What I Found Interesting This Week 2/2/2013


I had a great walk today.  The ground was frozen enough for me to hike through the woods next to my home (a woods subdivided by old stone walls left by hardscrabble farmers that have long since abandoned the area).

The crisp fresh air, like it always does, got me thinking.  Today’s thoughts were about the price we are paying for living and working in hollow cubicles (bureaucratic offices and non-productive homes).

It’s sadly funny that most people don’t think there is a cost for living a dependent, unproductive life.  There obviously is.  Beyond the moral and psychological toll it takes on us, it’s actually killing us in huge numbers.

Here’s just one example:  73% of US adults are overweight or obese.  20% of our kids are overweight.

This extra weight and the inactivity that makes it possible, kills a half a million of us  prematurely every year.  Wow.  That’s as bad as smoking.

How do you prevent this?  Simple things.  Learn how to produce.  Walk to clear your mind and reduce stress.  Take the time to make your home productive (rather than just a container for stuff) and help your community to do the same.

On that note, here’s some of the things I found interesting this week:

Roosting w/milk crates.  Here’s a pretty simple roost solution from Elizabeth at the Ohio Thoughts blog.

Roosting Crates

The upper boundaries of Foodscaping.  Columnist Mark Bittman has an interesting factoid.  There’s currently 50,000 square miles of yard space in the United States (three times the surface area devoted to corn production in the US).  That’s about a trillion square feet.  If 10% of that was converted into food production, that would be 100 million square feet.  At a half a pound of garden production per square foot, that’s 50 million pounds of food.  He also pointed out this great quote from Jason Helvetson.



Setting up a Farmers Market.  Farmers markets have been growing in number at 9% as year, for twenty years (in the US).  That’s a good sign we are going in the right direction.

Unfortunately, many farmers markets are duds.  The prices are too high, the selection is mediocre and many of the vendors sell store brought produce/products.  In contrast, real farmers markets are run by organizations that rigorously maintain standards and recruit/scout/visit participants (to increase supply, competition, and variety).  They hum with life, variety, and are price competitive.

The organizations that set up farmer’s markets don’t have to be big.  They can be volunteer or cooperatives.  Here’s the recipe for a successful farmers market from FRESHFARM (from an interview by Katherine Gustafson).

  1. Producers only.  No re-sellers.  Only the people that grow the food or make the crafts.
  2. Local focus.  From 20-300 miles.  Depends on what’s needed to reach critical mass.  As the resilient economy matures, that distance will shrink.
  3. Professional management.  Do the numbers.  Manage the market as a business, even if it is a non-profit.  If you don’t, you will fail.
  4. Connect with communities.  Set up events (harvest festivals and town anniversaries).  Connect with local food drives and connect producers with federal subsidies (food stamps in the US).
  5. Become the town square.  By default, farmer’s markets are the new town square.  Act like one.

Here’s a network you can join to get more info on starting a farmers market.  They have a very extensive FAQ list that has a ton of info.


Urban Beekeeping.  I’m always on the hunt for innovation.  Here, the Beehive gets an update from a couple of creative New Zealanders.

Urban beekeepng

Granted, some of the parts us plastic, but the design of the system makes it much easier to maintain (a critique from a beekeeper would be appreciated).  By the way, plastic parts  (although not this large yet) can be printed in 3D printers at home (or locally, in a makerspace).  As designers make improvements, you just download the design and print it.  More.



NOTE:  Designers with products like the one above and local makerspaces with the equipment needed to make them is a killer combo.  All it takes is a company to network them together (more eBay than Amazon).

Peppers.  I was looking up some recipes for preserving peppers and ran into this handy graphic/explanation for pepper “hotness.”  From what I understand, peppers can reach 1 million Scoville units.  Interestingly, peppers developed hotness as a way to prevent consumption by animals (funny how that worked out).  Birds don’t experience this hotness since the plant actually wants birds to eat/poop the pepper seeds over a wide area.



Have a great week.

Resiliently Yours,




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  • dave

    John Robb.

    I Don’t know how much of this is true, as I just heard this a minute ago, but also I’m really having to be out the door. So My apologies for this ignorant email. I heard monsanto has huge influence, access, info etc from/with google. If so? might this impact you and your resilient communities, in anyway?


    • John Robb

      I’m not worried about it. JR

    • Javier

      dear dave,

      I hear the people that read this blog have in aggregate and sometimes in paticular, huge influence, access, info, etc, from outside Google.

      If so, might this impact Monsanto and its non-resilient communities?



      • different clue

        I am not Dave, but I think that if the influential people here and elsewhere who keep track of Monsanto issues were to spread a leaderless mass “extermicott” against Monsanto deeply and broadly enough throughout society to where Monsanto’s revenue streams are severely restricted, and its consequent political/economic power is thereby deeply attrited; this might impact Monsanto most impactfully.

        As counterMonsanto alternatives are deepened and broadened, Monsanto’s captive communities will begin to escape Monsanto’s orbit.

    • Azlinea

      Given a certain network size any given group of people are able to reroute around damage. You’d have to shut down the entire network for it to be taken out (the principle behind the internet).

  • John Edmiston

    I like your backyard beekeeping article. Anything that lowers the barrier to entry is welcome. I’m a backyard chemical free beekeeper, which is rare believe it or not. Most beekeepers in my area are ag trained focusing on forced honey production and use lots of nasty chemicals to curb pests. That being said I would like to see the product presented in the article in more detail. As presented, I see problems, i.e., no bottom board, and no top board, to start with. However, maybe not all the pieces are presented. I assume that the designers are working with industry standard sizes. And just food for thought, I believe the boxes presented in the article are “deeps” which when full will be approaching 100 lbs., which is a lot for many people, especially given that by mid-Summer they could be 6 tall. However, this look to be a great idea and just need a little tweaking.

    • John Robb

      Thanks much John. JR

  • l.nadwodney

    Where can you buy the ceramic water filters?