Southern Maple Syrup: Gathering Sap and Boiling It Down

Sugar often comes from faraway places and requires much processing to get the product we buy in our grocery store, but there are other ways to get sugar locally and more sustainably. Obviously there is honey, and there is sorghum syrup, which was a popular form of sugar in the past in our part of the country. But there’s also maple syrup, which in our southern region can be made from silver maples.

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Unusual Fruit: Starting Goji and Sea Buckthorn from Seed

Part of living sustainably is getting your food as locally as possible. To maximize the productivity, diversity, and sustainability of foods you get in your diet locally, it’s a good idea to know all the crops that produce the best in your climate using organic methods. There may be many potentially useful fruits available and adapted to your climate that you don’t know about. Continue reading

New Plastic for my Hoop House

So I got some new plastic for my hoop house.  This is more of a vlog post than anything else.  Just let you know what I’m up to.  This new plastic is different from the old.  I thought there was something wrong when I opened up the box because it was so cloudy, but apparently it isn’t as clear as the old stuff because it refracts sunlight so the light is dispersed more evenly for the plants.  No shadows are cast inside the house and the sun’s energy fall evenly on all the plants inside.  It took awhile and I needed to recruit some helpers from my village, but that’s what’s great about living in a community–you can always count on help from neighbors.

Southern Maple Syrup: Tapping Silver Maples for Local Sugar Pt 1

This is the first video documenting a cooperative local sugaring effort that happens every year at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. It’s mid-February and the smallest hint of spring is in the air. The robins are returning, the woodcocks are finding places to nest, and the silver maples are just starting to flow with sap. Sugar maples like a colder climate, but If you live south of the zone where sugar maples can grow, you don’t have do without delicious local maple syrup. Silver maples like warmer climates and produce almost as much sugar in their sap as sugar maples. Continue reading

Natural Refrigerator: The Root Cellar in My Floor

When I built my house I noticed that one corner of the foundation was really deep, so I planned to make it into a root cellar. Now I use this space to keep the food I grow in the summer fresh through the winter, without refrigeration. It was a rather simple design feature, but it saves me a lot of energy in the long run and allows me to eat my harvest year round.

Our economy expends a huge amount of energy on refrigeration, not only to preserve food so that it can be shipped across the world and eaten fresh, but so that the food industry can recreate the climate conditions of a root cellar. Continue reading

My Ten Year Old Toothbrush

Part of a hardcore sustainable lifestyle means reducing waste in every action you take.  That’s why I use a toothbrush that’s over ten years old.  How can you possibly use a toothbrush for ten years? You’ll find out when you watch this video.

In a consumer culture where throwing things out after using them briefly has become the norm, reusing something seen as disposable seems odd.  Disposable products require more extraction and waste of resources, and in many circumstances these products could easily be made to last.  Disposability is just another cultural and economic trend that does incredible damage to the environment.  And it increases corporate profits in the short term for sure, but in the long term, wasting resources is actually bad for the economy.