Greening the Workforce
Posted on October 24, 2013

“Going green” is a way of life that has become increasingly more popular over the recent years. Within the household, people are recycling, composting, conserving water and electricity, turning the heat down and piling the blankets on. Our Earth and our ancestors will one day be reaping the benefits from our efforts.

This lifestyle is one that can exist outside the home, as well. Whether a Fortune-500 company or a “mom and pop” store with few employees, environmental sustainability will transform your team’s workplace experience, creating happier and more productive employees. Overall costs will also decrease, making an all-around better experience for your company, its people, its community, and eventually the world.

Bea Boccalandro is an expert in this field, serving as the President of VeraWorks, a global consulting firm that assists companies in designing, executing, and measuring their community involvement, including environmental sustainability. We are extremely excited to have Boccalandro leading a highly interactive half-day workshop on Friday, November 8th from 9:00am to 12:30pm. Attendees will learn how to involve their employees in recycling, on-site gardening, energy conservations and other environmental efforts.

Bea - Greening the Workforce

We invite you to join us at this cutting-edge workshop, to begin adding some innovation to your workplace! Transform your employees, your company and possibly the entire world. We are very much looking forward to meeting many new faces.

Events as vital to our future as an environmentally sustainable society would not be possible without our wonderful sponsors: Dallas County Community Colleges, Save Water, Urban Acres, and Natural Awakenings.

Mark your calendars!

Water Harvesting: Sustaining Our World
Posted on October 22, 2013

As one of the most vital natural resources for all life on Earth, our supply of water is being threatened. For decades now, human beings have been leaving faucets running and taking extraordinarily long showers without a second thought. With the population boom our world is seeing, the manner in which human civilization retrieves water in today’s world is being reevaluated.

Techniques that require a creative use of our earth and its products are presently being embraced. It is a time in which going back to the basics is necessary. Water harvesting is predicted by Nate Downey, author of “Harvest the Rain,” to rapidly become one of the most powerful economic engines propelling society towards sustainability. As the world population continues to increase, our water resources remain stagnant, but Downey teaches people a manner of life in which lack of water will never again be a worry.

Harvesting rainwater is a practice that can provide ample water for every person, if we only learn to collect, store, distribute and reuse this water.

Join us to learn how the power of precipitation can benefit you, your wallet, and your home.

Nate Downey will deliver a two-hour presentation, Introduction to the New Water Economy, on October 25, 2013 from 7pm to 9pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.

The Bold New American Landscape: Passive Water Harvesting workshop will be held on October 26, 2013 from 9am to 5pm. This all-day informational event is $175, and tickets can be purchased here.

Both of these wonderful Dallas, Texas events will be held at Brookhaven College, Room W-102.

We hope to see you all there as we learn together the ways of our new world. As always, we extend a huge thanks to our wonderful sponsors, Dallas County Community Colleges, Save Water, Urban Acres, and Natural Awakenings.

WaterHarvestingEvent

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Edible Food Forests coming to Seattle and Montana, how about here?
Posted on April 26, 2013

 

Homo sapiens have been around for nearly 200,000 years and have subsisted from a horticultural model for 90% of that time. Agriculture only dates back to 10-12 thousand years ago. As omnivores, we integrated ourselves into the available food system, we hunted, foraged, gathered fruits and nuts along with selecting seeds to plant in specific auspicious places. Archaeologists are now finding that the people of the Americas may have been here longer and were greater in numbers than we suspected.  Living on game and perennials versus annuals like modern agriculture does made our impact on the environment nearly null. It is with tilling, mono cropping, irrigation and the cutting of trees for fuel and shelter that we begin to deplete the vegetative skin, ruin our soil and create deserts. In addition with agriculture comes the necessity of guarding the yield, which requires soldiers and armies. Add petroleum (“cheap energy” not really when one inventories the cost to health, environment and culture) and greed to the equation and we have modern, industrialized agriculture, which is increasing deserts, using water and creating devastation at an alarming rate. What took Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia tens of thousands of years to create: a huge desert. We are creating in the USA in less than one hundred years with the dust bowl and the depletion of one of the largest aquifers known to man Olgallala, as proof of our own foolishness.

Like a lay up in basketball, one must go back a few steps to get a running start and jump to make the basket, we must look at how we fed ourselves in the past take note and move forward. Edible food forests are part of our heritage that must be revived. That is why David Jacke, teacher and author of Edible Food Gardens, is coming to New Mexico to teach us how to integrate forestry as part of our renewable food and energy chain.

I asked Jacke what his workshop is about and he responded by saying:  “Ecosystem agriculture intends to create food-producing habitats that mimic natural ecosystem properties, principles, patterns, and processes. This workshop explores the vision, theory, design, and practice of ecosystem agriculture using temperate forest ecosystems as the primary general model, and one or two habitats of the Santa Fe region as specific models. Lectures, field observations, and experiential classes will reveal the nature of ecosystem architecture, social structure, underground economics, and succession. Participants will draw conclusions from these experiences, developing practical design principles, practices, patterns, and processes for garden design and management. Once we “get” the bigger patterns that connect, we will focus on the natty gritty of perennial polyculture design.”

Our ancestors lived on this land for millennia with a polyculture that Jacke describes as “an effective perennial polyculture is a mixture of useful perennial plants that minimizes competition, creates additive yields, and minimizes the gardener’s work and outside inputs. Polyculture design is the most interesting and challenging part of the forest garden design process. This workshop explores the specific ecological theories behind polyculture design through experiential classes and design exercises. Participants will design at least one perennial polyculture during class using Niche Analysis, Guild Build, Ecological Analogs, Patch Design, or other processes.”

Santa Fe Community College on May 30, June 1 and June 2, 2013. Friday 7-9pm and Saturday and Sunday workshops are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 for Friday night, $175 for each full day or $300 for all three days. Discounts are available. Call 505-819-3828 for more information. To register online click here.

Seattle food forest:
http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/02/21/its-not-fairytale-seattle-build-nations-first-food-forest

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Ready or not, here we come! Women on the land.
Posted on March 29, 2013

Women own or run thirty five percent of all small farms in the United States. According to the USDA, this number is projected to increase to sixty percent in the next twenty-five years. It makes sense:  As food supplies dwindle, as food increases in price as the food quality becomes questionable, women will grow food. The “ Green Revolution” to save the world from hunger by using expensive mechanical and chemical solutions requiring high quantities of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, fuel and machinery to till, huge amounts of water and GMO seeds has failed. These practices have polluted the depleted water supply into the ocean, scarred the land and stressed the farmer to an early death leaving widows across our land.

The Carbon Economy Series wants to empower women and those who love them to successfully work with the land. This 2-day training will use regenerative agriculture principles so that fertility increases, nutritious food is produced, jobs and income revitalize families, food security and sovereignty is accomplished and systems are put in place for a more sustainable New Mexico. The workshop will be taught by a select group of women that bring their local expertise in holistic land management, planning, designing, farming, ranching, gardening, youth integral education, value added farming, grassland restoration, Northern New Mexico agricultural production, production cottage industry and much more.

Dr Ann Adams, a student of Allan Savory, teaches all over the world practices that restore vast grasslands—habitat to multitude of species—thus facilitating a tremendous amount of carbon sequestration helping stabilize climate change. She teaches individuals, families and businesses how to create holistic goals while designing food production systems that meet the triple bottom line: what is good for the planet, good for the people and good for profit. It is important to create a desirable lifestyle that provides good stewardship and uses sound ecological practices so that food is healthy and family farms continue to exist.

Patricia Pantano, a farmer/educator and co founder of Camino De Paz School and Farm will host us in Santa Cruz. We will travel to the site, be fed an organic meal and we will get to know the integrated farm more intimately. We will learn what it takes to sell at the Santa Fe Farmers Market and how to get young people involved. Her farm as a middle school engages and instructs youth in organic, agricultural food production, harvesting crops, creating products for sale and marketing to Santa Fe. The school provides knowledge, experiential learning and real life skill building that prepare youth for a successful and meaningful life.

Laurie Bowman and Nancy Ranney are the Director and President of the Southwest Grass-fed Livestock Alliance (SWGLA) representing producers, consumers, land managers, conservationists, and researchers. The organization seeks to improve human, ecological and animal health, and strengthen local agricultural communities by educating producers and the public about grass-fed livestock products. Their presentation will cover:

  • The benefits of grass-fed to humans, animals and the planet
  • Benefits (and challenges) of being a grass-fed producer
  • Marketing and sale options (including types of certifications, livestock types and wholesale vs. direct markets)
  • Production options
  • Holistic planning and land management: principles and success stories
  • Women involved in the grass-fed movement: more success stories
  • Cooking tips and recipes (including possibly an overview of types of cuts, processing & slaughter, purchasing "on the hoof" etc.)

The Tesuque Pueblo has a long history of auto determination, self reliance, food production, hunting, art, farming and the offering to the divine for their blessings with traditional songs, dances and feasts. They have worked with seeds for millennia selecting, planting and blending characteristics that make crops hearty to withstand the extremes of this land of enchantment. Serena Hena, a gardener, a mother and a pueblo elder will host us in Tesuque for the afternoon. Sharing ancient knowledge, common practices and communal principles we will work side by side with Serena. A tasty, traditional meal will drive the points home as we are invited to see the patterns that shaped an entire civilization that has survived for thousands of years. In contrast to our present civilization which may perish in the next few hundred years particularly if we do not move swiftly. Sometimes to move forward we may have to look to the past and relearn what has been forgotten.

Women farmers, ranchers, gardeners and all those who love them will meet at the Santa Fe Community College to train with these marvelous speakers on April 12,13,14. Friday night form 7-9 pm, cost $10. Intensive workshop on Saturday or Sunday $175 per day or all three events for $300. Discounts, student/senior rates, interns, work trades, and time dollars are accepted. Join us and spread the word. For more information call (505) 819-3828 or go to our web site: www.carboneconomyseries.com

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Food: It’s a Real Education
Posted on March 19, 2013

By Patricia Pantano for  Tumbleweeds Magazine Dec., 2010

Food. Who can live without it? It is said that civilization has its roots in food production. The development of writing, law, geometry, mathematics and science accompanied the growth of towns built around ancient agricultural centers. Today, agriculture remains a potent cultural force and learning tool.

At Camino de Paz School and Farm, a Montessori program for grades 6 to 9 in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, food plays a central role in the curriculum. Greenhouses, pastures, gardens, sheep, goats, chickens and horses provide the context in which the students apply their skills as mathematicians, writers, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and citizens of the community. The food they raise with the help of farm interns is eaten by the students and their families, sold at the Santa Fe Farmers Market and distributed through a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture), and what is left is preserved and stored.

In the first months of the school year, as winter approaches and the last tomatoes, corn and onions are harvested, it would seem that the farm is winding down. But our need for food never diminishes, and with the rhythm of the seasons, the farm-related work continues.

One of our most time-consuming tasks is drying, shucking and grinding the blue corn crop. The students calculated that 40 percent of the weight of the harvest will result in usable kernels, which are ground into corn meal. “Everything we do has a mini-lesson built into it,” says Desirae Orr, an eighth-grade girl.

Thanks to a system of hoop houses, the students grow food throughout the winter. A hoop house, basically a small greenhouse, is built with rebar, PVC piping and plastic sheeting. The vegetable beds are covered with a row cover, resting on short wire hoops. In the morning the hoop house doors are opened and the row cover is pulled back, exposing the plants to sunlight. In the afternoon the row cover is replaced and the doors are closed, allowing the heat from the soil to warm the plants. We grow lettuces, spinach, arugula, chard and other leafy greens this way. The students help plant the seeds in the starting trays, keep them watered and transplant them into the beds. They record the number of plants seeded and diagram each bed to determine crop rotation in the next planting cycle.

One math class is projecting the harvest based on the square footage of planted beds, to gauge market sales. “It makes me feel as if we’re doing something actually meaningful with math,” comments Desirae. “We can say, ‘This is the problem we solved, and these were the steps we took to get to this conclusion.’”

Another ongoing weekly task involves using the goat milk to make cheese and soap. Every day the goats are milked and production is recorded. Milk that is not consumed right away is made into cheese or pasteurized and frozen to make goat-milk soap. These activities combine math, measurement and chemistry. Since the soap is sold at farmers market, there is also a good bit of business acumen involved, recording inventory and determining which soaps sell best. According to seventh grader Olivia Jones, “These are actual, real jobs. They could even be used to help us start a career someday!” 

Although the hens’ egg production diminishes somewhat in the winter, there are still eggs to gather, clean and put into cartons for sale at market. The students responsible for this job also graph egg totals and calculate egg sales.

Teacher Bridget Love believes that these activities around food “help us all understand the costs of food production and see more clearly the choices we make as consumers.” It also brings home the fact that a significant way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to eat locally.

The sheep provide the students with wool, so there are unlimited opportunities to use it. After it is washed, dried and carded, they use the “bats” to make felt and fashion it into objects such as bags, hats, potholders and rugs. Some wool is sent away to be spun. Using plants grown on the farm, the wool is dyed in shades of brown, yellow and green; other natural dyes like cochineal, indigo or madder result in blues, reds, oranges and purples. These yarns are woven, knitted or crocheted into items also sold at the farmers’ market booth.  

Caring for the sheep, horses, goats and chickens seems to engage the students in an exceptional way. “You learn that each animal has its own particular needs,” observes eighth-grader Tui Perrin.

The birth of lambs and kids in February is a source of joy and wonder. The students begin preparations by assembling a kit with towels, mats, gloves and iodine. When a pregnant doe is showing signs of labor, they watch and wait patiently in case their assistance is needed. If necessary, one or two students at a time will help the newborns get clean and dried and make sure they have a chance to suckle within the first hour of birth. “I used to have this idea of separation: people – animals. Now I feel closer to animals and more connected to life,” says Olivia. “It’s a really great life experience,” adds Sasha Baca. “We might want to raise our own animals some day.”

A particularly powerful activity is the harvesting of chickens and an occasional lamb or goat. Taking the life of another creature is no small undertaking and as a culture we are far removed from this responsibility. The meat we eat generally comes neatly wrapped in plastic, ready to pop into the pan or oven. Yet the connection is an important, if not primal, one. It also becomes a living history lesson.

The students are involved in animal harvesting only by choice. The process begins with a ceremony that honors the animal and expresses gratitude for its giving its life. Once the animal is killed the work of gutting and cleaning begins. In discussing this rather unusual aspect to the curriculum, the students have no shortage of things to say.

“I think it’s really interesting,” says sixth grader Reyes Mason Muller. “It was amazing to see what was inside the animal, how the organs work, how it breathes, its reflexes … everything.”

“I can’t handle the actual killing,” admits Mahalia Bohsali, “but I don’t mind helping to gut it. It’s a good thing to learn where food comes from – the old fashioned way, not in a factory – and if more people had to do it, there’d be more vegetarians.”

“It really raises your awareness of death,” adds Sarah Gonzales. “Animals die for us every day so we can have food, but we usually don’t think about it.”

“Yes,” remarks Ben Hanna, “it shows the imbalance between the number of animals killed by people and the number of people killed by animals.”

Early adolescence is a critical time for establishing identity, building self-esteem and exploring social and economic life through achievement that is real and meaningful. The richness of a food-centered environment and its related activities compel students to practice cooperation, critical thinking, problem-solving and ethics on a daily basis and to learn from their mistakes. Desirae sums it up like this: “This is so much more than learning from a book. I feel more knowledgeable in general, more well-rounded and more tolerant. We learn how to do a job well and, if it’s unpleasant, it raises our level of resilience. I feel a lot happier!”

 

Because of significant biological and neurological changes, early adolescence is a time during which the teen is open to a rich variety of influences.   The intense interaction with animals, plants, adult mentors and peers that the farm work requires calls the students to not only apply math, science and language skills, but also to take responsibility, exercise judgment, make value-based choices and practice social skills.   It is also fertile ground for meaningful dialogue to process these experiences:

“How are we going to get these sheep to pasture?  Who leads?  Who herds?”

“When you fool around during feeding time, I’m left to do the job by myself.”

“I really appreciate how you showed me how to milk faster.”

“How can we take such good care of an animal and then kill it?”

“How can we not honor an animal who has given its life for us to have meat by NOT eating it?”

These interactions that result from their work go beyond our expectations of what teens are capable of and build community among the teens at a time when their whole being is focused on “Where do I fit in?  What are my skills and talents?  How am I of value in the community?”  The activities of a farm allow them to explore answers to these questions.  In fact,

the result is a striking self-confidence manifested when students give tours,  engage the customers at the Farmers Market booth or speak at conferences.  

Patty Pantano is …

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