Friday, August 20, 2010

Lazy Friday Link

I've been on a forest gardening kick ever since seeing the video by Geoff Lawton last weekend.  I'm planning another post about forest gardening and how I plan to use it in my own homestead someday, but it isn't quite ready to post yet.  So until then, I thought I'd share another great site that I follow that is about forest gardening.

Landed - Forest Gardening is written by a gentleman named Simon living in the UK who already has an established forest garden.  I find his posts an enjoyable read, with lots of great photographs to compliment his observations.  Simon even throws in an occasional time-lapse video, which I find particularly awesome.  I read the blog section of his website mostly, but I also find the rest of his site a fantastic resource.  If you're interested in forest gardening, his is a site you must check out.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Food Forestry as Part of my Homesteading Plans

I have on occasion tried to describe food forestry to people, and I have always found myself lacking at communicating the concept.  I believe this is because it is not a field I have delved deeply into, so I don't know specific tactics that can easily transfer the knowledge from myself to another.  The knowledge that I do have has been from reading I have done in very technical form which does not easily transfer in casual conversation, as well as from videos.

I rarely embed videos in my blog because I feel like it is a cheap way of writing a post.  I want this blog to be a journal of my ideas and plans, not just a record of stuff I've found on the internet.  I want to make an exception today though, because I have found a video that I think is VERY cool, and because this video expresses a sense of food forestry that I find myself incapable of expressing through written or spoken word.  Geoff Lawton is a pioneer in the field of permaculture.  This video of him explaining and demonstrating the stages and layers of a food forest expresses in seven minutes what it would take me hours to get across to someone who has never heard of food forestry.

Food forestry is a field of study all its own.  Although most permaculturists consider it to be a part of a permaculture system, it is not a requirement.  The definitive guide to food forestry is a pair of books by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier, Edible Forest Gardens, which can be found using the link to the left.  (If anyone who is reading this post is trying to figure out what to get me for Christmas, these books would be about the best gift you could give me.)

Food forestry is a large part of what I want to accomplish on my homestead.  Obviously the plants that makeup the forest on my property when I establish it in the pacific northwest will be very different from the sub-tropical plants you see in this video, but the concepts are the same.  I want to set aside a major portion of my land, perhaps 20-30%, and dedicate it food forestry production.  As the video demonstrates very well, this takes a lot of time and forethought, which is a reason that I consider my homesteading plan to be a lifelong pursuit.  If gardening, production of small livestock, and energy independence were the only concepts I planned on using to produce self-sufficiency using my homestead, then it would be ready in only a year or two after I found the land I want to live on.

However, my plan involves establishing and building sustainable, self-monitoring and self-regenerating systems which produce whether or not they are "worked" by human labor.  That sort of thing takes years, and if establishing mine takes as long as Geoff's, it would be at least 7 years.  This means that at best, if I were to magically get land tomorrow and start establishing my food forest right away, I'd be 34 before it reached that point.  In reality, I probably won't be able to buy land that I think is right for at least 5 years.  After I buy it, I'm going to want to just sit back and observe it for at least 1 year (and probably 2 or 3) so I can document what sort of ecological systems are already in place on my land as the seasons progress.  Only then will I begin to establish my food forest.  And only then will I be on what for me is the path to living on, developing, and passing on to future generations The Permie Homestead.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Finally(!) Joining the Tucson CSA

I've budgeted carefully.  I've double checked my math.  And I'm finally, FINALLY, going to join the Tucson CSA!  I have been wanting to do this ever since I learned what a CSA was in the fall of 2008, but my budget never allowed for it.

I'm buying one produce share and one goat cheese share.  The CSA recommends that if you want the food you get from your share to provide a majority of your food, you should plan on one share per person.  Since I am a big guy who eats a lot, I think buying one whole share for myself, and using the money I save to buy other staples such as eggs, bread, milk, wheat products (like pasta, etc), and maybe even some grass-fed beef or other meat, I'll be able to supply myself with PLENTY of healthy food.  And if the CSA ends up being more produce than I expect, I'll just eat more fruits and veggies and less of the other stuff, or give some to my roommate.

I'm also considering buying some meat shares from the CSA.  They offer beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey. I think I'll definitely buy a turkey share, just for the fun of having it at Thanksgiving.  I'm considering one share each of the others, though I'm not really sure if I'll be able to afford that much.  We'll see when the time comes.

I expect that the produce part of my CSA share will double to triple my fruit and veggie consumption.  This, theoretically, should reduce my consumption of other things, especially the junky food I eat like Mac and Cheese when my pantry gets low.  I hoping that this, combined with my new exercise regimens (which I'll write about in another post soon) should get me down to 200 lbs by the end of the year easily.  During my recent period of consistent exercise, I've been losing about 1 pound a week. This puts me on pace to be at 200 pounds right around Christmas time.  If eating more fruits and veggies and less empty-cupboard-junk can increase my weight loss to just 1.5 pounds a week, I'll be VERY close to 200 by the time I leave for the Grand Canyon.  Believe it or not, losing weight on a backpacking trip is all but impossible for me.  I pack food so that I can eat like a king... jerky, cheese, trail mix with every kind of nut and such delicious treats as gummy bears and M&M's.  It's one of the greatest pleasures of being out backpacking.  SO, in spite of the fact that I'll be hiking with a 50+ pound backpack on for 40-50 miles over the course of 6 days, I'll probably either maintain weight or put on a pound or two while I'm down there, which means I could be down to 200 by Thanksgiving.  And of course, who loses weight around the holidays?  This reasoning is why my goal as ever is to be at 200 by New Years.  I know I can do it!

Finally, I'm ready to write about the most exciting thing that I have to talk about today, and what prompted me to make sure I cranked out a post tonight!  I found out today that a co-worker of mine, Shannan, is also signing up for the Tucson CSA.  The coolest part of it is that she heard about CSA's from me!  As far as I know, Shannan is the first person that has taken action towards sustainable food based on information they got from me!  That makes me very exciting and honored.  I honestly consider having even a small influence on just one person towards being more conscious of their food supply, and taking steps to create more food sustainability, to be a huge victory for myself and what I set out to accomplish by writing The Permie Homestead Blog.  For giving me the gift of feeling like I've made a difference... Thanks Shannan!

And to everyone, thanks for reading!