Posts Tagged ‘Food’

toddler picking and eating strawberries

Picking strawberries at “our” CSA farm


I usually listen to Chris Brogan‘s podcast because he has great stuff to say about being a human doing business with humans. But I have to share yesterday’s episode with you because he’s talking sustainability with John Blue of Truffle Media. Listen here.

The real juicy part for me was around minutes 18-26, where John goes into some background on the National Organic Program, and the increasingly meaningless use of words like “natural”, “sustainable”, “local”, and “family-owned”.  At least when it comes to food, “organic” still has a technical meaning as defined by the USDA & NOP. (As of now, there is no organic certification for landscaping — more on that here).  Those other buzz words are just as meaningless in the grocery store as at the garden center. Nonetheless, companies from Whole Foods to Walmart are responding to the consumer interest in organics, and to the extent that we continue to be smart consumers and vote with our wallets, that’s probably a change for the better.

You (if you’re like most of our clients) choose natural and organic because it’s good for your body, your family, and the earth. You choose sustainable and local because it’s good for the environment and community. But as Chris points out in his podcast, to really know what you’re feeding your kids, you have to go to the farm to see the happy hens scratching in the chicken tractor, getting the fallow fields ready for planting. And to know the impact of what you’re feeding your soil and plants, you have to know the folks who you are inviting into your yard.

As it often does with the Human Business Way podcast, it ultimately comes back to the human side of business: taking care of people (employees, clients, community-members, partner businesses) makes the business sustainable, strong, stable. We couldn’t provide custom maintenance plans tailored to each customer and property without investing in training each employee on soil conditions, hand-pruning of different types of shrubs, identification of pests and diseases. Without relationships with industry associations who keep us current on new codes and technical specifications, we would be foolish to provide our lifetime guarantee on the patios, driveways, and walls that we build. And most importantly, being responsive to feedback from clients and design partners drives us to constantly improve.

It’s our 25th year in business. We’ve got some cool stuff to share with you this year. But for now, let us know how we’re doing. Does this stuff matter to you? Reply in the comments, post on Facebook or drop me an email at carolyn (at) ayardandahalf (dot) com.

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Maple Syrup Brunch!

Groundworks Somerville is hosting their second annual Maple Syrup Project Brunch Fundraiser this Saturday, Dec. 4th at the Independent in Union Square, Somerville. They say it better than I can:

Brunch will be served from 10am-4pm on Saturday and 20% of proceeds will be donated to the Somerville Maple Syrup Project! The seasonal menu will feature maple-inspired offerings such as Maple sausage Belgian waffle, Maple pancake breakfast wrap with scrambled eggs and bacon, French toast with honey crisp apple compote, and much more.  Seating is limited so reservations are highly recommended! Call 617-628-9988 and identify yourself as a supporter of Groundwork Somerville and The Maple Syrup Project.

To learn more about the Maple Syrup Project, please click here.

To view a flier for this fundraiser event, please click MSP Brunch Flyer 2011.  Thank you in advance for helping to spread the word!

To RSVP and invite friends, please visit the facebook event here.

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Last weekend, I attended Russells’ Winter Fair to educate guests about organic landcare and NOFA.  I shared a table with Natick Community Organic Farm, which is hosting a maple sugaring festival this Saturday, March 6, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m..  They’ll start out with a pancake breakfast, then demonstrate Native American and Colonial sugaring techniques, as well as offering tours of their modern maple sugaring operation.

This year, even city-dwellers seem to be taking note of maple sugaring season.  Urban community farms and gardening programs have increased awareness by soliciting help from homeowners, one tree at a time.  Natick Community Organic Farm reached out to homeowners and local municipalities to reach their goal of tapping 100 trees to supply the syrup for next weekend’s pancake breakfast.  In Somerville, the town with the highest population density in  New England, elementary school students learn to tap trees in neighbors’ yards with  Groundworks Somerville.

It takes about 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.  In a city like Somerville that has approx. 2.5 times more people than trees, it really does “take a village” to make syrup.

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Harvest Day

In response to the current edible-landscaping craze, we’ve planted and maintained a few vegetable gardens this year.  Today, the last of the goodies came inside — a crop of carrots, radishes, and other cool-season veggies. There are still some good-looking kale, parsley, and bokchoy out there in containers, and it’s time for potted herbs to come indoors.

If you are dreaming of starting or enlarging your own garden next spring, now is a good time to start planning.  The Greenfield Cooperative Exchange offers a great vegetable garden primer targeting northeastern crops and timing. No soil?  No problem.  Here’s a list of beginners’ crops well-suited to container gardening.

Seed catalogs are starting to arrive in the mail to tempt us.  Some good ones:

Seed Savers Exchange – Heirloom Varieties

Seeds of Change – Organic seed and tons of gardening information

High Mowing Seeds – Organic & heirloom seeds, cover crops


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As the landscaping season winds down, there are many opportunities to start dreaming and planning for next year.  Imagine a space that will nourish the body and soul, while reducing utility bills!

Healing Spaces:  The Science of Place and Well-Being – Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. Trinity Church (Copley Square), Boston.  Ester M. Sternberg, M.D., National Institutes of Health, will explore how surroundings—a theme park, concert hall, cathedral, labyrinth or garden—can trigger or reduce stress, induce anxiety or instill peace.

“NOFA Nourishes Massachusetts” – Saturday, Nov, 14, 6:00 pm, The Bull Run Restaurant (215 Great Road/Rt. 2A, Shirley MA) to raise funds for The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA). Local organic meal, silent auction, and more.  More details here.

Pollinator-Friendly Landscaping – Nov. 17 10 am – noon, Tower Hill Botanic Garden.  As New England’s landscape becomes increasingly developed, backyards are becoming a “final frontier” in providing essential habitat for at-risk pollinator species that play an integral role in the health of our environment. Garden Coach and Habitat Naturalist Ellen Sousa will explain how to help sustain and restore pollinator populations in your own back yard, regardless of its size or location. Learn to choose the best plants to help feed and shelter pollinators, and some best practices for encouraging biodiversity in your backyard.

Charles River Watershed Association: Frontiers in Sustainable Design – Friday Nov. 20th, 6:00 pm, Boston Architectural College, (320 Newbury Street, Boston) Cascieri Hall.  Sponsored by the BAC & Boston Society of Landscape Architects.  “Going beyond green cities to blue cities: How can architecture, landscape architecture and urban design effect water quality and quantity?”

Designing an Ecological Home and Landscape – Wednesday, Dec. 2,4:00-6:00 pm, Nordic Hall of the Scandinavian Living Center, 206 Waltham Street, West Newton, MA.  Join Marie Stella and Aran Byrnes for this Ecological Roundtable to explore the process of creating an ecological and sustainable home and landscape that features environmental awareness, reduced energy consumption, sustainability, and innovative uses of plant material.

NOFA/MASS Winter Conference: Food From Farms For Families – Jan 16th, 2010, 9am-5.30pm, Worcester Technical High School, Worcester, MA.  Over 40 workshops on organic farming, gardening, landscaping, and sustainable living!  Includes children’s programming, expo of organic products/services, and local, organic lunch.

Join Carolyn Edsell-Vetter of A Yard & A Half for her course on Gardening in Small Spaces:

Living densely has many benefits, but may come at the price of growing our own food or relaxing outdoors.  Yet, we can nourish our bodies and souls using space afforded by a roof deck, patio, or small yard.  Learn about small space design, edibles for containers, and vertical gardening, plus small-scale bioshelters, composting, and rainwater harvesting.

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The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) hosts its first annual fundraising dinner, “NOFA Nourishes Massachusetts” on Saturday, November 14, 2009 at The Bull Run Restaurant (215 Great Road/Rt. 2A, Shirley MA)  Purchase tickets now: $100 member/$125 non-member.

Evening program includes:

6:00pm: Silent Auction and cocktails
7:15pm: A multi-course gourmet dinner prepared by Bull Run Chef, consisting of local and organic ingredients from Massachusetts farmers and producers.
8:15: Speakers and Live Auction. Keynote by David Barber, co-founder of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and Blue Hill at Stone Barns Restaurant.

NOFA/Mass is a community including farmers, gardeners, landscapers and consumers working to educate members and the general public about the benefits of local organic systems based on complete cycles, natural materials, and minimal waste for the health of individual beings, communities and the living planet.

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Although CSA subscriptions are becoming quite common, finding local dairy, eggs, and meat can be a challenge.  For folks in the MetroWest area and beyond, here’s an update from Kelley O’Connor, founder of the Massachusetts Local Food Cooperative:

MA Local Food‘s August ordering cycle is now open featuring almost 400 products. You will find everything from Beef, Pork, Beefalo, Lamb, Herbs, Breads, Jams and Preserves, National Award Winning Cheese, Coffee, Tea, Gluten-free products, Desserts and Confections, Granola, Honey. In addition, there are many useful non-food items including Handcrafted cutting boards, Lip balm, Soap, Handknit items and much more.

From Barabara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:

“If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That’s not gallons, but barrels.”

In addition, to this statement, that one meal each week helps the local economy in countless ways. And, probably most importantly, you are preserving our local farms, which has far reaching impacts that are economic, environmental, educational and nutritional.

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