Category Archives: Farm

{Book Review} Winter’s Bounty: A Four-Season Harvest

I have been reading the “Four Season Harvest” by Eliot Coleman and am becoming more intrigued about cold frames and greenhouses.  The author promotes a laissez-faire method of protecting winter crops, working with nature, instead of against her.  He builds simple, passive cold frames and uses low and high tunnels for protecting cold-hardy crops rather than forcing heat-loving plants to thrive in a heated greenhouse.

Instead of relying on hothouse tomatoes and citrus flown in from exotic climates down south, his family dines exclusively on the bounty nature provides in their own yard during the winter.  Cold-hardy crops include such things as arugula, beets, carrots, celery, chard, chicory, cabbage, escarole, kale, leeks, lettuce, mache, parsley, radicchio, radishes, scallions, sorrel and spinach. Continue reading

{from the archives} Butchering a Chicken

This is a post from my archives. It cracks me up how squeamish I was now that I have been living the “Whole Foods” lifestyle for over two and half years.  I was so paranoid about germs!  I feel that this post might be encouraging to any of you who are still nervous about preparing whole chicken.  If I can go from THIS to cooking up two of these babies a week, I think anyone can do it!

Huge chickens, huge bargain for me

Image by Sandy Austin

During my daughter’s nap today I faced my first challenge in my quest to become a farmer: cutting up a whole chicken.  I know it doesn’t sound like much compared to actually butchering a live chicken, but it is a start.  I am ashamed to say that I started with directions by Martha Stewart from a free publication I keep getting in the mail (despite being on a no-junk mail list).  Directions are also available online at:  Please tell me someone else is as geeky as I am.  I am one of those people who read the directions to *everything* from the crock pot to the sewing machine.  Anyhow… Continue reading

Why I Love Detroit: Urban Farming

The people of Detroit do NOT give up.
That’s what I love most about them. And they LOVE their city. Fiercely.

Earlier this week it really bothered me to hear that the union police officers of Detroit were handing out fliers at a Tigers game warning that the city wasn’t safe because there aren’t enough officers on patrol.

Harvest and planting at Earthworks Urban Farm

Image by S. Beebe

Sure Detroit has its problems.  It is crime-ridden (only second in the US to its sister-city, Flint MI) and there are many roads I won’t drive down by myself late at night, but there are places like that in every major city I have ever lived in or traveled through.  It is a fact of our sad world.  And I’m sure the city’s officers are overworked, understaffed and underpaid.   I don’t mean to minimize that hardship.  What upsets me is that this is another nail in the coffin when it comes to Detroit’s flagging tourism.

There are many wonderful things about Detroit that should encourage potential visitors!  The most well-known destinations being perhaps the Renaissance Center and the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.  There’s also Tiger Stadium, the Institute of Arts, Science Center and Symphony.  But one of Detroit’s greatest (and less known) developments is the pioneering efforts of urban farmers.

From organizations like BlightBusters that come through and either refurbish, restore or destroy abandoned buildings to The Capuchin Soup Kitchen that serves food harvested from its own urban farm, EarthWorks, the city of Detroit is alive with a community of individuals who are striving to renew and reinvent it.

One of the largest urban farming projects is Recovery Park.  From their website, Recovery Park is described as a ”10-year, multimillion dollar planned community redevelopment project on the east side of Detroit.  Continue reading

Ye city dwellers … and busy moms

I have been both a city dweller and a busy mom struggling with the dilemma of not being able to start or tend a full-scale garden.  Many of us have wanted gardens but do not have the space or the time to do so.  And so, I recommend container gardens for one and all!

The easiest method of container gardening is to buy a ready-made kit.  For this, I suggest the .  They are awesome, easy to care for, and make great presents.

I admit that they are a little pricey, but they work well and last a long time.  Even though last summer I had a garden full of tomatoes and herbs I still grew lettuce on my countertop with my little Aerogarden.

In the cool months it housed tomatoes and basil so that our family could continue to enjoy them fresh.  I haven’t figured out yet whether or not you can grow hydroponics organically or even what chemicals are included in the “nutrient” tablets, but the produce is fresh and tastes fantastic.  Until I learn otherwise, I am satisfied that this is a good product and provides for my family when my garden can not. Continue reading


Why don’t I use Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)?

SEAFDEC Natural Food lab, Philippines

Image by SciDev.Net

Because of the following facts:

  • Monsanto controls roughly 90% of the corn and soy genetics in the U.S. Former Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro admitted, “The commercial industrial technologies that are used in agriculture today to feed the world… are not inherently sustainable.”
  • USDA report [PDF] shows that farmers actually lose income by planting GM crops.  Seed costs are unreasonably high, as are the fertilizers and chemicals that are absolutely required to grow GM.
  • Researchers continue to reject GM foods citing concerns of their serious health risks. Continue reading

First Hay

Our first reaping of the hay!!!  The fields look beautiful.

Continue reading

Independence Days

Project Motion - Flag in the Breeze

Image by Justin Grandfield

This year’s Independence Days Challenge is back on!  Woo Hoo!

Please join us in celebrating self-sufficiency by:

  • planting something,
  • harvesting something,
  • preserving something,
  • wasting not, 
  • wanting not, 
  • eating foods we’ve grown and
  • skilling up.”

Read more on what this means at The Chatelaine’s Keys.

Here is a list of other things that I try to do to support our values and things you can do to support sustainable agriculture.

  • Shop local farmer’s markets
  • Find a local farm that delivers or become a member of a CSA
  • Eat organic or at least pesticide-free produce that is in season
  • Eliminate pre-packaged food products, including soda
  • Grow your own vegetables and herbs
  • Eat at home instead of dining out
  • Bring along healthy, homemade snacks rather than relying on fast food
  • Read labels
  • Research where your food comes from and do not buy foods from companies who do not support your values
  • Once a week try to prepare meals without using meat Continue reading

{Book Review} The New Self-Sufficient Gardener

This book is AWESOME and it will become one of my most gifted items this year (Shhhh!  Don’t tell my Mom). ” as my favorite gardening book.  I really wasn’t a fan of John Seymour’s first book; I found it difficult to follow, hard to reference, and just plain boring.  This book is none of those things.

The first couple of chapters are all about how to garden and pair really well with “.”  Used in conjunction with “” and “” I am feeling pretty educated on organic soil/bed maintenance, composting, successive planting / continual harvesting, and seed saving.

The next couple of chapters, though, are what really make the book worthwhile: step-by-step directions on every conceivable (at least for me) garden vegetable, berry, fruit and herb including sowing, maintenance, harvesting and storage instructions as well as recommendations for common pests/diseases.

The pictures are hand-drawn, but really good – as if you are looking at an artist’s garden journal. The book finishes with a mishmash of advice that is laid out a lot better in “” and “Storey’s Basic Country Skills” but it is a good overview of other self-sufficient skills one should have if planning to homestead.

The man has decades of experience – he is practically the father of a self-sufficient life – and his advice is a worthwhile read.

Bottom-line: LOVE IT!!! Can’t wait to show my mom.  =)

See the list of all the farm and gardening books I recommend .

Thanks for visiting Cube2Farm!  Please take a moment to “” me on FaceBook or “follow” me via RSS feed. 

Why Heirloom?

In a previous post I explained that I purchased primarily heirloom organic seeds, but a reader has pointed out that I never truly explained why I felt this was important. I have read many articles and books on the subject and therefore could probably write an essay’s worth of explanation, but I will try to summarize shortly below by explaining what each characteristic is and why it is important to me.

Heirloom Tomatoes, Carrots, Potatoes -- UICA Street Party 8-8-09 7

Image by Steven Depolo

Important Characteristics of Seed

Heirloom – Heirlooms are the traditional varieties that have been grown and selected for their desirable traits, passed on from one generation to the next. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, textures and flavors. Typically, heirlooms have adapted over time to whatever climate and soil they have grown in. Due to their genetics, they are often resistant to local pests, diseases, and extremes of weather.  All heirlooms are open-pollinated.

Wikipedia states that heirlooms are grown for a variety of reasons: for historical interest, for interest in traditional organic gardening, to increase the available gene pool, to grow rare varieties or because “without the ongoing growing and storage of heirloom plants, seed companies and the government will eventually control all seed distribution.”

Open-Pollinated (OP) – Open-pollinated vegetable varieties reproduce themselves through either cross-pollination between two individual plants or through self-pollination. So long as plants of an OP variety are kept isolated from different plants with which they can cross, they will produce seed that will come “true to type.” In other words, the plants in the following generation will resemble the parent plants.  Open-pollinated varieties generally have better flavor, are hardier and have more flexibility than hybrid varieties. Continue reading

Why Sustainable? Why local?

It bothers me that the hamburger that comes out of the drive-through window is from a cow that …

probably hadn’t seen a real field of grass since the day it was born – a cloned animal whose remains were washed in ammonia prior to being packaged by illegal immigrants enslaved by debt to giant corporations whose ex-employees now sit in high government positions like the FDA and EPA - agencies that don’t require the giant food corporations to identify to us, the consumers, that those animals were clones or that they were fed genetically modified fodder and a cocktail of antibiotics and growth hormones.

And, other than the issues of food safety (pesticides and pathogens) and inhumane treatment of farm animals and farm workers, there is the more overarching issue of HOW our food is produced.

In our industrialized and technology-driven world, farming has become a mechanized system that focuses solely on profit and not the health of the consumer or the planet.  In an effort to produce the largest amount of goods for the lowest cost and highest profit farming has been condensed to its most basic components to the exclusion of all else.

And any time the “machine” encounters a problem (like disease or death) technology (in the form of drugs, chemicals, etc.) is used to resolve the crisis (not the underlying issue).  There is no effort by the major corporations who control the US food supply to manage farming holistically to include the environmental and social impact of their actions.  This is where sustainability comes into play. Continue reading