Underground Chickens…


Find out where to get information about everything you need to know to raise chickens on a small to medium scale…

1) Raising chickens is becoming more and more popular with small farmers, urban farmers, homesteaders, others. Many people are realizing that the difference between pasture raised chicken meat and eggs, and those from large confinement operations is similar to the difference between fresh seasonal heirloom tomatoes, and those picked green, ripened with ethanol, and shipped across the country.

Chickens can also be beneficial in diversified farming operations by helping to control pests, providing an alternative, year-round source of income, and producing high-nitrogen manure for fertilizer.

Interest in raising chickens has grown quickly in the last few years, accompanied by a resurgent interest in heritage breeds, pastured poultry, and on-farm processing…

  • Chickens 101 – offers basic information about raising chickens, starting with eggs, coop plans, chicken breeds, and more.
  • Chicken Breeds List doesn’t just list breeds, as their name might suggest. They also provide great information and articles on chicken care, breeding, and much more.
  • Raising Poultry – an information packed site that provides a broad range of information and resources regarding all aspects of raising poultry. A great place to start.
  • The Country Chicken – is about the care and raising of backyard chickens. There is information about chicken coops, daily care, pictures of breeds, and an excellent links page.

Green Smoothie Recipes – Top 5


Try the best green smoothie recipe ever! I drink about two full blender jars of these drinks a day. They are healthy, easy and quick to make and absolutely delicious.

Each green smoothie recipe below is chuck full of healthy minerals (e.g. calcium and iron), vitamins, co-factors, life force, fiber. And very important, they are alkalizing. Green smoothies are critical for health.

To make these recipes, all you need are the ingredients and a blender. A high speed blender such as Vitamix or Blendtec is best because they break the cell wall. This way you absorb the nutrients easily. But if you’re just starting a raw vegetable diet, any other blender will do too. My first year on raw food, I just used a hand blender (Cuisine art, 700 Watt).

All recipes serve about 2-3 people and can be kept for up to 12 hours as long as you add enough water (great when traveling).

Kale and Banana Smoothie


2 bananas
2 tablespoons hulled hemp seed
1 bag of frozen blue berries
2.5 cups pure water
1 teaspoon super foods of choice (optional)
5 leafs of kale


  1. Put all ingredients in a high speed blender.
  2. Add enough water so that all ingredients are covered.
  3. Blend well.
  4. You may want to add a little more water if you like your smoothie thinner.

This is a great way to add (wild edible greens) to your raw food diet. You won’t even notice it.

The Specter of Secularism: Lies and lunacy on the campaign trail…


We, the people, are united by our shared humanity and our common citizenship. We are divided by our divergent sectarian beliefs. In the past, these divisions led to oppression of those out of favor by those holding the positions of power. At times, persecution reached the point of cruelty and lethality. At other times, civil wars broke out as competing sets of true believers sought to gain or retain temporal power. Based on the sterling insight of what unites us and the shameful history of what divides us, the Founding and the Framing generation ordained and established a secular Republic.

Despite the contemporary rampant ignorance of people who should know better, secularism is not a religion; it is a philosophic perspective and a constitutional prescription. The Constitution of the United States neither enthrones nor endorses any variety of religious persuasion, any more than it anoints or approves any particular approach to economic activity.

While congregants of particular religious denominations have struggled since the start of the Republic to seize the reins of power, they have always done so without constitutional justification. America is neither a Christian nor a Capitalist nation. It is a Constitutional Republic in which all are free to follow their conscience in the practice of religion and to seek their fortune by all legal means. The only requirement consistent with the constitution is that each of us allows others the freedom to do the same.

Despite this historical background and continuing reality, Mitt Romney in his response to a question about the recent HHS contraceptive regulation requiring religiously affiliated organizations to provide coverage for all women employees, declared: “I think there is a desire to establish a religion in America known as secularism.”

Rewilding Our Children

The Guardian

Hope for humanity lies in recognising their animal nature.

Three weeks old, warm and gently snoring on my shoulder as I write, you are closer to nature than you will ever be again. With your animal needs and animal cries, moved by a slow primordial spirit that will soon be submerged in the cacophony of thought and language, you belong, it seems to me, more to the biosphere than to the human sphere. Already it feels like years since I saw you, my second daughter, in the scan, your segmented skeleton revealed like an ancient beast uncovered by geologists, buried in the rock of ages. Already I have begun to entertain the hopes and fears to which every parent has succumbed, perhaps since the early hominids laid down the prints which show that the human spark had been struck.

Let me begin at the beginning, with the organisation to which you might owe your life. When I was born, almost 50 years ago, in the bitter winter of 1963, the National Health Service was just 15 years old. It must still have been hard for people to believe that – for the first time in the history of these islands – they could fall ill without risking financial ruin, that no one need die for want of funds. I see this system as the summit of civilisation, one of the wonders of the world.

Now it is so much a part of our lives that it is just as hard to believe that we might lose it. But I fear that, when you have reached my age, free, universal healthcare will be a distant fantasy, a mythologised arcadia as far removed from the experience of your children’s generation as the Blitz was from mine. One of the lessons you will learn, painfully and reluctantly, is that nothing of public value exists which has not been fought for.

David Sedaris on his reading habits…

From NYT

David Sedaris

I was a judge for this year’s Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, so until very recently I was reading essays written by clever high school students. Now I’ve started Shalom Auslander’s “Hope: A Tragedy.” His last book, “Foreskin’s Lament,” really made me laugh.

When and where do you like to read?

Throughout my 20s and early 30s — my two-books-per-week years — I did most of my reading at the International House of Pancakes. I haven’t been to one in ages, but at the time, if you went at an off-peak hour, they’d give you a gallon-sized pot of coffee and let you sit there as long as you liked. Now, though, with everyone hollering into their cellphones, it’s much harder to read in public, so I tend to do it at home, most often while reclining.

What was the last truly great book you read?

I’ve read a lot of books that I loved recently. “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea,” by a woman named Barbara Demick, was a real eye-opener. In terms of “great,” as in “This person seems to have reinvented the English language,” I’d say Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.” What an exciting story collection it is, unlike anything I’ve ever come across.

Do you consider yourself a fiction or a nonfiction person? What’s your favorite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

I like nonfiction books about people with wretched lives. The worse off the subjects, the more inclined I am to read about them… Complete article here

OWS: A Pamphleteer’s Occupation…


Who in their right mind would start a new small press at a time when the economy is so bad, e-books are rising, and book stores, libraries and perhaps the printed word itself are getting shoved down the same path as vinyl records and record stores?

Why bother to sink resources and turtle-pace time into producing, mailing, and shelving printed matter when we can now reach one another with speed and buzz, hummingbird-style?

Some people, like Rory O’Connor, use terms like “legacy media” to refer to old-school operations like newspapers. We have, indeed, entered an era where “friends and followers” are displacing corporations as producers of the news people give their attention to. But that does not displace printed matter as a whole. In fact, the Occupy movements are giving birth to a beautiful revival of print-based underground press activity. Tidal, a journal of Occupy theory, is one of a host of new Occupy-related print-based initiatives that is channeling the energy, ideas, art and aspirations that is making waves. The editors have two beautiful issues out to date, and give them away, thanks to donations of all types, including labor. I’ve seen people reading Tidal in the streets and in the courtroom. Just seeing it in people’s hands is uplifting to me. Print projects like Tidal, and there are many others, offer solidarity and intellectual self defense against corporate efforts to achieve cultural control.

Despite all the immediacy and connectivity offered by online communication, print still matters. Print is intimate. We can hold it in our hands, touch it, pass it to one another.

Transition: What is a carrot worth?

Town Farm in Northampton, Massachusetts
Excerpted from greenhornsThe Atlantic
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

Last week at market a customer complained about the price of our dill (two dollars for a not-huge bunch). He said the price was an outrage, but he was smiling, so I was too confused to ask why he was going ahead and buying the dill, or even how he’d arrived at his notion of its value.

This is not an unusual occurrence; every week at market we get at least one or two potential customers who shake their heads in dismay at a $2.75 head of lettuce or a $4.00 pint of strawberries. Sometimes I engage in conversation, sometimes I don’t. I try not to get defensive, and I frequently encourage a customer not to buy the product, offering suggestions of where to find cheaper food, either at the market or elsewhere. I do my best not to reveal that the value of our produce is a question that regularly fills me with a tremendous amount of anxiety.

What is a carrot worth? A bunch of kale? A handful of berries? Too often, I find myself on the tractor making quick calculations in my head. For a bed of carrots, there are the soil amendments, the cover crop last fall, the chicken manure, the organic fertilizer, the plowing, tilling, seeding, irrigating, thinning, weeding, harvesting, washing, bunching, packing, and selling. Plus the cost of the tractors, implements, and fuel. Plus the cost of childcare and preschool. Plus, somehow, all the time spent on the computer (where does that fit in)? And I haven’t even mentioned the cost of the land (hundreds of thousands of dollars, in our case). The sheer number of labor hours and material and property costs that went into helping this soil

Transition: Is your Home a Box or a Dynamo?

Resilient Communities

I have to admit. I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking about my home in the traditional way.

What’s the traditional way of thinking about a home?  To see it as a box.

A very big box that holds a family’s things.  A box that can be decorated both inside and out.  A box that needs constant repair to maintain its box-hood.

If you really think about it.  A static, decorated box isn’t really a home.  It’s a mausoleum.  It adorns you and your family in your repose.

The new way of thinking about a home is as a dynamo:

A dynamic, living system that produces food, energy, water, and much more.  A system that helps you to actively respond to changes in the global economy and environment, particularly as they careen out of control.  A productive asset you actively participate in managing.  An asset that grows more valuable the worse the things get.

Here’s a question to think about.

Another Turn of the Crank…

the premier philosopher of community and rural life

Forward to
Another Turn of the Crank (1995)

Field Observations: An interview with Wendell Berry

The essays in this book deal with a number of important issues that have now become obscured by poor politics, and they deal with other issues, equally important, that are now little noticed, and are perhaps not noticeable, by politicians;

The book is therefore vulnerable to some misconceptions that I would like to correct beforehand. Nothing that I have written here should be construed as an endorsement of either of our political parties as they presently function.

Republicans who read this book should beware either of approving it as “conservative” or of dismissing it as “liberal”. Democrats should beware of the opposite errors.

One reason for this is that I am an agrarian; I think that good farming is a high and difficult art, that it is indispensable, and that it cannot be accomplished except under certain conditions. Manifestly, good farming cannot be fostered or maintained under the rule of the presently dominant economic and cultural assumptions of our political parties.

Another reason is that I am a member, by choice, of a local community. I believe that healthy communities are indispensable, and I know that our communities are disintegrating under the influence of economic assumptions that are accepted without question by both our parties-despite their lip service to various non-economic “values.” The “conservatives” believe that an economy that favors its richest and most powerful participants will yet somehow serve the best interest of everybody. The “liberals” believe just as irrationally that a merely competitive economy, growing always larger in scale and controlled by fewer and fewer people, can be corrected by extending government charity

Battle for the Soul of Occupy…


Alright you jammers, occupiers and Springtime dreamers,

First they silenced our uprising with a media blackout… then they smashed our encampments with midnight paramilitary raids… and now they’re threatening to neutralize our insurgency with an insidious campaign of donor money and co-optation. This counter-strategy worked to kill off the Tea Party’s outrage and turn it into a puppet of the Republican Party. Will the same happen with Occupy Wall Street? Will our insurgency turn into the Democrats’ Tea Party pet?

It’s up to you to decide if our movement goes the way of Paris ’68, the dust bin of could-have-been-insurrections, or something more daring, more inspiring, something not yet dreamed.

Will you allow Occupy to become a project of the old left, the same cabal of old world thinkers who have blunted the possibility of revolution for decades? Will you allow MoveOn, The Nation and Ben & Jerry to put the brakes on our Spring Offensive and turn our struggle into a “99% Spring” reelection campaign for President Obama?

We are now in a battle for the soul of Occupy… a fight to the finish between the impotent old left and the new vibrant, horizontal left who launched Occupy Wall Street from the bottom-up and who dreams of real democracy and another world.

Whatever you do, don’t allow our revolutionary struggle to fizzle out into another lefty whine and clicktivist campaign like has happened so many times in the past. Let’s Occupy the clicktivists and crash the MoveOn party. Let’s #DEFENDOCCUPY and stop the derailment of our movement that looms ahead.

Soil and Health Library…

Soil And Health Library

Health begins in the soil — Healing begins with hygiene — Liberty begins with freedom

[We have linked to this site from the beginning of Ukiah Blog and periodically draw attention to it for new readers. Much of this is wisdom that never grows old, though out of print and now in the public domain. There is often some stuff that science has since proven false, and some that is, yes we love it, “cranky“… but the truly useful shines through. Most recently, Linda Gray circulated this book link: http://curezone.com/upload/PDF/Arthur_F_Coca_MD_The_Pulse_Test_by.pdf, self care allergy testing for chronic health sufferers.

Linda writes: I’ve been telling anyone I know that has any type of chronic health issue about The Pulse Test because it looks to me that almost no one has ever heard of it and I think it may just drop off the face of the Earth otherwise. It’s less known now than it was almost forty years ago when I first read it. Back then I found it to be right on with my food allergies and Coca claimed that it can help some people with epilepsy, diabetes, irregular heart, depression, chronic bronchial infections, and many other chronic illnesses, besides just plain old allergies (in other words, according to him, many chronic illnesses are simply allergies). You don’t really have to read much more than the first couple of chapters to get the gist of it. It’s pretty simple.” More on this in a few days… -DS]

This website provides free e-books, mainly about holistic agriculture, holistic health and self-sufficient homestead living. There are secondary collections about social criticism and transformational psychology. No fees are collected for this service.

The library’s subject seemingly-diverse topic areas actually connect

Giving Up on Environmentalism…

How To Save The World

It’s been about 40 years since my first environmental activism, fighting against the Churchill River hydroelectric diversion in Northern Manitoba and the Mackenzie Valley Oil & Gas Pipelines through the pristine and fragile Canadian arctic to US markets.

We lost the Churchill River fight — in 1976 the so-called socialist provincial government flooded 850 square kilometres to divert 80% of the water from one huge river to another — because it was cheaper to dam one than two. All told, 2600 sq. km. were flooded, 25,000 First Nations people were either driven off their land or had their way of life irrevocably altered, and the ecosystems of the northern half of the province were desolated in ways we’re only now beginning to realize.

We stalled off development of the Mackenzie Valley pipelines then, but they are now being fast-tracked by the current corporate-owned ultra-conservative Canadian government in order to provide cheap energy to power the eco-holocaust called the Alberta Tar Sands. Big Oil wasn’t in much of a hurry back in the 1960s — they knew the value of the oil reserves they “owned” would only go up.

In the intervening 40 years, from the heady counter-culture days of the late 1960s, the human species has done more damage to this planet than we did in the previous 30,000 years, i.e. since the inception of human civilization, by almost every possible measure: loss of biodiversity on land, in the seas and in the air, loss of natural habitat capable of supporting any creature sustainably, pollution of land, air and sea, non-renewable resources extracted and non-biodegradable wastes produced. So much for the idealism of the boomer generation.

Todd Walton: He Touched Me


“If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.” Pearl S. Buck

Reading Bruce McEwen’s tragic Hug A Kid, Go To Jail, I thought, “My God, there but for the grace of luck and chance and (in my system of belief) the intervention of angels, I, too, might have been arrested for child molestation and been sent to prison and labeled a sex offender for the rest of my life—on several different occasions. What? How?

When I was in my late thirties and living in Sacramento, I played basketball every morning at a neighborhood park. Three days a week I met my friend Bob there for rousing games of one-on-one, and two days a week I shot around by myself. Along with the basketball court, the park featured a big lawn and a swing set and a public bathroom. So one morning I was shooting hoops and these two moms showed up, each with a cute kid in tow, and they wandered to the far end of the park and spread out a big blanket for playtime and snacking and reading and whatnot.

As I continued shooting hoops, one of the kids, a girl, skipped across the lawn to the restroom adjacent to the basketball court and entered the little cinderblock building on the side marked WOMEN. A moment later she let out a blood-curdling scream, and in the next moment I was on my way into the restroom to rescue her. But some unseen power grabbed hold of me, and a loud inner voice said, “Don’t go in there. Whatever you do, don’t go in there!”

The girl screamed again—bloody murder!—and I turned on my heels and sprinted across the lawn toward the moms, waving my arms and shouting, “Your little girl is screaming in the bathroom.”

Transition: Which train would you rather be on?…

Transition Culture

I am really pleased today to be able to share with you some of the key outputs from Transition Streets, which I have written about here before.  Let’s start, for people who are new to the concept, with this short video which beautifully captures how Transition Streets worked in Totnes:

Transition Streets has already been rolled out in places other than Totnes, but in a few weeks, a whole supported programme will be coming out whereby you will be able to run it in your community (I’ll let you know). You can see the first section of the Transition Streets workbook here to get a flavour of it. It is a great example of the tool from ‘The Transition Companion’ called ‘Street-by-street behaviour change’.

The main output from Transition Streets is the ‘Final project report’, which “shares information about the Transition Streets project, funded by the previous government’s Low Carbon Communities Challenge funded: how it worked, what it achieved, what was learnt and where we are heading next”.  You can find a summary of its findings here.  It is a very thorough round-up of the project.

However, the most fascinating to me is “Social Impacts of Transition Together (SITT): Investigating the social impacts, benefits and sustainability of the Transition Together/Transition Streets initiative in Totnes“, which goes into the more qualitative aspects of Transition Streets, what motivated people to get involved, what changes people made

Book Preview for April, May, and June 2012…



coverThe Cove by Ron Rash: For the poet, novelist and short story writer Ron Rash, this could be the break-out novel that gives him the name recognition of such better-known Appalachian conjurers as Lee Smith, Robert Morgan, Fred Chappell and Charles Frazier. The Cove, set in the North Carolina mountains during the First World War, is the story of Laurel Shelton and her war-damaged brother Hank, who live on land that the locals believe is cursed. Everything changes when Laurel comes upon a mysterious stranger in the woods, who she saves from a near-fatal accident. “Rash throws a big shadow now,” says Daniel Woodrell, “and it’s only going to get bigger and soon.” (Bill)

coverFarther Away: Essays by Jonathan Franzen: From Franzen, a collection of essays and speeches written primarily in the last five years. The title essay generated considerable attention when it appeared in The New Yorker in April. In it, Franzen told of his escape to a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific following the suicide of his friend David Foster Wallace. Two pieces in the collection—“On Autobiographic Fiction” and “Comma-Then”—have never been published before. Others focus on environmental devastation in China, bird poachers in Cyprus, and the way technology has changed the way people express intimate feelings to each other. (Kevin)

coverImmobility by Brian Evenson: Genre-bender Evenson (Fugue State, Contagion) returns with an inventive mystery centering around a brilliant detective wasting away from an incurable disease and, consequently, frozen in suspended animation for years. Thawed out by a mysterious man, he must solve an important case

Transition Town in Northern Ireland To Plant 60,000 Trees…


Transition Towns have spread around the Globe as a community-lead response to peak oil and climate change. But many people still ask, what does a Transition Town actually do? My previous post on the incredible impact of just one Transition group gives us some idea, but here’s another practical, real world story of a community taking sustainability into its own hands. Transition Town Whitehead in Northern Ireland is going to be planting 60,000 trees in the coming weeks in an effort to reforest a region that is known as the least wooded spot in Europe.

Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants an Entire Forest…


Way back in 1953, French author Jean Giono wrote the epic tale The Man Who Planted Trees. It seemed so real that readers thought the central character, Elzeard Bouffier , was a living individual until the author clarified he had created the person only to make his readers fall in love with trees. Assam’s Jadav Payeng has never heard of Giono’s book. But he could be Bouffier. He has single-handedly grown a sprawling forest on a 550-hectare sandbar in the middle of the Brahmaputra. It now has many endangered animals, including at least five tigers

The Top 40 Voted Best Books for Book Clubs…


1 The Help The Help

2 Water for Elephants Water for Elephants

3 The Kite Runner The Kite Runner

4 The Time Traveler's Wife The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Book Thief The Book Thief

6 To Kill a Mockingbird To Kill a Mockingbird

7 A Thousand Splendid Suns A Thousand Splendid Suns

8 The Glass Castle The Glass Castle

9 The Secret Life of Bees The Secret Life of Bees

10 The Hunger Games (The Hunger G... The Hunger Games (#1)

11 My Sister's Keeper My Sister’s Keeper

12 The Lovely Bones The Lovely Bones

Inside the Growing Prescription Pill Epidemic That’s Ravaging Communities…


What started out as a situation in poor isolated areas of the country left to their own devices has taken root and spread, across Appalachia and beyond…

[…] As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps warning, prescription drug abuse is spreading. Pills, especially Xanax, the anti-anxiety drug manufactured by Pfizer, and Vicodin, Loracet and Lortabs, highly addictive opioid painkillers familiar to anyone who has had a wisdom tooth removed, are being abused more and more, all over. What started out as a situation in poor isolated areas of the country left to their own devices has taken root and spread, across Appalachia and beyond…

In Williamson, Mingo County’s big city, with 3,000 residents, a man arrested for robbing a house admitted to another robbery where he and a cohort stalked an 85-year-old man, busted into his house, beat him to the floor and stole $340 from his wallet. Police said the man admitted he used the money he stole from the elderly man to buy pills. The Williamson police chief advised residents to lock their doors and windows and be vigilant.

Shootings have become news briefs. On April 2, a 33-year-old Mingo County woman, an admitted pill addict, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for shooting her husband to death during an argument.

Too many pill stories have knocked the shock out of the populace. Southwest West Virginia in the age of pilling is like a country that has been living with war for so long, people could barely remember peace.

The Crisis in American Walking…


[…] For walking is the ultimate “mobile app.” Here are just some of the benefits, physical, cognitive and otherwise, that it bestows: Walking six miles a week was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s (and I’m not just talking about walking in the “Walk to End Alzheimers”); walking can help improve your child’s academic performance; make you smarter; reduce depression; lower blood pressure; even raise one’s self-esteem.” And, most important, though perhaps least appreciated in the modern age, walking is the only travel mode that gets you from Point A to Point B on your own steam, with no additional equipment or fuel required, from the wobbly threshold of toddlerhood to the wobbly cusp of senility.

Despite these upsides, in an America enraptured by the cultural prosthesis that is the automobile, walking has become a lost mode, perceived as not a legitimate way to travel but a necessary adjunct to one’s car journey, a hobby, or something that people without cars—those pitiable “vulnerable road users,” as they are called with charitable condescension—do. To decry these facts—to examine, as I will in this series, how Americans might start walking more again— may seem like a hopelessly retrograde, romantic exercise: nostalgia for Thoreau’s woodland ambles. But the need is urgent. The decline of walking

Turn the lights out, I want to see the stars…


Those of you who have seen ‘In Transition 2.0′ will have noticed the song that closes the film, ‘Turn the Lights Out’ by Rebecca Mayes, which was composed especially for the film.  The song will be released as a single on May 7th, and proceeds will go to Transition Network.  I’ll remind you of that nearer the time, but for now, here is the recently completed video, which features some of the clips you sent in of people turning lights out, and a short cameo from someone you might recognise…

Free FARMAGEDDON screening Tonight Wednesday 4/11/12 6:30pm @ Saturday Afternoon Club brought to you by the Mendocino Time Bank

This Event will be offered for free and asking for $ donation at the door. Alternatively a cooperator from the Mendocino Time Bank will be present with snacks and information regarding the Time Bank, how you can become a member and how the system works for you. Become a member and gain admission to the movie for your first Time Bank transaction, no US dollars involved.

The movie will begin after a 20 minute presentation regarding the state of agriculture and your community.

Visit http://farmageddonmovie.com/ for a trailer for the film

Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasonably burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers

GMO/Monsanto Do Not Buy List…


[Because of our outstanding Food Co-ops, Collectives, Responsible Markets, Local Farmers, Farmers Markets, and CSA’s… and all the locals working on garden and food projects, I haven’t knowingly purchased any of these products from any of these companies in many years. Are we lucky to be living here in Mendocino County or what? -DS]


Gina Covina: On-Farm Seed Variety Trials…

Laughing Frog Farm

This year we’re progressing from “trying out new varieties” to “conducting variety trials” – same thing but with more attention to making growing conditions the same for each variety and keeping track of results. Since neither Lin nor I have the slightest tendency or training toward scientific rigor, we’re looking to the Organic Seed Alliance’s excellent booklet, On-Farm Variety Trials: A Guide for Organic Vegetable, Herb and Flower Producers (download here) for inspiration and instruction.

Here’s the gist: Plant in a location that will provide the most consistent conditions possible – not shady at one end, or different soil types. You want the differences that show up to reflect genetic variations rather than cultural ones. Include one variety you’re familiar with and have already grown. That way if the summer is cold and not one of your tomato varieties ripens until September, not even your old favorite that usually ripens by early August, you’ll know to blame the weather, not the new varieties.

Set up your trial bed with more than one block of each variety, arranging their order so each variety has a chance at an end and middle position to further rule out environmental variables. Plant the entire bed at one go, and care for it the same way – weed the whole bed at once, water every part equally, etc.

Make a list of traits

Crowdfunding Open Source Permaculture…


“What are the solutions and how can I help?”

Putting open source and permaculture together is a savvy combination, and in this case, it’s also really useful. Add crowdsourcing and you have a complete online resource for all things permaculture.

Sophia Novack, a self-described permaculture geek, is currently leading a crowdfunding campaign to support the creation of Open Source Permaculture, an online resource and tool, which consists of a Q&A website and wiki, as well as a free Urban Permaculture Guide eBook.

Her vision is to create a comprehensive online public resource for anyone seeking information on sustainability for their home or community. The web site would have all the resources and support they need, just a click away.

As Novack wrote in an e-mail, she “believes that local, community-oriented solutions are crucial to creating a more sustainable, resilient culture.”

She has already been working on this project for two years by maintaining the Permaculture Media Blog  and Permaculture Directory, which she describes as one of the web’s most comprehensive and free resources for Permaculture educational materials

Ron Epstein: The Destructive Harris Quarry Asphalt Plant Should Not Be Approved — Will Pollute And Cause Cancer In Ukiah…

Coming our way soon?


Here are four questions the Board of Supervisors should be clear about before they make a decision on the Harris Quarry Expansion Project Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR): 1) Is this asphalt plant project needed? 2) Is it in the right location and why is it tied to a general rezoning change? 3) Is it safe? 4) Is it good for business and for our community?

Yes, we need asphalt, but no one has shown that the needs correspond to the large amount projected to be produced by this plant. No one knows when the Willits bypass is going to be built, and even the asphalt for that will be a temporary need. Given the current economic situation of the county, it is doubtful that we are going to be able to afford huge amounts of asphalt for city and county roads. Asphalt cannot be easily transported long distances, so this cannot become an export business to locations out of the county. Despite the assurances of the FEIR, asphalt plants are extremely toxic and polluting. They do not belong in areas surrounded by a lot of people. Clearly the Harris Quarry is not the right location, as has been shown by the large number of neighbors who have formally objected to the project. Although there are not unlimited sites in the county that are appropriate

Redwoods and Climate Change — Montgomery Woods Mendocino…


As the planet warms, will the progressive loss of coastal fog, which has declined over 30%, doom these beauties? KQED follows a team of UC Berekely researchers as they climb up into the crown of a huge old-growth redwood in Montgomery Woods to install monitoring equipment.


Recent advances enable Save the Redwoods League and a team of pioneering scientists to unlock the record of environmental changes stored in redwood tree rings. From individual trees to whole forests, we will study redwood growth, vulnerabilities, early indicators of stress and how these trees might respond to predicted climate changes.

Save the Redwoods League has united leading scientists Stephen C. Sillett and Robert Van Pelt of Humboldt State University and Todd Dawson and Anthony Ambrose of the University of California, Berkeley, to launch the Initiative. Their studies will yield results that quantify redwoods’ vulnerabilities to climatic changes and their capacities to mitigate these changes via photosynthesis, fog interception, wood production and carbon sequestration. They are uniquely qualified, in part, because they have developed many of the methods to obtain the study’s data.

The scientists are:

  • studying whole-tree and whole-forest rates of annual wood production back 1,000 years in forest plots throughout the redwood ranges. These measurements will help the team predict tree and forest growth in response to changing climates
  • reconstructing past climates to learn how redwoods responded to environmental conditions

Creating Community: Lessons from Occupy…

Transition Voice

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) began using public space in New York’s Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2011, prompting hundreds of similar encampments around the world. During the past six months, this mass movement has been assaulted by police and by the corporate media. It has also experienced internal conflicts.

While planning an explosion of spring awakenings, OWS has dealt with various interpersonal problems. This happens in large movements, especially young ones. Occupy attempts to forge new, more directly democratic ways of people being with each other and collaborative decision-making that is egalitarian rather than hierarchical.  It seeks systemic changes, rather than demanding mere reforms.

Occupy goes against the grain of hyper-individualist Western culture. As one activist said,

Imagine the interpersonal strain in any group that is under constant siege by the press and the police, as well as time-consuming meetings that can go on for hours.

It took the peace movement more than a full decade to stop the Vietnam War. Occupy’s goals are even larger. It has already accomplished much, including changing the national conversation and building communities for a long-term struggle.

Ending the autocratic rule of the wealthy 1 %’s control of corporations, the presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court had seemed impossible until the rise of Occupy. OWS imagined that it could help mobilize the 99% and then got busy doing it. Did anyone think this would be easy?

Infighting has discouraged some activists, who have either stepped back or left Occupy, at least for now.

The Top Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima…

From WashingtonsBlog

We noted days after the Japanese earthquake that the biggest threat was from the spent fuel rods in the fuel pool at Fukushima unit number 4, and not from the reactors themselves. See this and this.

We noted in February:

Scientists say that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting Fukushima this year, and a 98% chance within the next 3 years.

Given that nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that an earthquake of 7.0 or larger could cause the entire fuel pool structure collapse, it is urgent that everything humanly possible is done to stabilize the structure housing the fuel pools at reactor number 4.

Tepco is doing some construction at the building … it is a race against time under very difficult circumstances, and hopefully Tepco will win.

As AP points out:

The structural integrity of the damaged Unit 4 reactor building has long been a major concern among experts because a collapse of its spent fuel cooling pool could cause a disaster worse than the three reactor meltdowns.


Gundersen (who used to build spent fuel pools) explains that there is no protection surrounding the radioactive fuel in the pools. He warns that – if the fuel pools at reactor 4 collapse due to an earthquake – people should get out of Japan, and residents of the West Coast of America and Canada should shut all of their windows and stay inside for a while.

The Whole Pig: Meat harvesting on a small farm…


Local Young Farmers New Book Signing Today Saturday in Ukiah at Co-op Annual Meeting 2pm…

Co-op Owners Invited to the
Ukiah Natural Foods Annual Meeting

First Screening of Greenhorns…
a documentary exploring the lives
of America’s young farmers
and their vision for the future…

~Greenhorns Book Signing & Sales~
Co-Editor Paula Manalo
Mendocino Organics CSA
at Mulligan Books Table

~Live Music and Food~
Co-op Board Election Results

Bartlett Hall
Ukiah Senior Center
2 – 5 pm
499 Leslie Street
Book Excerpt…