How We Thresh Grains …

Using a back and forth motion with the foot, we press the grain thepugh the wire and remove the hull.

Later we’ll do some more remove more chaff.



Blue Grouse … With a Broken Neck

We found a dead grouse in the garden this morning – still warm. Upon inspection by Paco, it was found to have a broken neck – probably from flying into our fence post.

After much discussion, we are likely to bury it.

Below Eric holds it as he discusses compost with Paco.


A Visit to Live Power Farm

And what an amazing visit it was …

Here’s a video that has a pretty good synopsis of Live Power Farm.

“Associative Economics” was the word of  the day.  Live Power runs a CSA where the members equally share the budget, risks, and rewards of the farm. If there’s extra harvest – it goes to the members!
















Joel Salatin Against GMO Labels

Here at Ecology Action headquarters, we happen to be living in the first US jurisdiction to ban GMOs, Mendocino County, California.  There’s A LOT of buzz about GMO labeling going around the country these days and California will soon decide to be the first state to ban GMOs.

To stir up some balanced conversation, I thought I’d post an interesting argument against requiring GMO labels from internationally acclaimed small farmer and food activist, Joel Salatin.  To be clear Salatin is vehemently against GMOs but he is also against increased government involvement in our food system.  

In typical Salatin fashion, he includes several provocative zingers …

  • “What a shame that so many well intentioned Americans view additional government intervention as their only hope. Labeling laws are one of the thorniest and costliest issues facing local food systems and small farmers.”
  • “The best food contains no label. Look at what cleverspeak has done to words like “organic” and “natural.” 
  • “Anyone who thinks government-required labels will protect them is naive.”
  • “Ultimately, food safety is a matter of faith. Who do I trust? To suggest that the only way to protect the American consumer from GMOs is to lobby for more overbearing, inept, capricious, untruthful government intervention in the food system and demonstrates a gross lack of self-empowerment and feverish faith in government.”
  • “Instead of requiring GMO labeling, how about eliminating GMO subsidies?”
  • “Empowering people—creating informed, concerned, participatory consumers—requires that we extricate government from food transactions.”

For the full article -> Rebel with a Cause: Why I Oppose Government GMO Labeling.  The real question is … What do you think?




Threshing and winnowing the grain

A great deal of energy goes into baking a loaf of bread. Added to all the measuring, kneading, and waiting for the bread to rise is the lengthy behind-the-scenes process of harvesting, threshing and winnowing out the grains. In the past two weeks, we’ve harvested the remaining beds of spring-sown grains and hung them up in the new grain storage house to dry. Each type of grain has its unique characteristics, whether it’s the long stalk of the rye plant, the spiky heads of barley, or the plump, golden wheat grains.


Yesterday was my first experience threshing and winnowing grain. A special threshing floor was constructed of wood with a mesh-wire placed over to serve as an abrasive for separating the grain from the chaff. We started by bundling handfuls of grain in sheaves, with the heads together.


Then we basically stomped on the heads, trying to get the hulls off the grain.


Once we finished threshing out the grain, we gathered the grains and hulls into a winnowing basket, and sort of threw the grain up in the air, letting the slight breeze carry off the chaff.


Lamine, who has been threshing and winnowing his entire life, explained that often there is no breeze, and I need to sort of create a breeze with the winnowing basket. Sort of forcefully push the basket away from me, while holding it tight, and let the force of the push send the chaff flying.

My father once told me that he remembers having to steer the family donkey back in his village in Lebanon while it threshed out the grain. Donkeys or horses were tied up to the center of a circular-shaped stone or cement threshing floor, and sent walking round and round for hours, until all the grain was threshed off the stalks.

A Real World Grow Biointensive Farm in New Zealand

Jodi Roebuck is here for a 5 day workshop and gave a presentation to ALL the interns and then some today. It was super inspiring to see how someone who was inspired by Grow Biointensive over a decade ago has persevered and progressed through the years.

Jodi has A LOT of design experience (outside of his farm) having an educational background and completing a good number of landscape jobs over the years. Jodi showed us this original sketch he used to design his farm. It’s pretty amazing that his farm still follows his design from 8 years ago:

Check out his facebook page for more photos and information.