8 Tips on How You Can Live Locally

living local

Wondering what steps you can take to become more aligned with your local community and environment? Erica Evans, Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator at NOFA-NJ, shares with us 8 ways you can live locally.

1. If your municipality allows, raise your own chickens. In my own hometown, I participated in many town council meetings advocating for residents raising hens.

2. If you have space available, grow a garden, it can be as small or as large as you can handle. It can be in the ground, in raised beds, or pots. 1 or 2 tomato plants on your back patio is better than no tomatoes. Even a windowsill herb garden is better than nothing. Community gardens, roof gardens, porches, patios, windowsills, front and back yards are all great places to start your own garden!

3. Join a CSA! There are vegetable, meat, and fruit CSAs available. In my opinion, for lots of people this is a great option, especially those who don’t have time or space for their own garden. It’s fun, social, educational, and more! If a full-share is too much for you (if you have a small family or are single), choose a half-share option if available, or split a share with a friend, neighbor, or co-worker!

4. Eat with the seasons. Learn what’s in season. Knowing what’s in season means knowing if it is local. Some people like to organize their recipes by season. Having a reverse approach to recipes where you see what looks good at the whole animal, eat the organ meats (super nutritious!), and my favorite part: cooking fats for free from melting down fat into lard or saving the fat from a roast duck!

6. Preserve produce while it’s in peak season by freezing, drying, canning, or fermenting. Get friends, neighbors, or family together and make an event out of this! It’s always a memorable experience – especially for the kids.

7. A way I like to taste the seasons is by foraging for wild edibles. Each season brings something new you can forage for. However, do not do this unless you are 100% sure of what you are foraging, and make sure it is in an area free from chemicals (I’d be wary of those tasty looking dandelions that grow in every suburban yard where chemical fertilizers are used regularly) and not near traffic. Also, you must be sure not to deplete the entire stand of plants.

8. The most important concept to keep in mind (for me) and what I used to tell members of North Jersey Locavores is that a little bit is better than nothing. Maybe you can’t buy ALL your food from a local farmer or you can’t grow all of it yourself, but even just a little bit is better than not at all.

chickens and a beet

By |June 27th, 2014|News|Comments Off on 8 Tips on How You Can Live Locally

Living Local: On Raising Chickens and Keeping a Garden

living local

Patti and Emily are both old* school Blue Mooners, with lots of experience themselves in gardening in agriculture. Patti, our seeding and watering specialist, has a BS in Horticulture from Penn State and a pack of chickens and 2 dogs in her backyard. Emily, who manages our market (and market garden) in Buckingham, in addition to working in the sales office, maintains a large kitchen garden with her boyfriend, Scott, in Ottsville.

Their advice on how to be a local citizen? Keep a garden and raise your own chickens.

harvesting radishes

If you are just getting started gardening, Emily advises, the best things to grow are things that you like to eat! “It seems so simple, but it makes gardening more fun.” What does this mean? If you don’t like kale… then don’t grow kale! If you like cucumbers, try planting some!

Tip from Emily on gardening: Look at your landscape. Do you have a shaded yard? Full sunlight? The amount of shade will affect what you are able to grow. Think before you dig!

chickens and a beet

And chickens? “If you can have chickens, have chickens! They are so easy to take care of, and you get the best-tasting eggs ever.” Patti gets a lot of enjoyment from her chickens- they’re fun to watch, pretty to look at, and, really, the eggs just can’t be beat.

Tips from Patti on keeping chickens: Always make sure their water is clean! Chickens are natural composters- have garden scraps? They love them! (Note- Chickens especially like Blue Moon lettuce.)

*as in years of employment, not age 😉

By |February 21st, 2014|News|Comments Off on Living Local: On Raising Chickens and Keeping a Garden

How to Make a Stand.

2013-08-02 007hhhhIn the fall of 2012 something radical happened in the Blue Moon sales office: Rebecca and I threw our chairs out the window. Well, okay: we didn’t actually throw our chairs anywhere, but we did push them to the far side of the office. It was something we’d often fantasized about—instead of sitting while working, standing. Every other day it seemed another major media outlet was sounding the alarm over the health hazards associated with prolonged sitting. We decided it was time for a change.

The history of the chair, and sitting more generally, is a revealing one. Only after the 16th century did what we know as the modern chair become common anywhere; prior to that, most folks, if they did sit, did so on benches or stools. Though really it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that the chair achieved the near-universal ubiquity with which we Westerners now associate it. Whereas in ancient times it had been a means for ruling classes to convey superiority over their subordinates (think thrones or sedans), the chair was now an indispensible part of daily life. Desks were designed around the chair, as were dining tables. Churches, concert halls, and town halls all required sitting in some type of chair. Colin McSwiggen, writing for Jacobin Magazine, points out that, “as chairs became prevalent in schoolrooms, they became a tool for teachers to control the movement of children, whose healthy tendency towards activity made them difficult to teach.” The chair was changing who we were as people, and not always for the best.

Indeed, recent research shows that prolonged sitting has lead to a number of health problems, including obesity and something called ‘metabolic syndrome’, a cluster of conditions including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and, yes, even larger posteriors. Sitting also raises the risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease. None of which, experts agree, can be offset by extra time at the gym. The only solution is to spend less time sitting.

Having worked for years in standing-intensive retail jobs, Rebecca and I knew we were physically capable of ditching our chairs, but just how was unclear. There was no shortage of standing desks on the market, but they were expensive and didn’t jive with our aesthetic. So we enlisted the help of Blue Moon handymen Carl Ruppert and “Uncle Jim” Rappo to design and build a pair of standing desks which were at once functional and attractive.

2013-03-05 008

To be sure, the transition was not an easy one—several weeks had to pass before our legs adapted—but we knew right away   we’d made the right decision. The chronic pain in my neck decreased, and I felt more limber, alert. Rebecca reported       similar results. What’s more, standing made us feel in control, as though instead of reacting to the day’s events, we were enacting them. The only downside was the steady stream of confused glances and perplexed comments leveled by coworkers and visitors. One of our crew-members even asked if Jim and Kathy were making us stand. We soon learned that these were teachable moments—Did you know that sitting 11 hours a day raises by forty percent your risk of dying over the next three years? And little by little perceptions began to change.

Since we abandoned our chairs, the standing desk has seen its status as Hottest New Trend trumped by the ‘walking desk’, an upright workstation with a treadmill. All over the world, people are giving their chairs a rest. What about you? Are you ready to make a stand?

By |August 2nd, 2013|News|Comments Off on How to Make a Stand.