Saturday, July 13, 2013

First World Plastic User

Thanks to my library graphics friend, I have some thoughts about the use of plastic on our farm. His comment to my last blog really got me thinking.

I, for one, hate using the plastic stuff due to the environmental aspects of how it is made and that it can leach chemicals and such. However, I must say that feeling that way doesn't stop me from using it. It is convenient and sturdy. I usually use the buckets to sit on while I harvest. I haven't tried it with rush, wicker, or other natural products. I suspect it wouldn't hold up as good to my weighty behind.

On the other side of the delivery of the food, our customers prefer to get the product packaged. It helps cut down on the damage to the produce as well as the contamination, which a lot of people get concerned about in this day and age. (I remember eating dirt as a kid but I understand that kids don't do that today.)

It is also much cheaper for us to buy the ziplock bags and much easier for the customer in their storage of the products. And, I am not sure what we would use for the flour and cornmeal. I've bought corn meal in little fabric bags but they were still lined with plastic...costly.

I do reuse a lot of the plastic tho...the plastic crates are returned to us after delivery. (Altho the crates are just used to carry the plastic bagged products in.) And the harvest buckets last for years and years of reuse and rewashings.

On the natural side...I really love the aesthetics of the wicker and wood baskets. I have lots of them in my yarn storage room, as well as wooden bookcases and a ratan papasan. But the natural products aren't always as light weight for carrying the produce. I used to use the big bushel baskets but the metal handles would come out and the basket broke after a season. They were also harder to wash. I've tried to compromise on the looks a little by getting colorful buckets...the blue one reminds me of the Georgia sky when I look thru it.

So, there are lots of good things about the plastic. But, all of that made me think about life here in America too.

Thinking this thru...I just finished a book about India ("Sideways on a Scooter" by Miranda Kennedy) and that book really made me think about how Americans are so wasteful and also so materialized in our world. So many people in other countries (I read a lot about other countries) have so little goods compared to us, yet we Americans don't seem to feel fortunate or grateful usually. I find many Americans act as if it is a right to have these things, that having LOTS is just...well...American. We don't act like it's a priviledge to have so much. (Maybe more of us need to experience that "real" Survivor show to know how grateful we should be.)

So, when I thought of this plastic thing, I thought of that book. I thought of the people that collect the garbage in her book and how they scavenged for things the American author threw away in order that the items could be sold or traded for the basic necessities of food. How lucky I am to have all this plastic around to use every day and then to carry all that food around also!! So many have no food to even put in a plastic bucket if they had one!

And "Third World" I usually think of numbers that are greater, when speaking of people, as being associated with wisdom. You know, their countries are much older than America...maybe there is a thought there...who is the smarter one? And who uses less plastic I wonder? Hm...lots to think on.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

View from the food

I'm back in Illinois after having a wonderful trip. Back to work now!
Was thinking the other day about how our produce sees the farm after it is harvested.

Radish pod's view from inside a blue harvest bucket

A turnip's view thru a harvest crate on the way into the cooler.

Squash blossom's view from inside a plastic bag in a flat

Borage flower's view thru the plastic bag
(Notice Will driving by in the farm truck?)

And, the view an egg sees as it is being put into the carton...
I'm sorry I couldn't get the other view that the egg sees as it enters the world but that would've been just a little too gross!

Have a great 4th of July!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Old history in mid city

Here I am, still in south Georgia. Altho now I am further south...Thomasville. It is a lovely old fashioned little southern town with an interesting history. Apparently this was one town that a lot of very (and very very) wealthy northerners came to visit in the "hey day". It is still surrounded by plantations, many of them keeping the traditions now as hunting retreats that the northern socialites enjoyed back then...and still do.

I'm not here for hunting, or socializing on plantations, or the history. I'm here to help my mom move from half an hour north to here. It's been a dream of hers for many years and I'm proud of her for finally achieving this goal in her life. Everyone should be able to achieve their dreams in life!

She found a cute little "cottage" in the middle of town, surrounded by old victorian houses built in the 1880's or thereabouts. It is a small place but nice. And, her landlord is an interesting southern fellow. His family owned this whole block at one point which included two victorian houses, a mother-in-law house and this little cottage. Also on the property is an old barn that is really neat looking. This is looking out the back window of the cottage, the fence is a small back yard attached to the cottage and the barn you see only shows a tiny part of the whole structure.

The landlord said this area was once a huge pecan grove, normal for southern Georgia. And he still has a couple of huge ones in his yard.

I think about the history of all of this as I sit eating my lunch and gaze out the window, taking a moment before unpacking more boxes. So much history in this little back yard.

On another note, I'm reading a really terrific book that I must suggest to anyone who loves to read about nature. It's "The Forest Unseen" by David George Haskell. Truly a gem! He makes learning the science of nature interesting as he talks about a tiny meter measured circle he created on a mountainside in Tennessee. He calls it his mandala and goes every week throughout a year to see what is happening in and around it, starting in January.

I find his writing very fascinating and have learned about hexagon snowflakes and Kepler, Bergmann's rule describing the relationship of size to rate of heat loss, and how plants retain heat in the freezing winter by soaking their cells in sugar (very farm related fact). It makes me want to study the world around me more and more. I think I will create a mandala of my own on the farm in the woods when I get home!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I woke at ten minutes til 5. Dark outside, the whole world asleep.
Then one bird, then two...

Is it like this all over the world? I remember when I lived in Germany and would wake before dawn, listen to the birds wake also. Slow at first.
Then when I was in Thailand, the birds did the same there. The roosters crowing before the light began to come up.

And in Illinois there are many mornings that I wake when the world is still shrouded in dark. I wait. And then it begins. A rooster crow, a cardinal, then more and then more. Then the light comes up and I begin to see the shadows of the trees.

Now in south Georgia, I watch the blue of the sky began to slowly glow. No cars on the road. Just a tinge of blue. And then one bird. A cardinal. Then another. Then a few more.

Like Ravel's "Bolero". It begins, then builds with the light. One note, one bird.

And orchestra.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Urban Thai Garden

It's still hot down here in Georgia and Florida. This week I was able to experience an urban Thai veggie garden in Gainesville, Florida. My sister-in-law Puki (or Pooki) has a beautiful little garden on the patio outside their apartment.

This is half of it. The little tree on the left is a lime tree. She uses the leaves to cook with and they smell wonderful. She says the fruit isn't very tasty, not like the limes we know, but is better used to make her hair shiny. Then she has some basils and mints in pots (in the center), lemon grass seen in the back corner, and the larger bushy thing is a "snake loofa". She would use the snake loofa fruits in her cooking but didn't have any large enough, so she cut the tendrils and cooked them instead.

She also has (in the other half not seen to the right) tomatoes, three or four kinds of peppers, aloe, and a couple of experimental plants. She is extremely inventive with her containers...across the back are old drawers she found, filled with soil, and planted cilantro and "thai morning glory".

This are the limes.

This is the drawer full of "thai morning glory". She cuts them off when they are about a foot tall (as seen here) and then they send new leaves up for the next cutting. Sort of like we do with our spinach.

She took the snake loofa tendrils and the thai morning glory shoots and put them in a wok with a little water and steamed them lightly so they still had a little crunch. Then she made a delicious concoction (not sure what all was in it) as a sauce. It was super tasty.

This is Puki at work in her kitchen. She will probly kill me for posting this photo, but I think she is beautiful even while cooking!

I have to say that she has a good green thumb as well as being a great chef too. Her little garden is beautiful and inspiring. I think I'll ask for some seed for these to do some of my own thai cooking! Thanks Puki!!