Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Posts Tagged ‘garden’

HOMEGROWN Life: It’s springtime…here we grow!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012






According to the calendar, winter is officially over – although it’s felt like Spring for over a month now. This week’s “cold snap” in New England feels a little more weather appropriate for March than record-breaking 85 degree days, but nevertheless, with spring comes seed sowing and growing!

Now that I’m beyond my college dorm dweller phase, I have started living a more “HOMEGROWN Life,” slowly, but surely.  This means I’ve made more trips to farmers’ markets, cooked more meals at home, and learned more DIY skills over the past year. And, now that my seeds have been sown and started indoors, I can add gardening to my HOMEGROWN repertoire.

I must admit, I may have gotten carried away with my seeds. I had a ball choosing my seeds from the D. Landreth and Baker Creek catalogs. How could I resist all of the choices. I loaded up on: Cherokee Purple, San Marzano, and Pink Oxheart tomatoes; Big Red, Calwonder Golden, and Orange Sun peppers; Mesculun mix; a variety of flowers; and a handful of herbs. All in addition to the cucumber, eggplant, and hot pepper seeds I already had. Go big or go home, right?! Wrong…

Paco Olvera Monterd, “Inter-Botanica”, via Flickr, Creative Commons License

Starting the seeds indoors was the easy part. I had my trays lined out and labeled. I carefully lined the trays with potting mix, planted the seed, and dutifully watered and watched them for germination. I ensured my seeds had enough light, heat and were misted regularly. How exciting to see my little seedlings poke their heads through the soil!

Caring for these seeds indoors is no sweat. I enjoy watching them grow and prepping them for transplant into bigger containers as they mature. But, I soon realized that the next phase, transplanting my plants into the ground, is where my garden planning fell apart. I didn’t forecast how much space I would need, whether my soil was fit for growing (there’s a lead contamination problem in my city), how to ensure my future garden got enough sun through the massive trees in my yard, and if my landlord would even allow a garden. Now I have a bunch of seeds started with no where to grow…

I trolled the internet for advice, and settled on container gardening for at least some of my plants. Containers! That’s how folks with limited space in the city grow in the city, right?! I could fit a few containers on my porch, and maybe some in the yard, but not nearly enough for all of my seedlings. But how to choose? I figured I needed to send many of my seedlings to a new home where they’d have room to grow and bloom.

“The view” via Cornelia,

The herbs, some tomatoes and peppers, and the flowers will be easy to care for in containers. I can manage a few plants at home. But, what about the others? I sought out friends and family who could take some plants. Many obliged, and some will now have a hefty addition to their home gardens. I’m thrilled to be sharing my plants with others, and spreading the seeds of organic gardening to folks who will care for these plants, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Starting seeds was a great lesson for a gardening newbie. I learned a lot about the growing process, and I am amazed by the biological progress of the seeds: from a tiny little grain or flake, to a thriving seedling, to a plant that will provide me with nutrients. It’s fascinating to see this growth and to get my hands dirty and learn something. I will keep you posted on the progress of my container garden! I still have LOTS to learn. It should be an interesting season…


I am the Flock-Tender here on I am keeping a chronicle of my experiences learning, living, and growing a HOMEGROWN life just out of college.

Sensory Overload: Shane MacGowan, Irish Farmer

Friday, March 16th, 2012


It’s not truly St. Patrick’s Day without a healthy dose of The Pogues wash down your Guinness. While frontman Shane MacGowan is best known as a drunken Irish punk, he hails from a family farm in County Tipperary, and recently has returned to his farmboy roots.

In 2009, Shane and his wife, Irish writer Victoria Mary Clarke, starred in their own Irish television special Victoria and Shane Grow Their Own. Inspired by Michelle Obama’s White House garden and the 1970s British TV Show The Good Life, the special documents Victoria’s and Shane’s attempt to live off of their garden and host a harvest party featuring their vegetable cache.

Image courtesy of

Sadly, Victoria and Shane Grow Their Own never aired in the States, but one can only imagine the antics that went on.  Apparently, there wasn’t much success in the garden, despite Shane’s fondness for providing “helpful” farming tips. Hilarity ensues, and I hope to catch some clips of it someday…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, HOMEGROWNers. I raise my glass to a hearty growing season. I leave you with one last Irish blessing, and a classic from The Pogues to kickstart your holiday.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may you have more bountiful brassicas than Farmer MacGowan!

HOMEGROWN Life: Back-to-School in HOMEGROWN Style

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011






Remember the days of sticky pleather school bus seats, mystery meat Mondays in the cafeteria, and field trips to the same museum year after year? September is back-to-school season! Whether you’re back in the classroom yourself, or sending your little ones off on the bus, there are many ways to live homegrown this school year.  Wholesome peanut butter and berry-wiches? Yum! Waste-free lunch kits? Genius. After-school canning with kids? Piece of cake. Try some of these ideas for a homegrown school year for you and your kids.

Photo by Lynn S.

School Lunches

Whether lunch comes in a brown bag or on a school lunch tray, think about ways to make your meals more homegrown.

  • The movement to change school lunch menus through Farm to School programs is changing the face of the cafeteria.  Farm to School “connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.” Join the movement and get involved – it’s good for the farmers and good for your family! Farm Aid’s Farm to School Toolkit is chock full of  great information to expand your school lunch programs and revitalize cafeteria food.
  • We all got sick of the weekly chicken patties as kids pretty quickly, and so are some teachers! Fed Up With Lunch a blog written by the anonymous “Mrs. Q.” tells one teacher’s story of eating lunch in the cafeteria every day for a year with her students.  She digs deepers into the school lunch system, provides her two-cents from a teacher’s standpoint on current education issues, and shares new resources for teachers, parents, and students.

Photo by Lynda

Take a family field trip to your local farmers’ market (Local Harvest can point you in the right direction), and stock up on the season’s bounty for your lunchbox.  Then, take those ingredients and check out some great recipes from and Whole Foods Market to make a local lunch!

What do you pack all of these homegrown lunches in? Try to reduce, reuse, and recycle your containers, utensils, bottles, and napkins.

  • One mom sends waste-free lunches for her son. It may sound like a lot of extra work when you’re busy getting those kids off to school on time, but check out her 5-Steps to a Waste-Free Lunch, adapted from

The 5 Steps to a Waste-free Lunch

  1. Replace paper bags with reusable lunch bags.
  2. Use reusable food containers to eliminate single-serve packaging.
  3. Switch from plastic baggies to reusable snack & sandwich bags.
  4. Reusable napkins, utensils and even straws replace their disposable counterparts.
  5. Kick the bottled water and juice habit with a reusable water bottle
  •’s waste-free lunch kit saves about $371 annually.  Their site has tips on choosing the right styles, sizes, and materials for your lunch bags and containers. Join the Waste-Free Lunches in Schools Campaign, which reduces consumption on a daily basis, preserves natural resources, saves money, and encourages healthy eating habits! By committing to a waste-free lunch, you can even earn cash or prizes for your school!

School Supplies

  • Instead of buying new notebooks and pens, try upcycling, recycling, or repurposing old materials you have around the house. If you do have to purchase something new, Rodale’s Nontoxic Back-to-School Shopping Guide is full of information for parents and students about the safest school products for humans and for the environment.

Extra-Curricular Activities

How do you teach your kids to live homegrown during the school year? Get their hands dirty and grow, cook, make, and do together!


  • Take a field trip with your family to local farms, markets, and demonstrations.  Have them learn new homegrown skills at a local skillshare! Start a garden or get some livestock at your own home.
  • Get everyone involved in the growing! Cultivate a school or community garden in your district.
  • Visit the Discussions Forum for the HOMEGROWN 101’s.  These handy guides can help you with all kinds of growing, cooking, making, and doing. Lots of projects are easy to do and are family-friendly – try the butter-making! Check out the Goodies – make your own seed packets, canning jar labels, and garden plant labels! Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, try the projects on the printable HOMEGROWN How-To Cards
  • Teach your little ones about food, the environment, and sustainability on the day-to-day.  Five tips from
  1. Grow something you all can eat
  2. Kitchen science with green products
  3. Be a detective
  4. Recycle
  5. Save water
  • Get inspired by Project Homestead: Kids where the whole family is growing, cooking, maple tapping, and enjoying the land together
  • Become a scientist in your own kitchen by canning with kids.  This blog has great recipes and concoctionx to try at home.
  • Take the Urban Land Scouts pledge and become a better citizen of the Earth by completing the 10 levels and living the values of the ULS.  Earn badges and learn about the natural world. Visit the Urban Land Scouts blog and get scouting!
  • If you’ve got a child interested in farming and agriculture, find out if there are Future Farmers of America chapters in your area.
  • 4-H is another great way to get your kids involved with science, healthy living, and citizenship.  There are many homegrown skills to be shared in 4-H chapters, and lots of fun at 4-H fairs!

While the back-to-school season can be overwhelming, living homegrown through the year doesn’t have to be.  Try a few of these ideas out, and figure out how best to live homegrown everyday. Share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with all of us this school year!