Sunday, June 21, 2009

Getting Your Farmers Markets On

T-minus one week and counting until the 2009 season of our Sakonnet Growers Market. Local food starts flowing next Saturday at Pardon Gray Preserve on Main Road. Market hours are 9:00am - 1:00pm each Saturday.

If Saturdays don't fit your schedule and you haven't signed up for a CSA program, not to worry. There are plenty of other market locations and hours in and around the area. Here is Farm Fresh Rhode Island's list of the ten closest markets to zip code 02878.

I've seen more in my travels though: The Green Grocer in Portsmouth has local fare on Friday afternoons (2:00 - 6:00, if I remember the sign correctly). And yesterday, I saw Wishing Stone Farm of Little Compton had a stand set up in North Tiverton by Sakonnet Bay Mannor. According to the sign posted and their website, they are there each Saturday from 3:00 - 6:00.

Bottom line: 'Tis the season to get out there and support our local farmers and food artisans. Fresh, local food makes sense no matter how you slice it. And the more we patronize them, the stronger our local food economy roots grow. (Check out these cool stats from Farm Fresh Rhode Island on the growth of farmers markets across the state.)

Hope to see you out and about!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Delusions of (Homesteading) Grandeur

It’s happening again. That feeling. That grandiose notion that somehow I could pull off some crazy homesteading “experiment” out here in the middle of suburbia.

Every once in a while (OK, a few times a year, especially during the summer) I get caught up with thoughts of our family surviving in a low-impact, provide-everything-we-need-ourselves kind of way. You can see some of the evidence flowing over at the Gerlach Garden. Perhaps it’s my incessant desire to find that equilibrium with nature; that sense of eco-stasis where I know we are not taking more than we can give back. Maybe it’s homesteading or off-grid or whatever you want to call it.

The reality is: We’re nowhere close to that. Yes, we (or maybe just me; I don’t want to speak for Sara and the kids) try to live a simple, peaceful existence amid the hustle and complexity of this world we call home. The latest book I’m perusing – “Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills” by Abigail R. Gehring – would have me secure a couple dozen acre parcel, fell my own timber and build a house, become astute in animal husbandry, and till acres of fields storing my wares for the long, cold winter. Not going to happen any time soon. But there are things I’d love to try my hand at:

• Having a much larger garden to drive a robust canning and freezing operation
• Building a root cellar
• Rebuilding our chicken coop and getting some new chicks
• Try our hand at goats (for the milk and cheese)
• Bee keeping (for honey and wax to make candles)
• Getting set up with a solar array for energy and hot water
• Making our own soaps and cleaners
• …and the list could go on…

Now, clearly I don’t need to be 100% homesteading to do any or all of this. But it’s the image, the throwback, the nostalgia of that homesteading lifestyle that enamors me.

Increasing your self-sufficiency is a growing movement though – whether it’s in the Outback, suburbia, or the urban jungle. I am inspired by it all.

I have to imagine that here in the Sakonnet area we are steeped in people and experience in many of those tried and true “homesteading” skills. Wouldn’t it be amazing to connect all of these people and bring them together to share and learn? Pretty cool. Let me put it on that ever-growing To-Do list…

(Image Source: National Archives)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Weetamoo Wanderings

What a beautiful day today – in every sense of the word. Quiet, relaxing, engaging in the moment.

Waking up to the sun and symphony of birds, we got going early. The kids were barely out of the pajamas before they were outside playing. Taking advantage of the warm breeze, I had clothes out on the clothesline early aiming to get a few loads dried sans electricity.

With the line strung, we headed into the garden to see how things were going. It’s been a bit of a late start (with everything going on) but we’re getting into the swing. Planted some more onions, radish; transplanted broccoli and lettuce; weeded the raspberries and blueberries.

But by far, the best part of the day came after lunch, when we headed down the road to Weetamoo Woods for a hike -- our first with Bodhi. The east entrance (Lake Road) is right around the corner from us, so we try to get out as much as we can for hikes. Today’s destination: The old mill “ruins” along the Red Trail. Here are some pics from our walk in the woods.

We keep working on teaching the kids how to "read" the map and follow trail blazes.

The "Water Tree" -- a favorite spot to rest, even early in the hike. This tree has a cavity at its base that collects water. The kids love to poke around on Critter Patrol.

Some quiet shots by Sara as she let us blaze ahead:

Now, I’ve lived in Tiverton for a good part of my life and spent many an hour in Weetamoo growing up (watching meteor showers off of High Rock), but this jewel (the Mill ruins) never came across my path until Sara and the kids took me there for the first time a few months back. Will and Millie just love exploring all around, climbing rocks, and seeing what might be along the water's edge. I need to do some research and learn more about when it was in operation, who ran it, etc. Does anyone know?

I am always in awe of this kind of stone work. What I wouldn't give to be able to lay stone like that!

With all the recent rain, the water was flowing nicely.

Many thanks to all those volunteers who help maintain the trails. We’re so thankful we have this get-away in our backyard. Want to ramble yourself? Check out the most current trail map and get out there.