Green – Mean – Cuisine
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Do you believe in signs, coincidence or the law of attraction if so keep reading if not you might find the following thoughts mildly amusing, either way its worth a try.
I get dizzy when I just hear the name Wal Mart and imagine isles packed floor to ceiling with color coded options. Facing the department store equipped with a list, shopping went swiftly. The ingredients to making your own laundry detergent are easy to find on a bottom shelf, sitting all right next to each other. Wal Mart apparently knows their DIY customer base. Spending a mere fraction of the cost than for regular detergent felt like an accomplishment in itself. The largest aspect, however, is knowing exactly what goes into such a frequently used household item. I was gloating a bit when I finally used the first scoop. I even added fresh lavender from an in town farm to the mix.
Shaving the soap into the bowl took the longest. Nothing better than exerting a little sweat when it comes to ‘assembling’ your seemingly own product. I call it the IKEA effect. Its no newly discovered fact that people have a stronger sense of appreciation when it comes to doing things themselves at least in part. Business owners are capitalizing on the notion more and more, not just for their customers experience but as a cost incentives to their operations as well.
As much as I loathe enormous corporations a la Wal Mart I can’t deny a sense of appreciation for the access to DIY products they provide. The consumer does hold the power even if persuasion to buying is tugging on them like a small child needing to be held. While I was leaving the store I spotted a poster of the Lorax movie near the exit/entry way. Schlepping my reusable bag including a big box of Borax, it became instantly clear why Dr. Seuss had chosen this particular character name and title.
The road to low impact living really starts here – at least for me. Its a renewed commitment to the cause of giving a damn. The resources are all right there at the very fingertips getting ready to send these lines out into the internet. All you gotta do is start by taking a look.
Thanks to DIYnatural for the inspiration!
~ Live well while using less
You can’t have a Farmers Market without the land & crops getting an adequate amount of rainfall. However, conducting a market while it rains can prove to be a real challenge. During yesterday’s East Atlanta Village Market a storm hit the east side of town…hard. Heavy rainfall started only seconds after I had received my SNAP & Wholesome Wave tokens. Baby in tow, I rushed underneath Little Tart Bakeshop’s tent, alongside one of the market’s musicians, a violin player wearing her tip jar cleverly strapped as a backpack. What happened next can only be described as an accelerated storm front whipping across us, with continuous heavy rainfall accompanied by strong winds, ripping on all of the vendors tents. Every now and then sunshine peeked in the distance, toying with the hope of all market participants that this could end any second now.
Peek the pictures of the treacherous down-pour:
Istill managed to buy a few items; thankfully & due to the help of various folks, who scrambled to get me a feasible umbrella, kept my baby & I entertained, dry & save for a couple of hours at the market, plus of course the farmers who nourish our lives!
Furthermore, did you know that you can use the same tokens from East Atlanta’s market at Grant Park Farmers Market on Sundays? If you ever forget a few items & have left over tokens to spare, you don’t have to wait a whole week to make use of them.
I thought my experience at the market was yet again a real testament to community and how well people can work together and stand their ground. It is certainly something we need more of in today’s times.
Noring Farm is nestled at the end of a slender country road mainly populated by horse pastures. Newton county, as farmer Andrew Norman mentions, an agrarian county, provides a tremendous network. Neighbors are exchanging wheat straw, manure, advice – whatever fits their needs as they arise. During my visit a neighbor takes her dog for a walk down the farms’ long wooded driveway, a regular occurrence, illustrating further what a healthy, sharing community looks like. As simple as it sounds, coming from Atlanta , where people fight over parking spots & BBQ smoke, this strikes me as a small miracle.
The farm is in its second spring and soil amendments are still shaping up to their nutrient dense potential. Andrew grew up on a farm & knows well how to perfect the ground that not long ago served as horse pasture. I get a chance to try a few of his heirloom vegetables. Immediately, my taste buds are engaged by their savoring complexities. Heirloom produce reminds me of an exquisite handcrafted piece of chocolate. The purple asparagus I taste comes straight out of the ground and incorporates various flavors as you keep eating it. The original carrot, Andrew enlightens me, was almost black due to its nutrient dense pigmentation. Every vegetable you can think off has numerous sub-varieties, each with its own flavor, colouring and shape.
Noring Farms, however, doesn’t just harvest exotic plants and French Copper Maran chicken eggs but is also home to a variety of Georgia native fruit trees, such as the Mayhaw & Chicken Saw Plums. The unique character of the farm reflects the individuals who own it, show casing and preserving varieties that are inspiring to any chef, whilst incorporating an indigenous variation of produce along side. Check out the full interview & take a peak at the farm during its early spring planting face below.
~ Live Well & Be Merry ~
On the outskirts of the East side of Atlanta lays the popular Hipster landmark the Starlight Drive In; once passed, the eye meets billboards, gas stations and neighborhoods sprawling of a main road. Inconspicuously tugged away in the midst of a sleepy neighborhood are 18 acres of goat country – white Saanen dairy goat ‘country’ to be exact.
It’s a dreary day when I pull up to Decimal Place Farm. I know I am at the right place when I see a line of white goats standing on the higher ground looking towards me. Nestled at the end of a cul da sec Mary Rigdon has appropriately named her farm Decimal Place Farm. She walks swiftly towards the car and directs me to the gate that leads to the goats and milking facility. I notice the acres of land surrounding us as the car slowly follows behind her steps in the mud.
Mary has been a dairy goat farmer for over 20 years and the land in Conley, Georgia for 17 years in her possession. It took patience and perseverance to acquire this land. Once she owned it, a milking facility had to be built and the right dairy equipment needed to be purchased. The process required assessing her resources critically, understanding how power lines were laid out & addressing functionality by getting the goats in and out of the buildings most efficiently. All of which she accomplished by using the means she had. In a time of credit defaults Mary’s sensible approach makes her somewhat of a modern day hero.
Her goats are having babies during the first few months of the year and I get a brief look into just how busy she gets. Mary is feeding the babies and checking on the becoming mothers periodically, meanwhile the rest of the herd still has to be milked. The days have a rhythm. She takes me outside to one of the grasing areas, while telling me how her lifestyle approach may be more of what people are talking about now and farm life is seeping into the mainstream but she has been living this way since the early 80s. She explains that in order to build the herd and utilize the land fencing had to be done. Grazing plots, comprised of clover, rye grass, a nitrogen fixing grass mix were created for limit grazing spans also called mammoth grazing. Mary tiled a few rows of soil for crop mob to come in and finish the sowing for new grazing plots. Crop Mob will also fix one of her fences and help get debris out of the creek.
Crop Mob, an initiative of young farmers and land enthusiasts, come together to help local farmers with a variety of projects around their farm. It builds the type of community interaction less reliant on monetary exchange. Being outside and learning some hands on farming know how, derived from years of experience, are plenty of reward for getting your hands dirty. At the end of each crop mob-tastic work day a dinner is shared between all the volunteers and farmers.
At the end of our excursion through the 18 acres of Decimal Place Farm, she hands me back my seven month old, that’s been carefully observing everything from her arms. She tells me about groups of children coming to the farm to learn about dairy goats, land preservation, gardening and making a living in this manner. When I ask her if she could envision anything for the future of the American food system, what would that look like, she takes time to think before answering. In her point of view we all receive the same amount of hours in the day. What we do with them is up to us & ultimately defines who we are. She questions peoples ingenuity or lack thereof. When a neighbor gives you grits in exchange for some of your goods, you learn how versatile that item can be. Furthermore, she adds she doesn’t like okra or rather the way most people in the south cook it but its an awfully space conducive and high yield type of vegetable. Therefore, she researched how to prepare Okra resulting in a dish sans a slightly gooey texture and utilizes its properties on her farm.
Did I mention just how delicious Decimal Place Farm goat cheese is? Seriously, you can’t go wrong with trying some of the creative flavors (i.e. amaretto orange chevre, pecan craison chevre, and cracked peppercorn chevre) either at a local health food stores such as Rainbow Grocery Market or Pine Street Market. During the summer time, Decimal Place Farm chevre, tuma or cheddar style goat cheeses can be located at the East Atlanta Farmers Market, Peachtree Road Market and Grant Park Farmers Market.
~ Enjoy, live well & be kind to one another
C.H. – Real Time Farms Winter Food Warrior, 2012