple than came from a few hundred miles away in the back on a farmer’s pickup.”

A Growing Trust

In this section you will find stories of real farmers across the country that made it work. You'll find their story, how they did it and who helped them. We hope these stories will inspire and educate new farmers, as well as land owners and community members to become involved in the new agrarian movement. A growing trust.

Earth Week Special From Worm's Way

Want to Save on Earth-Friendly Products? Check out Worm's Way's sale by clicking on the Earth Week banner at WormsWay.com and enjoy up to 20 percent off your purchases.

30 Steps to Energy Efficiency - Step 4: Turn Down Your Thermostat

There are two situations which do not require you to be heating your home: when it is warm and when you are not at home. Since it is still a bit chilly outside, you may want to consider setting up a routine of turning down the set temperature on your thermostat when you head out in the morning and when you go to bed.

Changing the Context of Transportation

Cuba's bike transformation was the result of a change in context induced by external forces. It was a disruptive event that forced them to adapt. Here in America, a land of such excess, no such sudden disruption looms (nor could it be predicted, I believe). Our transportation context is centered on the car. Our culture and economy are “driven” by the car. So, how do we create a culture of transportation that is dominated by bicycles?

The 80/20 Rule of Homesteading

This current situation is a perfect example of the 80/20 rule of homesteading: 80 percent of your time, energy and effort is spent on maintenance; 20 percent on progress towards the dream. A majority of your time homesteading is spent covered in chicken poop, squashing potato bugs, figuring out why gas isn’t getting to the carburetor in the ATV and shoveling snow after dark by headlamp.

Toward Perpetual Motion Machines

A 3-part series on sustainable comfort systems for heating and cooling homes using passive solar design, solar electric power, system controllers and newly popular heat pump technology.

Prepare for Pesticide Spray Season - Part I

What is Pesticide Drift? “Pesticide drift” is the movement of a pesticide through the air away from the intended target. You might actually see the drift in the form of a mist. You may smell it. But it can be invisible and odorless. The spray may be applied from the back of a tractor — referred to as a “rig.” Or it may be applied from a spray plane or helicopter.

Small Scale Forestry for the Homestead

Our work in the woods starts long before we get the chainsaw and axe out; by being in the woods, observing and contemplating. We're looking for healthy trees that we can help to thrive and that will be of benefit in the future.

Eat Local When Eating Out!

Restaurants are at the vanguard of thoughtful sourcing, choosing local, sustainable farms and cooking seasonally.

Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs: The Chicken That Threw Me a Change-Up

According to FDA data, the quantity of antibiotics sold for livestock use in this country continues to rise, topping 29 million pounds in 2011. This has a direct effect on the efficacy these same drugs will have on us. Sam Spitz has personal experience with a resistant illness and FamilyFarmed.org asked him to tell his story. It’s a cautionary tale that should have us all making better food choices. Read how we can all influence the campaign to end the misuse of antibiotics in livestock and keep antibiotics working for us when we need them!

A Father's Legacy of Natural Living

One of my earliest vivid childhood memories is sitting on my father’s lap as a young girl reading the magazine together in the 1980s and all throughout my childhood. He would read aloud while I studied the pictures of passive solar building, vegetable gardening, sheep shearing, building your own sugar shack and the beautiful array of topics which he read to me frequently. Those images, along with the camping trips in the mountains, the whitewater and canoeing excursions, and our family trip to Alaska, have been etched in the catacombs of my childhood memories and have sculpted the person I have grown to become.

Farmers in Training: A City Dweller Gets Lessons in Harvesting, Milking and the Meaning of Life

The place I call home these days is The FarmSchool, a fertile 180-acre strip of ridge top in Athol, where 15 student-farmers are spending a year learning the ins and outs of growing food, managing forests, and raising animals for meat. I arrived at the farm in October, just as the leaves were reaching their peak brilliance. The Farm School — which offers three-day programs for schoolchildren, a summer camp, a full-time middle school, and the apprenticeship program I’m in — takes us through all seasons of farming, weaving together class work and on-farm training.

Thoughts of Spring Begin to Stir

A winter thaw inspires starting the first seeds of the season - indoors, of course: kale, chard, and spinach to start.

A Few Reasons to Love Plum Organics

One of our "14 Sustainable Food Companies You Can Trust," Plum Organics is good for your baby's health and the health of the planet.

My Exotic Daily Life

While many of those visiting our Hostel are farmers and homesteaders themselves, some come from that “city culture” and seem to take their first hesitant steps outside of a flatly paved driveway when they arrive at our place. Wide eyes, a sense of adventure.

An Appalachian Alternative to Mountaintop Removal Coal Mines

Many criticize eliminating coal mining in West Virginia because of the amount of jobs the sector provides. A wind farm, however, would employ over 200 local residents during the two-year construction phase, and create 40-50 permanent maintenance jobs afterward. A wind farm would also allow the mountain to be used for other purposes, like sustainable forestry, mountain harvesting, and gathering of wild forest plants, creating additional jobs and the opportunity for stable income for locals.

The Urban Food Forest: A Groundbreaking Trend in Urban Agriculture

Urban food forests and public gardens provide communities with an edible landscape for everyone to share. These public fruit forests are the new trend in urban agriculture and play an important role as sustainable local food systems in their communities.  

Winter Carrots

Eat carrots from your garden all winter! A little planning goes a long way toward more food with less work. Learn how to start with a winter cover crop of rye, with carrots following next in the rotation, maturing by the time the first frost.

The Animal Lover's Dilemma: A Quest for Sustainable Farming Techniques

Elizabeth Van Deventer has been on a quest to find the answer to sustainable farming and an ethical diet most of her life. Follow along as she discovers the impacts of producing tea, palm oil and fruit, and how she eventually settles on a lifestyle that is in tune with the earth and all of its creatures.

Green Goods: Useful Products and Gifts

An index of previous posts that have referenced green products. These posts have covered building- and home-related products, as well as chocolates, books, and other types of goods. Many of the products mentioned in these posts would make good gifts.

Fruit for the Future

Looking ahead to spring, we're using these long days to plan a rootstock order of perennial trees, shrubs, and herbs.

Growing Renewable Energy Sources in the United States

The Obama Administration releases its plans for new renewable energy sources.  Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, explains that the new solar energy zones span six states and keep both domestic energy and environmental preservation in mind. If completed, the power generated from these solar energy zones would provide electricity to roughly seven-million homes.  

Growing Calories

Grow to fill yourself up from your garden. Potatoes will give you the most calories in the least space and are an important part of a sustainable diet.

Planning For Eating

Begin your garden planning with what,and particularly how much, you want to eat. Take a look at what you are eating now and go from there.

Solar Food Drying 2012

Solar drying experiences in 2012, including tomato varieties Principe Borghese and Long Tom.

Garden Washing Station

Set up a washing station in your garden. Rinse your veggies there, saving the water for the garden and keeping your kitchen clean.

Chicken Tractors

Use of a mobile chicken tractors allows us to keep the birds on fresh ground and stay on top of the weeds.

Piles of Dirt

Taking care of compost is essential to healthy soil and good food.

Summer Weeding

Weeding in the summer is all about species maintenance

Hay Day

The accumulation and storage of hay is an essential summer task.

Pushing limits

With an understanding of your limitations, you can operate more safely and efficiently. Training in timber cutting techniques can greatly expand your capabilities

Homegrown Wedding

A wedding using homegrown and local food and no disposable items. Decorations were things already on hand. The ceremony took place in a field and the reception was in a barn...and there was love-lots of it!

Turning off the Power

Monitoring energy use has led to increased motivation for conservation

Spring Pruning

Pruning perennials is essential for plant health and vigorous production.

Spring Planning

Starting flats of seedlings begins this year's growing season.

Yogurt-Making & Bread-Baking

Homestead skills of yogurt-making and bread-baking increase your independence from grocery store aisles and international food conglomerates.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is an effective and delicious way to store cabbage and add something "fresh" to the winter months

Monsanto’s False Advertising

Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds and the toxic herbicides used to drench them, is calling itself a supporter of sustainability. You’re kidding, right?

Organic Farming Conference Returns to Wisconsin

The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) hosts its 23rd annual Organic Farming Conference, February 23-25, 2012, at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis.

About Honeybees and January… and April…

Ordering bees in January doesn't seem to make sense, until you understand that April is the cruelest month. Plus, if you order bees in January, and then you don't need them - that's just a reason to celebrate! Order early!

How to Save a Million Dollars With a Sustainable Lifestyle

Most American homes are codependent with a lifestyle-support-system of roads, wires, pipes, lines of credit, satellites, and a collective identity determined by the supply side. Yet just about any household budget offers continuing opportunities for creating a healthier, less expensive lifestyle that’s also easier on the environment.

Transformation Tuesday: Trash Turned Giftwrap

Forget the time and money that goes into conventional giftwrap. Use these inspirational ideas to wrap lovely gifts with materials otherwise bound for the recycling bin.

End-of-Season in the Greenhouse

As winter descends a three-season hoop house is weeded, compost spread, and a straw mulch applied. Next spring will be here soon.

Cover Crops: Add Some Oomph to Your Soil

Cover crops are grown between planting seasons as a way to give back to the soil what cultivation takes from it. And cover crops aren’t just for large-scale growers—they can help you get the most out of your backyard vegetable garden too!

Local Economics

D Acres offers alternative economics. We are the 99&: join us.

Take a Bite of Farm Aid!

The Farm Aid concert is a chance for us to shine a spotlight on these people who work every day to put good food on our tables.

Beautiful, Rustic Dog Fence

This rustic, resourcefully sustainable dog fence fits right into the landscape. Before you install a fence, look around your place first to see what's already available.

In Her Boots: Sustainable Farming for Women, by Women

The workshop series "In Her Shoes: Sustainable Farming for Women, by Women" will provide on-farm, women-led sharing of resources, experiences and inspiration to further connect, encourage and support female organic farmers, entrepreneurs and agricultural leaders. These all-day workshops will be in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and each will cost $20 and include lunch.

Third-Party Certification - A Tool to Ensure Sustainability

As a third-party certifier, the Rainforest Alliance ensures that farms and forests are sustainable environmentally, socially and economically. The green frog seal and the FSC logo have become widely recognized, credible symbols of sustainability.

Puyallup Speaker Spotlight: Daniel Kosel, Rancher

Daniel Kosel of Red Poll Cattle will present a workshop on Red Poll Cattle Ranching at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.

Puyallup Speaker Spotlight: Rene' Skaggs

Rene' Skaggs of the Pierce Conservation District will present a workshop on increasing pasture productivity at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.

Puyallup Speaker Spotlight: Ann Larkin Hansen

Ann Larkin Hansen of Storey Publishing will present four workshops on sustainable farming and bugs at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.

Coffee and Climate Change

Farms which have earned Rainforest Alliance certification go beyond conserving the environment and improving the lives and livelihoods of farm workers; they also help to curb climate change.

Find Farming Internships and Apprenticeships

Looking for a farming internship or apprenticeship? Search the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Center’s online directory of farming internships and apprenticeships to find one that interests you.

Get Your Local Food From a CSA

Pass the cold, wintry months with warm thoughts of how you can eat more local food while supporting sustainable agriculture this coming season.

Rubble Bag Houses

Concrete rubble from collapsed buildings is a huge problem in Haiti. It is blocking roads and hindering reconstruction. Instead of spending millions of dollars trucking the rubble away and disposing of it, why not use it to build affordable housing?

Enriching Activities Offered in the New Year

Solar Energy International (SEI), the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service all offer events to educate participants in varying pursuits. This blog provides links to activity calendars and workshop schedules.  

Chicken Manure Fertilizer: Let Your Chickens Make Mulch

What’s your idea of a delicious and wholesome breakfast? A fluffy, organic egg omelet made with fresh vegetables? Perhaps scrambled eggs and roasted garden veggies? No matter what your preference, it may surprise you to learn the link between the

A Recycled T-Shirt that Prevents Green Washing

ECO360 Trust produces sustainable T-shirts made from 100% recycled PET plastic water bottles. ECO360 Trust is a campaign of the non-profit Institute for Sustainable Communication.

Parallel Chord Pallet Trusses

If you have access to small diameter trees and wood pallets, and live in an area not restricted by building codes, then this truss design is one good low cost roof option. If you do all the work yourself, these trusses are virtually free.

Key Considerations for Building Affordable Housing

Building housing projects in developing regions is extremely rewarding, but also quite challenging. It’s prudent to draw ideas from as many resources as possible to improve the process. The following guidelines have proven effective.

Why is There an Energy Crisis?

A BIG issue in everyone’s lives today is increasing fuel costs. The seriousness and scope of our energy problems calls for an all-out effort for sustainable solutions, starting as soon as possible.

The Manure Diaries

Manure-spreading day is a big event on the farm, for everyone from the chickens to the border collies. And it's part of a wonderful seasonal cycle that's the foundation of self-reliance and sustainability.

Earth Building in Thailand

I had heard there are thousands of new earthen houses in Thailand. That really amazed me, so I set out to learn the details about the modern earth building movement in Thailand.

Low-fired Brick

Low-fired brick is a very sustainable building material with low embodied energy. They are made with locally procured clay and fired with rice hulls, a by-product of growing rice. Brickyards are located near urban areas to minimize transport costs.

Small Homes: More Bang For Less Buck

Living luxuriously doesn’t necessarily mean living large — at least not in these homes — and reducing a little waste doesn’t hurt, either.

Small Diameter Roundwood Trusses

The roundwood truss system described here enables DIYers to build their own trusses at very low cost. You can gather truckloads of poles from national forests, enough for several small houses, for the cost of one $25 firewood permit.

What's More Important - Organic Food or Local Food?

Both organic and local food are important if we want to eat nutritious and delicious food. Furthermore, our current food system is in jeapordy because petroleum and water supplies are dwindling and climate change is resulting in more extreme weather.

The Case for Using Sustainable Building Materials

Recently, I had an epiphany in a building supply center. Even though I’ve been in the building trades for over 35 years and made countless trips to purchase building supplies, this trip was different.

Food Policy Councils Advocate for Community Food Security

Cities, counties and states across the country have created food policy councils in response to their concerns about future food security in their communities. The councils work to coordinate local food efforts, such as farmers markets, to develop a sustainable food system.

Organic Gardening and Rainwater Harvesting: Sustainable Living by Example

Engineer Venkappa Gani leads by example when it comes to sustainable living. His entire backyard is an organic garden, an edible landscape that borders his rainwater harvesting tank collectors overlooked by solar panels that power his home (and more!). Gani is dedicated to sustainability, a word he lives by everyday at his suburban home in Austin, Texas. 

Food is Love

Simran Sethi enjoys the fruits of late summer at a local farm dinner.

Summer Loving

Simran Sethi looks back at her New Year's resolution: to nourish herself.

Drill baby, drill...for efficiency

Now's the time to redouble our efforts to tap into energy efficiency. The potential is huge and the benefits are even greater.

Four Questions for a Sustainable Society: Does it Create Abundance?

The only practical means of creating abundance in our world requires examining the ratio between our capacities and our desires. Our capacities can be measured. Our desires can, presumably, be adjusted to fit within our capacities. And if we fit our desires within our capacities with some room left over then abundance is possible.

How Do You Support Sustainable Farming?

Here's a helpful guide to help you make sustainable choices while shopping or out to eat. What else do you do to support sustainable farming practices?

Four Questions for a Sustainable Society: Is It Beautiful?

If we need a vision for a sustainable future then we need a lot of people to contribute their own ideas and energy to forming and realizing that vision. If we are to attract the energy of millions of people to the task, then we must start with beauty in the frame.

Four Questions for a Sustainable Society: Is it Repeatable?

Fairness and repeatability share this essential value: They can be visualized today, even when sustainability cannot. If we make fairness and repeatability part of our criteria for decisions today, they contribute to sustainability in the long-term even if they don’t provide permanent solutions.

Four Questions for a Sustainable Society: Is it Fair?

The highest goal of politics might be to instill a sense of fairness in society, since that sense of fairness promotes tranquility, productivity and prosperity. The cooperation that undergirds a healthy society — the social contract — is based on a sense of fairness. Without it, a society is unhealthy and unproductive and, ultimately, ceases to exist. As the next big challenges facing our species will be global challenges, considering fairness from a global perspective will be one key to creating true sustainability.

Using Questions as a Guide to Creating a Sustainable Future

In business, we build a vision of the company at its most successful and we articulate a set of questions to guide us toward that vision. If it works, more or less universally, in business, then why couldn’t we apply it to other large, complex undertakings?

Taking the Steps We Can to Live More Sustainably

In most cases, we can't do all of the things we would like to live more sustainable lives — at least, not all right away. We can all do something, though, and making the choices and taking the steps that we can is an effective, satisfying way to make our lives more self-reliant and better for the planet every day.

Considering Individual Perspectives to Create a Sustainable Future

Publisher Bryan Welch's conviction that we need a better vision for our future led him to consider the way we form images, which led him to holograms. Humanity’s perception of its present world and its vision for its future are formed from billions of individual perspectives. Each individual human being possesses a unique vision, a single point in the light field. Each perspective records the person’s place in space and time. Each point of light forms a complete image, a complete vision for the future. When we reproduce the light field projected by those billions of unique visions, we get a three-dimensional picture of humanity’s combined vision. Effectively, we can’t perceive the future in three dimensions without taking into account the entire light field. Find out more about how we can use this idea to create a model for a sustainable future that can be applied across the globe.

How Bad Is Monsanto?

Coporations continue to purchase interests in seed industries. Could this be a problem?

We're Not From Around Here

Where is the strange and wonderful place this homesteader describes? And how do you get there?

Let's Pay Farmers to be Good Stewards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking comments on how to implement the new Conservation Stewardship Program. Here's the lowdown, plus instructions on how to submit your opinion — it's easy!

The Austerity Conundrum

While conservation is neccessary for providing for an ever-growing human population, it alone cannot solve our problems. In fact, it may distract us from the real issue at hand.

What Does “Rainforest Alliance Certified” Mean?

The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal has been popping up on coffee, tea, cocoa and fruit products all over the world. So what exactly does this certification signify? We’ve investigated.

HR 875: No Need For Alarm … Yet

Relax: HR 875 isn't a bill to outlaw organic farming, as you might have heard. But it's not exactly good news for pesticide-free producers, either. Here are the details.

Who Will Benefit from the National Animal ID System?

The National Animal Identification Plan will be easily implemented by large factory farms, but it means trouble for smaller operations. Will the system really keep us safe from disease, or will industrial ag and tracking system manufacturers be the only beneficiaries?

Improve Soil with Cover Crops

Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition, is now available in print and by download from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Learn how to make your soil perform at its very best!

Speak Out Against NAIS

Tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture to abandon their efforts to create and enforce a National Animal Identification System. We've made it easy for you with sample wording and directions on where to submit your comments.

Meat Shopping Made Easy

It's hard to shop responsibly sometimes, especially for meat. There are so many different label claims that it's hard to remember which are meaningful and which are just fluff. Here's a handy reference card that will give more power to your purchases.

Locavore: A Word to Live By

Guest blogger and longtime advocate of sustainable food Gwen Roland reflects on the new popularity of local eating, and highlights some of the innovative local food projects funded by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grants.

Sustainable City Living

The book Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-It-Ourselves Guide is a collection of skills, tools, and technologies usable by urban residents wanting to have more local access and control over life's essential resources.

Agriculture and the Environment

While productivity is often the name of the game at large farms, local food, minimal environmental impact and healthy conditions for farm workers also are hot topics today. Yet, our agriculture — and our living — have a greater impact on the environment and the life it supports than these issues alone address.

12 Rules of Raking

Save time and avoid blisters and burnout by following these common-sense guidelines this leaf season.

Dear Mr. President-elect

Sustainable farming expert Michael Pollan has some words of wisdom for the next president of the United States.

Congress to Cut Conservation Funding?

Congress is accused of bait-and-switch tactics when they propose millions in reductions to the conservation-related program assistance that helped pass the 2008 farm bill.  

Have It Your Way

Be aware: Living sustainably can be hindered by homeowner association rules.

Teeter-Totter for Sustainable Living

Daniel Sheridan found a way to turn children's energy into electrical power with a see-saw that generates electricity. The see-saw should generate enough electricity to light a classroom for a whole evening after only five to 10 minutes of use.

Help a Small Organic Gardening Company Grow

An interview with the founder of a small organic gardening business that focuses on education and helping gardeners go organic. Learn more about this company and vote for it to win funding from a small business competition.