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?




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.


Class Day 5: Site Design Considerations For Your Mini-Farm

Matt Drewno dropped some gems on the 2 month interns today from his garden design experience over the years and currently in Mendocino. The central theme that came through was that you really need to get to know YOUR site.  Climate, water, soil, etc. can all be generalized from local reports but there is absolutely no substitute for really intimating the specifics of how your site system behaves.

Matt lead us off with some key concepts to keep in mind with site design:
  • Start small and with the most important things.
  • Nature is a template that is already there so take care to understand it.
  • Focus not just on your different areas but the interaction between them as well
  • Understand the land use history and patterns is invaluable.
  • Know your hardiness zones but realize they may change in different parts of the site and that the hardiness zones themselves are changing.
  • Try to observe with an open mind – don’t force your predispositions/objectives on what’s happening on your site.
Then Matt went into resource analysis and began by simply defining a resource as “something we could use.”  Further, that a “wasted resource is waste and that pollution is wasted waste.”  He then gave us this comprehensive checklist of items to understand and consider in your design:
  1. Topography – slope, elevation, aspect orientation
  2. Soil tests – texture, structure, minerals, nutrients, geology
  3. Water –  larger rhythms, management (swales, etc.), quality, dependability, infrastructure needed, potential pollution sources
  4. Temperature – highs and lows, know your own micro-climate
  5. Wind – how it affects the weather, seed and pollen movement, micro-climates
  6. Sun – path, shade pattern, how to store and harness
  7. Sector & Zone analysis – from permaculture design
  8. Legal Issues – zoning, building permits, water laws, planting regulations