I Have an Idea

from greenhem via Flickr


If you’ve talked to me in person in the last year or so, it’s no surprise that helping people, supporting charities, and engaging in social justice are concepts that I value.  So, when I was going through a pile of stuff that I have been accumulating for at least a year and I found a brochure for the Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Project my mind started running.

Maybe I could donate some food from our garden.

Maybe I could plant some food specifically for donation.

Maybe I could get some friends to donate with me.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Maybe I could get some friends to commit to taking care of a community garden plot (20 feet x 40 feet) and donating all of the vegetables we get to the Hunger Free Project.

That sounds AMAZING to me!  If I could combine two of my interests and be able to provide for people who might not have enough otherwise, I would be so happy.  What could be better?

So, now I’m in the making contact and doing research phase of my idea.  I’ve contacted the Ag Department to get any updated information they might have on the project.  I’ve contacted a local garden center that has community garden plots.  The next step would be to put this out there to friends and acquaintances to see if anyone would be interested in helping me.

I loved my garden last summer, and at times I wished I could have had a bigger space.  The thing that worries me is time.  New gardens need a lot of care.  Our garden last year needed hours of weeding every day for 3-4 weeks.  Hours.  Every day.  I’m not sure that’s fair to my family.  That’s why I think I’ll need help.

And there’s the money.  The gardens cost either $125 or $150 to rent.  I can’t remember which.  Of that money, either $25 or $50 goes toward a credit you can use for seeds or plants at the garden center.  That’s still $75 or $100.  That’s a lot for me to put up at once.

This is where my plan hits a standstill.

In my head, there’s something about a spreadsheet assigning different jobs or breaking up the responsibility by assigning people responsibility for a few days at a time.  I can see a big sheet of graph paper with the garden all planned out.  I can see work days where we go and do a mass weeding or harvesting.  I’m just not clear on what comes in between these things.

So, as I said in the title of this post.  I have an idea.  I’m off to obsess about it for a few days and see if I can move it forward to the next step.

CSA Weeks #2 & #3

In a previous post, I wrote about our reasons for joining a CSA and how we were doing after the first week. Since then, we’ve received weeks two and three, and tomorrow we will pick up week four’s box.

Well, it turns out we did the best with our first box. Our second box was almost all greens (and LOTS of them). We ate the spinach and the romaine-like lettuces. We didn’t even make a dent in the bag of leaf lettuce we received. However, I’m pretty sure the raspberries we got were eaten as quickly as any that we’ve ever bought at the store. They were also enjoyed immensely. The radishes were not though. No one in our family eats radishes so we gave them to Jason’s parents so someone would enjoy them.

Our third box was a little surprising. I expected that it would just get fuller and fuller and more and more varied. When I went to pick the box up last week, I had made arrangements with a friend to leave some if not most of the produce with her because we would be leaving town for a few days. I opened the box, and I was surprised to see a bag of lettuce, summer savory, beets, and raspberries. As I write it, it sounds like plenty, but it didn’t even fill the box. We ate the raspberries right off the bat again (as I’m sure we’ll do tomorrow when we get our next box), and we left the rest in the fridge while we were gone. Jason had a salad last night, and I’m planning to roast the beets for supper one night. I’m not quite sure what to do with the summer savory though. I’m also not sure if we’ll eat the lettuce. I thought I liked salads, but at this point I am struggling a little to find enough variety in them to keep me interested without making a significant amount more work.

The more I think about the CSA, the more I realize that the problem (if there is one) isn’t really that we are getting too many greens. The issue is more that I am not doing as much meal planning, prep, and cooking as I have in the past. During this pregnancy, I have had morning sickness since I was 3 weeks pregnant, and in addition to the morning sickness, nothing has tasted very good to me. If you add that to cooking in an apartment that doesn’t cool down very well, it equals more convenience food. Unfortunately, salads aren’t usually the type of convenience food I’m talking about. Usually when it comes to supper time, I haven’t cleaned or cut the veggies. I am tired, and I can’t think of anything except the standard salad of lettuce, veggie, some cheese maybe, and dressing. It’s good, but it also has its limits. I’m pretty sure I should probably make some sort of goal about this. Maybe I should aim to clean the veggies within a couple days of getting the box or doing my meal planning on Wednesday. Right now, I’m not quite sure I can think straight enough to make those sorts of goals, so as of now, my goal is to have goals for next week.

Taking Green Baby Steps

I’m sure I don’t need to start by asking something like, “have you noticed how everything seems to be green or going green these days?”  Green is no longer just a color.  It’s a movement, belief system, and set of actions.  It’s everywhere.  It’s on products at the store, commercials, books, and blogs.

It really seems like a good idea.  Take better care of the earth.  Choose products that are better for us.  Use fewer resources.  The thing that I’ve been noticing lately about going green is that there are a few “low hanging fruit” actions that my family can take, but after that I start to get confused and overwhelmed.  Bisphenol A, free radicals, hormone disruptors, nanoparticles, carbon footprint, methane, composting, sustainable, locavore, and green washing are all terms that come up often in my search for information on green living.

We have made some changes which are a reflection of our choice to become more conscious of our impact on the environment, those around us, and even our own bodies.  We drink from water bottles instead of buying bottled water.  We cloth diaper.  We use cloth napkins.  We use some alternative cleaning methods.  We are starting to buy products that are made by companies with mission statements (and practices) that reflect our views.  During the summer growing season we attempt to buy as much local produce as we can at our farmer’s market and by joining a CSA.  When we were homeowners we were composting.  Unfortunately, for as many earth-friendly choices as we make, I am sure there are 10 that are not very earth friendly.

What I would like is a 1-2-3 guide.  First, do this.  Then, get rid of that.  Finally, once you’ve followed our easy to understand 81-step program, you are green!  Something like that anyway.  I asked about this on twitter a little while ago, and I got a couple recommendations for sites and a book.  There are some days where I feel like we do pretty well.  Then, there are some days when I feel like we are the un-greenest family in our town.

Lately, some of the things that have been on my mind are:

  • Is it better to buy a green-washed product than a regular mainstream product if a more environmentally friendly option isn’t available?  Is that letting the green washing company off the hook or is it possible it’s slightly better than the “regular” product?
  • If I buy a green product off a website because a better local option isn’t available, how do I factor in the resources and energy necessary to get that product to me?
  • Is an organic product from South Africa “better” (and how is better defined?) than buying a non-organic product from Chile or Mexico?

My list goes on, but I think you get the idea.  I have been thinking lately that it might just be best to pick one group of products and one priority and work on that.  For example, maybe I should focus on cleaning products and switching our current products to ones that are less harmful to us.  Another option would be to focus on what we eat and figure out which foods and which companies are both sustainable and good choices for our family to consume.  I’m not sure though.  I suppose the idea is to continue in the process whatever decision I make.  Choose something to work on, learn about, etc. and keep on going.