Victory Gardens Need to Be a Thing Again

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Victory Gardens were popular during World War 1 and 2 when the public food supply was being strained due to many farm laborers being sent overseas to fight in the war, along with food of course. If you have a moment, look up “Victory Gardens” in the Google image search; their are countless beautiful old posters.

Today though, we still need Victory Gardens! Maybe they would be more appropriately named as “Sustainable Gardens,” but their success is definitely still a type of victory. Anyone have any ideas for a sort of new age Victory Garden poster? I think that would be totally awesome. The easily accessible cheap food supply we have become accustomed to is a result of cheap energy. Ross Jackson cleverly points out how we are “eating oil.” He notes that, “…if we take into account the oil used in chemical-based industrial agriculture for fertilizers production, farm machinery, transportation, irrigation, livestock raising (exclusive of feed) and pesticide production in the United States, over 400 gallons of oil per year are used to feed each American.” (Jackson, 25). He also notes that this estimate is not including the energy costs associated with packaging, refrigeration, or transportation to retailers. Soil erosion and pesticide and fertilizer run off are also huge negative consequences of industrial agriculture. In the long run, our agricultural practices are simply not sustainable.

Home organic gardening is an excellent way to eliminate many of the energy costs hiding in all the beautiful food at the grocery store. Most of us are not in any sort of position to live off our gardens, but every little bit does count! Filling open space with well kept grass is a recent modification and serves no real purpose. Even if you can’t quite sacrifice all of your yard, set aside a small part for gardening; you may be surprised how much a well kept garden can yield.

Here in New England, the outdoor gardening season is definitely coming to a close. We have recently cleared most of the beds to prepare them for next season. In the greenhouse though, young eggplant and squash plants are growing like crazy! Our tomato plants are still pushing through some of the increasingly cold nights as well. It is beautiful and healthy place to be. At times, the garden is a lot of work, but the satisfaction of eating the actual fruits of your labor is incredible.

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Eggplant with Squash in the background. A few random shoots of garlic popping up too.
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The tomato plants have been incredible this summer. And with the greenhouse up, they just keep going!
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A cleaned up empty looking garden 😦 What a great season it was though! And the greenhouse is gorgeous inside still!

Thanks for reading. Follow your bliss. Love and be loved!

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Be One With Your Bike

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Bicycles are awesome. Seriously. Look at it. Tell me it’s not beautiful. They are amazing inventions and they can have a huge impact on your energy use and personal fitness. It is a win-win. I picked up a 1989 Schwinn World Tour bike (above) for $100 about 2 years ago and it has been absolutely incredible. I ride everywhere that is within about a 5 mile radius of my home. It has already payed for itself in gas. I ride it to the bus stop, take it on the bus, and then ride it where ever I am going when I get off. I bungee a milk crate on the back and ride it to pick up light loads of groceries. I just love it so much. And, bikes don’t have to be used just during the day, throw a good front light and back blinker on there and you are set for night riding – please, do be careful though. Biking is great for you too. At first, a mile or two can be exhausting, but before you know it, you don’t think twice about a 3, 4, or 5 mile trip and just breeze through it.

The best part of all is that using my bike for local errands instead of my car saves a ton on gas. We sometimes forget that the start up, stop and go, short errands are the most gas inefficient rides. They add up quick! Since starting to use my bike, I have significantly cut down the amount I need to use a car. I had a wonderful moment where I needed my car the other day, went to get in, and realized I had not used it in 2 weeks! What a great feeling. Biking whenever possible is a great way to cut down your fossil fuel reliance, an important step towards a more sustainable life.

Follow your bliss. Love and be loved. You are an amazing person and even if we can’t all change the world, it doesn’t mean we can not all change ourselves. Be the change you want and be proud of what you do! Happy Tuesday everyone.

Horrible Sanity

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It is a bit unfortunate that the graduate students in my department are given high-walled cubicles with stationary desktop computers; unfortunate for me because I like seeing the outdoors and interacting with people, unfortunate for them because I consequently have been spending less and less time doing work in my cubicle! I have a few small postcards and pictures hung up around my cubicle which, amid hours of staring at thousands of lines of computer code, always make me crack a smile and remember what is really important. I study coastal oceans and I do enjoy it, but staring at computer screens for hours on end sometimes seems a bit insane. I will occasionally stand up, and being 6’4″, look over the top of my cubicle to see if anyone else is also standing up wondering what the heck they are doing in here on such a beautiful day! So far, just a flat plain over the top of all the other cubes. Maybe they are just too short.

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My slightly zany decorations remind me though, I am NOT insane. It is insane to not enjoy life and adventures. I fully support fields of research which look to help make our planet more healthy, but it is important to give yourself the proper perspective to do so; enjoy this planet. Happy Monday everyone. If you can, get out for an adventure. Skip down the street, bike through down town, be a little off-center from the norm because quite often, the norm in insane.

Love and be loved.

Be Local and do it Yourself

Eating local food has become a sort of culinary fad in recent years, but why is it actually beneficial to eat local? Many pIMG_20141005_085304_editedeople treat eating local food as some type of status symbol (nothing wrong with this) or assume it is just magically more healthy. The energy reality of this situation is that eating local produce is an important step in reducing our energy reliance and fostering future sustainable towns. When you buy something at the grocery store, nearly always, that product was grown far away, cultivated by energy intensive machines, and and then shipped to your area. This is in stark contrast to most locally grown food which is hand planted, hand picked, and sold locally. Another advantage is that, although local produce sometimes appears a little more irregular than store bought produce, it is just plain better. Irregular is normal. It is the freakishly large tomatos/apples/etc. that are juiced up with steroids and coated in pesticides that are not natural. In addition to the fruits and vegetables I grow at home, I have also started to bake my own bread which, if I may say so myself, is far better than the store bought loaves and at a fraction of the cost. IMG_20141005_172815_editedAlthough I am still currently reliant on store bought flower, yeast, and the such, it lets me create preservative free bread and skip the bakery step in production. Just 1 more step towards a sustainable lifestyle. Any suggestions regarding bread are appreciated. What a beautiful fall day, huh!

Please love and be loved!

If at first you don’t succeed, chai chai again

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Last night, my roommate and I started to jot down a few of our numerous particular coffee recipes. which to date, we have kept available solely by memory. One of our newer inventions was a concentrated Chai formula to make Chai lattes. To be honest, the first batch was a bit too peppery, a little harsh for a nice morning beverage. But we gave it a chai, didn’t like it a latte, so we’ll chai again. Anyone else like a good pun in the morning? I hope to someday open my own coffee shop using sustainable energy and beans, a place of joy where anyone can come in, enjoy a nice coffee, tea, or pastry, and just sit and talk with our fellow man. Open dialog ALWAYS encouraged.

Well have a good day everyone. Go confidently in the direction of truth and happiness. Find you bliss, even if it is just a walk outside or a moment of silent meditation. Remember, it is only a scam that happiness costs money! Family, friends, nature, just life! Money can’t buy real wealth! You are amazing and loved. Be well.

What I need is what I want

“I am,” a documentary by director Tom Shadyac is a wonderful portrayal of self discovery, the search for IMG_6234_editedtruth. We are so frequently confined by the walls of what we think is our only reality, but the truth is that there are many worlds to live in if you can open your mind and see outside our societal confines. Money has exceeded its purpose, to represent goods and simplify trade. It has become its own entity of which more is always better. But why? Sharing wealth will always be more enjoyable and worthwhile than just owning wealth. Something better than a million dollars in the bank is using that money to support others who need it more and finding joy in enjoying life with those people you help. It is a direction I know I need to move toward and I will start making more deliberate steps today or it will never happen. Oh, how much there is to enjoy in this life. Sometimes I feel that I could stare at a leaf or candle forever, awed by its intricacy and beauty. Perhaps the only thing more beautiful than nature is the friendships and family we find in each other.This is what we all truly want and it is what we truly need.

Happy Fall everyone! It is a gray but beautiful New England day where I am. Please feel loved, because, you are. We are all people and we all deserve love and happiness. There is more than enough for everyone. If you read, please feel free to share some beauty or happiness you find in this fine day, however you want to convey it, writing, picture, or other. My moment of bliss this morning was reading under a window, listening to some rain patter outside and feeling a cool air fall over the window sill onto my head. What a beautiful moment.

Much love,

A worried but happy human.

PS – My articles are stills works in progress. I hope to write the final article, 7. The dream, a description of my personal dream of living a sustainable, social, happy life, as soon as possible. Until then, if you have a dream of your own, I would greatly enjoy if you would share. Thank you and be well.

Advice from John Greer

I have been greatly enjoying John Greer’s book, The Wealth of Nature – Economics as if Survival Mattered. This morning I read one of my very favorite sections so far, which is particularly well summed up in this sentence: “There’s nothing really remarkable about the future; it’s simply that the unparalleled abundance that our civilization bought by burning through half a billion years of stored sunlight in three short centuries has left most people in the industrial world clueless about the basic realities of human life in more ordinary times.”

Our age of abundant concentrated energy, that is, the age of the industrial revolution, is an anomaly. It must be. Like a saver who all of the sudden uses 10 years worth of savings in 1 day to buy a absolutely fantastic firework display, we too have spent all the earth’s energy savings in just a few hundred years. Now we must face the fact that it is time to again live more meager lives. I personally do no think that is a bad thing, but the transition is sure to be rough, especially in regions that have been particularly spoiled… *cough cough* The U.S. *cough cough*.

Hello All

I have had a lot on my mind as of late and just decided to start blogging it as a way to get it out of my head. If you do enjoy reading anything I have, please feel free to follow as I plan to continue updating. For now, check out my menu which has a few small pieces I have written. All the best!