Category Archives: GROW

How to Eat More Sustainably in 2015

January 13, 2015

I teamed up with Oakland artist Maria Schoettler, to give you fifteen tips to eat sustainably in 2015. Keep this as your desktop background, print it off and tape it to your fridge and let these be a gentle reminder that you too can eat healthy, delicious AND sustainable food.

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  1. Eat Less Meat – try out Meatless Mondays or cut out meat on the weekends. By starting small, you’re making a huge impact on the planet as animal farming is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases. There are plenty of delicious vegetarian options out there, which will get you more creative in the kitchen!
  2. Buy Local – Try shopping at your local farmers markets or sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share with a local farm. Local food ensures that your local farmer stays in business, promotes plant diversity and is the freshest possible option.
  3. Buy Organic – If you have the means, always choose organic! By doing so, you’re not paying into a system that mistreats the planet with harsh chemicals. If you’re strapped for cash, stick to the clean 15 and avoid the dirty dozen. These are the fruits and veggies that are most worth the money for organic based on pesticide use.
  4. Sustainable Seafood – If you eat fish look for wild caught and sustainably raised seafood. If you live in the Bay area check out my friend Beck’s company, Small Boat Seafood!
  5. Eat less processed foods – aside from generally being harmful to your body, processed foods rely heavily on highly-subsidized corn (in the form of high fructose corn syrup) and doesn’t encourage a diverse food system.
  6. Grow Your Own- have a window sill? Pot up some herbs like basil or mint to add to your salads. Have a backyard? Try your hand at growing leafy greens and radishes, which generally take less time to grow than root vegetables. Gardening is awesome, and growing your food can be extremely rewarding.
  7. Compost – If you have the space, you can get buy a pre-made composter or build one yourself. No backyard? No problem! You can buy or make your own worm composting bin that can live in your kitchen. If you keep your worms fed regularly, there shouldn’t be any bad smells coming from there. By composting, your diverting your food waste from a landfill and turning it into nutrient-dense soil for your garden or potted plants (see #6!)
  8. Preserve the Harvest – all the berry picking you do in the summer would make delicious jam in the fall or winter. Same goes for fall apple picking- you can enjoy apple sauce anytime of the year. With a little bit of planning, your can preserve lots of food.
  9. Cook! – The easiest and most straightforward way to eat more healthy and more sustainably is to take some time to cook every week. I love Tamar Adler’s approach of doing all your roasting and baking on a Sunday to have it feed you for the whole week. Check out this video for some serious inspiration.
  10. Buy in Bulk and reduce food packaging – ever tried shopping in the bulk section of your grocery store? It’s a great place to save money and packaging for things like grains, flours, nuts and lentils.
  11. Buy Fair Trade or Direct Trade coffee and chocolate – the coffee and chocolate industries have had a long history of paying low wages for workers. By cutting out the middleman, and working directly with farmers, you’re supporting fair-wage practices for cocoa and coffee farmers across the globe. Plus it’s delicious.
  12. Invest in reusable kitchen ware like bamboo cutlery, textiles and even mason jars. This is a great way to reduce waste in the kitchen.
  13. Stop buying bottled water! Buy a cute water bottle and fill it up at the tap. If you’re concerned about tap water in your region, you can always buy a water purifier. You’ll be saving money in the long run and reducing all that plastic.
  14. Ask Questions- whenever you’re out buying groceries or at a restaurant ask questions. This skit made the questions go over the top, but it never hurts to ask! You may be pleasantly surprised with the answer you get.
  15. Enjoy it! Good, healthy, sustainable food is meant to be shared with close friends and family. Consider having weekly potlucks or a rotating dinner schedule with neighbors. This will take some time off your hands, get you to try new foods, and celebrate in the beauty of local food!

If you have any questions about the above information – please let us know in the comments! Happy 2015 everyone! 

Local Love: Luecadia Succulents

November 13, 2013

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Local, Lofty, Leucadia. Lovely. I happened upon the gem of Leucadia Succulents from non other than a Groupon deal. $30 worth of succulents for $15. Sold. What I found was a magical place: succulents of all shapes and sizes, colors and personalities. I can’t say much about this, except that I went wild in this place. I mean, who wouldn’t?

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Look out for a DIY Sunday post on how to make your very own terrarium soon using non other than these little cuties. If you’re in Encinitas/San Diego definitely check out this local plant store! Wherever you may be, find the gems that make your city unique and support local businesses! Until next time, peace!

 

Why Buy Organic?

November 12, 2013

Today we have a guest post from Chris Bekermeier discussing why we should buy organic food. On the blog we talk a lot about eating locally and supporting local farmers and businesses- but what about organic? I definitely try to eat organic as much as I can, how about you? 

 

Why Buy Organic?

Whether you never buy organic (“It costs more!”), sometimes buy it (“I wish I bought it more!”), or always buy it but then have to answer questions from your doubting friends, you’ve probably thought about what organic produce is and whether or not it matters to you. But here are the facts: Wherever you are on the spectrum of organic interest, produce grown organically has a lot to offer you. In fact, here’s a look at some of the key benefits that come from buying organic fruits and vegetables. Read this list to see a variety of good reasons for why buying organic makes good sense:

To Avoid Pesticides: Part of the definition of organic food, according to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), is food that’s “produced without using most conventional pesticides.” Since the Environmental Protection Agency links pesticides with health problems like birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other problems, finding a way to avoid pesticides is no small benefit. While the government regulates the use of pesticides in food made for the general public, by choosing organic food and products, you avoid synthesized pesticides and fertilizers entirely—protecting your health in the process. (If you can’t buy all foods organic but want to move in that direction, consult the “Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen Plus™” as published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). These lists reveal which foods bear the largest and smallest amounts of pesticides, guiding your purchases.)

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The organic garden I worked at in Canada!

To Support Biodiversity: A pressing environmental concern today is the loss of many species of organisms—but organic farmers are fighting this problem by preserving seed and many unusual varieties of food. In fact, according to published research, organic farming increases biodiversity among some of the most helpful pest-killing organisms. By buying organic, you support the people leading the way in promoting biodiversity, something as good for you as it is for the planet.

To Support Local Organic Farms: Caring about local food means caring about local organic farmers—when you support these farmers, you support your own community as well as the preservation of its crops and resources. So if local food matters to you like you know it matters to this site, you support the farmers around you cultivating food organically.

To Help the Environment: Even beyond the issues of preserving crops, organic farmers help the environment by respecting water resources (not using polluting chemicals, working to build soil) and farming in a way that’s in harmony with natural principles. Without the use of chemicals and pesticides, organic farmers have to respect the natural balance of the earth—and this means preserved wildlife areas, as well as healthier animals and land. By purchasing organic, you support the people working to support the earth.

To Eat Good Food: Perhaps the most obvious reason to buy organic is because organic food tastes good. It’s produced in well-balanced soils and designed to showcase its natural taste and makeup, so when you buy an organic tomato, you get a tomato that tastes “tomato-y” instead of like anything else.

Your Thoughts
What are your thoughts on buying organic produce? Do you regularly, or do you never? What, in your opinion, is the strongest reason for choosing organic? What matters most to you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

About the author:
Chris Bekermeier is Vice President, Sales & Marketing of PacMoore in Hammond, IN. PacMoore is a contract manufacturer focused on processing dry ingredients for the food & pharmaceutical industries. Capabilities include blending, spray drying, re-packaging, sifting, & consumer packaging.

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PacMoore, thanks for supporting the sponsors that make Local Belle possible!

 

This is My Life

July 1, 2013

This is My Life – Welcome

I know its been pretty hard keeping up with where I am in the world, so I thought I would make that a little more clear. At the moment I am living in Brandeis, California- the largest Jewish-owned piece of land outside the State of Israel. I’m working at a Jewish summer camp as the head teva supervisor- aka I get to teach kids about growing food, building fires, and hike around 3,000 beautiful acres in southern California. Oh, and I sleep under the stars about three times a week.

Life is pretty sweet. Here’s a few photos from our garden- enjoy!

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strawberry fields

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First Harvest

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Country Livin’ + Growing Tomatoes Faster

June 5, 2013

chickens

Howdy Bellpeppers!

I feel like I haven’t really given this blog the attention it deserves. The past month or so has been really crazy. Let’s see… I was flown out to San Diego for an interview for a food justice fellowship, then spent a blissful 10 days in my favorite city- San Francisco, flew back to the East Coast to spend much needed time with my family and friends, flew out to Arizona for my cousins bar-mitzvah, and now I am back in California where I am working as a nature program director for a summer camp outside LA.

Not to mention, in between all of this Mish got accepted to two rabbinical schools and we had to decide which part of the country we would live in for the next six years.

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At any rate, in my attempt to revive this here blog I thought I’d share some of my most recent experiences at camp or as I like to call it: Country Livin’.

Country Livin’ isn’t really the best way to describe where I’m at- I mean just outside this property there’s a Target and Starbucks (thank God) and up on the mountains at night you can see the bright lights of Simi Valley- but still, it’s pretty rough out here. And that is mostly due to the spiders, lack of cell phone reception, poor internet and well the fact that I am managing a farm and the nature program here.

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I’m just learning the ropes, but so far my mornings have included going to feed the chickens, make some breakfast from their eggs, drink my black coffee (which I am so happy that I brought along), check up on the plants at the garden, learn new skills and repeat.

Yesterday, my fearless leader Aryeh taught me how to make rope with raffia, which is a leaf from date palms, start a fire by rubbing stones together (seriously), and explained how to tell the difference between predators and prey by demonstrating on the bones of various animals. No joke. (If you’re very curious, ask me in the comments and I’ll reveal my secrets to you 😉 )

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All in all though this place is gorgeous. In fact I was here exactly two years ago after graduating from Mount Holyoke and before all of my travels took off. I feel like I’m in the place where everything started, which is weird but also very comforting. Like something big is about to take off when I leave here. (That information will have to wait to be revealed…) 

Fun Farming Tid-Bit of the Day:

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When growing tomatoes, the use of red plastic mulch has become popular in order to stimulate the growth of the plants and have the tomatoes ripen faster. The concept behind this is that light reflects off of the red mulch and bounces far-red light wavelengths back up into your tomato plants.

The red light wavelengths stimulate growth through a reaction with phytochrome- a tomato-specific pigment found in the plant.

There you have it friends, if you’re growing tomatoes this summer, try using red mulch to help your tomato plants ripen faster so you can enjoy some fresh salsa earlier in the season.

xx belle

13 Reasons To Eat Local

October 30, 2012

In case you have some spare time whilst awaiting impending doom a la the Sandy variety – heres a list of 13 reasons why you should eat local. This list comes from the book, The 100 Mile Diet, which I read this past summer.

If you’re looking for an interesting read about one couple’s journey into eating local food (within a 100 mile radius of their home in British Columbia, Canada) for an entire year- definitely check out this book. Thoroughly enjoyable, and not pretentious at all. They ate potatoes for like, months. That’s committment right there.

13 reasons to eat local (from the authors of The 100 Mile Diet):

  1. Taste the difference- most local produce found at farmers markets has been harvested inside of 24 hours. It comes to you ripe, fresh, and full of flavor- unlike supermarket fruits and veggies that may have been picked weeks or even months, before. Close to home crop varieties can also be selected for taste rather than durability because they don’t have to withstand the abuse of shipping or industrial harvesting.
  2. Know what youre eating- buying food today is complicated. What pesticides were used on this tomato? Is that corn genetically modified? Was that chicken free-range or did it grow up in a cage? People who eat locally are closer to the south of their food and can actually ask these questions. They can build relationships with farmers whom they trust. And when in doubt, they can drive out to the farms and see for themselves.
  3. Meet your neighbors- local eating is social. Studies show that people shopping at farmers markets have ten times as many conversations as their counterparts who shop at the supermarket. Join a community garden and youll actually meet people you pass on the street in your neighborhood.
  4. Get in touch with the seasons- when you eat locally, you eat whats in season. Youll remember that cherries are the taste of the summer. Even in winter, comfort foods like sqush soup and pancakes just make sense- a lot more than flavorless cherries from the other side of the world.
  5. Discover new flavors- ever tried sunchokes? How about purslane, quail eggs, yerba mora, or tayberries? These are just a few of the new flavors you could eat by eating locally. Count the types of pears on offer at your supermarket. Maybe three? Four? That is just the tip of the iceberg. Small farms are keeping alive nearly 300 varieties- while more than 2000 have been lost in our rush to conformity.
  6. Explore your community- visiting local farms is a way to be a tourist on your own home turf, with plenty of stops for snacks.
  7. Save the world- A study in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country. The ingredients for a typical british meal, sourced locally, traveled 66 times fewer food miles. In many places, low-carbon farming is beginning to bring food to local farmers markets with minimal fossil fuel use in every part of the cycle. Think of eating locally as your own personal carbon offset.
  8. Support small farms- there is new life being breathed into the family farm in areas with bustling local markets, strengthening the regional economy and anchoring communities. That’s a whole lot better than the jobs at Wal-Mart and fast-food outlets that the globalized economy offers in north American towns.
  9. Give back to the local economy- a British study tracked how much of the money spent at a local food business stayed in the local economy, and how many times it was reinvested. The total value was almost twice the contribution fo a dollar spent at a supermarket chain.
  10. Be healthy- many people want to know whether the 100 mile diet works as a weight loss program. The question has not seriously studied, but according to the authors, it seems that most people do lose weight eating local foods. More importantly, though, people often feel better than ever. They eat more vegetables and fewer processed products, sample a wider variety of foods, and eat more fresh food at its nutritional peak. When eating from farmers markets and cooking from scratch, there’s rarely a need to count calories.
  11. Create memories- a night spend making jam with friends is more fun than hunkering down in the dark with the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Cooking and eating with family and friends is, and always has been, an integral part of our social network.
  12. Have more fun while traveling- once youre addicted to local eating, youll want to explore it wherever you go- a catalyst for this blog, actually.
  13. And always remember… everything about food and cooking is a metaphor for sex.

 

Do you have any more reasons to add? Please share your tips on why eating local is great in the comments!

Inspiration For a Fulfilled Life

February 24, 2012

Stumbled upon this manifesto on the interwebs and thought to share with my readers. Hope this brings you some inspiration for a lovely weekend. Been reading a lot of random blogs, being inspired by the words of others.. something is brewing, I can feel it.

 

An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

Go deep.
The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

Capture accidents.
The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

Study.
A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

Drift.
Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

Begin anywhere.
John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

Everyone is a leader.
Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

Harvest ideas.
Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

Keep moving.
The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

Slow down.
Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

Don’t be cool.
Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

Ask stupid questions.
Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

Collaborate.
The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

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Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

Stay up late.
Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

Work the metaphor.
Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

Be careful to take risks.
Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

Repeat yourself.
If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

Make your own tools.
Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

Stand on someone’s shoulders.
You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

Avoid software.
The problem with software is that everyone has it.

Don’t clean your desk.
You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

Don’t enter awards competitions.
Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

Read only left-hand pages.
Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

Make new words.
Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

Think with your mind.
Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

Organization = Liberty.
Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’

Don’t borrow money.
Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

Listen carefully.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

Take field trips.
The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

Make mistakes faster.
This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

Imitate.
Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

Scat.
When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

Explore the other edge.
Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

Avoid fields.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

Laugh.
People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

Remember.
Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

Power to the people.
Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

 

Environmental Education: Garden Planting Day

January 22, 2012

Its been some time since my last post and for good reason. While you all have been busy doing whatever it is that bellpeppers do, I have been working working working on building a school garden.

For the past few weeks I have been leading a winter camp for kids in the 4th and 5th grade at the Kuleswore school. Some might recognize this school from an article I wrote for Pursue, but for those of you who are unfamiliar with this prestigious academy- the place is literally a dump. The school is next to the Bagmati river, a river that may once have been a beauty but is now covered in garbage of all shapes, colors and sizes. To say that this school needs some TLC would be a gross understatement.

The theme for the winter camp is “Me, My Community, My World” and has included topics of nutrition, physical exercises, environmental awareness and community responsibility. It has been such a joy teaching and playing with these kids and I’ve truly grown to love them.

Many of the kids come from the villages to Kathmandu in order to work or go to school. They split their time between getting an education and working as domestic workers. They don’t live with their parents, rather the landlords who they work for.

When we asked the kids about their community and what they wished they could change, their answers were quick and obvious- the garbage, the dust, the noise, the dirty river… these kids didn’t miss a beat. They were neither “used to it” nor proud of it, and they wished they could change it.

While the pollution and the state of the environment in Kathmandu shocked me upon first arrival, I wonder what it must have been like for these children who come from some of the most beautiful and quiet places in the world to be thrown into the craziness that is Kathmandu.

The second week into the month long winter camp we introduced the idea of building a school garden in an effort to bring some beauty and much needed oxygen to this polluted part of town. I shit you not, their eyes literally lit up. They were so excited to begin this project and some of the girls mentioned that they had gardens and compost at home- who woulda thunk it?!

The next week, by some twist of fate, I was actually able to organize 12 volunteers, 15 huge bamboo shoots, a few Nepali staff, 27 plants, 5 kg of compost and 1 teacher. A recipe for success I tell you, success!

All Photos by Arielle Sokoloff

The work day was really wonderful- sure it started out raining and I had lost my wallet the night before coming home from Bandipur, but by midday we were collecting garbage, painting bricks, making a fence, and finally planting! (And my wallet was found, phew!)

I felt so proud that it all came together, and really touched that my fellow volunteers came to help- it really could not have happened without them. This week will be the final week of winter camp but I hope the kids take the information we gave them about environmental awareness, sustainability and responsibility and implement it in their daily lives.

Everything Organic Nursery: A Trip to Every Foodie’s Dream Place

January 8, 2012

In my ongoing quest to understand the local/organic scene in Nepal, a friend of mine handed me a copy of ECS Nepal, a music/arts/events/all cool things in Nepal magazine that happened to feature various organic restaurants, cafes and farms. Granted the edition was from April 2011, I found one article of particular interest.

And so it was that this small act of kindness afforded me the most inspiring visit to Everything Organic Nursery, located in Patalekhet- about a two and a half hour ride southeast of Kathmandu.

Now considering my last farm visit tested all of my physical stamina- E.O.N. was far more accessible. Just one bus from Kathmandu’s Ratna Bus Park to Dulikhel and another short ride from there to Patalekhet.Then once I was dropped on the side of the road I was surrounded by beautiful green hills with terraced fields and literally not a sound in the air. From there its just a 7 minute climb up a rocky foot path until you reach the beauty that is Everything Organic Nursery.

 

When I arrived in the morning, there were already a group of women congregated around a beehive, taking notes, listening attentively and apparently not fazed by the swarm of bees surrounding them.

 

I received a warm welcome from Judith and Jim, the rockstar couple who own the farm, but mostly I was just thrown right into the training- well as much as possible considering it was all in Nepali.

The women (and one man, hey Nurbu!) were taking part in a six day training, today was day 5- planting, pruning and grafting fruit trees. The women were all leaders of different wards of the nearby Timal village and were getting trained in bio-intensive organic farming practices and will return to their wards to teach the rest of the village farmers what they’ve learned.

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For the past few days the women had learned several bio-intensive methods of farming such as double digging- a method of planting that involves first digging 2-3 feet down, and then filling the hole with layers of dry, leafy and wet organic materials (basically a compost pit) and then building the bed back up a couple feet.

Apparently this method ensures that the soil deep down will be healthy for 5 years. FIVE YEARS! Its a lot of work upfront, but pretty much worth it in the long run. It allows the roots of whatever you are planting to really reach down for all the nutrients that are below. This method is a slight adaptation of John Jeavon’s theory- the man who originally coined the term “bio-intensive” farming.

The morning was spent trying to get used to notion that bees are my friends, speaking (as much as one can with minimal Nepali) to the women, and just walking around the beautifully organized demo farm.

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Through my conversations with Judith and Jim I found out that they have been living or connected to Nepal for over 20 years. When they moved to this particular location in 2010 they didn’t want to fence off their property, rather make it as open as possible for the community to benefit from it. They built E.O.N. with the intention of helping the surrounding villagers as much as possible.

Every Saturday morning they offer bee-keeping training to local youth and then some type of bio-intensive training depending on who shows up and what their needs are. They employ six Nepali staff on their farm, and teach a weekly class at a nearby school on organic. They have even promised to buy all of the produce that their students grow in their kitchen gardens and to provide half the funding for a moveable frame hive so that the youth can take their weekly Saturday lessons and put them into practice.

My earlier comment on rockstar status is starting to make sense now, right?

After a morning of beekeeping we took a break for Daal bhat.

Now, to call this meal a simple daal bhat is just not right. This was like daal bhat 2.0, daal bhat on organic steroids, daal bhat…. basically it was an amazing meal. We ate organic brown rice that was grown on EON, thick organic yellow lentil soup, fried shitake mushrooms, and huge organic steamed cauliflower (also grown on site) spiced to perfection with cumin. It was actually heavenly.

However, to not mention the exquisite ceramic plates and mugs would actually do a disservice to the meal. Jim’s craft and passion is in ceramics. He worked and trained others in his craft for 10 years in Bhaktapur, and the dishes we ate from were made by his students. There’s really no question about it, the meal was somehow even better because of the artwork they were displayed on.

To finish up, we had dessert momos with a kiwi jam filling, a banana and orange compote with fresh yogurt, bread with honey- both made on site- and coffee. If there were ever a time for a daal shnatz, now would be it.

But alas, the show must go on! And boy, was it a show.

The Nepali farm manager, Binod, proceeded to train the group in planting and pruning fruit trees for the next few hours. Although I didn’t actually understand what was being said, farming happens to be a non-verbal language.

As I watched Binod “dance” with the trees I was in awe of him- not only his ability to truly understand this art form, but also to be able to communicate it so effectively. Binod’s 20 years of farming experience was clear that afternoon- the man a fruit tree intuitive.

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By the end of the day I was feeling like I was on a cloud of pure happiness. It was a sunny warm day, fresh air (which I will never take for granted again), a gorgeous landscape (those Himalayas really never get old) and I was surrounded by such inspirational people- and I was almost used to the bees.

For anyone at all interested in farming, organic, grassroots community development or just visiting some awesome people doing meaningful work in Nepal- visiting Everything Organic Nursery is an absolute must. See you there bellpeppers!

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