Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

bfblsd-imageThis morning I received an email with membership information from the newly formed Buy Fresh Buy Local South Dakota chapter. The mission of BFBLSD is simply “to increase the awareness and consumption of local foods in South Dakota”.

I’m betting that most producers and local food-oriented businesses already have BFBLSD on their radars. So I’d like to send out encouragement to the rest of us–the consumers–to consider putting just a few of your dollars to very good use by becoming a member of an organization that will soon make finding and purchasing local foods much easier for South Dakotans.

From the email I received:

The 2009 annual fees for the two consumer levels of membership are:
Cultivator
$15.00

Harvester
$30.00

Each fee payment supports the mission statement of the South Dakota Chapter and receives a BUY FRESH BUY LOCAL bumper sticker. Harvester receives in addition a canvas shopping bag with the BFBL logo.

Send payments to Patrick Garrity, 1505 Jo Lane Drive, Yankton, SD 57078. All checks payable to South Dakota Specialty Producers Association – BFBL.

Click below for more info (PDF alert):
bfbl-fees

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Keyhole Garden Key to Fighting Drought, Malnutrition

I’ve been keeping up with City Farmer in Vancouver ever since I took an organic gardening workshop there almost four years ago. City Farmer is a demonstration urban garden in the gorgeous Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver (trivia for the day: Kitsilano is where Greanpeace started), where they….well, demonstrate stuff . Like an organic food garden, composting (including a composting toilet), and a cob building with a green roof. While browsing their blog yesterday I came across another ingenious idea they’re incorporating, the keyhole garden.

Photo courtesy Send A Car

Photo courtesy Send A Cow

City Farmer’s keyhole garden comes to them by way of the UK organization Send A Cow, which among other things, fights malnutrition in Africa with gardens. The basic concept of their keyhole garden is a round, raised bed (about 3 1/2 feet high) garden with one section left out to allow gardeners easy access to the entire space. The central shaft of the garden is essentially a compost pile, where gardeners can throw any kitchen scraps and other compost, as well as gray water. This design helps both water and nutrients leach into vegetable roots as the water seeps down through the compost. Layers of straw in the soil plus a final layer of mulch on top also conserve water.

Check out the video to see how it’s done:

It’s a brilliant idea obviously well-suited to drought-stricken areas of Africa, but I think it would translate pretty well to South Dakota. Although we usually have enough water for our gardens, we have our share of dry spells with watering restrictions. After all, South Dakota is a “semi-arid state with somewhat light rainfall in the range of 10-20 inches per year,” according to the state’s Conservation Districts, and water conservation is becoming more important to us here, especially West River and in the fast-growing Sioux Falls/Lincoln County area. The keyhole garden is also perfect for people who live in town and don’t have room for large gardens.

It might seem like jumping the gun just a little to be talking gardens in December with the blizzardy, subzero weather we’ve been having, but thinking ahead to my next garden is one thing that gets me through South Dakota winters. Plus, a couple seed catalogs (Fedco and Seed Savers Exchange) have already arrived, and the beginning of seed-starting (onions and leeks) is only a couple months away…thank goodness!

Click here for more about building your own keyhole garden.

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If I Had $15,000

Photo courtesy Skystreamenergy.com

Photo courtesy Skystreamenergy.com

I’d buy myself a Skystream.

One of the dreams my husband and I have for our land is to put up a residential wind turbine. I’ve been fascinated with the Skystream since I read about it in Mother Earth News about a year ago. It looks like the best residential wind power option to come along so far for people like us with the land and wind to make it a viable way to power our home with clean, renewable energy. And it only costs about $15,000 for the entire system, including transportation and installation. Now that’s about $15,000 more than we have at the moment to invest in wind power, but it’s not out of the realm of the possible for us in the future. We think it would be worth the investment.

I haven’t heard of anyone in South Dakota with a Skystream yet (although I’ve enjoyed keeping up with this Iowa family and their recent Skystream addition), so I was very excited to find the following email in my inbox this morning, posted here in its entirety:

Skystream Open House Saturday

Yankton county family embraces small wind and solar technology as they host a demonstration open house

WHEN: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Saturday, October 25, 2008
WHERE: 42948 300th Street, Lesterville, SD 57040 (1/2 mile west of Lesterville, SD)
HOSTS: The Douglas and Lynette Auch Family and D & Z Energy Systems

To RSVP or for more information contact us at 605-364-7318, 605-660-5731 or email: dzenergysystems@gmail.com.

The Douglas Auch Family will become a Yankton County Leader in consumer-scale renewable energy use as it erects a 45 ft. wind turbine at its residence, rural Lesterville, SD. The turbine, believed to be the first of its kind in Yankton County, is called the Skystream 3.7, produced by Flagstaff, AZ-based Southwest Windpower. It has a 2.4 kW rating with an interactive computer kiosk that will show real-time statistics about what the mini-turbine is producing. The turbine will generate electricity to provide power to the Auch home and electricity cost savings.

The two solar heating panels on the south side of the Auch home kept teh 2007-2008 winter chill out of their home on sunny days, saving on winter heating costs. These panels were produced by Your Solar Home Inc., Vaughan, ON, Canada. Eventually the Auch’s hope to incorporate a “hybrid-system” which includes solar-generated electricity with battery back-up for either or both wind and solar generated electricity.

Although the wind turbine will provide only a portion of the home’s energy requirements, the Auch Family hopes to use the mini-turbine and solar heating panels as educational tools so that interested residents can see the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ of turbines and solar heating panels. They too can embrace small wind and solar technologies to save themselves money and become more self-reliant.

The Auch Family and D & Z Energy Systems will host a DEMONSTRATION OPEN HOUSE featuring this RENEWABLE RESOURCE TECHNOLOGY at their home.

WHAT: Demonstration Open House of a small-scale wind turbine, the Skystream 3.7, and solar heating panels. This is part of a national trend in residents, farms, and small businesses adopting small-scale renewable energy technologies.

WHEN: 10am to 3pm, Saturday, October 25, 2008

WHERE: 42948 300th Street, Lesterville, SD 57040 (1/2 mile west of Lesterville, SD)

For more information contact the Auch’s at 605-364-7318 or email at dzenergysystems@gmail.com.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend this open house, but I highly encourage anyone in the southeastern part of South Dakota to check it out!

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The Thing That Has Been Consuming All of My Potential Blogging Time

It’s worth it.

Back to regular programming in a couple weeks!

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With Apologies to Scott Russell Sanders

I hadn’t heard of Scott Russell Sanders when I wrote this last year. So all my talk in that essay of “I’m staying home” and “we’ll do something profoundly counter-cultural: stay put” wasn’t at all influenced by Sanders’ book Staying Put, but it might as well have been.

I came across mention of Sanders’ work while reading my recently-arrived, long-awaited copy of Beyond Homelessness, which was just released. Expect updates on that book, but for just a bit I’m taking a little detour to read through Staying Put.
Continue reading

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Welcoming Another South Dakota Organic Farm to the Blogosphere

Heidi, an intern with Prairie Coteau Farm and Dakota Rural Action, has alerted me to Prairie Coteau’s new blog, which you can find here! I’ve been hearing about P.C. Farm for awhile but didn’t see much online about them, so I’m glad to see their new blog up and running, complete with photos of their beautiful 40 acres near Astoria, SD, and an updated listing of their current available vegetables.

A bit about the farm from their website:

Our farm is 40 acres of rolling prairie, trees, fields and wetlands where wildlife abounds, located on the Buffalo Ridge in northeastern South Dakota. We grow a wide range of vegetables, melons and herbs for the local farmer’s market. Heirloom varieties are a focus, as are specific crops such as melons and gourmet garlic. About 50 laying hens freely roam our pastures, and we sell their eggs through a small co-op. We’re committed to sustainable, organic growing methods that preserve the ecological health of our farm as we strive to be good stewards of the land.

//prairiecoteaufarm.wordpress.com/

Farmers Market stand photo courtesy http://prairiecoteaufarm.wordpress.com/

I’m also immensely pleased to learn that Heidi is a South Dakota native who describes herself as returning to her “rural South Dakota roots. I’ve seized the opportunity to return to my home state and become involved in the good work of sustainable farming.”

Heidi, glad to have you back in South Dakota, and I hope you’ll be sticking around for a long while. And for all those who don’t know about Prairie Coteau Farm yet, below is their contact information from DRA’s “South Dakota Local Foods Directory.” Be sure to stop by P.C. Farm’s stand at the next Brookings farmers market!

Prairie Coteau Farm
Kristianna Gehant and Nick Siddens
19079 487th Ave
Astoria, SD 57213
Deuel County
605.832.2062
vegfarm@itctel.com

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Sustainable Ag Symposium Just Down the Road This Week

Speaking of the organic Johnson Farm, it will play host this Tuesday for the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society Summer Symposium. The symposium and farm tour runs from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on July 22 a few miles outside of Madison, SD.

So, for anyone in the eastern South Dakota area who’s interested in some serious discussion of and practical advice for starting or staying with sustainable ag, this Tuesday will provide you with a great opportunity. Check out a flyer here (PDF): ss08flyer

And take a look at the NPSAS info here.

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Local Organic Farmer Goes Gourmet


(photo courtesy Sam Hurst, Gourmet.com)

My husband scooped me on this one, but I’m going to post here, too. Local longtime organic farmer (and our neighbor down the road) Charlie Johnson and his brother Allan are the subjects of a new story on Gourmet.com. The article details their 2,400-acre organic grain operation which has been going strong since their dad switched to organic back in 1976. We happen to get our yearly supply of straw bales (used to provide some extra insulation around our basement walls in the winter and garden mulch in the summer) from Charlie and just started getting farm-fresh eggs from his wife Bette. We’re happy to see the Johnson farm get nationwide exposure and are glad to see them succeed not only at family farming, which is increasingly difficult anymore, but at an entirely organic operation.

Read the entire article here.

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