Thursday, December 17, 2009


Well. It is officially winter now. We' can't fool ourselves any longer.
Kale, collards, some raddiccio, and a few other hardy plants are still hanging in there. I wonder if the snow we're supposed to have this weekend will kill those too... We really have been lucky this year - I just harvested a bunch yesterday - in the middle of December!
I struggle with this... the urge to grow things beyond their normal growing time. The urge to start plants early and keep them going under artificial conditions...
We built this hoop-house precisely for those reasons - to start plants early, and keep them growing over winter. Well. We've since learned, that hoop-house design is not the best for greenhouses. It takes a lot of "life support" like heaters, coolers, fans, shade cloths etc. to make that design work for you. Hoop-houses heat up very fast in the sun, but there is nothing to retain the heat, so in the absence of sun it cools down rapidly and the temps stay only a few degrees higher than outside. When your outside temps are around 25 F it is not much help.

I think that all the plants I have tried to over-winter in our hoop-house will die. And I will just have to accept that death is a natural annual thing in the life of a garden. Maybe this is the time to stop worrying about keeping plants alive. Take a deep breath, and start looking forward to spring? After all... The break will be brief in our climate. As early as mid February I will be poking some seeds into the ground...
I'll leave you with a small reminder of last spring.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thai Pumpkin Soup

I promised to spread this recipe around! This soup was a hit at our Thanksgiving.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small pumpkin, skinned and chopped into 1-inch chunks

2 1/4 cups water

1 2/3 cups canned coconut cream

1 tablespoon hot sweet Thai chili sauce 

1 tablespoon lemon grass, finely chopped*

1 tablespoon fish sauce 

freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup fresh cilantro
chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large pot, heat oil and gently cook onion with brown sugar and
garlic over low heat until softened (8-10 minutes).
Add chopped pumpkin, water, coconut cream, chili, lemongrass or rind
and fish sauce.
Season with freshly ground pepper. 
Simmer for about 25 minutes until tender.
Remove and puree until smooth.
Just before serving, adjust seasoning to taste.
Mix in chopped coriander.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a fresh coriander leaf.
*The same amount of grated lemon peel can be substituted.

I used butternut squash, which I had previously baked, and frozen. Instead of Coconut cream I used one can of Coconut Milk, some homemade hot sauce, and added about 3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter to this. Also some salt to taste.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If you're anywhere near Durham - check this out!

Breeze Farm Stakeholder Meeting & Potluck flyer

December 9, 2009 - 6 PM

Schley Grange Hall

3416 Schley Road, Hillsborough

*Optional* Farm Twilight Tour

December 9, 2009 - 4:30 pm

4909 Walnut Grove Church Rd, Hurdle Mills

PLANT @ Breeze Farm Enterprise Incubator

WC Breeze Family Farm Extension & Research Center

Breeze Farm Master Plan

Read about the 2009 Farm to Fork Picnic in this article.

Sign up for future picnics here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Food Co-op Now Accepting Charter Members
(see press release below)

Stronger, more resilient communities,
farmland preservation,
local dollars staying home to generate local revenues,
new jobs and youth involvement,
the freshest produce from nearby farms,
better diet and health, TASTE and quality.
Eating well.
Connecting with our neighbors.
We all want these, and we all want to see this area prosper, especially during these rougher economic seas.

As a Moore County resident, you're already a piece of what may become a new economy here.
We think the new Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative will become a vital part of it as well.

With that in mind, we'd like your help in spreading the word. Join us on the new Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative Facebook page!
Until the website up and running, this is how we will pass along news of the Coop, a new weekly Moore County delivery service of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers.

Check it out and sign on as a "fan" to get updates. You do not have to be a Facebook member to check the page, only to get updates.

Here's the direct link:
Charter Subscriptions will be accepted for two weeks in December, with many benefits offered to the early supporters. Watch this space for further updates.

Thanks, and pass this along to your friends. Help us reach as many local folk as possible. Let's make it viral throughout the county.
Because, as neighbors, we're all connected.

The Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting ready for Winter

We had an unbelievable fall this year - a few freeze threats - but nothing serious until last week.
Next 3 pictures are from a few weeks ago when pepper plants were still laden with fruit (green) and basil provided some season's last nectar to the bees.
Here's the former mound that grew all our watermelons last summer. I made it a bit more appealing with edging recycled from the front of the building and a few rocks that came out of the ground when we built the beds on the hill... Some snapdragons are still blooming there.
Here is a partial view of the hill with two flowerbeds - you can see them right next to the greenhouse. In the spring those beds will be filled with perennials, aromatic herbs, annuals and oil seed plants. We will have our own bee hive in the spring so anything flowering will be greatly appreciated by the bees!
This picture was taken yesterday, after the frost and after Adam and I pulled up all the dead basil and pepper plants and a few tomatoes which were still full of green fruit... Our greenhouse is stuffed with plants - potted perennials we're trying to over-winter, my lime tree, 2 banana trees, a pot of hop rhizomes to be planted along the deck in the spring... Adam found me 2 metal barrels yesterday that we can roll in the greenhouse and fill with water for "heat tanks". Hopefully they will help to collect solar heat throughout the day and release it slowly during the cold nights... 2 barrels may not be enough though, so if you have any laying around that you are not using - we will gladly accept donations!
I also have 2 raised beds in there to fill up with topsoil, compost mix - so we can start growing greens all year round! My worms are there too, all snug and cozy.
Right now kale, chard, parsley, senposai (a new cooking green variety developed by farmer Doug who runs the Piedmont Biofarm), dill and mizuna are still growing. I'll be selling those greens as long as they are available - until our season starts again.
Winters here are really fortunate for us, the leafy green eaters.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This is truly inspiring!

Yesterday I found out about a man named Tim Will. It was one of those serendipitous times, where two people at the same day asked me - "Have you heard about this?!" So I started my day by reading about Tim and Farmers Fresh Market. Tim has enabled and inspired over 90 farmers, third of them newcomers to farming, in Rutherford County, NC, to take up small scale sustainable farming (again) and connected the growers to Charlotte restaurants.
Way cool!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last week was busy!

Last week was busy for STARworks in general - we had 3 groups coming for tours!

Garden was hosting another vermiculture workshop on Friday. This time it was Melanie Lamonds' 4'th grade from Star Elementary. Melanie had a worm bin in her classroom last year, and decided to do it again with this years students. Kids were eager and full of energy, and clearly had fun exploring the garden and worms on a beautiful fall day. They picked eagerly some cherry tomatoes that are still hanging on (IN NOVEMBER!) in our garden, which made me decide to plant more of those yummy fruits for next year.
After learning about worms, and preparing a new bin for them, everybody ran a few laps on our walking trail.

Can't wait for those kids to come back!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My grandmothers garden

I miss this place. Somehow my heartstrings are tied to this little piece of land, and the buildings on it, even though they are falling apart, and nature is starting to take over...
My grandpa did all the farm-work here by hand or with a horse. I have such fond memories of the days I spent there during my childhood... and I can still smell and taste grandma's cooking!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Annual Gathering... behind us for this year. Every year it gets bigger and better! I am so proud to be a part of our STARworks family! Every year before the big day I relearn what awesome people work around me, as they pick up the pick axes, shovels, wrenches and any other tools I can't even begin to name, climb ladders, dig in, run around, work overtime and on the weekends and generally pitch in where ever a pair of hands is needed - and we get SO MUCH done in a matter of few weeks!
HUGE THANKS to EVERYONE who helped landscape around the deck, and clean out the garden!
You guys rock!
HUGE THANKS to EVERYONE who prepared delicious food to feed our crowd of around 200 people!
And HUGE THANKS to the LOCAL FARMERS, who keep growing the food stuffs in sustainable way in our region, a few samples of what we all got to enjoy at the STARworks Annual Gathering.

Cotton stays in Carolinas

Please take a look at what our good friends at TS Designs are doing in Burlington NC!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rethinking "What's For Dinner?"

Rethinking "What's For Dinner?"
In this inspiring and interactive workshop, Christy Shi will share anecdotes and advice that will help you make a shift in your eating habits. You will come away with (1) ideas for transforming your food relationships, (2) strategies for planning local, seasonal meals, and (3) sourcing options for a locally-produced diet.

Saturday, October 24, 2009 from 2pm to 3:30pm
Suggested Donation: $15 PER PERSON
Register: 704-237-3635 OR INFO@THEBINDU.COM
Location: THE BINDU

Friday, October 16, 2009

Worms and kids go together!

We were so lucky to have a wonderful weather on Tuesday! Perfect day to have 64 Star Elementary School second graders in the garden!
What were they doing here?
They were here to learn all about vermicomposting!
I love to see the bright yellow school bus roll up
and chattering kids pour out of it.

Adam explained the rules, and read the "Diary of a Worm" to the kids. They were great listeners!

Everybody got to look at worms and the bin I've had going since last fall a bit closer, before preparing a bin to take into their classrooms. They shredded a bunch of newspaper for the bedding, we wetted it, and dropped the worms in. The bins will be housed in all the second grade classrooms during the school year, and returned to STARworks Garden in the spring, when we can harvest the castings!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Michael Shuman coming to STARworks!



When: OCTOBER 29, 2009 2:00-4:30PM



Michael Shuman, economist, attorney, entrepreneur and author of The Small Mart

Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition (Berrett-

Koehler, 2006) and Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in the Global Age

(Free Press, 1998) will present an afternoon workshop that lays out the principles of his

approach to economic development, which contends that small, locally-owned businesses

are the key to a healthy and dynamic economy. Followed by question and answer.

Followed by the Central Park NC ANNUAL GATHERING 5:30 pm -8:00 pm

Join Central Park NC as we celebrate with local food and music, a year of

accomplishments and progress in our eight-county region. This year's theme “Local Works”

is designed to help us create a regional community where local, independent businesses

thrive and help small town economies.

Registration includes evening Central Park NC Gathering event.

$15 for Central Park Stewards/ $25 for general public.

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please register at or by calling

(910) 428-9001.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Garden Makeover

Starworks Garden is
getting a bit of a makeover these days.
Besides pulling up the plants that are past their prime, and making space for fall planting, I've started some general tidying up. Tony and his dad brought me a truckload of pine chips and shavings that I am using between the beds to suppress weeds. All summer I had cardboard and hay down there, which worked pretty good too, and killed most of the weeds, but had mostly been turned into compost by now. I want to put chips down between all the pathways. (It's all about control really.) What do ya'll think - doesn't it look pretty nice? It remains to be seen what happens when it rains - as we have not had a drop fall from the sky in weeks...
Here's one of the brave lettuces that made it from seed to a plant. About half the plants I started have been devoured... by slugs I suspect. So today I did another sprinkling of DE (Diatomaceous Earth). Last weeks sowing of lettuce in raised beds did not yield any results. I think it's just too hot still for the seeds to germinate. So today I also started a new batch of greens (lettuces, spinach, rukola, a mesclun mix and kale) under the deck. Most likely they will be coming up in 2 days, and since Maarja and I have prepped more space for planting - they will be able to go in the ground faster this time - and be covered with row cover immediately.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Watermelons were eaten

I just got back from Star Elementary. If ya'll remember, STARworks Garden had a mess of kids planting some watermelon seeds, herbs and flowers in the spring. Well, many of our CSA members have enjoyed a sweet treat in form of a watermelon this summer, and now that school is back in, I decided to take the last fruits to the kids who planted them. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take pictures, as there was plenty of excitement and I was busy cutting up the melons.
Kids were happy to eat the fruits of their labor, and promised to come back to plant some more!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's Mushroom Time.

It wasn't all for nothing!
Aren't they beautiful? I remember thinking, when drilling these 40 logs, that it may all be for nothing since I didn't get to plugging the logs until April and the spore, although stored in the fridge, was sort of old... but I still went for it, and plugged some sweet gum and white oak logs, stacked them in one big pile, and hoped for the best.
Well, last week at some point Maarja and I looked at the logs, and saw 2 small mushrooms poking out. I took that as a sign, that it was time to reconfigure the pile, so I stacked the logs like that:
The three piles in the back are in the most shade, and the very last ones (being the smaller sweet gum logs) are producing some Shiitakes. There are a few small mushrooms on oak and thicker sweet gum logs. We've been watering them twice a day now for the past 3 days or so, and their growth is amazingly fast. The first dibs on mushrooms will go to Eddie and Angela, as Eddie came out with his chainsaw in the spring and helped Adam and I cut the sweet gums off our wooded part of the property here at STARworks. From then on I'll be adding shrooms to our CSA shares for those who will eat them:)


PS! I'd love to hear from the workshop participants how their logs are doing!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Central Park NC on UNCTV

We're all very busy here, getting geared up for our Annual Meeting. Yes folks, it's almost that time again! Save the date for October 29'th and RSVP about your attendance.

UNCTV has also been busy putting together a story about Central Park NC and STARworks NC,
so check it out!

White House has also put out a video about the kitchen garden of the first family. The video takes a while to upload, so those with better connections are in luck.

French farmers are banking in cows these days! You can find a short article about it HERE.

Something is chomping on my freshly started plants already... there is no relief... gardening / farming is really a man's feeble attempt in submitting chaos to order... I'm tired of bugs. They're everywhere. I want to give up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fall garden goes in

Whew (wiping sweat from the brow). Just got done planting some lettuce, kale and chard in the available beds in the garden. Red Russian Kale, Bright Lights Chard, Seoul Ruby lettuce, Rouge D'Houvre lettuce... I think that was it for today. Yesterday I bought a bunch of galvanized wire from Seagrove Hardware store while I was picking up some veggies, meat and eggs from Green Acres Ranch and Edge of the World Farm; and today I used the wire to make hoops for row cover.
It seems to be working great - inexpensive way to keep the row covers off the plants, yet sturdy enough, and will be easy to store when not in use. I prepped the land by pulling out some basil and tomato plants that were on their last leg, loosened up the soil with a pitch fork and added a layer of composted cow manure. A sprinkling of wood ash and DE on top is supposed to keep the bugs in check. Hopefully. The row cover is supposed to help with that too. Previous experience shows that row cover is quite effective. Eventually some bugs and slugs will get under and live there, but the quantities are far less. Wood ash has to be used sparingly and DE has to be applied frequently. I have not noticed Neem Oil to be very helpful, and as it is harmful to bees, as well as pests, I will stay away from it from now on, I think.

Since the Habanero peppers are not popular with my CSA members - I end up taking them all home, as I can't stand waste. Last week the huge bowl full of cleaned Habaneros, Jalapenos and some other hot peppers boiled down along with some sweet bell's, tomato sauce, garlic and a mango and turned into delicious spicy hot sauce. So far the reviews have been 100% positive.

My eggplants have just not been happy this year. I don't quite know what the deal is. I've heard similar accounts from other gardeners this year. Must not be eggplant year. The peak in tomato production is over by now also. We'll keep getting them, but the biggest juiciest fruits are gone.

Well. More ground to prep for fall, more seeds to start and seedlings to transplant.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Markets of Estonia. Part 2. Farm Days

During the past few months I have had a chance to visit "Farm Days" twice. Robbins Farm Days in Robbins NC, and Jäneda Talupäevad in Jäneda, Estonia. While there were many differences - Estonians stay away from parades (most likely due to soviet times) while Americans love to show off their horses, tractors and cars... the main setup was similar: food vendors, people selling handicrafts, some musicians playing on the street, show of farm equipment etc. However - Estonians were showing the newest high tech big machinery available to farmers, while Americans seemed to dwell nostalgically in the past. (that is not qualitative statement just an observation).
I do have to say that food in Estonia was better. We ate boiled potatoes with gravy, black rye bread, a salad and something we call "kotlet" (basically meat loaf in small patties, fried in the skillet) off of ceramic plates, and had juice diluted with water ("morss") to chase it from glass cups, all of this was very "pocket friendly"; while in Robbins I treated my sister and kids to corn dogs and a plate of butterfly chips and 1 super sweet lemonade which cost us about 16 bucks... our food was on styrofoam plates, and a plastic cup... the alternatives were not much different.
The band we saw in Robbins was pretty good though!

Anyway, here are a few images from the event in Jäneda, Estonia.

Something exotic! We were excited to see those guys, until Maarja said:"Oh, I see them in Tartu all the time... they are not REALLY playing..."
Dried fish and onions! Yeah! Estonians eat a LOT of fish - dried, smoked, marinated, fried, salted...
This was a small company that offers an alternative to regular store bought bread, which is also of high quality. (Although, gone are the days when you could go to your local small store and buy fresh, warm, made-the-same-morning bread with crunchy crust and intoxicating aroma - and it was packaged right there in paper, not in plastic at the factory...)
All and all - we need more opportunities for moving food straight from the grower, baker or canner to the table, without the middlemen...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Markets of Estonia 1. Tartu.

If you lived in Estonia, you could not ignore the marketplaces in the summer time. They are in every bigger town. Most summer meals for city people come from the market place, which are preferred over grocery stores. Below is a picture of "mustikad" - wild blueberries, which were abundant in July and sold in each marketplace. Elen, my friend who we were visiting in Tartu, where this particular marketplace was, reminded me that when we were kids, we once took a long and arduous bicycle ride to the faraway woods from Elen's family's summerhouse, to pick wild blueberries. I only remember riding trough pouring rain for a long long time... but evidently we picked some blueberries and sold them to the "kokkuost" - an entity that bought up wild gathered berries and mushrooms to be sold later at the stores and markets.
Fresh local honey in many different flavors...
Wild Chanterelles were also abundant. Gorgeous mushroom, and oh so good just fried up with butter and a pinch of salt... eaten with some fresh new potatoes boiled and sprinkled with dill...
YUMMMMMMYYYY! Estonia DOES TOO have a cuisine!
Here are all the goodies next to each other - Chanterelles, blueberries, and fresh peas in the pod. The last were a hit with all the kids.
Overall view of all the goodness.
I was impressed with Tartu's marketplace. Clean, well organized, very well stocked. My friend Elen also buys organic produce straight from farmers , who come to Tartu once every 2 weeks or so. CSA's as such have not found their way to Estonia yet, but organic farmers seemed to be well organized and pulled together.

Oh what fun!

This is the time to be starting fall vegetable seeds. Actually, I think I could have pushed it and started a few weeks ago, but I played it safer. It's still very hot, and cool weather veggies may not survive the heat, once transplanted.
Our new deck in the back of the building is proving to be a wonderfully multifunctional space! Besides giving wheelchair accessibility to the building and providing a shaded outdoor "meeting" space it also has great cool shade underneath where seedlings have nearly ideal place for germinating! I sowed lettuce, spinach and chard seeds 2 days ago, and lettuces have already sprouted!!! In the spring it took at least a week, if I remember correctly. It may also have helped, that I kept the seeds in the freezer, and took them out just the night before.
Today I planted many different types of Brassicas - cabbages, broccoli, asian greens etc. Can't wait to eat 'em!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Mother's Garden; Part 2

As promised - more pictures of Estonian gardens. I didn't have my camera handy all the time, to record how much Estonians still garden. Most people have carved out a plot somewhere next to their house, to grow some veggies and flowers. Most housing developments (remnants of the soviet time) have a community garden plot, available to anyone wishing to grow fresh produce.
People living in the city usually have some land in the countryside, where they spend most of their time in the summer, weeding and sweating, canning and preserving.

Next few pictures are of my mom's "across the creek" vegetable garden. As far as I can remember - this is the third location for the veggie garden. It has moved farther away from the house in the years, for various reasons, but still provides the family with all the needed veggies.
When we were there zucchini plants were still tiny, but already starting to produce. And lucky for Estonians - there are no Squash bugs!
Potatoes were not too happy this year. Same time (mid July) in NC farmers were picking potatoes already.
In Estonia they were just starting to bloom, and the long cold and wet spring had not been kind to young potato plants.
Cabbages, carrots, onions, beans - all sorts of cool weather vegetables... Neighbors from across the field also use a few rows of my parents land to grow their food.
Here's the view from the house towards the vegetable garden and fields. The wooden structure in the foreground is "kiik" - a sledge swing, a type of swing original to Estonia. In the olden days young people used to gather during the long summer nights around the "kiigeplats" - "swinging grounds" to swing, sing and dance and eye suitable marriage partners... my dad was the first in the village to build one of those swings after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The original kiik had to be replaced at one point as the beams eventually rotted. But we had many fun times swinging with other village kids, or gathering with family for summer solstice or other summer holidays on that particular "swinging ground".

Monday, August 10, 2009

We all love tomatoes!!!

Interesting ARTICLE in NYTimes about tomatoes, late blight, some choices we as growers make, and call to be more inclusive and diverse, as gardeners...

On another note - TONY my pal and our Biodiesel guru - fixed my USB ports last week! Yepeeee!
Apparently, on MAC's, if you take out the battery, it sort of reboots or resets everything... or something like that... anyway. I was finally able to put all the 600 photos on my I-Photo last week, and will start sharing our Estonia experiences soon:)

I would like to thank again the people who helped me out during this 3 weeks of vacation and enabled me to visit my family!!! Thanks Nancy for being such a flexible boss, and for understanding the need to recharge batteries! Thank you Tony, Gloria and Evan, for looking after the garden, and dealing with the mess I left behind! (The tomatoes got the better of me this year, and grew into a tangled mess, before I left...) Thanks for helping Rick and Henrietta, and Bill and Dianna to keep selling their produce and eggs. Thanks for picking, pruning, weed eating, killing the squash bugs etc. YA'll rock!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Local - food bill up for House vote

He doesn't know what the purpose of it is????!??!??!??!!
Click on the title to get to the article.

Can you guys help him out here?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Changing foodways

Another article highlighting Local meat becoming more mainstream through CSA's.

Youtube is quite a source for information, as well as entertainment - here is Michael Pollan talking about his book "Omnivore's Dilemma".

I Still have not been able to put pictures on my computer :((((( Hopefully sooner than later, as I have some delicious shots from Estonian farmers markets. While we were there - Chanterelles were being picked all over Estonia, and sold in markets - as well as grocery stores, alongside with local wild blueberries and wild strawberries. I am proud to see the foraging still going strong in Estonian mainstream, and people being very selective about locally grown (Since Estonia is so small - potatoes from southern counties are still relatively local in northern Estonia, compared to fruits and veggies coming from Spain or Ukraine)
Occasionally, however, you can see oddities like "Estonian" bananas being sold in the marketplace... Since local sells - people sometimes bypass reason... After all - we tend to trust labels more than our eyes or common knowledge...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Back in the South

Hi guys,
just a quick note to let you all know we got back safe and sound. We're still a bit tired, but overall - getting back in the groove.
I picked produce in the garden today, and got flooded with tomatoes... many were splitting and rotting on the vine... Eggplants have tons of flies of some sort on them - I think I will have to spray them with neem oil... maybe early monday morning, if it's not gonna be extremely hot that day.

I still have a LOT of pictures I want to share with you, but have not gotten my computer fixed yet.
It's a bummer.

More to come, as I settle back in:)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Computer trouble

Sorry Folks for not posting much here lately. Besides having a lot to do and finding very little time to sit down to write - my computers USB ports are not working any more. For a while I was able to still download pictures even though memory sticks didn't work in the ports, but now my little photo transfer gadget doesn't work in them either. Such a bummer. I suppose it is time to do something about it...

until then - enjoy the summer and any goodies you can get from your gardens, or your local farmers market. I have some great pix from Farmers market in Tartu, Estonia I'd like to share with you eventually... we've had some fresh salted/pickled cucumbers, chanterells, wild blueberries, fresh peas and strawberries from there... first early local potatoes are out in the markets, and we've eaten ourselves silly with black bread and hazelnut yogurt...

See you all soon!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sweet Home Estonia: My Mother's Garden

So we made it to my homeland safe and sound. We almost missed a flight... but lets not think about that again:) We spent a few days in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, had some good times with my friends, but Tallinn is waaayyyyy too busy for me... well, we all concluded that.
As soon as we got off the train in Püssi, the town near my home village, the peace and quiet was such a sweet reward to all the travel troubles. My dad picked us up, and brought us home where mom had cooked up some hot boiled potatoes, and pork. Yummy!!!! Of course, there was plenty of beer and vodka for the grownups.
Our email is semi working - we are able to receive emails but not send them, so please bear with us.
For right now I wanted to share some pictures of my parents home and my mom's garden. Mom and I spent half a day weeding and dead heading flower beds. We have a big family reunion coming up, so there is a lot to do.
The summer has been rainy and cold. vegetables are not doing the best they could... more pictures of those later.
This is the view towards the creek where we loved to play in as kids. There are still two old apple trees - great climbing trees for Lyza and Andreas, marking a time when the vegetable garden used to be covering most of this lawn. I remember this place as a wonderful jungle! Our play house used to be there, pea trellises, tulip and daffodil beds... I remember picking cabbage worms off cabbages as a form of pest control... now it's a place for family gatherings and grilling out.
The house on the right is the house I grew up in. The house on the left is my brothers new home. The flag pole is in the center, surrounded by flowers.
Ain't it purty?!
And of course, a very important feature of an Estonian country life -the outhouse. In this case - it's next to the garage/dad's work room/root cellar. The outhouse has moved more than once also during my lifetime.
Well, another day has passed. The sun is setting behind the church tower in the village, it's almost midnight.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What the World Eats

Check this out!

Do people REALLY drink that much bottled stuff in a week?!?!?!?
And the amount of prepackaged foods on the tables is astonishing to me...
What would YOUR weekly spread look like?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


On June 4th, STARworks Garden hosted another worm workshop on STARworks premises. 
2 groups of fourth graders gathered under the shade of the big oak trees in front of STARworks building. 44 children!
Mrs. Lamonds had kept a worm bin in the classroom all year and her students had taken care of the worms - feeding them and learning about their behavior. Now it was time to harvest the castings, or "vermicompost". Kids took turns separating worms from castings and walking on our brand new walking trail. One of the boys said that he ran 16 laps - that's 2 miles! 
Here is Melanie Lamonds with a group of fourth graders sorting out the worms.
After harvesting the castings, Mrs. Lamonds' and Mrs. Comer's classes each started a new bin - with shredded newspaper, some compost from the old bins, and a bunch of worms. We also went to check on the flower bed that the kids planted a little more than a month ago. They recognized some plants, marveled over the height of the sunflowers, and checked the little watermelons that had started to form. Yesterday when I looked at the plants - the sunflowers were blooming, and some of the watermelons are about 4 inches in diameter! I can't wait for those kids to come back to the garden when school starts, to taste the fruits of their seeds!

Friday, June 12, 2009

BALLE Memoirs

This is going to be some serious blog entry. I mean... where do I even start?! There is no way I can convey it all...
Maybe I should start with the fun stuff?!
Below are Nancy, our Big Brain and the Heart and Soul of Central Park NC, and Eric Henry, the TS Desings Mastermind, coming up with some serious "business plan on a napkin" - the annual BALLE creative business plan endeavor... 
And here is the rest of the creative crew. Jane Norton and I were the support group. 
I drew up this very complicated map of how it all would work out... 
And Nancy put it in the right "language"... You never know. This just might be the next big thing that happens at STARworks in cooperation with TS Designs... Sorry the pictures are sideways. I strategically positioned them so it would be harder for you to copy this brilliant plan!

Among other fun things, we went to the "Tattered Cover"the largest independently owned bookstore in the USA. I bought "COOP", Michael Perry's wonderfully written and funny book about life on a farm, which I am now reading and laughing out loud most of the time.
We checked out some local places to eat, like breakfast at the "Delectable Egg"which was a perfect choice for two chicken lovers like Nancy and I. The omelet was awesome!
The Curtis Hotel, where we staid at was cool too! 

While sitting at the key note's and lectures I couldn't help but feel a certain satisfaction - there is a revolution taking place in America. I guess it could be summed up as the "Small Mart Revolution" , a term coined by Michael Shuman, who by the way is a wonderful speaker besides being a good writer and revolutionary thinker. Another man who fits that description would be David Korten. I will list some of their books at the end of this blog entry, so you can do further "deep reading" on your own. Those two men left a lasting impression on me, and seemed to be the driving force behind Local Living Economies movement.
BALLE conference could be summed up as a call to arms for distributing the idea of economies being driven by small local businesses, people standing up against the current corrupt corporate model of economy and taking more in their own hands in their own communities. 
We saw an inspiring presentation by "Biofuel Oasis" from Berkley, California, where 5 women came together some years ago, and formed a worker owned business after brewing bio-diesel in their back yards. Today they have a successful business, faithful following and a newly renovated site for making and selling recycled vegetable oil.
Another presentation which was possibly the highlight of my conference experience, was by Free Range Studios the creators of the "Story of Stuff", "Meatrix", "Store Wars" and other great educational films:) Erica Priggen, who is the producer at Free Range Studios was giving us the ABC's of how to make a "viral" video, and I bet we're going to be making some movies of our own here at STARworks in the future...
Soooo... Next year BALLE will be taking place at Charleston SC - practically over the fence from here, so we should all hop over and learn what we can do at our own hometowns, or even at our homes - to make the future a bit brighter...
Some links for your own homework:

Click away! It is encouraging to see all this information out there, so many individuals and groups doing some good work!