Humble Garden

ReSkilling for future food independence

Archive for April, 2008

Some Peaknik thoughts

Posted by Nika On April - 27 - 2008

Organic Garden Tomatoes: all our own!

(Some of our organic sustainably grown tomatoes, micro-greens and herbs from last summer)

Yeah, we can NOT do anything new. I met my husband on the internet, we are liberal homeschoolers, we do some telecommuting, and now it seems we are Peakniks.

A simplistic way of defining what a peaknik is – otherwise non-alarmist professionals who have undergone a conversion to a dedication to surviving Peak Oil.

One doesn’t WANT to be a peaknik, it happens a lot like taking the red pill in the matrix … once the cat is out of the bag there is no going back. By definition, if you are the sort who feels very comfortable with cognitive dissonance (magical thinking) then the cat may peek out of the bag but it stays in there.. you can sleep at night and believe that things are not indeed much later than you think.

I cant do magical thinking, just not my nature. This is why I am a scientist and not a pastor or some such.

I am also used to doing things on my own, having moved 15 times before I graduated from high school I just learned to resource from within. For this reason, I find it hard to do one of the things that many people recommend in planning for the post-carbon age – form a tight knit sustainable community.

I loathe drama and the thought of living in a communal setting without private space sounds dreadful.

But, there is power in numbers so I am wondering if I can go there, make peace with a lack of peace.

Local Food: First milking for KD

(Home-milked goat milk)

For those of you just starting out with the whole local food thing the following might help.

I subscribe to The Energy Bulletin (Peak Oil News Bulletin) and today found one of their book reviews in my feedreader.

They excerpt a list from Chapter 6 (Local, Organic, Sustainable Food) from “Go Green: How to Build an Earth-Friendly Community” by Nancy H Taylor (Gibbs Smith Publishers):

  • 1. Start small, raising a few successful plants at home. Herbs, a few lettuces and radishes are foolproof!
  • 2. Think about where your food comes from. Are your apples from New Zealand, from Chile or Oregon? Do you buy strawberries all winter long?
  • 3. Take your own bag to the market, neither paper nor plastic are good options for bringing our food home. Your own canvas bag will save trees and help stop the plastic proliferation we see hanging from our trees and plastered against fences.
  • 4. Find a neighbor to share trips to the store, put a basket or rack on your bike or take the bus. Plan ahead so you don’t have to make several trips to the store.
  • 5. Start a food co-op to order foods in bulk and share them with your community.
  • 6. Start a Farmers Market; it can be small and fun, and supports local food.
  • 7. Start a CSA, support a local farmer and keep the food dollars in your community.
  • 8. Pay attention to your fast food diet. How do you feel when you rush by the takeout window and eat in your car? See the film ‘Fast Food Nation’.
  • 9. Talk to your kids about their diet, where foods come from, how they nourish the body. Get exercise and fresh air, you will want to eat better food after that.
  • 10. Don’t get discouraged. Changing our eating habits takes time. Start slowly and add what you can afford over the period of a year or two. Once you switch to healthy food, you will notice the difference and not want to turn back!

Summer Tomato Tart - 5


For the peaknik I recommend subscribing to The Energy Bulletin’s RSS feed and learn everything you can. I also recommend working hard to not get depressed. Think of this as a challenge.

Do not assume a Mad Max future but plan for one. There is so much more to say about that but I won’t do that here, would prefer to be upbeat.

Chicken CSA Mentor wanted: Eggcelent Opportunity

Posted by Nika On April - 3 - 2008

Chickenalia: chickens out for sun and food

This is a call out to those of you out there who have some experience with setting up your own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) activity.

I need your guidance and mentorship so any and all input is welcome and appreciated.

We are currently seriously contemplating setting up a trial run chicken CSA where the chickens will be raised naturally (the word “organic” is woefully deprecated and co-opted by money-grabbing certification types – I cant afford organic certification status right now, not if I want to actually get started that is).

We will raise slow-growth long bodied breeds of chickens like you see the French growing in their “Label Rouge” program. Our chickens will be forest dwellers like those in the Label Rouge program. There is no official “Label Rouge” program in the US but that’s ok because the First Principles of Label Rouge are attractive and to be emulated. We will be more like the organic Label Rouge where we will not use any sorts of chemicals or antibiotics, not because I think it’s the “in” thing but because I follow the golden rule in my cultivation and animal husbandry:

Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Corollary: Treat your animals with the greatest respect possible – they are beings too

Life is absolutely too short to start something like this and not do it MY way. This is not to say that what the neighbor down the street is doing is wrong, its just that I need to do this my way.

I compromise on so much else; don’t we all!

What do I need?

I need to know how to find a local butcher and how that all works (in terms of costs and their capacity) – I have zero clue here. I need to know how best to find people who will want to buy these CSA shares – I fear raising a load of chickens which then are not pre-sold. These questions MUST be asked by any producer when they first start, I know, but I do sound sorta goofy not knowing the answers.

We are also going to be doing CSA egg shares (we just love them girl chickens so much!).

I hope that you all, with clues on this, will come out of the woodwork and drop me a note. When you leave a comment the system gets your email (confidentially I think) and then I can reply to you off-blog to have a longer convo on this.

About Me

We are a family of 5, including Nika, Ed, Q (14), KD (7), and Baby Oh (4). We garden 1024 square feet of raised beds plus assorted permacultural plantings. We also have 13 LaMancha dairy goats, 40 chickens, and one guard llama.



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