Humble Garden

ReSkilling for future food independence

Archive for October, 2008

Food for Hope: DeGlobalizing – ReLocalizing

Posted by Nika On October - 31 - 2008

Transition Town Handbook

Over at one of my other blogs, I feel like I have been “all melamine – all the time” the past couple of posts, sorry. (Melamine, oh thy name is Legion and Melamine Toxic Tsunami) Its been a fast moving story and its relevant to all of us who eat food. Its my hope that, as a scientist, I can help people who might feel overwhelmed by this massive and frightening subject.

I would like to shift gears into a positive mode and tell you about what you CAN do so that this sort of problem and all of the food security problems that come from globalization can be addressed.

DeGlobalizing – ReLocalizing

In a nutshell – its all about 2 main things:

  • Refraining from buying things that require global travel
  • and
  • Building your local economy and food systems

The first thing – you can do that starting right now. You will quickly find out that you will have to do the harder second thing – rebuilding your local economy.

A couple of months ago I tried to summon the people in my community for a food security meeting on just this. I sent out a press release and got in all the relevant papers. One person showed up and she was actually confused about the topic.

This is NOT easy work!

I am not the only one who is focused on this, not at all. There is a world-wide effort on, called the Transition Initiative and it is helping people build what are called Transition Towns. The UK is the leader right now but start up groups are nucleating all across the US as I write.

If you visit this link Transition Town you can see if there is an initiative near you (anywhere in the world).

If you live in the New England region, you are lucky because there will be a Transition Training conference this November in Cambridge, MA. There are actually two of these conferences. I will be going to the later one. If you decide to go, let Rob know I referred you and also let me know you are coming and we will meet up. Perhaps there is call for live blogging it! (mind is a churning).

The following is the release from the organizer, Rob Riman. Let me know if you have any questions!

Training For Transition

November 1-2 & 22-23 – Cambridge, MA

Transition initiative Cambridge (TiC!) together with the Transition Center Portland Maine will be hosting these 2-day trainings to provide the in-depth knowledge, experiential tools and practical skills to successfully set up, run and maintain a Transition Initiative in your own community or neighborhood.

Course Objectives:

  • To understand the context for transition
  • To understand the Transition Initiatives model as it has evolved so far – from inspiration to working groups
  • To understand the inner and outer aspects of transition
  • To gain knowledge of the main ingredients of transition
  • To develop a plan of action for your self and your locality
  • To assemble the elements of an inspiring talk on Transition Initiatives
  • To connect with others who are responding to the call for transition

See complete course outline at


Saturday & Sunday November 1-2 and 22-23, 2008

Training begins at 9:00 am sharp and finish at 5:00 pm both days. Please arrive by 8:30 am on Saturday for registration and welcome.

Where?: The training will be at the office of the Livable Streets Alliance located at:

Livable Streets Alliance
100 Sydney Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

For directions via various modes see:

Also see the transit system map (and click on the ‘Boston Detail Map’ tab).

Bicycle parking is in front of 100 Sidney. Free weekend car parking is available on Pacific Street.

Sign up!: Course registration is via the RSVP option at The Transition Training Center Portland Maine website: (You will first need to join the group.)

Tuition:The cost for the course is $215/person and full payment or a minimum deposit of $100 should be received in advance of the course start date. Checks should be made payable to ‘Transition Center Portland Maine’ and sent to me (Rob Riman) at the below address.

Lodging:Participants are responsible for arranging their own accommodation.

If you can offer or are seeking a local homestay during the training, please reply to the related post or start a new discussion on the Meetup site message board. Note that all activity for a given discussion is trackable by clicking on Track this discussion. I also have additional leads.

For information regarding local hotels and B&B’s, please contact me.

Travel:If you can offer or would like a lift to or from either of these trainings, please reply to the related post or start a new discussion on the Meetup site message board.

To Bring:

  • 1) Any Transition related materials that you can share: posters, leaflets, brochures, any printed/audio/visual material that you have used in your Transition Initiative. This will be a mutual learning environment!
  • 2) Lunch to share in the training room. If you prefer, there are local venues to purchase food within easy walking distance. Other meals are entirely up to you. Warm beverages and light snacks will be provided throughout the day. Toward a zero-waste event, please bring your own mug, water bottle, utensils, etc. as needed (some will be available should you forget).
  • 3) Laptops and/or recording devices if you feel these might help you, however they are not necessary. Please bring a 330+ mb memory stick for copying background material and training presentations.
  • 4) Your story. Take some time to reflect on your journey regarding transition: When did you realize that we needed to make big changes to the way we live? How did you hear about Transition and what got you interested? Why do you want to be part of a Transition process?

Reading: In addition to The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins, the following resources offer valuable background and will help prepare you for the course:

Resources: For more information about current Transition activities:

More Info: See who else is coming, learn about the trainers, find related events in the Northeast, etc. at:

Transition Center Portland Maine


Cambridge Trainings Coordinator:
Rob Riman
92 Henry Street
Cambridge, MA


  • Alastair Lough –
  • Pat Proulx-Lough –

Thank You to our Sponsors!

Green Decade Cambridge

Livable Streets Alliance

Mass Climate Action Network

A slice of our summer and life

Posted by Nika On October - 26 - 2008

Humble Garden 2008 from nika on Vimeo.

Here is the Humble Garden video for 2008 (I shoot these with my MacBook Pro, forgive the quality). In it I share my family, our organic vegetable garden, our chickens, our LaMancha diary goats and our guard Llama. I also share a bit of my Colombian culture through the music so turn on your speakers and enjoy.

Let me know what you think! Hope we do not seem too odd to you!

A Fall Fowl Phalanx

Posted by Nika On October - 25 - 2008

Humble Garden 2008: HomeMade Chicks!

I have been so busy doing work related things for some poorly timed double deadlines recently that I have not been able to focus on my garden or this blog and I am sorry about that.

I wrote a bit about that at one of my other blogs Nika’s CulinariaRocking My San Diego Trip“.

This has not been the best gardening year. I thought that putting down landscaping paper would control the weeds and that then the garden would be under control. The weeds were under control for certain and I actually didn’t have any major issues with disease, even with my tomatoes, the few times I got to visit them.

One of the big holes in the garden came from dedicating so much space to bell peppers. I had bell pepper lust and they simply REFUSED to produce, period. My sweet peas, they too were not fecund. My cucumbers were relatively vague in their output. My squash, well, I got two hubbard – modest in size.

Humble Garden: Hubbard Squash

I commute 400 miles a week, most of my gardening time was spent in my head, pining for actual gardening. Pining and mental anguish do not lead to a better garden, just frustration. When I get home, my 3 kids but especially my 2 year old requires 100% of my time. I have literally spend no small amount of time this year inside comforting a 2 year old who is really suffering my long absences as I look out the window at a directionless garden. I certainly do not blame the child or the garden. I blame having to drive 3-4 hours a day, working a good 9-10 hours a day on top of that to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads.

I have to be honest with you, there has to be a better way but I have not found it yet.

Ok, I will leave you with that rant. There is no solution unless: 1) you want to be our sugar daddy/mommy, 2) give me a winning lottery ticket, or 3) give me a telecommuting job that will replace or boost my current income.

Lets turn to more interesting details! While I am gone at work, things are happening here on the homestead. One of those things is chicken husbandry, which my oldest is fully dedicated to.

The chickens have trained her well (she sees it as her training them but, well…) and she takes care of them with much love.

Bonnie's injury

One chicken, a buff orpinton named Bonnie (who was the victim of a vicious rooster attack and then miraculously survived after home-surgery by my husband) has been broody for some time.

egg still life

Recently, my daughter noticed the sound of peeping coming from the eggs so she moved the chicken and eggs that Bonnie was brooding on into the house (we had two chicks hatch in the hen house a couple of months ago and they were killed by non-mother hens or roosters). As she is homeschooled, she had the opportunity to watch as the first egg hatched and how the chick recovered from the experience. We now have 4 chicks with more possibly on the way.

Humble Garden 2008: HomeMade Chicks!

Its not a good time of year to have little chicks and I think that we will have chicks and Bonnie with us in the house over the winter until the chicks are big enough to fend for themselves. This adds even more chores to my daughter’s day (she milks one of our goats twice a day and feeds all the animals) because she has to take Bonnie out 5 times a day to let her “do her thing” outside instead of around the chicks in the house. The chicken has been trained somehow to wait for my daughter to hold it until one of those 5 times.

Wild huh?!

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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