Food Is Free

If you were an early American colonist and Jamestown farmer in the 1600’s, you would have been required by law to grow hemp simply because the world was being commanded by large fleets of ships, and those ships needed hemp rope and sails. Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence was a hemp farmer, the document itself was written on hemp paper, and so was the U.S. Constitution.

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Growing up in southern England and Wales, we always lived close to the woods, streams, and hills of the nearby countryside. The towns were built to be dense and tight, so it was relatively easy to walk out of the buildings and away from traffic into a land of kingfishers, beech trees, and marsh marigolds. It was “smart growth” before anyone had invented the term.

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A growing movement is spreading throughout U.S. cities that is feeding people, providing jobs, and helping the environment—urban farming.

This is a lot bigger than putting some tomato and zucchini plants in your backyard. These are local efforts, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, to convert vacant land in America’s cities into small farms.

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I was 16 years old in 1970 and I went through my adolescence with those early alternative dreams of being self sufficient and living a natural life. Even before that as a child I had a love for natural systems like fishing, hiking, and harvesting and gathering from the wilderness. I was forever and always fascinated in natural ways of farming and growing things and some how it just seems right to me. It was a natural evolution that once I discovered that there was actually a design science named Permaculture that I got engaged and passionately involved. I took my Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course with Bill Mollison in 1983 and it made perfect sense to me. So Permaculture Design is what inspired me. The way it can be used on a small family farm really appealed and made sense. And for me, I wanted to return that enthusiasm to as many people as possible by creating education and demonstration sites that are diverse as examples like Zaytuna Farm and the Permaculture Research Institute, Australia. My main theme here was to set up multiple demonstration sites and Permaculture design is the way of achieving that.

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Screen Printed Over Grow The System patch by artist Bubzee . Printed on re claimed fabrics.

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Many gardeners have an aversion to chemicals. These gardeners may be devoted to pesticide-free growing, want to plant (and eat) edibles, or simply like the thought of keeping flower beds naturally healthy. Whatever the reason, there are key steps you can take to get and keep the pesticides out of your garden. Here’s what to do.

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The original land, bought in 2009, is comprised of 2.2 rocky acres with a year round river marking the western border. By taking advantage of this river, the whole farm now has reliable, gravity-fed water, a system that has no moving parts, pumps, energy usage, or regular failures. While the land does have an abundance of water, the original soil was another story. The whole farm is rocky and covered in only thin layers of soil. Due to irresponsible corn cultivation techniques over the past few generations, our farm soil was very worn out and, while still rich in some minerals, it was severely lacking in organic matter and major nutrients. We should note that the original condition of our farm  is representative of much of the valley floor in which we are located. Naturally, the goal is that each year we are actually building more soil, covering rocks, and creating fertility.

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“I’m aware that I can’t change the world, and I can’t feed the world, but I can impact a certain amount of people around me, and basically that’s what I’m trying to do.”

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Erin Garrison talks about Food Is Free Albuquerque founded and run by two mom’s and their kids. For the last two years they have been gleaning forgotten fruit and the over abundance of produce in backyard gardens and on farms and taking them to people all over the city who need food.

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1)  Eat local, organic and seasonal fruits and vegetables- know your farmer!
2)  Join a CSA Farm
3)  Shop at your local farmers market regularly.
4)  Grow a garden. Try growing and preserving at least 25% of your own food. Growing a garden can be super easy and highly rewarding. Container gardening is an option for those who lack space.
5)  Shop at local mom and pop businesses in your area instead of big box stores.
6)  Get thrifty: Shop at thrift stores. There are so many amazing treasures just waiting for a good home.

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“65 is the average age of farmers, and there are not enough young farmers to replace them. How did we get here?”

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