Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pre D acres Josh Bio



pre- D Acres History, What happened to me before DAcres of NH?

My family and I arrived in Winterville, North Carolina in 1979 when I was seven years old. The North Carolina economy was shifting from its agricultural roots. The warm mild climate of the state provided shelter to a winter weary influx from the mid Atlantic States North. The inexpensive university system in the state attracted many to the region while retirees also found havens along the coast.

During the ten years in Winterville until my high school graduation, North Carolina grew approximately 7 % per year. Seven percent growth has a ten year doubling time. After ten years there were twice as many people, twice as many cars, twice as many gas stations and box stores. With this growth there was the subsequent increase in traffic, noise and other pollutions of people’s consumptive culture. The agricultural heritage erodes while the commuting service class builds a culture of take out food, video games and virtual reality.

In Winterville we were pioneers of an expanding suburban sprawl powered by a medical center and a state university. We moved into a newly built contemporary house at the base of a horse shoe shaped subdivision off Fire Tower Rd. #11 Baywood Dr. There were six other houses in the subdivision and ours backed into a dense forest. In all directions intensive farmland existed, the drainages ditches and windrows of pine forest were the only breaks in a landscape cultivated for annual crops of corn, soy and predominately tobacco. My father, a physician, became the fifth member of Eastern Radiologists and my mother, a nurse, took the job as a VP administrator at the regional hospital.

I spent a lot of time outdoors. Forts, obstacle courses, and explorations were part of the daily routine. The fields of the area were a part of our observations, the annual cycles of planting and harvest. The ubiquitous tobacco barns were our playhouses on rainy days. In public school, I attended the county school which were denigrated as “country”. In the county system, there were higher proportions of farm raised students in comparison to the latch key kids of suburbia. During the 1980s the landscape of this region would shift from farming to an asphalt intensive lattice of houses, condominium complexes, strip-malls and convenient stores. The partnership of doctors operating as Eastern Radiologists numbered thirty-three when my father retied from the group in 2005.

In a recent trip to Winterville I assessed the current situation. Now in Baywood there are over 30 houses. The forest behind our house at #419 Baywood has been cleared and the fields beyond filled with houses. The irrigation ditches of my youth have become a flooding menace of unanticipated storm waters intensified by the concrete and asphalt laid heedless. On the Old Fire Tower Road cars race on four lanes between stop lights as they maneuver to be the first in line at the drive thru. The windrows of pine have been mostly cut so the sounds and sights of uncoordinated growth in terms of lights, noise, and traffic is intensified. The feeble landscape trees planted in the adjacent subdivision are dwarfed by the typical houses of this era. I had a sense that these houses have identical counterparts all over North America. Because the houses were so similar it was easy to become confused in navigating the subdivided maize.

I was a willing participant in this process of deruralization. I am not sure I understood the subsequence of these actions nor was I aware of other options. The status quo and comfortable consumerism were the doctrines of this period of unrestrained growth. As I approached college, I withered without direction, complacent without a passion, and lacking motivation to participate in the rat race. I was going through the motions by enrolling at the local university through these actions were uninspired and my performance corresponded.

In 1991 I left North Carolina to enter the undergraduate liberal arts program at the University of Colorado in Boulder. This was a significant fresh start in a progressive western town that spawned significant examination of my personal values and lifestyle. I entered the environmental conservation major and proceeded with the class requirements for this degree. The classwork focused on the global crisis of today, pollution, resource depletion, overpopulation, and climate change. In general when offering these depressing revelations the professors provided few tangible solutions. The more fruitful examinations of the situation were taking place during the late night beer and bullshit sessions in the dormitories. Issues, ideas and perspectives were brought to the table as we examined our personal philosophies through dialogue. The late nite examinations of our individual role in the global crisis was a catalyst that inspired me to be more responsible for my role on the planet.

My second semester spring at CU I took an activism class with Elizabeth Moens. The class was my first exposure to Lester Brown’s Gaia hypothesis of the earth as a living organism. One of the requirements of the class was a service project. I worked in opposition to a constitutional amendment that would have allowed discrimination towards people based on their sexual preference. The amendment was publically supported by the Christian fundamentalist football coach at the university. In opposition to the amendment I marched, canvassed, wrote letters tot he editor and was a spokesperson in my classes. One year later I learned that Elizabeth had died of dysentery while working doing relief work with rural populations in India

In 1992 I traveled to Spain for a semester abroad to help me fulfill my pathetic attempts in the study of a non native tongue. At the Universidad de Alicante I received instruction in the history of Spain, including the conquest by the Moors and the years of Franco. We also studied the impending formation of the European Union and the effects of globalization. After the semester I choose to stay in Spain moving to Granada where I enrolled in more language classes while living in the gypsy caves above the historic castle. During this period I traveled to Morocco. This is where I first witnessed and absorbed intellectually the vast disparity and inequities on the planet. The results of these experiences broadened my perspective on the issues facing humanity. For the first time I understood the rational basis for anti-american sentiment within the global community

When I returned home I was intent to finish my degree and pursue the practicalities of social change in the USA. I was exposed to the work of CU professor Ward Churchill and MIT professor Noam Chomsky. The National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration is located in Boulder and through a program at the university I served as a go-fer intern on a project researching methyl bromide concentrations in the upper atmosphere. Methyl bromide is a significant greenhouse gas that is used as a fumigant for industrial strawberry agriculture. The exposure to the funding pressures on researchers at the university level left me questioning the validity of science sponsored by private sector funds

That summer I traveled to Costa Rica to preserve biodiversity in the tropics. While an intern with the national parks I painted outbuildings and railing between incessant rains. The potable water ran directly from the pristine rainforest stream and the waste from our laundry and septic directly down the stream. In preparation for the arrival of a pharmaceutical company sponsored biodiversity inventory, I practiced cutting the lawn with a machete. On occasion when school age children toured the parks we policed their prolific tendency to litter without discrimination. I viewed trash being disposed from the windows as the buses entered the gates of the park. We did have the opportunity to chase some local poachers who were seeking pets for the North American market. I spent a couple afternoons in the small community by the park playing soccer and drinking beer.

When I returned that summer I spent two weeks with my father at the Yestermorrow Design Build School in Warren, Vermont. The two week course offered morning sessions of drafting, a construction project in the afternoon and additional site visits to buildings in the area. This was my first exposure to the concept of good boots and hat to metaphorical explain the foundation as solid impermeable support and the roof as protection from the precipitation above. In the afternoon session we learned fundamental construction basics while the morning was spent designing a specific project. My father was occupied with a retirement home design while my goal was to design a community structure for the people of the village in Costa Rica. This community building would house a kitchen for meal preparation, food preservation and processing of value added food products. The building would include a meeting space, bathroom and laundry facilities and would showcase solar hot water heating and sustainable alternative water treatment systems.

The following fall in Boulder I volunteered at a Community Health Clinic taking vital statistics and offering my limited translation capabilities. In my classwork I focused on sustainable design including passive solar and energy efficiency. For independent coursework, I investigated how energy is consumed in the industrial world considering strategies for conservation. In the spring I volunteered at the campus recycling center. My school breaks were spent in the mountains of the region, camping, hiking, boating and biking. Upon graduation, my appreciation for nature along with my increasing awareness of the disparities of the global north and south combined to motivate me into motion. I endeavored to build my skills for the purpose of finding a sustainable future that would attempt to resolve the inequities that exist.

The summer of 1995 was spent in Carbondale in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado where I had been accepted as a summer intern at Solar Energy International (SEI). This summer program consisted of nearly 3 months of programming including one month studying photovoltaics and two week blocks on microhydro, wind and sustainable construction. In preparation for the week on methane digestion, I constructed a small batch digestor from a 55 galloon drum. Also offered during this time was a week intensive on solar dehydration and cooking. While there was class-work, the majority of our time was spent with on site tours and doing installations of renewable energy systems. I became promptly aware of my inadequacies as a carpenter during this summer and resolved to improve my skills as a builder.
At SEI I was exposed to my first permaculture style farm at Jerome Ostenkowski’s Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. While living at SEI, I enjoyed the freedom of living via bicycle. With a trailer and one person tent I was a gypsy in the valley camping amongst the cattle on the BLM land or off the railroad tracks by the river. At the end of the summer it was time to head east and I made it to my Aunt Francis’s condo in Tennesee before I succumbed to carpal tunnel and hopped the bus to Winterville.
In Winterville I borrowed my dad’s truck and headed on a roadtrip of US highlights camping & visiting friends in Utah, California, Oregon and Washington. Visits to Anasazi ruins, the Redwood forests and the Olympic Pennisula highlighted the natural wonders of the West while Las Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle presented some of the urban diversity of the USA. After this whirlwind trip I returned to NC where I was gifted a pickup and then proceeded to Arizona in early 1996.
In Tucson I was hoping to get involved with alternative construction projects in the area that featured strawbale, rammed earth and adobe techniques. While I did have the opportunity to be a part of several projects the majority of my time was spent receiving an introduction to basic conventional construction techniques. I was employed by a property developer with varied projects including condominium renovations, tile roofing, drywall and painting an ice cream factory. As the heat in Tucson turned up I migrated north to Boulder for a stint of stick framing learning the ropes of North American conventional house construction.

Our boss in Boulder had found some work in Montana at the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park. So I was the junior member of a three man framing crew hired to build a sizable second home for some folks from Utah. We incorporated some salvaged timbers from a recent forest fire into the construction and communed with the moose family who were steady grazers in the bog. From Cooke City I traveled to Washington State where I discovered within the San Juan Islands a farm on Orcas called Tap Root.

Tap Root and the neighboring farm were small scale vegetable market farms and homesteads experimenting with the WWOOF model. Typically with Willing Workers on Organic Farms arrangements short term residents exchange labor for a farmer’s room and board. When I arrived at Tap Root they were in the process of building a post and beam structure that was to incorporate straw bales as insulation. I joined the construction team under the supervision of a natural builder named, Pamela Pauly. I joined an island community rich in ideas of sufficiency and sustainability. It was my first introduction to the large scale operation of an exchange at the town dump that amounted to an outdoor swap of all types of consumer products. The adjacent island of Lopez had an independent monetary system and a land trust dedicated to affordable, sustainable housing. The experience of living in collaboration with other volunteers, with minimalists accommodations, in an extraordinary landscape, doing rewarding work, eating farm fresh food, in an incomparable climate was exhilarating. When the rainy season began in October my sister Dara and I headed to the Virgin Islands.

We headed to Maho Bay on St. John, USVI. Maho is a resort with an ecotourism theme. The accommodations at Maho are minimalists screened cabins with meals and music offered at a central dining hall. From Maho we brokered work and lodging with the owner of the Island Hardware Store. The house that was being renovated had a downstairs where we lived that walked out to the waters of Chocolate Hole, the ground level roof had been removed by the previous Class Five hurricane. When the house was nearly finished and they were filling the swimming pool it was time to move again North.
I journeyed again across the country making the familiar stops in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Colorado and Washington. After putting up some sheet rock at Tap Root, myself and Jim Stevenson, an acquaintance from St. John, headed to Alaska. The Al-Can trip was an amazing glimpse of the Mother Earth often in juxtaposition to the ugliness of humanity. We finished a house in a Juneau subdivision tucked so closely to the Mendenhall Glacier that the coolness of her touch was constantly a reminder of her presence. We were graced by interactions with bears, eagles, otters, caribou, salmon and seals. Then in early August of 1997 camping in the back of a truck across the bay from Juneau I received a cell phone call that would change my life.

Day to Day

For Thanksgiving, I went away from D Acres to visit my family in Colorado for two whole weeks. I have a new 5 month old neice, Kaia, who is quite a darling, and whom I was excited to meet for the first time. While I was there, she mastered grabbing objects and pulling them into her mouth--in only two weeks! By the end, I was sure she had already gotten bigger. Our thousands of miles of distance only ensures that I will miss so much of her early stages of Kaia development. I can't wait for our next visit.

I've been at D Acres now for a little over a year. In the scheme of the organizations development and history, that's a small span of time. We are entering the 13th year with a focus on Reflection and Service to the Community--looking both inward and outward for further growth and sustainability. As usual, we're taking the Winter months to make plans for events, workshops, and on-site projects. We keep ourselves busy with daily work: animal chores, cooking, construction projects, cleaning, and craftwork. But we're already looking ahead. Having placed our Tree Order with FEDCO, and recieved the 2010 seed catalogs, we've got garden plans to make and a new batch of apprentices and intern to get ready for.

In all of this I continue my own personal reflection. I feel like I've still only just begun this D Acres endeavor. With a whole plateful of lists of things to be done, and still more to look forward to, it is clear how one year can feel so insiginificant.

We have one intern working with us right now--he's been here since the beginning of November. He arrived as an apprentice, with limited experience in rural and farm living. In his seven weeks at D Acres, he has progressed in a way that impresses us. His D acres experience has in many ways, been a model experience for what we hope to see when folks participate in this project. It is a day to day, week to week learning. Familiarizing one's self with the tools of work, so that the next day's work becomes more fluid--so that it becomes the way of doing and the way of being at the same time.

I can get severely impatient with my self these days, and wish it all just came a lot easier. It is challenging to step back and realize my need for more knowledge, my lack of practice with a tool, my slowness, my inexperience. Though fully conscious of my stage of development and learning, I am still like a child, living the challenge of fumbling through my lesson, determined to get it right and get it done. There will always be work, and my relationship to it can only progress--move forward.

Time does not stop to sit and reflect with me, and so everything continues. We will celebrate the ringing in of the New Year in a D Acres's Family style, with a Full Moon Potluck, Snowshoe Walk by Moolight, and Open Mic by the woodstove. We hope you will join us on Thursday when festivities kick-off at 6pm, or come by anytime.

If you can't make it out to bring in the new year, please come out January 8th, when we host some of our favorite puppeteers. The Modern Times Theater, along with several other friends and folks, will be performing "The Brand New Same Old Bologna Show"! It will be an evening of "ridiculous music and cardboard variety entertainment." The evening begins at 6:30pm with a potluck, and the show starts at 8pm. Bring a dish and bring a friend!

All the best in this new year--moving forward toward good work.

With warmth,
Regina

Friday, December 11, 2009

There's always something..

Two nights ago I climbed the ladders of my personal ascension, ready to curl up in my nest of a bed in the top of our D Acres silo. My thoughts were on the cold, the whirling snow, the months of whiteness that stretch before us...and the haven of my bed I was ready to bundle into.

When I reached the top floor, however, I received an unexpected shock. Snow! Everywhere! Not much, but a dusting that made my box of letters seem ghostly and my sleeping bag anything but inviting. Still, my stubbornness becomes increasingly pronounced the harsher the situation, so turning around for a warm(ish) night's rest inside our community building was not on the docket. I proceeded to brush and blow, shake and scrape those beautiful - and entirely unwanted - piles of snowflakes off and away from the least-impacted "corner" of my round abode. Two hats on my head, booties on my feet, I zipped myself in and hoped for the best.

I can say it turned out fairly well. There were a few patches of snow that I'd missed at night and found by morning once my body heat had melted them into dampness. Other than that, I was warm inside my layers, and when I corralled the gumption to wiggle myself out and greet the morning light, I have to admit it was a remarkably picturesque little scene.

But not one that was to last. I spent the morning "winterizing": Bags, blankets, clothes, boots, books swept off and shaken out; plastic hung over the biggest gaps (measured in square footage, not inches); and remay stuck in the holes between walls and roof. With some imagination, it looks like dainty (dirty) gauze hung lightly from a regal poster bed.

I've been told I can display above-average optimism.

Regardless, it is a similar process all around the farm. Now that the snow and cold seem here for real, we're finding details that need fixing, or cracks that need plugging, or projects that simply need to be completed. Engaged in such is how you'll find us these days here at D Acres.

Come at strategic dates, however, and you can enjoy some good food as well. Sat. 12/19 - SOUP NIGHT!! or Sun 12/20 - SOLSTICE POTLUCK!! or Mon 12/21 - OPEN MIC/POETRY SLAM/POTLUCK. It may be winter, but you don't have to stay home every night.

So head on out, join us! It'll give us an excuse to start a fire.

Enjoy~

Beth

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Five "Fun"damentals of the Simply Good Life

hey i decided to include a bit of an article i have been working on...
let me know what you think
enjoy, jt
Five “Fun”damentals to the Simply Good Life

During the 1990s I was a student of environmental conservation at the University of Colorado. I studied the problems of the world including over population, resource depletion, habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and species extinction. This catastrophic situation challenged and inspired me to become part of a quest for a sustainable future. Sustainable solutions provide for human health, wellbeing and ecological coexistence within the resource limitations of the natural world. Towards this goal, D Acres Organic Farm & Educational Homestead was founded in 1997 to seek practical solutions to the Sustain-Ability opportunities of today.
Development Aimed at Creating a Rural Ecological Society is a land based organization that builds skills and raises awareness as a non-profit education entity. Two fundamental principles of the organization are Localization and Food. These themes are interrelated as we pioneer a system that provides for the essentials without polluting the planet. Localization revolves around developing a socio-economic system that relies on the local natural resources. Food is everything including nutrition, exercise, connection to nature, resource conservation, social bonds, community security and sheer enjoyment. Localization of food and economic efficiencies build personal, community and ecological health.
The goal of this article is to identify the five principle and essential needs of humanity that form our “Fun”damental priorities to focus our efforts of Sustain-Ability. This is not an attempt reduce the complexity and interrelation of the global crisis, rather to recognize a practical needs assessment of humanity is in order. By compartmentalization of the five fundamentals, we are inspiring a systematic approach to identifying human needs with more sustainable actions. By pairing our essentials with solutions we hope to inspire direct action on the individual and community level to meet the challenge of the crisis today. The sustainability solutions overlap and complement promoting strength through diversity and multi-functionality of our sustainable system.
The five essentials can be summed in no particular order as 1) Food & Water 2) Shelter 3) Clothing 4) Medicine and Preventive Medicine 5) Community & Experience. The goal is to produce these necessities through sustainable production that enriches the environment of the future. The strategies to provide these essentials are based on natural resources and climate. The goal is to find an evolving equilibrium where humanity can perpetuate on the planet. This task of providing these essentials sustainable will require ingenuity, sacrifice, cooperation and motivation. The reward of pursuing solutions to the global crisis is the perpetuation of life on this planet

Food & Water
This essential ingredient of life must be maintained free of pollution through mindful production, usage, and recovery. The cycles that purify, replenish and provide nutrients and energy can be observed and mimicked to meet human sustainability goals.
Food production in the industrial model is very inefficient. Conventional industrial agriculture with its reliance on mechanization, oil, processing and transportation uses approximately 20 times the calories it produces. Humans working on the land without “modern” polluting, inefficiencies can reap 10 times the calories they invest in manual labor. Sustainable food production must be localized in terms of soil building, seed saving, cultivation, distribution, preservation and preparation. Water must be purified and utilized through designed natural processes that do not diminish the resource for the future.
Building soil through no-till techniques mimics natural soil systems while also being functionally appropriate for human powered agriculture. Rich mulch serves as nourishment for the soil, weed suppression and moisture retention. Biomass varying from leaves to seaweed to finished compost can be locally sourced dependent on your bioregion and ingenuity. We utilize a kitchen soup approach to building soil at DAcres blending straw, woodchips, manure, leaves, cover cropping and compost. By incorporating poultry, pig, cow and horse manure into the compost we are able supply a balanced nitrogen source to blend with the abundance of woodchips and leaves provided by the forest.
Through the vitalization and perpetuation of soil on our farm we are investing in the future. There are also plants that can be utilized as an investment in the future. Designed perrenialization of food production by introducing herbs, fruits and nuts into the food system has the advantage of low maintenance, strength through diversity, and cumulatively richer harvests yearly. Combining polycultures of herbs, shrubs, vines, and trees mimics nature and provides dividends in terms of food, pollinator habitat, medicine, and fuel.
Our diets can be correlated to seasonally induced availability. This approach dictates that distinct climates would eat differently. At D Acres our diet is rich in greens, fruits, eggs and fresh vegetables in the summer whereas the fall and winter are richer in root crops, winter squash, chicken and pork. Food preservation is a key component in our sustainable dietary choices. Canning, smoking and dehydration requires initial energy investments in time and infrastructure though provide long term low energy storability. The freezer sucks energy while producing an inferior taste and texture to food. Root cellars are ideal for storage of fresh foods of root crops like potatoes and carrots while the upstairs closets and attic can serve to season nuts and preserve winter squash and alliums. Fermentation is a practice that preserves and also provides nutritional benefits.
Integrating availability of resources is important for our diet decisions. DAcres has relations with local restaurants, grocers and cafeterias to divert food from our landfills and incinerators. This service recycles food that would otherwise be wasted to feed our pig population. Food is integrated into our decisions on land utilization by incorporating pig and chicken tractors and grass loving herbivores to maintain, improve and expand the fields. Food preparation techniques are also based on natural resources and climate factors. On sunny days solar cooking is the preferred way to prepare food though wood combusted in designs such as traditional woodstoves, cob ovens and rocket stoves can provide the heat.
Water availability is a climatic factor. Purification, storage and conservation techniques can assist with providing useable water. By using compost toilets we eliminate the wasteful usage of drinking water and enrich the local soil. Greywater and wetland systems can purify water through designed mimicry of nature. Rainwater catchment from roof structures and landscape features provides for collection and storage. Water heating for domestic usage is primarily accomplished with solar with fuel wood as a backup. Utilization of biodegradable products in the water supply eliminates the problems poised by contaminated water. Water polluted by persistent contaminates like toxic household cleaners, pharmaceuticals, pesticides or fertilizers is a situation we should choose to avoid.
Food and Water are what we can call the necessary and enjoyable ingestibles. They provide the nutritional, caloric, natural connection and social glue that sustains a healthy and secure humanity. Producing rich food and clean water is a cultural heritage based on local climate and resources that are the responsibility of the local populace to conserve, perpetuate and promote. The hard work and pleasures of manual farm labor has been denigrated by the industrial model while the real-actualization of food production can inspire and invigorate everyone to take part in growing good food. As our culture evolves with a fundamental emphasis on healthy food and clean water, we will benefit from knowledge, investment in the environment, consciousness and natural connections not provided by the industrial model.
Conventional industrial agriculture is heavily subsidized and inefficiently using fossil fuels to produce nutrient poor food. As we evolve back into human and animal powered agriculture, we will need more farmers on the land. The era of oil driven cheap food production where one farm can produce for a hundred mouths is drawing to an end. We must transition to a society that provides for a portion of the food they eat through small scale garden plots and direct relations with farmers. The population must be directly responsible via physical and mental tasks involved with food production. The land base must be made available to farmers who are valued economically and socially. Buying directly from food producers through farm-stands and CSAs is a responsible step towards economically supporting this revival. Innovative approaches such as land sharing and nonprofit farm management must provide an opportunity for equitable work and residence. The people must be allowed a mechanism to re-colonize the landbase and provide the human capital to produce the five essentials.

Shelter
Design and materials are crucial elements in providing sustainable shelters. Sustainable design incorporates strategies such as passive solar, which utilizes the seasonal variations of the sun to provide for heating and cooling of the structure. Solar power is the fundamental source of heating and cooling which can be supplemented with fuelwood. Passive solar design also incorporates the concept of providing substantial insulation when necessary. Insulation is crucial to conserve the energy of heating and cooling shelters.
A general theory that actualizes “good boots and hat” by providing a strong, durable and impermeable foundation and roof with proper overhangs and water resistance is crucial in design and implementation. If the foundation is stable and rot resistant, and the roof provides proper protection, the structure can sustain in its struggle against the destructive forces of weather and time. Climate based particulars such as snow loads and high wind contingency are factors that should not be overlooked.
Reuse of building materials is a practical way to provide sustainable structures. Windows, wire, chimney pipe, metal roofing and hinges can be reutilized from renovations and diverted from the incinerators and landfills. Tires, bottles and tin cans have been recycled into wall and foundation projects.
Natural materials such as adobe and strawbale can be combined with wood and stone to provide the structure and insulation of our sustainable shelters. Natural materials are locally available and do not produce the toxins of industrially created building materials. At D Acres wood is a primary building material that is supplied through our forestry program. Although our neighbor has a bandsaw mill to produce dimensional lumber we prefer the lower impact of round wood stripped of its bark whenever possible.

Clothing
The functionality of clothing is tied directly to our localized climatic factors and natural resources. The warmth of clothing for people in Florida can be compared to what is comfortable in New Hampshire. Currently North America has clothing sufficient for many years to come. While we can always reinstitute natural fibers such as hemp, wool and flax the current focus can be to utilize our existing clothing resource. Shipping clothes to distant continents and flooding the economy with free clothing thereby destroying the fabric of existing cultures is not a sustainable solution. We need to wear our clothes out. As a culture we need to transcend our admiration of new, stylish, unblemished attire and instead focus adulation to the frugal with practical patches and skills in the fine art of mending socks. Clothes stylish in by gone eras are still functional and the style goes in cycles to be repeated. Fabrics should be cherished, handed down through generations and worn until the rags can be reutilized for household cleaning.

Medicine & Prevention of Illness
Sustainable living can prevent illness through the lifestyle. Healthy food and exercise are the answer to problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. We have approached health by focusing at intervention at critical stages when the condition is grave rather than systematic illness prevention. Medicinal plants are a key component of the agricultural system and a daily tea tonic of available herbs brings the healthy, natural connection to palpable levels.
Avoidance of the toxicity of our industrial pollution also will reduce the level of illness.

Community & Experience
The community consists of people of various ages, skills, and commitment to one another. Direct communication is important to maintain the trust and knowledge for optimal community relations. Families, non blood related households, workplaces, political and government entities can all be considered communities or an element of a community life. These organizations share resources in skills, people power, and infrastructure. In life long learning community provides, teachers, students, and mentors the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences. Community provides support to those who require additional assistance, mentally or physically. Community provides for the education of the youth and there is caring and respect of the elders.
A community must be the archives of experience in regard to infrastructure and techniques that have been historically effective in zones that share similar climate and natural resources. Information and trade of goods and services between the global community will still exist though limited by the reduction of cheap oil.
Community is always evolving as relationships develop and generations age. There is ebb and flow in activity though the commitment to mutual aid and dialogue needs to be apparent. Within groups with an agenda, facilitation and transparency is necessary to make shared decisions transform into actions. By opening the door to process and the possibilities of collaboration we are engaging a societal revolution towards the next stage of human development. When we can transcend our individualistic and egotistical needs we will be empowered to act in the interest of the present and future community. To grasp the extent of the global crisis and not engage in the rational and spiritually enlightened pursuit of a community sustainability is at the least denial and could be construed as suicidal and genocidal.
Community provides a commonality to this sustainable quest. This shared challenge is to provide our subsistence in an enjoyable manner. This immense and complex challenge is an opportunity to re-combine human energy and ingenuity with the resources of the natural world to provide a sustainable future. By directing addressing the problems through identifying the essentials needs, we can work towards solutions while building links between these essential processes. This is not a simplification of a complex situation; this is a direct attempt to identify what are the components for a sustainable life that is simply good.

There are several facets of modern life such as energy consumption and transportation that can be considered essential. I have chosen to focus on what I consider the absolute necessities of successful human existence and primarily avoided what is a luxury beyond that level. In this urgent time of energy descent and global crisis the principle necessities provided in a sustainable fashion is the model that should be demonstrated to North Americans. To address this situation I offer my thoughts on what some would consider essential though I see little that could be construed as essential in regards to something with as large an impact as airline travel.
How do we replace our current energy consumption levels? We need to revert to human and animal powered equipment to provide the kinetic energy for necessary tasks. Animal and human waste should be converted to methane for combustion and subsequent fertility. Conservation and improved efficiencies are the priority in the short-term though we need a radical transformation away from the fossil fuel powered world. Energy amenities for electronics can be provided by photovoltaics while water and wind power can be efficiently used for tasks requiring prolonged kinetic energy such as water pumps and mills. Alcohol and vegetable oil are options for continued usage of combustion engines. As to our infatuation with travel and transporting goods, water (canal, river, & sail) and rail can be utilized to transport heavy cargo. For people, walking, hitchhiking and biking should be considered as the common code of sustainable conduct. There will always be caravans, gypsies, nomads and seasonal workers who shift across the landscape in search of work and adventure. The culture of travel shifts from direct focus on the destination to a blend of the journey along the way.

So is this transformation to a focus on essential factors of sustainability possible or even desirable? We must be proactive at this juncture. We need to address these issues on a local community level. By identifying the critical necessities of humanity and providing for those essentials in a sustainable manner we are addressing the contemporary global crisis. If we are not responsive in developing systems to provide the essential necessities of humanity sustainable we will destroy our ecosystem and the life that we cherish. The natural laws of evolution favor life forms that are responsive to change. If our species is to continue to thrive on the planet we must depend on our timely realization of a crisis situation and an appropriate response.
We need people to be committed and responsible for the long term welfare of the land base. There is a need for individuals, collectives and organizations to invest time in the sustainable long term viability of specific land parcels. I am uncertain if transferable ownership and equity can serve to motivate the long-term investment in the land or is it the awakening to the realization that the proliferation of a healthy productive land base provides for the collective welfare of all humanity. Personally a journey of mutualistic collaboration with the land invokes the humility and inspiration that energizes the natural connections and manifests into fruitful realization of spiritual sustainability.
People are apathetic to be personally responsible for our negative contributions to the problems of our contemporary crisis. We are accustomed to the luxuries of modern times and would prefer there was a quick easy solution that would maintain the status quo. This is a self service and a quick fix. The changes are that are necessary to promote long term sustainability diverge from the model of global consumerism and perpetual growth. Necessary changes, such as reverting the population so that 50% instead of 1% lived on farms, are dramatic, radical and rational. While promoting this strategy of focusing on essentials as principal to our existence is a worthwhile commitment for humanity, we are dependent on collective actions and conscious collaborative efforts for success.
A true commitment to the essential goals of sustainability provides the sustenance of life lacking in our consumer society. Our “real” limits to growth are grounded physically by our daily dose of solar radiation while our spiritual growth in the pursuit of sustainability is without limit. Perpetual growth and consumption glory is an illusion; what we are seeking is a comfortable homeostasis. To continue the metaphor, any profits generated in a homeostatic system are naturally reinvested for the health of the organism. These five fundamentals can be achieved on individual and community scale and we need to seek this equilibrium for our future. Variations of enduring sustainable culture have been practiced throughout the history of the world. Only in the last 100 years have we become dependent on fossil fuels for our lifestyle. We must perpetuate a path of human development to coexist with the mother earth.


What to do first?
1) Change your perspective. Look for satisfaction through conservation rather than consumption. Take pride in turning off lights, spending time with community instead of the tv or skipping that airline travel in favor of the bus or simply staying at home to relish life. Look for the low energy alternatives that provide happiness and wellbeing.
2) Change your perspective. Look at the challenges of sustainability as an opportunity. Spiritually and physically sustainability has many benefits. Instead of fearing pain of sacrifice find the rewards of sustainable thought and actions.
3) SustainAbility is not something that will happen overnite though do not put it off until tomorrow. Get started with small incremental steps NOW, make priorities and goals that can be fulfilled.
4) Share food and work.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No snow yet...

As this Tropical November continues to keep us warm and working outside, it seems all the harder to sit indoors...so just a few words this week.

We're still finding weeds that need pulling, trees that need mulching, and kale that needs harvesting. Although the daylight is increasingly short-lived, we're out there until the end, keeping our hands dirty and our backs seeking the sun's weak warmth until darkness really descends. Granted, that means we're indoors by 5:30, which leaves us with lots of time to think about all the food we've spent so many months growing, harvesting, and preserving.

We eat so well! so much flavor! so much health! For this we are effusively grateful, each meal akin to a mini-Thanksgiving. We are, nonetheless, looking forward to the real holiday with much excitement.

So a happy and healthy Thanksgiving feast to all! May you spend the day with folks you care about, eating food you care about, talking on topics you care about. May merriment and mirthmaking prevail, may we all be refreshed in the beauty and joy that is the act of sharing food with others.

-Beth

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oh, how our garden grows

Harvest Mania has come and gone here at the farm. It started gradually, the cold nights pushing us on: rushing to scythe oats and rye in the dusk of one late afternoon, gathering all the remaining green tomatoes in a last minute assualt on the three-sided "greenhouse," a final day spent harvesting potatoes from morning to evening. Then suddenly, the tipping point.

Monday it happened. Our comings and goings with wheelbarrows, carts, buckets, and baskets were the clues to passer-bys that all our carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, rutabegas, cabbage, leeks, millet, flax, quinoa, chard, spinaches, lettuces, and asian greens were being taken from the dirt and stored in our root cellar, basement, and refrigerator, as need be.

It was an all-day affair, and one that wasn't properly finished until mid-week.

Two things still remain. One: weeds. Tenacious and persistent, weeds should rightfully be included with death and taxes on Ben Franklin's list of the things to be sure of in life. If rain and sub-freezing temperatures allow, these tough, vegetative intruders will be pulled out of the ground as gardens are put to bed for the winter. If not, the rematch will go down in the far-off spring.

The other thing remaining in our gardens, is, of course...KALE. We can't eat it fast enough, and the plant puts up a long last stand before the cold gets the better of it. So we're preserving it as fast as we can, yet still it dominates so much of our landscape. In garden beds, yes, but also on the side of beds, in the pathways, on compost piles, in animal pens, between logs, alongside rocks. Kale is remarkable. What can we say?

Well, for one...EAT MO'! KALE!

Better yet, plant some yourself. Such a tiny seed, and yet it produces so much food, all season long. Go ahead, get some while you're thinking about it. You won't regreet it come next season.

~Beth

Monday, October 12, 2009

The leaves let go








After nearly a month of the most brilliant fall colors, the leaves are starting to collect in droves. This morning saw a thin layer of ice atop every container of water, and frost on the plants. We've all been busy worker bees. So much to do as the harvesting season draws to a close.
-kati

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Traditional Arts Fair 2009





September has brought us many days with beautiful clear skies and many visitors to the farm. We continue to move through this harvest season, putting food by for the winter and serving up the fresh foods to all who pass through the D Acre's doors.

On September 12th, we welcomed over 30 artists and nearly 100 fair participants for the 2009 Traditional Arts Fair. It was a unique celebration of traditional art and craft, as many local artists shared their skills with the wider community. Such workshops and demonstrations as bookbinding with Sheila Williams, fabric painting with Susan Wei, building with nature with Cynthia Robinson, dying wool using natural materials with Gary Hamel, blacksmithing with Rob Hudson, spoonmaking with Jim McHugh, and so much more! We went into the evening ready to enjoy a spectacular line-up of entertainment. We welcomed back The Modern Times Theater and their political Punch & Judy puppet show, as well as Bob Weick performing Howard Zinn's Marx in Soho. To end the night, nationally acclaimed barn dance callers and fiddlers, Jaqueline and Dudley Laufman, sent us swinging in each others arms and stomping the grass down under our feet.

All in all in was a wonderful event that is sure to keep buzzing around the area. We hope all who attended were able to take home a new skill or piece of knowledge about the simple time-honored skills involved in craft and art.

We hope to see you at the farm again soon.
-Regina

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Leaves, they are a-changin'

What a weekend here on the farm!

Hey there. Steph here, checking in on the recent happenings here at D Acres.

We hosted approximately 40-50 rock climbers in the hostel and on the grounds the entire weekend. It was like grand central station! We made sure everyone was well fed before hitting the crags every day, and I think it was much appreciated. On Sunday morning, we fed 30 or so guests from 7:30-8:30am before prepping for D Acres' monthly Farm Feast Breakfast for 72 people at 10am! We worked very well as a team
and completed the task with smiles on our faces.

I fed the pigs this morning and was greeted with grunts of satisfaction. Little Rocket was the first to begin tugging at my pants before I could get his meal to him.

Everyone has been so busy getting things together for the Traditional Arts Fair here at D Acres this Saturday (the 12th, be there or be square). Luckily, everything is falling into place nicely due to the dedication, motivation, and organization of on and all at the farm. I'm so excited! Check out our website at www.dacres.org to learn more about the Trad Arts Fair, including the schedule and presenter bios.

Karen has been working long and hard spear-heading the bulk of the harvest in time for fall. We are all doing our part weeding, preparing beds for the cold, and planting fall crops. You should have seen the size of the carrot that was harvested yesterday morning! Definitely a pounder, at least!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our hands show who we are

This week freshman orientation came to our compost piles. Shoveling through quite recognizable ox manure and rank chicken bedding, these students were remarkably willing and eager to get dirty. "No one will believe I did this! But I did!" - was the general sentiment.

Our potato beds and our ox pasture were transformed with similar well intentions.

Perhaps a piece of our life - the rhythms of working the land, living off of gardens and via hard work, aware of the sun and the seasons - stayed with these kids as well. Hopefully longer than the dirt they invariably washed off in the showers they were anticipating with great relief.

We, the residents of D Acres, got routinely dirty this week as well (though our dedication to showering is less reliable). Weeding (cabbage); cutting daises and yarrow; weeding (peppers); seeding daikon; weeding (squash); transplanting more cabbage; weeding (begone bindweed!); harvesting beans, carrots, turnips, beets, daikon, kale, cabbage, chard, tomatoes, greens; weeding (blueberries)...

...and that's just in the gardens. Henri and August stretched their legs pulling in brush, progress was made on the new greenhouse roof, spoons were carved, things repaired, animals fed, compost turned. Our hands bear the stains of our respective endeavors. We share in the pride of a calloused hand-shake.

Of course, it's not all work and no play. Last night was our monthly Open Mic event, at which guitars and bass strings pushed back our early bedtime. Tomorrow, Sunday, is our monthly volunteer day. Join us for a day, and enjoy a farm-fresh lunch! Next week, be sure to stop by for our combo Potluck/Pizza Night Sept.4, and our signature Farm Feast Breakfast on Sunday Sept 6.

And please don't overlook our Traditional Arts Fair. Sept 12, all day long - workshops, demonstrations, performances - check out our website or give us a ring for details. [www.dacres.org or 603-786-2366] From fiber arts to ceramics to woodworking to blacksmithing to music and theatrical performances, this is not an event to be missed. Promise.

Did I mention I've yet to be back a full week here at the farm?

That's right, all this work and excitement covers only the past six days. Yes, it's a busy place with lots going on. It's a beautiful, lush place - in the work being pursued, in the vibrancy of the people, in its verdant green-ness, in it's ideals. D Acres can be many things to many people, but you've got to make it here first. Come find out what D Acres means to you!

Merriment and wisdom to all ~

Beth

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ebb and Flow...


It's all an Ebb and Flow. I am here, here I am. Beautiful land, wonderful people with many gifts to share, whole foods to harvest, and cook, and eat together. Fall is approaching and it will be wonderful...

Jessica

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day In, Day Out.




What a life. Each day there is another challenge; whether it's figuring out how to replace the engine belts on the truck when all of the bolts you need to loosen are so rusted they break before they turn, interpersonal differences, love, comrads coming and going, dropping orange-hot steel in my muck boot, buying a motorcycle and riding it half way across the country, figuring out how to make a traditional arts fair happen for seven months, doing blacksmith demonstrations on top of Loon Mt. twice a week, nursing Augusts'(the oxen)hoov back to health when he doesn't want the help, tons of blacksmith workshops and private lessons, or "conflict resolution" meetings, the learning continues.
One day at a time

growing a little futher,
becoming a little stronger,

falling apart,
putting it back together a little better,

growing a little further,
becoming a little stronger.

Joe the blacksmith

Monday, July 20, 2009

zach and emmy checking in for our first combined blog of adventures! time here has been nothing short of AMAZING! how can there be any complaining when you get to wake up in a treehouse surrounded by a forest of all shades of green!? our commute to "work" includes walking through the trees and up the lower gardens, listening to the birds chirp their morning songs. after a tasty breakfast we get to garden, work in the ceramic studio, cook, tend to the animals, and do lots of other fun and rewarding things around the farm! each day brings new adventures, lots of learning, building community which leads to an amazing outlook on life and being grateful for our absolutely beautiful surroundings! our days end with our bodies happy from being outside each day, filled with delicious food fresh from our gardens, and ready to get some sleep to start adventuring with the new morning! living here has created new awareness and a connection of mindfulness during the daily activities. these spiritual connections allow almost everything done here to be looked at in a meditative light. living each and every day in the present moment!

here are a few photos from the last couple of weeks here at the farm:


august - being his amazing self!


a great mushroom find on the way to the secret swimming hole


first big swarm of the season - grey's first catch and part of the beekeeping adventures going on here at the farm.


farm feast breakfast - joe with his morning cup o' java...


brand new kiln structure complete with removable roof section, soon to be the home of a 2300 wood kiln. the first firing brought everyone out to enjoy some major flames and sparks.... it was magical!


first few raspberry harvests of the season! soooooo delicious.


eco art workshop with cynthia robinson - regina, emmy, cynthia, and her daughter emily came together for a great afternoon of creating art with the materials in the upper fields. a nice throne to break on during some potato hilling!


herbal tea workshop with sarah! we gathered some herbs from around the garden for a big pot of fresh tea. while that was brewing, workshop participants made their own tea blend with some dried herbs to take home.


listening to some awesome bluegrass by parker hill road band at dorchester's old home day - bob marley and old crow medicine show cover were incredible along with all the other great tunes!


our first time at bread and puppet - it blew us away! the performance, the location, the people, the music, the art, the bread.... it all bring about the most incredible feelings of community and energy going towards something that is making a difference in this world. you could definitely feel the magic in that place!


the afternoon performances started in the main field and took us into the pine forest, later ending in this beautiful field!


some of the beautiful costumes at the performance and the audience enjoying every second of it!


chris overlooking the fields after the performance - this field came to be my favorite place in the grounds. we later watched the sun set over the trees. nothing but the most positive, powerful energy is felt in this place. what a great end to an amazing evening!

"slow down and enjoy life,
it's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast,
it's the sense of where you are going
and why."
- eddie cantor

"live simply that others may simply live."
- gandhi

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sun is shining.

Sun is shining today in a pale blue sky. Rain rain rain will come again some other day. The earth has gotten good and wet, Her offspring flexing fibrous green muscle.
Digging in the dirt to plant the things we need and remove what we don't lets me observe the world beneath the toes- earthworms aerating, beetles scuttling, orange salamanders shimmying. There is no lack of birdsong to the day. Chop wood, shovel loam, hill potatoes, harvest greens, weed the gardens, feed the animals, feed yourself.
Three weeks at the farm and I am proving the rule: the more you learn, the less you know. I've entered D Acres as a seedling, thirsty for the sustenance of fresh air, fresh food, and good-natured folks who are happy to be alive and learning.

What I know is that the farm is an ever-changing creation; an experiment with a few controls and many variables. Lots of positive energy and passionate creativity. Laughter during work. Laughter during play. Fresh food. An emphasis on self-knowledge and labor as practical tools.
This place is all right.

-Kati

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Essentials for a Lifetime





This morning I started reading the editorial of one of my favorite publications, "Small Farmer's Journal." Lynn Miller has a way with his words--he is not afraid to publish his truths, radical they may read to some, he writes it anyway. I found my self immersed in his comments on food, the economy, and our complicated government systems. His words seemed familiar. It wasn't until I was 1/3 of the way through the piece that I realized it was the last issue--I had already read these words. But they were no less strong nearly 5 months later, and no less pertinent to my life's work and the work of many others in this country and world.

D Acres has a little article in this most recent issue. It is a basic overview of what we do here, and sheds a little perpective on our farming life and community. It is by no means comprehensive or ripe with the activism that we sometimes feel here. The kind of stuff that Lynn feels when he writes about HOW to leave "today's commerce-driven society":

By taking charge of our lives, by returning to the basics of a self-sufficient existence, by "re-villaging" into communities of like-minded individuals, by growing some, if not all, of your own food, by rejoining the biological world and demanding of applied science that it truly serve humanity and the planet, by rejecting sadism, gluttony, and ingratitude, by disonnecting from electronics and chemistry which deaden us.

It's an honor to me that D Acres has a little article in the Journal. I hope we are able to submit in the future, and really live up to the kind of farmers Lynn Miller is calling for--the self-sufficient farmer that provides "some measure of their own food, shelter, and heat" (and I will add, medicine) and calling that "essential." For it is.

Last month, I was proud to announce the anticipated release of the 2009 Local Food Guide. A listing of farms in the county, what they offer and where folks can get their products. The pictures above celebrate the Launch Event Spectacular held in downtown Plymouth on the Common on June 6th. We want more events likes this--bringing community, family, food, goods, and services onto the same "green." Because we are all involved with each other in some shape or form--to help provide for those "essential" human needs.

Please come celebrate, and help make some good times at D Acres homestead. The Summer is in full bloom for sure and bursting with food and medicine. Visit us anytime! For Pizza Night! For Soup Night! For Farm Feast Breakfast! Bring your friends and family too.

with the warm energy of the Summer Sun,
Regina

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Here We Are--We are Here



The Summer season has brought many changes to this D Acres project. The many different ways we love the land are reflected in the many faces who travel through our farmhouse doors, and wander the woodchip-covered paths. This is part of what makes us unique and exciting.

Right now, we're a funny looking bunch of characters--and we're having a real good time!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spring in New Hampshire


Good Mornin! So if you havent noticed its Spring outside! And its not until I came here to D'Acres that I really knew what that meant. To actually be able to make out a discernable difference amongst the landscape from winter to spring and feel like a surgence of green power took over this land almost overnight is astonishing. Sure the days have gotten warmer but not by my standards. I still think its cold. You see Im from New Jersey. The Jersey Shore to be exact. And when it gets warm out its like summer and everyone is heading to the beach with their bathing suit. But the temperature fluctuates here like a woman trying to figure out what to wear for a party. So to see these plants grow and thrive and double in size day by day is amazing. Where are they getting all their energy from? I want to dig a hole into the ground, stick my hand in it and tap into that source of energy. I know its down there!

But Ladies and Gentlemen and faithful readers....ohh the beautiful flowers! The plethora of flowers on this land. And you would never think it because they can be so unassuming. Yet the joy of stumbling upon one; it would be like finding a pearl in an oyster. It can be so majestic. If you've ever found or seen a Pink Lady's Slipper you'll know what I mean.

They come in all shapes and sizes. Yesterday I couldve sworn I saw the tinniest flower in the world and that's after declaring this statement 3 times already. What's fun and always surprising is how you would never think that there are probably over 100 different species of flowers here because they can be so hidden or found in random spots. Like underneath a rocky cliff or on a mossy rock. They can just spring up from nothing: beautiful, intricate and so delicate. Its remarkable! Everyday I discover a new one and look forward to looking it up in a flower book. I feel so privledged to be able to see, touch and smell these flowers that have seemed for so long to be only found in books. I cant remember the last time I was so excited and awh struck by spring. So next time you step outside stop and smell the flowers! They're there you just have to look.
Peace and Flowers,
Ambra

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Eat Local!


Today from 4-6pm at the Common in downtown Plymouth we are hosting a launch event for the the new 2009 Pemi-Baker Valley Guide to Local Foods, Farms and Homegrown Goods.

Many of the local farms featured in the guide will be present to share their goods and their knowledge.

Hope to see you there!

Grey

Sunday, May 24, 2009

we know how to party

Last night was awesome. Black Bear Moon West African Drum Ensemble, an "all species" costume party, blacksmithing at the bonfire, and wild behavior. It's amazing how the group energy builds throughout the night. Such a good feeling.

Hope to see you at the next one.

-JV

Not the New Guy Anymore!



Hello -

JJ here and I have been the new guy for the last 3 1/2 weeks here @ dacres.org. We had a new person start Friday, who you just might hear from soon.

My first few days were full of new ways of doing things for me and continue to amaze and challenge myself in different ways - Never think you have nothing left to learn!

So what are some of these challenges?

-Slow down and hurry up
Having my own computer consulting business and being part of the world of instantaneous gratification, being able to slow down, feel deeply what needs doing and then doing it without distraction, is what I mean by slow down and hurry up.

There is a sense of urgency to all that goes on here as the growing season is short and the work never-ending. From planting, transplanting, cleaning up after farm animals, sorting out problems with electrical fences, finding and fixing issues with solar driven irrigation and a multitude of special projects, keep us all very busy.

Also, due to my business, the fastest internet connection available, plus a redundant DSL connection, makes the satellite internet here seem like dial-up! There are several computer-related projects I am involved with and they help to keep work balanced between outside and inside work.

-Appreciate deeply all that you have
This relates to relationships (A shout out to my wife Beth and daughter, Kira) who are back in Florida while I participate here @ dacres. Housing is included here as my "dwelling" here is a yurt with a small wood stove from fourdog - Add two batteries, one 5amp/hr battery charged by a 7w solar panel and a larger 60amp/hr battery charged by a 60w solar array, provides for basic lights, fan, music, computer and keeping my air bed blown up solid. I am really living large compared to some of the folks living here in small tents. Check out the photo of the yurt and you all can see how this fits into the dacres environment.

Food also falls into this category as we tend to eat primarily what the garden is producing at any given time. My absolute favorite is the rhubarb which is already extremely prolific and my taste is for it fresh and raw directly cut from the plant! That tang cannot be found with other foods nor from store bought rhubarb...

-Do not waste ANYTHING
Almost everything I have encountered @ dacres has been used and re-used and used again. Bean trellises (I got the repair many rather than re-build them from scratch as I was initially inclined), buckets, boxes, zip-lock & plastic bags and on and on. Think hard before you throw something away as you may be able to re-use it!

====================================



Nature abounds around the farm and surrounding area - I have taken many bike rides and hikes that continue to amaze me with the variety this part of New Hampshire has to offer visitors. This being Memorial Day Weekend, we have been very busy with Hostel Guests, campers and I got to do my part and make more than 6 dozen scrambled eggs for more than 30 guests this morning (plus all the cleanup that goes along with it! -ok ok, I did have some some help ;-). There was also pancakes, buckwheat, kale and blueberry dressing along with dacres maple syrup. What a nice way to help so many people start the Sunday. eh?

Plus, after 3 1/2 weeks, I had my first guest stay with me for the weekend - Another shout out to Joseph who left just a little while ago back to NY.

There is so much more to tell, so why not come visit and find out for yourself?

All the best and live lightly,
-jj
www.dacres.org

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bebe Rocket



This is Bebe Rocket, the newest member of the D Acre's family. At two and half months and approximately thirty pounds, Rocket, a baby boar, has been welcomed with open arms.

It is such a treat to check on him every morning and see him snuggling with the other piglets.

Peace,

Grey

Monday, May 18, 2009

Deep under your fingernails...

"ART IS NOT BUSINESS!... ART IS FOOD. You can't EAT it BUT it FEEDS you. ART has to be CHEAP & available to EVERYBODY. It needs to be EVERYWHERE because it is INSIDE of the WORLD. ART SOOTHES PAIN!... ART IS LIKE GOOD BREAD!"

These words from the "Cheap Art Manifesto" printed by the Bread & Puppet Press ring heartily in my ears these days. I went for a trip up to Glover, VT a couple of days ago to visit with a former student of mine--Nathan, who now works and lives at the Bread and Puppet Farm as the Resident Agriculturalist. Weeding intensively, creating and designing new bed space for lettuce, kale, broccoli, onions, carrots, beets--a garden is emerging once again on the land.

But the Manifesto--this cheap art, this movement shaped from radical ways of being and living. Of course, for me, this exceprt begs the question, "what is Art, then?" A question that will forever be asked and will forever evolve. One that will search for resolution through inspiration.

Weeding can be so tedious and boring, but this garden work that I participate in is for me a kind of art. Not every little green thing can be pulled and tossed aside. Sometimes it's edible, and other times it's worthy of being transplanted to a new space where it can flourish as a flower or head of lettuce.

How can we change our perspective to incorporate gardening and weed-pulling to be Art? To be made and available to everyone? To feed us like good bread feeds us? To inspire us to work harder and with full hearts toward that radical change and resolution?

Asking questions may be that first step. Is this really the work that needs doing? WHO is being FED by my labours? Are there walls between me and my neighbors--blocking the Art that is inside and everywhere, but on the "other side"?

And other words: "We lose our health--and create profitable diseases and dependences--by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving." (Wendell Berry)

I want to draw circles all the time, circles within circles to amplify and exemplify and demonstrate these concepts. Rings of beets, bowls of pac choi, slices of radish...

-Regina

Monday, April 20, 2009

Did you hear that?

Perhaps one of my favorite conversations from the week occurred while making breakfast on Wednesday. Joe and I were discussing the array of noises we hear from our tree houses. The most recent addition this past week was the infamous wood frogs in the pond by the G-Animal house. They sound a bit like ducks impersonating chickens (see me for a very accurate rendition of said call).
Then Joe asked me if I've heard someone trying to start a generator throughout the night but was never successful as getting it going.
Well, after discussing it some more and hearing Joe's interpretation of the noise I realized he was referring to the ruffed grouse, which I've totally been enjoying hearing. You see, the male ruffed grouse is into percussion. He'll find a hollowed out log then flap his wings creating some amplified beats throughout the woods trying to attract that special someone. Pretty awesome. Joe's description of starting up a generator works well to describe the noise.
Also, I've noticed the early morning bird chorus is rapidly changing and growing, even just in the past week. Sure, the woodpeckers are still getting things going, robins then chime in, those grouse keeping the rhythm but then the most most beautiful melodies have been surfacing, so many that it's been difficult to pick out what birds are involved.
There are some noises that I've been hearing that Joe has not. These are the noises of my roommates: squirrels and mice. One mouse was dangerously close to my head the other night. However, for the most part these roommates of mine our respectful and keep to themselves. And after all they were there first.

So next up in noises should be the spring peepers. The tiny little frogs that throw their voices in all directions creating an epic evening chorus. I bet that yesterday (Sunday) would be the day. Clearly, I lost.
This week seems very promising though...

Listen up!
-Beth

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Thought for Food

My work focus since mid-March and continuing on through April and May consists of compiling farm information, soliciting advertisers, and graphic design and layout in order to produce and distribute the 3rd Edition of the Pemi-Baker Local Food Directory. We want to make this small booklet available by Memorial Day weekend--in time for the full jump into the summer growing season. It is exciting to know that we will be including at least a dozen more farms and a handful of new local businesses and services.

Now more than ever, this is the time to Think and Act Locally.

In the promotional letter we sent out to local businesses--an advertising solicitation that will allow us the funds to produce the Guide, we wrote, "Localization of food, goods, and services is vital to the health and growth of rural counties. Knowing one’s neighbors, farmers, and businesses increases the overall well being of a community and creates a unique thriving economy. At D Acres, we are interested in a legacy of local industry that will ensure food security, nutrition, and community sustainability--the Local Food Guide is a small step in that direction."

Wendell Barry, in an essay he wrote in 2001 states, "the idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence..." We provide what we need and what we will use to those who live near us. Is it that simple? I'm not sure, but I'd like to think so.

In that same letter, we addressed the uncertainty and instability of the economic times, " We...are inclined to believe that purposeful and intentional investment in the local community is a long-term investment in the wealth of the local economy." Circulating our money within a local radius decreases our dependency on goods and services imported from miles away, therefore decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels, in turn decreasing the violence, war, and even crime that harms humans, animals, and the Earth. This is my belief.

Some of it is founded in books, essays, and gleaned from teachers, and some of it comes from the pure experience of growing, caring for, preparing, and eating good, clean, nutritious whole food.

I look forward to all the food events we have here on the farm with sincerity, and believe we are providing an environment that vibrates with change for how we view our food. We love to share conversation and "good times" around a bowl full of seasonal soup and fresh baked bread, or a potluck plate of a little of this and little of that. Please come and join us in celebrating "neighborhood and subsistence"--it is simple and refreshing.

With Warmth,
Regina

Upcoming D Acres Food Events:
Full Moon Potluck, Friday April 10, 6-9pm
Seasonal Soup Night, Saturday April 18, 6-9pm

Other Local Food Happenings:
Flavors of the Valley, Tuesday April 21, 2-7pm Hartford High School, White River Junction, VT

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chores will set you free

Chores will set you free


There is a poster that has been greeting me every time I pop down to the basement to put food away in the root cellar; or on my way up from seeding plants. It is at the top of the stairs, and proclaims in joyful dramatic woodcut ink:

The Government will not set you Free. Chores will set you Free.

I think that this statement, equating chores with freedom, captures the homesteading lifestyle at its most crucial point; it is the heart of it.

I have been here for three weeks, and I can feel a fusing of usually separate elements of my life into a single action—Chores. But it would be too simple to call it just “chores.” It is a fusing of working, learning, and socializing into a single action. On Monday, at the meeting when weekly schedules take shape, people will practically fight over certain chores; “Who wants to feed the chickens?” “I’ll take the whole week.” “Awww, I want a day or two!” Moreover, the major work week, comprised of 4-5 hour blocks, morning and afternoon, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, is so variable, new, and enjoyable that each block becomes a little experience in itself; Four hours, bite sized, mental, physical and social excursions:

Walking through the snow, the sound of clipping as we prune trees, sculpting the future paths of each branch.

Transforming the greenhouse from disorder to organization, moving from sunny indoor warmth to the hint of cold outside, all while conversation lightly flows.

Preparing breakfast, taking orders, meeting and greeting visitors as the community pours in for Farm Feast Breakfast (95 visitors strong!)

And on Monday, as the meeting lilts on and on, my schedule goes from a blank page to a full page; and free-time events, traveling into town, seeing such and such presentation, band practice, are pressed right up against my chores, feeding pigs, cleaning stalls, construction. In fact, it is harder and harder to tell which is chore and which is free-time.

You will never have so much free time as when you are constantly busy. Chores will set you free.

Monday, March 23, 2009

We Stay Until We're Done






Walking through the soft, melting snow of Bickford Woods Rd. I trudge along with another curious sugarer, Beth. An abandoned sugar shack awaits us just down the noll. How long has this shack been out of comission we wonder? The entire shack itself has a lean that most people wouldn't dare go inside, but crusasders like me and Beth felt we had a calling. An evaporator the size of King Kong extends a good 20 feet if not more along a cord of beautifully aged, dry wood. The boiling pans turned over as if they were closing off the stove. Looking around we find a newspaper from 1983 with an article about Ronald Regan. (Not the actor, the president.) After venturing outside we find the old logging/sugaring road. It starts just at a rotting gate and looks downward on a clear pathway to and beyond the sugar shack with maples on both sides. It looks as if it would have been a piece of cake to run this trail with oxen or horses. Maples that have to be at least forty years old tower over you head like skycrapers. Most of them look like something out of a Tim Burton/Sleepy Hollow flick. You can identify an old tap, but it's nothing but a tiny piece in the bark. The tree has entirely healed itself since the last year it was tapped. This property feels like buried treasure to me. Something I could only dream of ever owning or having a piece of. You can feel the presence of the sugarers that were heading up this operation and hear the roar of the flames that scorched this stove.



This past weekend D Acres and I hosted a workshop on the sugaring process here at Dorchester. At one point there were at least 25 people following me around, collecting sap and trying to fit in a sugar shack made for no more than three people. A day in the shack is a test of one's personal endurance, as I tried to explain to our guests. There were a few that came back around, but it was Kip and Veronica who stuck it out to the very end. Their enthusiasm made the process that much more rewarding. All in a days boil, 17 hours later, I am down to approximately 2 gallons of sap left. Just enough to bring into the house and start the morning off with the smell of maple syrup in the air. I make some billini's with frozen raspberries from our garden and get to taste one of the first batches I did. So far we're at the three gallon mark, with 50 more gallons of sap waiting for me to boil down tomorrow. Somebody asked me how long we would be in the shack for. I told them our motto is "we stay until we're done." There is no other job in the world that I have felt more satisfied completing than sugaring.

Peace out y'all. coolio (see you in the shack)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sorting Out Life Plans(subconsciously) While Sorting Trash

It was perhaps three or four years ago when I met Josh Trought and was first introduced to the idea of this place called D ACRES. The Scene was the MOFGA common ground fair. I signed up to volunteer for composting and recycling team. Josh did too. Although I can’t recall all the details interesting conversation sure sparks up when digging through the aftermath of fairgoers.
Since that time D ACRES has continued to come up in my life in many forms and now here I am interning and participating in this community. Feels incredible to say the least.
For the past two years I’ve been living in Seattle and as a New Hampshire native I can’t think of a better way to reconnect with this state/New England culture. It’s good to be back in these woods! The North East forest offers such a diversity of plants, which I’ve been quizzing myself on walking around the D ACRES trails. And of course another perk of being in these woods at this time of year is maple syrup. I’ve been involved with two boils here in our ol’ sugar shack. The sugar shack is a vortex where time has no relevance. A welcomed vortex. I’m looking forward to the sugaring workshop tomorrow, which I’ll be helping Neil out with. Please come on by!
Although it’s early on in this experience I'll leave you with some things that come to mind: playing music, learning how to make bread, frozen compost, hearty kale, hearty spinach, hazing from the oxen , snow melting, thinking like water, cobb oven, slowing down, finding things in a new kitchen, seeing stars again, inspiration all around.
Feels good.
Happy Spring,
Beth

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Heat


Woo. 46 degrees F feels pretty good. The other day I walked outside with a shovel for the first time in 4 months to dig into the ground instead shoveling snow. With several feet of snow stocked up all melting at once, water suddenly becomes the next obstacle – a refreshing obstacle. Mud Season. Digging shallow trenches to redirect water away from the blacksmith shop is a joy. Not only am I keeping the water and occasional ice from invading the shop, but I'm also having the opportunity to think like water and earth. It’s all so loose and flexible – attributes I’m trying to strengthen in myself. I’ve been tying to distinguish wants from needs, and trying to let go of “wants” that aren’t beneficial as much as I can. This is tricky business in some ways. Sometimes I short myself and try without a need on accident – and things build up inside of me, much like the water in the trenches that is stuck in a concave area. Eventually the water spreads and deepens as more rushes in without an outlet, creating a large puddle, until it either spills over the concave area and finds a route down hill or soaks into the ground. It creates an obstacle for farm operations – making life for everyone a tiny bit more difficult. And when I have my personal “build-ups” I think it becomes an obstacle for the 9 other people I’m living and working besides every day. To help resolve this, I want to take better care of myself, or at least be more careful with digging trenches to relieve my “build-ups” so people don’t have another obstacle to work around, or get their feet wet in. Peoples’ energy is contagious and I want to contribute more to positive energy.

Anyway, enough with my attempts with a hippy-dippy analogy. I’m psyched about the blacksmith shop this year. I’m giving 3 introductory workshops in April; two of which will be three day sessions. Then on May 2nd my neighbor and friend, Rob Hudson, who is probably the most skilled blacksmith I’ve ever met (ranked best knife maker in the world in 1999) will be giving a workshop on how to make a fire poker while delving into the history of iron ore and how blacksmiths have been utilizing it for thousands of years. On top of that, Ralph Sproul from Iron Bear Forge, who is also a highly skilled blacksmith with a deep and all round handyman mentality might be coming up with a portable set-up to ad another workstation for participants as well as assist and be a resource of vast mechanical knowledge.

On top of the group workshops I’ve been doing a lot of private lessons on a weekly basis. Last weekend I had three separate lessons - two boys who are 13 and another who is 15. I see in their eyes what I feel when I’m looking at a hot piece of iron. Excitement and Possibilities! I’m always fascinate by what students come up with to make. Steel is definitely a route for some people’s genius to come out. I swear there is some sort of blacksmith gene. When thinking about all of the people I’ve shown the craft to or demonstrated for, one out of ten are wholly fascinated by it. There’s something very mystical about it. Glowing hot iron is out of this world - unlike any material the vast majority of people get to experience in a life time. When hot, it is elegant, fluid, and malleable. As it cools it gradually becomes harder and tougher to work, durable, sometimes brittle, and at times has the potential to be razor sharp. A piece you're working on can be like digging a ditch in New Hampshire’s granite filled earth (which can be very enjoyable), and other times it’s like floating down a river. A full mental experience, and not far from a total body work out as well.

The dates for the upcoming workshops are:
April 10, 11, 12, 12:30pm - 4:30pm Basic Blacksmithing
April 17, 18, 19, 12:30pm - 4:30pm Basic Blacksmithing
April 25 1-4pm Basic Blacksmithing
May 2 1-5pm Fire poker making w/Rob Hudson

Sleeping and eating arrangements can be made for the 3 day classes or private lessons.
Check our website for dates later on in the season and check regularly as workshops develop through the year.

Happy forging,
Joe