Eating Healthy, Shopping Locally

Finding the time and money to eat healthy has been a problem ever since the microwave was invented. So, I’ve put together a short list of ways to make organic eating a habit. Also, there are several links of local resources where you can learn more about eating organically.

1) Buy from your local farmers market.

There are so many great deals at farmers markets. You can find local meats, cheeses, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and many other goodies in one place. The food is fresh and grown locally and you have direct access to the farmers where you can ask questions about how they grow their food. They usually start in may but the best selection becomes available as the growing season gets into full swing. Farmers markets usually last through September in this area. Plus, if you’re on EBT (SNAP/Food Stamps) many markets will accept them. The Lakes Area Growers Market in Brainerd, the Pine River Market Square in Pine River, and the Onamia Area Farmers Market are great places to get started locally.

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Eating healthy is easy when you’ve got delicious food to choose from.

2) Buy into a CSA.

A CSA is a community-supported agriculture program. Every week you will get a new box of fresh produce (often delivered directly to your door!) Variety is good. You’ll get so many different fruits and veggies that you never would normally purchase. I’ve even heard of CSA programs actually providing recipes and cookbooks with their produce in an effort to give the buyer an idea of how to prepare with the different produce. This is a great way to experiment with different varieties and eat produce that you wouldn’t be as used to. There are so many ways to choose which CSA you’d like to invest in, so go to Minnesota Grown to pare down what you want and where to sign up.

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 9: Your Summer Appetizer 2 (Agroforestry)

 

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This is the Garden Crew Podcast team. Not pictured: Colin M, who does whatever he can to keep his hands as clean as possible.

In this week’s episode, we talk about the different ways you can incorporate trees and woody shrubs into your garden or farm. This is called “Agroforestry,” and has five different methods to use.

  1. Alley Cropping
  2. Riparian Buffers
  3. Silvopasture
  4. Windbreaks
  5. Forest Farming

HDT is using two methods (alley cropping and forest farming) and will introduce a silvopasture method next year. You can read more about our attempts in Allison’s recap of her trip to the Agroforestry Institute, OR you can listen about it right here. 🙂

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 8: Your Summer Appetizer 1

With summer hitting full swing, the garden crew is working long hours outdoors. Keeping the garden functioning properly (not to mention filling CSA shares and many programs off the campus) requires a full time effort from everybody.

Therefore, we decided to change up the format of Turtle Talks just a bit. Instead of a short garden update at the beginning of the episode, we are going to dedicate the episodes to sharing what is going on in the garden.

We plan on keeping each episode 20 (ish) minutes, but will keep to what is happening in the garden.

We are calling these episodes “Summer Appetizers” as they will whet your appetite until we head back to the original podcast format at the beginning of fall, as the garden eventually gets put to bed.

So, we’re still planning on updating twice a month and bringing you information you can use, just at a more leisurely pace.

We hope you’re enjoying the summer!

Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 7: Compost & Soil Testing

In the last several episodes, we’ve talked the benefits of following the pillars of soil health. We’ve spread the soil-health Bible far and wide, and now it’s time to start growing.

In our latest episode, we discuss how to measure what your soil has in it. We discuss the “shovel-test” method and the chemical-test method, and once you learn what’s going on in your soil, how to add soil-amendments to maximize your soil’s growing power.

We also talk on the subject of compost, how it’s made, and how we apply it. Moreover, we go into how to make our compost tea. Now, this isn’t your English grand-marm’s tea. It’s a fluid based mixture seeped with our very own homemade compost.

Included is our weekly Garden Update, where Dave discusses moving towards (finally) a more warm season, and our very first WWOOFer. You can read more about Alayna here. Lots to listen to. Let’s get started!

 

For those that are interested in a more detailed “recipe” of compost, you can find a pretty good video below. They cover the necessary “ingredients” for a well-functioning compost pile.

Our First WWOOFer

We’d love to introduce you to our first WWOOFer. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF connects farms with those interested in learning more about them and their practices.

Hailing from the farming community of Winsted in central Minnesota, Alayna Karas has a first-person perspective of modern farming. Karas grew up learning the techniques her parents, and her parents’ parents (and THEIR parents) have been using for over one hundred years.

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Alayna stepped right into the planting season her first day.

Yet, despite living on a century farm, bucking tradition seems to be in Karas’ nature. As a child, all of her siblings were expected to do their share of chores. One of these chores, Karas shared, was to take a calf, nurture it to maturity, and then eventually butcher it. She laughed as she told me that she could never bring herself to take that last step.

“My parent’s just admitted that I wouldn’t do it,” Karas laughed. “I’m sure my cow is still alive and running around the farm.”

It seems that Karas has embraced the ability to see what works for her and what doesn’t, and she saw something in her community that wasn’t working.

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Eco Camp Registration Open

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WHAT WILL MY CHILD DO AT ECO CAMP?

Eco camp is a week-long day camp for children ages PreK-6th grade. We believe a passion for stewardship begins with cultivating a love of nature and being outdoors. We’ll discuss plants, animals, renewable energy, gardening, composting, recycling, and how to be a responsible caretaker of our planet. Children will be engaged in environmental education through a variety of lessons, activities, games, stories, crafts, garden experiences, outdoor play, healthy snacks, field trips, and more!

WHEN IS ECO CAMP & HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

  1. 1st & 2nd Grade – Nature Nuthatches – June 18th – 22nd
  2. 3rd & 4th Grade – Sustainable Sparrows – July 9th – 13th
  3. 5th & 6th Grade – Conserving Chickadees – July 23rd – 27th
  4. PreK & Kindergarten – Recycling Robins – August 6th – 10th

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 6: Covering Your Soil

Well, we did it! We got through all four principles of Soil Health. We talked about maximizing biodiversity, we dug into minimizing soil disturbances, and we needed to let everyone know how important it is to keep roots in the ground.

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There’s so many reasons to keep your soil covered!

We also begin with our Garden Update as Dave W. talks about a little mice problem he’s seen in the hoop house and what he’s done to help resolve pests. The garden crew has also spent time marking and cutting logs for mushroom cultivation.

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Reducing our Landfill Output

Reading that an item takes eleventy bazillion years to break down in the environment makes for great attention grabbing stuff when writing articles on green living, but the more I research various related topics, the more I find differences in estimations.

Recycling is great as it keeps our landfills from filling up. However, even if we choose to purchase biodegradable plastics and post-consumer made notebooks, it’s not even a guarantee that we’re making a difference.

Take a look at how our modern landfills work. Modern landfills have mountains of regulations and environmental concerns to deal with, making their task of keeping up with the amount of trash we produce to be an extreme duty. Kudos to all who do! It’s truly a thankless job.

What this post is trying to point out is that even despite all the hard work that landfill workers and administrators do to minimize the harm, they can’t do enough in the face of a planet that doesn’t help.

If we continue to purchase more items, with little concern for how those items are made, packaged, delivered, and eventually tossed into the trash, little progress is going to be made on the landfill front.

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 5: Minimize Soil Disturbances

New episode is live! Jim, Allison, and I talk about the importance of keeping your roots in your soil, and how key it is for proper soil health. While I liked to call it “no-till”, Jim & Allison were quick to let me know that it is, rather, called “Minimizing Soil Disturbances”.

We also hear from Dave in this week’s Garden Update as the crew tries to mitigate the weirdness of this spring. He tells us how the wild temperature fluctuations and freezing cold has changed how the garden crew is getting the soil ready for the spring, which is right around the corner, I swear!

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Next Level Recycling

This month, we’re focusing on the most identifiable action of “going green.” It’s not Kermit T. Frog (however, that little amphibian has lots to say about being green) It’s not the Green Monster at Fenway. Nor is it the horrible (but oh so delicious) Shamrock Shake. Of course, I’m going to be talking about recycling.

But, while we’re on the subject, I wonder if McDonalds has any idea how much money they would make if they made their little green shake available year-round. The profits alone from my wallet would probably make it worth their time. I’m sure there was a marketing guy who thought up the term “engineered demand” and threw the idea to his bosses and they ran with it, leaving us poor suckers waiting for the magical time of year when we can punish our bodies. (And don’t get me started on the McRib!)

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If you think about recycling as a game, you and the planet can both win!

Where was I? Oh yes, recycling?! Yes, that sounds more like the purview of this blog. Recycling: taking something you have and don’t need anymore and turning it into something else…hopefully, again and again. It’s one of the pillars of the environmentalism movement. It’s what we’ve been hearing for decades, and the necessity of recycling is finally being taken seriously. We can see this by how simple it is to do in our society.

Look at any recycling tote. You can get a little plastic tote and fill it with mixed recyclables willy-nilly. Papers, bottles and cans (and just clap your hands) can be picked up every week from your curb. No hassle. No sorting. They do that for you at the center. All you have to do is make sure you put your recyclables in that tote and bring it to the curb. Here’s a quick FAQ if you’re looking for a list of curbside recyclables. Recycling is so easy. It’s so mainstream. Some might even say too easy and too mainstream.

Well, I’ve got some ideas that will help you go to the next level.

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