Infinite Blogging

Tales of love, fertility and nourishing food.

Columbia joins the ranks of chicken-friendly cities. February 2, 2010

Filed under: Bees,Food,Growing,Local,News and Blogs — Annette @ 3:11 pm

Until yesterday, the ruling in Columbia was that you could have 1 chicken per 0.5 acre of land. This meant that on our urban lot, we could have 0.36 of a chicken. I’m not sure the neighbours would go for that, what with the carnage and all.

Yesterday City Council passed a new chicken ordinance, so now you can have 6 chickens per tract. This is a pretty big deal around town, because Columbia is a pretty progressive place and a lot of people are looking for ways to grow their own food, buy locally, etc., and chickens are a part of that. But, Columbia also has its fair share of people who are not supportive of such efforts (or bicycles, for that matter), so it became quite a contentious matter. The good news, though, is that now we can have chickens in the city. Yay!

So will we be getting chickens? The answer to that would be a big fat NO. @charlietriplett has ix-nayed this idea from the very beginning, whether the chickens were legal or not. Man.

It’s probably for the best, though. Animals require work and your being there to take care of them, which is why we don’t believe in owning pets. Except the worms. The worms are very low maintenance pets.

And hopefully next year we’ll get bees. I am buzzing with excitement.


More reasons to raise bees in the city January 22, 2010

Filed under: Bees,Environment,Food,Growing,News and Blogs — Annette @ 7:35 pm

Plant loss ‘leads to fewer bees’


Photo catch-up. November 16, 2009

Filed under: Composting,Food,Growing,House,Life — Annette @ 9:15 am

The last of the garden photos:

This was fun.

So long, tomatoes…

Hello garlic!

And other house and life photos:Ā

Les Bourgeois.

New doors!


Aaaand we’re back. November 13, 2009

Filed under: Bees,Composting,Food,Growing,House,Life,Local,Love — Annette @ 9:03 am

I am amazed that after such a long lapse, my blog stats are still decent. Who are you people, and why do you keep coming back?

Things have been pretty busy work-wise since we got back from the Feast. This is peak farm trip season for us, so I spent 5 days driving out to Lexington to Fahrmeier Farms. If you’re in KC and looking for a cool place to hang out (or buy some fantastic local veg), this is it. Winery, MU games, the whole deal.

We’re looking into applying for another grant to fund a similar pre-K program called Early Sprouts. It has more of a gardening component and allows the pre-Ks to experience six target vegetables with all of their senses before tasting it. There’s cooking in the classroom, plus sending ingredients home so the parents get involved, too. It’s a very cool program. I hope we get the funding.

I’ve applied to present at a conference in Alabama in April. Plus there’s the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in May in Detroit, and I definitely want to go to that. Hopefully I can have a poster. And I’m also presenting at school health conference at the Lake in December. I’m working on trying to develop a presentation that doesn’t suck.

Our grant funding ends at the end of this academic school year, so we’re exploring how we can integrate my program into our existing statewide programs. There are still a lot of questions up in the air, and I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. Hopefully for the best.

I’m very interested in developing some actually functional Spanish-speaking skills. I took three semesters of Spanish at Queen’s in undergrad, but it’s been a long time. In a couple weeks I’m going to be starting a Community Spanish course at our local career center. I’m looking forward to that. It’s a bonus that I get to do it on work time. I think having Spanish skills would be a huge career asset.

The garden has been put to rest for the season, but I did plant garlic. We had our first frost on our predicted first freeze date of October 17, which I thought was fairly coincidental. After that, though, the temperatures warmed up to be quite lovely and now I have some top growth poking out of the soil. That’s not supposed to happen until spring, so I hope it doesn’t affect next season’s garlic crop.

I did also build a small outdoor compost pile, using Eliot Coleman’s method of using straw bales for the walls of the pile. That meant that I got to buy overpriced straw at our local hardware store, which made me feel very farmy.

Speaking of composting, I also recently ordered another pound of red wigglers for our vermicomposting system. The half pound I purchased originally just wasn’t enough to keep up with all of the scraps we have. We do have some great-looking castings, though, so I’m looking forward to using those on the garden in the spring. Since I have a 5-tray vertical migration bin, I’m hoping to just use two trays at a time and alternate feeding the two trays.

I think, though, that either the delivery man didn’t knock on our door, or we didn’t see the worm box on our porch when we got home last night. That means that the worms sat out on our front porch all night. I didn’t find them until this morning. šŸ˜¦ I don’t think it got too cold last night; it was 46 when I checked at 7 this morning. The worms don’t like temperatures below 40, so I hope they’re not a gooey mess when I get home.

A couple nights ago Charlie and I were talking and I mentioned something about having bees. I lovingly harass my husband about having backyard ducks or chickens, but he always says no. I’m only allowed to have animals that take care of themselves. Like worms. When I mentioned that people in France keep bees on their apartment roofs, though, he said, “We could have bees.” Are you kidding me?! We can have bees?? I never thought that he would let me keep bees. So now my new thing is learning about how to keep backyard bees. Did you know you can get 100 lb of honey from one colony of bees in one season?! That’s amazing!

As it turns out, there is a local beekeeping association that offers a beekeeping basics course here in town. It looks like the course is in January, and as much as I would like to take it and have bees in the spring, I think I need to reign myself in a bit. There are so many things that I want to do and so many things that I’m interested in, but I keep having to remind myself (my husband does a good job of that, too) that I can’t do them all at once. So I think for the next growing season I will focus on a) adding another garden bed, b) planting a couple fruit trees and c) building cold frames for next winter. Then the next growing season (2011) I’ll put in the last raised bed and get myself some bees. Yay bees!

House-wise, we have been focusing on trim and doors. Charlie installed four new interior doors a few weeks ago, and since then we’ve been painting the doors, painting the frames, painting the trim that goes around the doors and installing it. It’s starting to come together. I’ll post some pictures later.

Charlie’s been very busy with freelance work, which is a blessing financially but also means that it takes us longer to get things done on the house. But, on the other hand, it does help fund some of the house projects. So maybe we do need both.

Oh, and he’s taking me away on a mystery anniversary vacation in December. I don’t know where we’re going, but I know it’s within the US, we’re flying and we’re going to be away for about five days. How exciting!


Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food October 13, 2009

Filed under: Food,Growing,Local,News and Blogs — Annette @ 7:44 am

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago USDA launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.

This is a pretty big deal for the local foods movement, and has potential to have some real impact in developing local food systems and supporting small family farms. It’s also impressive that USDA a) acknowledged that people are interested in local foods and b) are actually considering cashing in on the opportunity. From what I know of the food system, this is a rather large departure from past agricultural policies. The initiative also plans to promote farm-to-school projects, which just so happens to be what I do for a living. Keep an eye on this. Hopefully it will be a worthwhile project.


Garden happenings. September 4, 2009

Filed under: Composting,Food,Growing — Annette @ 8:24 am

So long, sunflowers.

Wormies eating our compost

Wormies eating our compost
Carrot greens sprouting in the worm bin. Bad idea.

Carrot greens sprouting in the worm bin. Bad idea.

Lots and lots and lots of tomatoes.

Lots and lots and lots of tomatoes.

12 pounds on Monday, and 9 pounds on Thursday.

12 pounds on Monday, and 9 pounds on Thursday.


Is organic food higher in nutritional quality than conventional food? August 31, 2009

Filed under: Environment,Food,Growing,News and Blogs — Annette @ 1:32 pm

Drumroll, please.

And the answer is…probably not.

The “first published systematic review investigating differences in nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs” was recently published. This has been a hot and controversial topic for a long time, so I’m glad someone finally did a good, thorough review.

They did a review – not a lab study – but a review of the existing literature to see what the entire mass of published literature on the topic has to say. So instead of saying, “this study says this” and “this study says that,” they looked at what the whole body of research says when combined.

Their conclusion?

In an analysis that included only satisfactory-quality studies, conventionally produced crops had a significantly higher content of nitrogen, and organically produced crops had a significantly higher content of phosphorus and higher titratable acidity. No evidence of a difference was detected for the remaining 8 of 11 crop nutrient categories analyzed.

…Analysis of satisfactory quality crop studies found no evidence of a difference in 8 of the 11 nutrient categories (vitamin C, phenolic compounds, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and total solubleĀ solids) (Table 1). Nitrogen contents were significantly higher in conventionally produced crops, and contents of phosphorus and titratable acidity were significantly higher in organically produced crops.

…Differences that were detected in crops were biologically plausible and were most likely due to differences in fertilizer use (nitrogen and phosphorus) (3) and ripeness at harvest (titratable acidity) (16). It is unlikely that consumption of these nutrients at the concentrations reported in organic foods in this study provide any health benefit.

…The current analysis suggests that a small number of differences in nutrient content exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs and that, whereas these differences in content are biologically plausible, they are unlikely to be of public health relevance. One broad conclusion to draw from this review is that there is no evidence to support the selection of organically produced foodstuffs over conventionally produced foodstuffs to increase the intake of specific nutrients or nutritionally relevant substances.

Now, clarification: I do support organic agriculture practices. I am not dogmatic about it, but I think overall we would probably all be better off if we didn’t have as many pesticides and synthetic fertilizers being sprayed around. However, there is a difference between supporting organic for environmental reasons (pesticides, fertilizers, environmental impact, etc.) and supporting it because you think you’re getting more nutrients from organic food.

The researchers even clarify this themselves:

The outcome was restricted to the nutrient and nutritionally relevant content of foodstuffs. We did not address differences in contaminant contents (eg, herbicide, pesticide, or fungicide residues) or the possible environmental consequences of organic and conventional agricultural practices because this was beyond the scope of our review.

I don’t think there’s much of a question about organics containing less pesticides, etc. than conventional produce. But the point here is that you’re not getting more calcium or magnesium from organic produce than you would from conventional produce.

I don’t think we can necessarily call this “case closed,” because science is always evolving with more recent research. But I think we now have some good research to put behind our informed decisions.