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.
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).
- Producers only. No re-sellers. Only the people that grow the food or make the crafts.
- Local focus. From 20-300 miles. Depends on what’s needed to reach critical mass. As the resilient economy matures, that distance will shrink.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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.