Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth

Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth

Writing a book takes a long time.  And then publishing it takes a little bit (i.e. a lot) longer.  But it’s worth the effort and the wait, I think, to have something tangible that says what you want it to say that you can hold in your hands and give to others.  It’s fair to say that yes, it does require using trees to print the books, but when your publisher is committed to ecological stewardship, that helps.  It also helps when your publisher is committed to putting forth publications that are meant to be returned to again and again, not thrown away after a quick read.  And when they donate a portion of all profits to a different charity every year.  Add the mission that the mainstream is not the only stream, and you have a pretty stellar combination.  Continue reading “Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth”

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Twin Organics: Cultivating Wildness

Twin Organics: Cultivating Wildness

Prairie Grown

Eva, my four year old, and I took a little field trip last week 50 miles to the south of our home in the St. Croix River Valley to my family’s other organic farm.  Twin Organics is located just outside River Falls, Wisconsin and is owned and operated by my twin brothers, Jacob and Andrew Helling.  Jacob and Andrew were instrumental in helping Hillside Prairie Gardens resume larger growing practices in 2010 and are now branching out to their own place to grow organic veggies for restaurants in the Twin Cities area.  They’ve rented 5 acres these last two years on what used to be a grass fed cattle operation, and they share space with a group of jovial Kenyan farmers wielding hand tools to the north and Clover Bee Farm, an organic CSA and market grower, to the east.   They won’t stay here forever, but for now, it’s the home of Twin…

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Beauty by Way of Carrots

Beauty by Way of Carrots

I want to grow carrots not because agribusiness is a filthy, greedy, heartless beast, but because rooting in the dirt is fun, worms are groovy creatures, and you can’t buy the sweet satisfaction of a fresh carrot at any price.  I want to live a simple, rooted life not because a place of privilege feeds on other people’s poverty, but because meals of venison, potatoes, and berry pie fill our kitchen with gratitude-crazed grins.  I want to leave the car in the driveway not because the carbon spilling from the exhaust will tip the planet into an inferno, but because a bike ride puts wind in your face and birdsong in your ears.  It pumps blood through your veins and reminds us that life is a dizzyingly splendid idea. 

Hank Lentfer

I heard activist Cynthia Jurs say the words be in the conversation, not the fight earlier in the spring, and I think that they can’t be said enough. The destruction left behind by big Ag and the fossil fuel culture, as well as the premise of living simply so that others can simply live are all great reasons to change our ways.  But Hank speaks of living true to his values because of the joy he feels because of his actions.  He acts from beauty and a love of life, not from fear or anger or revenge. He is in the conversation, to be sure.  But he’s not in the fight.

What if we discovered that changing our ways could lead to more beauty and more joy than we thought possible?  What if life really is a dizzyingly splendid idea?  I wonder what would happen if more of us grew carrots and felt the wind on our faces and let birdsong be the soundtrack to life.

5 Ways to Foster Health, Happiness and Innovation

5 Ways to Foster Health, Happiness and Innovation

The following post originates at We Are Wildness, an online community dedicated to helping improve the health of the planet by inspiring people all over the world to reconnect with Nature.  There’s an online challenge going on right now and through the summer that is designed to foster a deeper connection with the natural world for the humans who take part in it.  Check out the Rewild your Life 30 Day Challenge if you aren’t already involved, and join the rewilding movement.   Embrace your inner wildness and let nature into your day to day life in a way that reminds you of what matters.

You may have read the recent article by John Haltiwanger that points out how recent research has indicated that spending time in a natural setting provides a plethora of benefits; from lower blood pressure to strengthened immunity to an enhanced sense of well-being and happiness. I’m inclined to agree with the conclusion that “people who appreciate nature are happier, healthier and more innovative.” It’s hard to hold onto the tension of a hectic day at the office when you are laying in the grass looking up at the sky. Spending time in natural light helps the body take in vitamin D, an essential building block of human health. And turning away from the computer screen to gaze at the horizon as the sun sinks into the westerly hills reminds us that we are part of something bigger and more profound that our everyday worries. We remember that there is beauty in the world outside our urban jungles, consumer economy and man-made innovations. Continue reading “5 Ways to Foster Health, Happiness and Innovation”

Rest In Gratitude

Rest In Gratitude

Red Brush Farms

A lot happens over the course of single season during the life of a garden. By November, the plants that produced all sorts of good things during the summer have become compost, the fields have been tilled under to mark the close of the growing season, and the leaves on the aspen trees have turned from green to gold. Enough food was grown to eat, to preserve and to sell. Abundance sprang from the soil and found its way out into the world. Pounds of produce were harvested and enjoyed.

There were some things that didn’t work, as there always are in farming and gardening.  Maybe there wasn’t enough mulch in some places, and the rows ended up being waist high grass by September. Perhaps the raspberries wanted more water than they got, or the cucumber beetles decided to feast on the melons. It’s likely that uses for cucumbers and…

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Farm Fresh

Farm Fresh

It’s summer in Minnesota, where I live.  And summer in mid-west America means that farmer’s markets, CSAs, roadside stands, u-pick berry farms, and community gardens are in full swing.  We tend to celebrate the re-engagement with fresh foods around here because in this part of the world, winter is long and the growing season is short.  Some of us have greenhouses and high tunnels and grow lights to extend the season, but the days when tomatoes and peppers and lettuce thrive outside with only the sun above and the soil below are days to savor.

Where are you getting your produce this summer?  What takes you into the field to pick berries instead of down a grocery store isle?  What helps you wait for market day to restock your crisper drawer?  What makes you prioritize weeding your home garden over watching television in the evening?  How do you support your local farmers?  If you ARE a farmer, how do you take care of yourself as you care for your farm?  And most importantly, perhaps, what recipes do you look forward to making when things growing outside start to become abundant? (some of my favorites are found in this Prairie Grown recipe series)

Share your wisdom, and may we all enjoy the fruits of the season as we support a sustainable way of being on the earth.

 

 

Goodness Through Discomfort

Goodness Through Discomfort

Red Brush Farms

June this year started with a flood, literally, as 5 inches of rain in a few hours identified the path of least resistance to be one that led into the crawl space where the well pump comes into the basement.  After a soggy spring, all that water finally wanted some time inside to dry off.  We bailed the water with an old ice cream pail, stretched out sore backs from too much crouching in small spaces and hung the old wet towels in the utility sink to drip at their leisure.  When the sun came back out, we went outside to see how the rest of the area fared after the storms.

Despite the inconvenience of water where we don’t want it, all of the rain has given the newly planted tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, chard, strawberries and brussels sprouts the moisture they crave as they dig their roots into new homes of field soil and lay claim…

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