Tag: Sustainability

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Hard Fought Success in the High Country – Fields to Plate Produce

The drive to the Old Fort Farm in Hesperus, Colorado is deceptively steep. From downtown Durango I rose steadily, almost imperceptibly, and gained a thousand feet within minutes. From afar I had seen snow on this mesa just days before – not anymore. Pulling in, I found a large, aging, post-harvest farm; brushed with deep golden hues of well-watered land in a Colorado autumn.

With a bit of navigating, I located the Fields to Plate farmers. The small crew was harvesting a thousand-pound beet sunset: red, gold, pink, purple. The bounty seemed unlikely for such a dry, high altitude location; so, I set forth to learn how they did it…


READ THE STORY

Read my first article on Artisan Situation!

My good friend Zach Kaiser runs the site with some old chums from my college days with the Idea Fund. The story covers the recent history of Fields to Plate Produce, the farm David and I got our CSA from this summer.

cowspiracy: a lesson in naivety.

The newest calf! - Photo Cred: David

I’ve always struggled with vegetarianism.

In college I tried to stop eating meat, several times. As an environmental science undergrad, the more I learned about food systems, the more I felt compelled to convert. I had a burning desire to succeed, almost as if my morality depended on it, but I never found the resolve.

So I tried, failed, tried again, failed again, etc.

Over time, I’ve come across three main arguments for renouncing animal protein:

  1. Humans were meant to be herbivores
  2. Eating other living things is ethically deplorable
  3. Factory farms are terrible

I’m not an anthropologist, but I simply don’t buy the herbivore argument. I seriously struggle with the carnivore sin idea. I love animals, I’ve raised them, and I’ve slaughtered them – maybe some people think it’s insensitive, but I still (very much) like to eat them. The factory farm angle I can get behind 100%… but on just that foundation, it’s very, very difficult to refuse a juicy, grass-fed burger and fatty, free-range bacon.

No argument has successfully managed to turn me off the omnivore path, despite my noble aspirations – until now (sort of).

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biking always terrified me.

Confession time.

Biking always terrified me. The fear was born at the beginning – I didn’t learn how to bike until I was seven years old, which to me was always horrifically embarrassing. I got my first nice bike when I was around ten from LL Bean, I loved it (dude, it was pink) but I didn’t really have anywhere to ride it. I lived out in the country surrounded by a combination of dirt roads perfect for my brothers’ BMX bikes and paved roads full of crazy traffic that I wasn’t allowed on. So I rarely rode. I quickly grew out of that bike and I never got a new one.

balance-bike

Where were these awesome balance bikes when I was a kid?!

My first week in college I realized that Dickinson had a bike rental program. Awesome! Especially since I didn’t have a car. My new roommate and I decided to take a ride to Walmart with a new friend to get some decorations for our room. I forgot that it had been nearly a decade since I’d pedaled anything. The second I swung on to the crappy rental I realized how awkward I felt. I completely wiped out on the way there. That’s probably on the list of my life’s most embarrassing moments.

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earthaven: ecovillage reflections.

In that true twilight dusk, the kind that makes the forest come alive with the impossible, Earthaven becomes the world of my childhood dreams. Winding trails and bridges made of stone, trunks, branches, clay, and everything the forest offers spiderweb the town. “We’re losing light!” NikkiAnne exclaims as she hurries us down a small path into someones yard and off on another path hidden in the shadows.

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doing away with baggage.

Getting rid of “stuff” seems to be a hot topic right now. This could totally be biased, considering I follow many blogs that tout “minimalism” and “sustainability.” It also could be seasonal – considering spring started literally overnight last week and everyone has the spring cleaning bug. Regardless, I’ve seen a lot of talk about it, and I’m actively participating, so it’s been on my mind. David and I leave in two weeks. I technically leave in one week, as I’m dropping my car (the non-road trip car) at my parents’ in Maine loaded with all the things we’ll need when we settle down somewhere for longer than a few weeks. So this weekend is packed full of sorting, packing, unpacking, repacking, etc. etc. (pun intended). Sometimes I think I live to get rid of stuff. I find every excuse to do it: spring cleaning, buying too much new stuff, attending a lecture on climate change that scares the crap out of me, watching a movie about third world countries… really any event that makes me feel awful about my privileges or like I’m drowning in unused possessions. It always leaves me feeling renewed. This winter I undertook the most involved “simplification” of my life thus far – to the point that there’s barely anything left to get rid of that makes any reasonable sense. And now we have to fit it all in two cars… IMG_4057To the left is what our bedroom looked like this morning as we sorted everything into: (1) winter clothes, (2) farm clothes, (3) running clothes, (3) work/nice clothes, (4) frequently worn, (4) not so frequently worn. The first two categories are headed to Maine, the rest we’re taking with us – whatever doesn’t fit a category is headed to Salvation Army. And that’s just clothes; we’ve also sorted through books, dishes, memorabilia, and everything else we own. At least four times over the last few months we’ve done a full sweep of the apartment, throwing everything we’re ready to part with in a cardboard box to donate or listing it on Craiglist (um…anyone want an antique sewing machine?). All of this in preparation for today – the car stuffing day of truth.  Each time we undertook a cleaning we found ourselves willing to part with more and more stuff. In January I wanted to keep that blue dress, for special occasion, you know? In February I decided it could go, I don’t attend a lot of those; but that really nice speaker system we never use? We might need that. Then in March: maybe a speaker system isn’t actually that useful on the road… Stuff is just stuff. Yet, for some reason, we emotionally attach ourselves to it. We avoid getting rid of things because so-and-so gave it to us, or it could have use some day, or we like to wear it maybesometimes, etc. etc. In my opinion, our emotional attachments to material objects could actually be considered emotional baggage. As a culture we’re drowning in the chaos of our material lives, in our anxiety about getting rid of anything we might possibly regret. For the record: I’ve never regretted getting rid of anything, no matter how worried I was before I pitched it. Usually, I just forget I ever owned it. Out of sight, out of mind – forever one less worry. Take a look around you – are you surrounded by things you never use? Really think about it. When was the last time you cracked open that book? Do you even remember what it was about? How often do you really use those cookie cutters? You have how many coffee mugs for two people!? Where did you even get that weird looking plant pot anyways? And those pants that are too big, too small, too short, or too hole-y? C’mon, you know the ones, the ones you haven’t worn in three years. Newsflash: you’ll probably never wear them again.

Get rid of it! All of it!

Note: Please sell or donate before throwing away. Unless it’s like underwear… or broken sneakers… or dish rags… throw that shit out (in the proper receptacle, of course). It’s rude to assume other people want that gross stuff. Every item we’ve gotten rid of has pushed us closer to our goal of independence on the road. Every item you do away with will give you that same sense of freedom – one step closer to a life without baggage.

Welcome!

150152_10152698852070371_244688347_nSustainability is not synonymous with sacrifice. 

Living an eco-concious life does not have to mean spending lots of money and it does not need to imply a life void of happiness and comfort. Rather, I believe, by becoming a more sustainable citizen of this world you can actually improve your life. Getting outside, eating real food, taking time for yourself, and paying attention to how your actions affect the world around you – these are activities that are proven to improve health and increase happiness. And they don’t have to break the bank. They are the building blocks for a great life. 

I’m 20-something. I’m broke. I care about the world around me and I know I can do something about it. I’m learning to live a sustainable, meaningful, great life – one step at a time… and sharing with you stories and tips on how you can do the same!

START HERE for “great life” definition and tips on how to achieve one.

I hope you enjoy my writings and, please, leave comments! I love a good conversation.

best, e.

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