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Outdoor preschools

4 Aug

Last night I came across a link to a Forest Preschool in Canada. Something about the idea instantly captivated me. My son is such an outdoors kid – he really would spend all day outside if he could. Because of his personality, I’m really interested in these outdoor preschools.

Link to What Are Forest Schools?

And here’s an article about one in Scotland.

Although I think it’s a fantastic idea, there are other things that I would personally like to see incorporated. I think it is great that they spend all day outside, but I also think that some other outdoor activities could be incorporated, rather than just being in the bush. For example the children could feed chooks and collect the eggs. They could grow a vegetable garden. I think it would be valid to incorporate a democratic education angle, as well as some quieter activities, like reading. Books can be read outside though! I think they can also have some directed activities, such as painting (easels can be set up outside), playing with things like wooden go-carts, and cooking (eg. mini pizzas for lunch).

I like the idea of having a yurt as a classroom for extreme weather. I think for younger children it may be a nice space for them to sleep in. And of course there would be a compost toilet.

I am quite excited about the idea of sending my toddler to something like this when he is a bit older. It makes me wonder if I should set one up. But although I would really like him to go there, I’m just not convinced I want to look after other people’s children for a living, much as I enjoy children. Something to think about.

Today a friend posted a link to this lovely video which reminded me how magic the natural world is.

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A gardening misdemeanour

9 Jul

I am flabbergasted. I cannot believe the stupidity of the human race sometimes. Check out this story of a woman who faces misdemeanour charges for… having a vegetable garden in her front yard.

Um.

Umm.

What???

Good on her! I love that she decided to put her vege garden in the front yard instead of the back yard, so that her neighbourhood could share the experience of growing vegetables. Kids ride their bikes past and check out the plants? Awesome! Whether intentional or not, she is making a statement about home grown food, reducing her dependence on oil and processed food. With 6 children it’s no wonder she can’t afford to feed them all organic vegetables. I think she is doing a wonderful thing for her children; they won’t be the sort of kids who don’t know the difference between a potato and tomato.

Look like a pretty respectable front yard to me!

What a pompous jackass the Oak Park city council official is. Spouting the dictionary definition of suitable, to claim that only common ‘beautiful trees and bushes’ should be grown in the front yard. He clearly doesn’t have a clue. The whole concept of perfectly manicured front lawns with a few useless shrubs is an absurd concoction of ‘safe’ suburbia. Further, the Merriam-Webster dictionary also defines suitable as ‘adapted to a use or purpose’. I think she is acting with utmost suitability. Someone on the Facebook page (there’s always a Facebook page!) made a very good point. They can’t tax the tomatoes you share with your neighbour. There’s the trouble.

It is a basic human right to grow food to feed oneself. This isn’t just a council code issue, it is much bigger than that. Julie Bass owns her house and she should have the right to put a vege garden wherever she wants to. The world is in desperate need of more vegetable gardens, and the idea that this woman could go to jail for hers is ludicrous. I can’t imagine that she will be convicted once it goes to trial… surely a judge or jury wouldn’t be as narrow-sighted as Kevin Rulkowski? May I point out that a vegetable garden is so much more beautiful (and infinitely more productive and valid) than a patch of grass. Ugh, conformity.

If you read her blog, she states all the things she didn’t do, because Oak Park doesn’t allow it. Bees, chickens, goats, compost, windmill… I feel so sad that she has her own land and wants to do all these things for her family and the planet, and some bureaucratic nonsense means she can’t. In an ideal world, she’d get an award for what she’s done, not jail time!

However, I think it’s great that she is getting so much support from all over the world. Goes to show there are plenty of aware people out there! A pity they probably don’t want to work for city council. Imagine what could get done!

I say we all plant vege gardens in our front yards in solidarity!*

*To be honest, I don’t plan to be in this flat for long, so I don’t really want to go to the effort of putting in a garden. But I am growing veges and herbs in pots on my stairs and porch… which you can see from the street! 

Farm for the future

7 Jul

Very interesting documentary: Natural World: Farm for the Future

Asks some very valid questions, and answers many of them too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some encouragement to keep doing ‘this’

27 Jun

I wrote the title of this post and then thought “What is ‘this’?”

‘This’ can alternately be described as ‘turning into the kind of hippy my teenage self would be horrified at’, and ‘becoming a responsible citizen’. It seems that nowadays, being a responsible adult means paying your bills and keeping the wheels of the industrial cog turning. That’s not enough. It never was, but particularly not anymore. So for me, ‘this’ is learning how to live a good life. ‘This’ is following the green dream, and turning it into the norm.

Sometimes it’s really hard. I’d like things to be a bit simpler sometimes. But let’s forget all the difficulties for the moment. The important thing, when it comes down to it, is that this is all important stuff. And in many ways, it’s really exciting and challenging too! (Challenging is usually a positive word in my vocabulary.)

Today I started reading this cool little e-book: Ten ways to Chillax and Have Fun as you Live Your Green Dreams. I recommend checking it out. I think the title is pretty self explanatory, so enough from me.

The Story of Ten Ways to Chillax and Have Fun As You Live Your Green Dreams from Happy Writers on Vimeo.

When will it sink in?

23 Jun

Yesterday a friend posted a Facebook status about the high price of her grocery shop this week. Someone posted a reply saying ‘It’s gonna get worse apparently’.

I can’t help but wonder exactly what they are thinking; they and all the other people who complain about the cost of food and fuel and go on living their life the same way they’ve always done. Albeit with more grumbling and probably more debt. Do they not wonder why? Why it is that in the 50’s families could live comfortably off one income, and now it’s a struggle on two? Why food prices get higher and higher on a monthly basis, when wages just aren’t creeping up to match? Is it all attributed to normal inflation?

I want to know when people will realise that there is something more going on. That we aren’t just in a ‘little recession’ and things will go back to normal in a couple of years. That the landfills are filling up and now they’re even building toxic houses on them. That our society is unsustainable and therefore will not be sustained.

When will I stop feeling like the slightly mad one who is given to hippy-ish flights of fancy about the end of the world as we know it? When will everyone else stop feeling a bit ‘put upon’ and realise it’s time to take responsibility? I feel sometimes as if I’m walking round in a bubble, where I can see things with clarity from somewhere else, and yet I can’t escape them. I am doing my best, but it’s not enough. Or am I? I reduce, reuse, recycle. I live in an upstairs flat but I am growing brassicas in the middle of winter in pots on my steps. I am learning how to make things from scratch. I am networking. I am raising a beautiful child with all the goodness and consciousness in me. But at the end of the day, I’m still dependent on my car, the supermarket, and the government benefit that gets paid into my account each week.

‘It’ has sunk in, but I haven’t climbed out yet, to be terribly metaphorical about it all.

Farmageddon

16 Jun

Blimmin’ heck…

Organic vege boxes

19 May

I have discovered a wonderful thing. Delivered. Organic. Boxes. Of fruit and vegetables.

I don’t have an established garden, but I love organic vegetables. People argue over the health benefits (which seems stupid, really; obviously something that is natural is going to be healthier than something that isn’t… it’s that simple) but aside from all that, organic tastes so much better. No wonder veges are so uninspiring and people have to force themselves to eat them, when they buy sterile supermarket vegetables. I can’t afford to shop at the organics store, but the delivered boxes are actually not much more than I would pay for fruit and veg at the supermarket.

It’s also a good way to make sure that the largest portion of my grocery bill is made up of fresh, healthy, fruit and vegetables. And although it can be somewhat inconvenient to not choose the produce myself, it’s also rather cool to get a mystery box of deliciousness, and have to use what I have to figure out some different meals than I might otherwise make.

I have been getting baby boxes from the Organic Connection and they are pretty good. But I have also come across the same service through Commonsense Organics which is a bit cheaper, so I am going to trial that in a couple of weeks. Their website is crap, so I haven’t bothered to go through the process yet. I also got a voucher through groupy for Organic Boxes – $25 for a $50 box – so I am going to use that next week.

I will report back in a few weeks or so with the results of my market research.

UPDATE: The Organic Boxes box was less plentiful than the Organic Connection one. It was good quality, but I wouldn’t have thought it was enough for a couple for a week. I tried to go through the Commonsense website again to order one of their boxes but they really don’t make it easy… I have given up for now; maybe once they upgrade their website I will have a crack at it. I am sticking with Organic Connection for the moment.

It’s cold!

28 Apr

It is a lot harder to get inspired about gardening when it is cold and wet and windy outside. I love Wellington’s wind in the summer – it helps prevent mugginess in the heat – but in the winter it just blows that chill right through you. With all the rain and cold we have had lately, I have not wanted to get out and garden.

I have a pile of lawn clippings to mulch the second terrace with, some companion seeds to plant amongst my brassicas, and some pots to put potting mix and herb seeds in. Life gets too busy to garden sometimes, but I realise now that I have to prioritise it occasionally, rather than just doing it when it’s convenient.

So as you can probably guess I haven’t been very active in my pursuit of self sufficiency for the last few days!

Appreciating weather

21 Apr

Pic by John Loku

In the city, rain is simply an inconvenience that requires you to wear an ugly rainjacket or battle with an umbrella. But when I woke up this morning and it was grey and spitting, I thought “oh good, my seedlings will like that”.

It’s nice to have a reason to appreciate weather that isn’t just sunny. (Although I might not be so chirpy after it has rained for a week solid.)

Planting brassicas

21 Apr

Today seemed like a good day to plant out my brassica seedlings, so I did. As we are coming up to winter they are about all I will be growing for now, although I am planning to put some herbs in pots on the balcony (easy access). I’m also planning to mulch the second terrace and plant garlic in a month or so.

The first step was to improvise a temporary gate at the bottom of the steps so that I wouldnt have to keep following the climbing toddler up them.

However, said toddler went straight to the other steps and climbed them, so I had to improvise another temporary gate.

With the steps out of reach (for now) I was able to plant out the seedlings in the bottom terraced bed, which was semi-mulched. I added another bag of potting mix and half a bag of compost, and then dug holes at regular intervals to place the seedlings in.

Red cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, broccoflower and pak choi seedlings

When I attempted to water them using the hose that had been left behind, I was a bit disappointed with the pressure...

So I watered them the old fashioned way with my watering can.