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Monday, December 14, 2009

Making Changes

Simple Living: A Cool Lifestyle for a Hot Planet

Duane Elgin, who introduced Americans to Voluntary Simplicity in the 1970s, believes conscious living can save the world. And the time is now.

This article is a reprint with permission to share if credits are in place. I felt that it stated many important factors. To continue reading the whole article, you will end up going to their site, but its a good read. Please take time to leave comment here and also share any lifestyle changes you made voluntarily or felt you needed to do because of changes in the world. Cher

Lily Pad

Simplicity is not an alternative lifestyle for a marginal few; it is a choice for the mainstream majority, particularly developed nations.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison

Global trends indicate that a rapidly developing “world storm”—a planetary systems crisis—will push the human family to make deep and lasting changes in our approach to living. We confront many simultaneous challenges: climate disruption; an enormous increase in human populations living in gigantic cities; the depletion of vital resources such as fresh water and cheap oil; the massive and rapid extinction of animal and plant species around the world; growing disparities between the rich and the poor; and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We are being pushed to wake up and learn to live far more sustainably by making profound changes in our manner of living, consuming, working and relating.

Simplicity is not an alternative lifestyle for a marginal few; it is a choice for the mainstream majority, particularly in developed nations. Even with major technological innovations in energy and transportation, it will be crucial that people embrace simplicity as a foundation for sustainability and change our overall levels and patterns of living and consuming. Fortunately, we can introduce simplicity into our lives in several ways.

A garden of simplicity

For more than 30 years, I’ve explored the simple life, and I’ve found that the most useful and accurate way of describing this approach to living is with the metaphor of a garden. I see seven ways to grow in the “garden of simplicity.”

As with other ecosystems, the diversity of expressions fosters flexibility, adaptability and resilience. Because there are so many pathways into the garden of simplicity, this cultural movement has enormous potential to grow. Consider the seven steps below and how they could help you simplify various aspects of your life.

The multiple meanings of simplicity

Compassionate Simplicity (Humanity)

Simplicity means to feel such a strong sense of kinship with others that we “choose to live simply so that others may simply live.” Compassionate simplicity is a path of cooperation and fairness that seeks a future of mutually assured development for all.

Uncluttered Simplicity (Physical Space and Time)

Simplicity means taking charge of lives that are too busy, too stressed and too fragmented. Cut back on clutter, complexity and trivial distractions, both material and nonmaterial, and focus on the essentials—whatever those may be for your unique life. As Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”

Civic Simplicity (Community)

Simplicity means a new approach to governing ourselves, recognizing that to live more lightly and sustainably will require changes in every area of public life—from transportation and education to the design of our cities, public buildings and workplaces.

Frugal Simplicity (Personal Finances)

By cutting back on spending that is not truly serving our lives and by practicing skillful management of our personal finances, we can achieve greater financial independence. Frugality and careful financial management bring increased financial freedom and the opportunity to more consciously choose our path through life.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kitchen Gadgets - The Funnel

Re-post courtesy of Matthiasj from Kentucky Preppers Network

Most people have a fully stocked kitchen with the tools they need to cook nearly anything. But it still seems that people overlook some of the simplest things to keep around. A funnel set is one of these overlooked items. Funnels come in handy a lot and help keep things clean and prevent spills. If you're transferring liquid from bottle to bottle always use a funnel. It's faster and a lot cleaner.

Most people buy their preps in bulk, so it wouldn't be uncommon to have a large bottle of cooking oil, water, honey, ect. Buying preps in large quantities is a great way to save money and save space, but they aren't as easy to work with. This is why it's important to have some smaller bottles that you can transfer the products into, and with a funnel you can pour them in without spilling or losing any. If you don't have a good funnel set you can pick one up at your local supermarket and for less than $5 you can have a funnel set with multiple sizes. In the event of a disaster, every little bit counts so you want to conserve your preps as much as you can.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Can I do to Get Prepared?

Re-post courtesy of Matthiasj from Kentucky Preppers Network

If someone where to ask me that question "What can I do to get prepared?" I would say you need a 3 month supply. A 3 month supply is the perfect starting point on your path to preparedness. It is an easily achievable goal and with it you can know that you are well on your way to being prepared. You need to be prepared to quarantine yourself for at least 3 months if the time came. This concept is also referred to as bugging in. The time might come where you have to lay low for possibly months. Swine flu outbreaks, civil unrest, bank holidays/failures, natural disasters, are all real possibilities that might cause you to have to lay low for a while.

A 3 month supply would include everything you would need to survive independent of any amenities for at least 90 days. It doesn't cost a lot of money, nor does it take up much space to store. You would need food for three months and I have created a chart detailing the storable foods that would be included in a $200 3 month food supply. 3 months of water at 1 gallon per day is 90 gallons. Water containers don't cost a lot of money. A propane backup would be best for cooking the food. Along with batteries, flashlights, hygiene products, cleaning products, and anything else you use on a daily basis.

Before you start storing anything you must have a plan. A plan for yourself, or your family. Laying low at your home is possible but you have to remember that others who didn't store could be pretty hungry so you must stay low so you don't have people lined up at your front door to get food. Cook indoors, never "flaunt" what you have. This is where your operational security comes into play. So bottom line, get a plan together. If you need a starting point, start with 3 months for each person in your family and go from there. Use my chart as a guide. The information is there so there's no reason for you not to be prepared.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to Browse the Web Anonymously

Re-post courtesy of Matthiasj from Kentucky Preppers Network

I know a lot of preppers out there are concerned about big brother tracking their moves in the internet. Nowadays anyone can access your IP address and track every site you visit. This is an invasion of privacy although the government does it anyway. There are some services out there that offer ways to browse the web anonymously. Some cost money and some require you to download software onto your computer. If you've been waiting for a free, simple, and easy way to browse the web anonymously wait no longer.

Enter in ItsHidden. ItsHidden is a free service that allows you to surf the web anonymously. There is no software to download, and no subscription fee. ItsHidden creates a virtual private network on your computer that routes all activity through their servers in the Netherlands. ItsHidden was setup with torrent users in mind who want to hide the fact that they download files.

ItsHidden uses 128 bit encryption and doesn't save any of your own files. It's 100% secure and keeps anyone from viewing your browsing information. I have been using ItsHidden for the past couple days and I must say it works great. I recommend anyone and everyone to start using this service. It runs from your computer so any activity, downloading or browsing is hidden. I haven't experienced any problems, everything is still just as fast and works 100%.

Click here to register for the service. After registration, click here for setup instructions on Windows XP, and click here for setup instructions on Windows Vista.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cal Ben Pure Soap

Re-post courtesy of Matthiasj from Kentucky Preppers Network

There are tons of ways to make your own soaps and home cleaning products using ingredients you could buy at any supermarket. Some recipes for those items are in my previous post about Homemade Cleaning Products. This is by far the cheapest way to have all the soap and cleaners you need. But for those that don't have the means or the will to make a years worth of soap and cleaning products I have a solution.

Cal Ben Pure Soap is a company that has been around since 1947. They make all natural cleaning products and soaps with no harsh chemicals or cheap ingredients. There are a lot of natural soap makers on the market but nobody can beat Cal Ben's prices on their products. They offer everything from deodorant to shampoo. The only thing they don't offer is toothpaste, and I have a recipe for that one posted.

I have tried Cal Ben Pure Soaps and I can honestly say they are wonderful. The shampoo, bar soap, lotion, deodorant and laundry detergent are awesome products. For anyone looking to save a TON of money on soap and cleaning products look no further than Cal Ben Pure Soap. They offer a Superstar 4800 Pack which would last the average family up to 4 years! At an unbeatable price of $335.00 (without shipping).

So if you're looking to stock up on cleaning products, increase your level of preparedness and save a lot of money in the process, Cal Ben is the route to go. Just like your food storage you can rotate your cleaning products on a yearly basis. You can visit them at http://www.calbenpuresoap.com/.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Snow is flying in Central NY

As I got up today to see the first snow in our area for the season, I was reminded of how changing and rugged our winters can be. I just finished insulating a door we do not use during the winter months with extra insulation since it has alot of glass and the storm is quite drafty. There was some insulation left over from a repair so I put it to good use.

Its sort of amusing to see peas on bloom in the garden in November when the snow is flying about but there they were defying logic and looking very healthy even though we have had several frosts. If I had done like I first planned and made a plastic dome or sheet over them , I probably would have had peas to pick by now. They prefer the chillier weather to hot weather and are a great later season crop, like Indian Summer weather. So I still might get some extra peas. Does this mean they are snow peas? Actually they are a type called Early Alaska and they are very pleasing to eat and I also saved quite a few for planting this next Spring also if plans go okay for us.

To keep myself occupied during the winter, I do my seed packaging and collecting till all the usable seeds are collected and labeled. Then I start a few seed trains or swaps to get new items to try in my garden. Trying new items and keeping a diary of how things do, helps me to remember better what worked and what needed some changing or possibly looking at it with a new angle. Like I am constantly trying new types of raised beds. At first glance it would not seem to make much difference, but it does and I have various level of beds depending on what I need to grow and where. I never have enough space for all I wish to grow, but Its alwasy fun to get at least some things and add a few in a second growth period. Or some veggies will winter over like carrots, so you can have spring carrots along with some of your sparse greens and winter onions (Egyptian walking onions) and potatoes (sunchoaks) can really make a difference in an otherwise sparse start up in the spring. If your broccoli went to seed you can collect the extra seed and make sprouts that are very nutritious during the winter also.. So when some of your broccoli bolts and blooms, just remember you can collect the seeds too. Then in the Spring I fill in with broccoli raab, or rapini which is a fast growing Spring green that tastes just like broccoli. I had some come up in my lawn and identified it, So allowed it to grow and then grazed off of it as it was coming up faster than that which was planted in my garden bed!

Funny how nature can be sometimes. Weather, climate and microclimates make for new challenges each spring and fall, but it also keeps it interesting. If it was all way too simple, it would be simply boring. Each season I have my triumphs and trials and all are fun for different reasons. Such as the grape vine that never would grow, but in the same place morning glories just outdid themselves.. I finally figured I had a runoff problem from the driveway. So since I did not have an alternative area for the grape, I had to just dig it up and relocate it.

I hope that families will always try growing some of their own food even if its only tomatoes. I think its more prudent to learn to grow a varitey of foods and identify those items around you that grow aound us, especially in our lawns for free that are edible. I still have hope that the manicured lawn with perfect grass is really more prudent for some small areas but should not be an important part of every yard where it must be mowed at the very least and in some extreme cases, fertilized, chemically weeded, seeded, and degrubbed etc.. I was looking forward to taking yet another large portion of the lawn and making it into garden. I still might do that.

The pears were abundant again this season, so I shared and also made pear sauce. We found out its fantastic with Chinese five spice which has licroice root, ginger and cinnamon in the mix. My husband found this most pleasing and also is great for settling your stomach too. Pears also naturally keep you regular without having to use alot of other more expensive methods and contain much needed potassium that helps to lower blood pressure..You need to balance your salt intake with potatssium. Potatos that are not boiled with the water tossed out are also a good source. Bannanas are usually touted as being the great potassium source, but they cant be grown locally as well as its always good to get to know what you have and how it affects your health also. I guess the natural laxitive effect is not only the fiber but sorbitol is found in pears.

I also love my pears as I know they have not been sprayed with alot of chemicals to make them perfect fruits. Much fruit you purchase at the grocery store is sprayed for various reasons and is retained by the fruit you then consume. The total load on our systems makes a great difference on how well you bounce back from set backs to your immune system due to a cold or flue or even say your area is hit by disaster. I know what we eat makes a great difference because of all the elderly people I took care of in my career; the ones that did their own canning or grew fruit and veggies in their yard, or cooked from scratch always were the healthiest.

Winter season is also a time of working on something traditional or home made. Whether it be a family recipe, basket making, a wreath, or knitting a hat. So many thought that these things were passe and out of style. Especially since you can buy a knitted hat for a couple bucks, why bother? Not only for the sense of accomplishment, but for that experience with the nature of material in your hands and shaping it yourself. If you do not have a craft you do, but know a friend who makes soap, or dries herbs. Ask and see what your niche might be or encourage those who work with crafts. Support your local neighborhood.

I know many already are thinking about thanks giving and probably even Christmas. Things like batteries, and candles or even having enough supplies incase of blizzard gets away from us, or we have the cupboard already brimming with items we have not looked at in over a year. Take time to make sure that food is not setting too long on the shelves and you are rotating stock and canned goods. Make sure you have basics incase you might not be able to get out of the house for a day or two due to hazzardous conditions. It usually doesn't get too bad where we live, but there have been times where you could not drive on some roads because the snow was just coming down too hard and fast. That is not the time to rush off to the store, though many do wait to grab whatever supplies they think they might need for bad weather.

I would like to hear from some people about their experiences with storms or any other experience where you had to use some keen sense to get through their difficulty. May we all learn by sharing. What did you bring from going through this experience.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Wind is Blowing

As I sit here listening to the wind blow, at gusts over 65mph, I'm comfortable, not worried, why?
Well like most preppers I think of things that may happen and make a few adjustments to our lives.
I have a generator, ready to fire up a minute after the power goes off, so if a tree falls on the power lines or any other reason for a power outage here, I'm ready. I can sit read, watch tv, heat a cup of tea, take a hot shower, cook a dinner for the family.
Convincing my DH we needed one years ago was hard to do at first, till I came up with the idea, call him with the cell phone, everytime I lost power. Now in most areas, most people lose power occasionally. Here it happens frequently. The month I made the decision to make my DH calls, we lost power 10 times. Haven't had that happen since. I think I had Divine intervention. When I called DH all I said was ,power is out see you when you make it home.
Once it went out while he was home, both an odd occurance. (DH travels for work a lot.) It was Father's Day and we had just gotten dinner on the table. The kids complained about having to go to the bathroom with a candle, no cable, no internet, poor babies, (really young 20's at the time).
Amazingly DH had me order a generator to be hooked up as soon as they could get the one I wanted in.

Making a generator decision is complicated, you need to look at your needs and wants. How do you want it to work, which fuel do you want to use.
I live in suburbia, nothing irritated me more then hearing a neighbors generator from 3 blocks away turning on, not sure if it was because I could hear it or because I did hear it and I was jealous.
#1 - You have your fuel choices, gasoline, natural gas or propane.
#2 - Your needs and wants: what do you want to power up in your home. (& do you really need to power it up)
#3 - Do research, lots of research, both of the generators and the installers.
#4 - Really part of #2 but separate, how much do you really want to spend on it.

Remember a gasoline powered needs to be filled, so you need to keep a supply of gasoline handy. Also remember it needs to be started usually by a pull cord and does need to be hooked up and detacted at each use.
I in no way shape or form could pull start a generator, I couldn't start a lawn mower, so there was no way I was going to go over to a neighbor who didn't have a generator and beg him to come start mine.
My wants at the time exceeded my needs when I was looking. Don't go glossy eyed looking, be realistic, add up the wattage you need before going out shopping. My response was, I want it to run the house. Yes, that is easily possible, but also think of the cost of running it, if you can afford it, then by all means go for it, otherwise, be conservative.
I purchased an 11watt (quiet) natural gas powered generator. It can't run the central air, but in the winter it does run the heater, hot water tank, stove, frig and freezer, I have tv and lights. The kids still complain though. now it's because they have to listen to the noise the generator makes. it's quieter then the small gas generator my next door neighbor has and sits next to my bedroom and I can sleep through it, so it isn't that bad.
But in the last ice storm, for 3 days of usage and that was continuous it ran an extra $400 in natural gas and we kept usage down as much as we could.(But kids sometimes think they need something to complain about)
The propane generators run about the same as the natural gas. Power goes out, you generator turns on, all by itself, one minute after and when power returns, it shuts itself off.

I look at it now as another appliance in the house. One I would not like to have to live without. It's part of my preps but it is part of my life. Normal life runs smoother having it, no worries, no concerns. Just think, a lot of people that have generators wouldn't even consider themselves preppers, but are. If they only knew.

There is a large range of sizes and prices on generators out there. just please remember to do your research and have a licensed professional install it, someone that knows what they are doing.

My plumber had stories of people calling and saying their's wasn't working right, come to find out that company that installed it put the wrong size gas pipe in, then replaced it with the right size but left a paper towel stuffed in the pipe. Ask the installer if they have gone to classes on the installation of the units. Make certain they check the total of wattage used by it, how many of the breakers they hook up, did they ground it for lightening. Do your part and be safe. Be knowledgable before rushing into the purchase.

Now back to my cup of tea.

Friday, October 2, 2009

To stay or Not to stay

Hi, I'm Rubies,
I live in Upstate New York. You all know, it's known for it's winter weather, but I'm here to talk about being more concerned over needing to stay or leave my home due to unforseen or forseen events.
I have been prepping mildly to moderately for 37 years. But now in resent years I have been a suburbanite, not by choice but neccessity, for proximity to work for DH.
If we have an ice storm and no electric for a couple of weeks we can survive, I had a natural gas powered generator installed a few years ago and it has come in handy over the years, been in use at least 10 times per year. I'll tell you though, listening to it running for 3 days or more does give you a slight headache, so stock some tylenol. I have enough food to get by if roads are blocked. water is stockpiled, gasoline for snowblower, showels, salt, roof shovel, (don't want a roof to collapse from the weight of the snow and ice). Propane tanks in case I really need to heat in a different manner and cook on gas grill. So I feel pretty confident there, BUT!!
What if? Lets see if they hit the nuclear facility near me I'm a gonner. If civil unrest gets out of control, I need to leave, defending my home is not an option for me, me against a crowd of uncontrolled individuals just doesn't work for me. So I need a bug out plan. These are times I wish I had a pick up truck. Though I know my car can hold a lot, large trunk to say the least. They just don't make them like that any longer. I bought it with the purpose of shopping, really. You never know how much room you need.The car gets 28mpg on hywy to 30mpg, not bad for a big V8.
Also bought the car due to the V8, gets you moving out of the way quick. AND truthfully it cost me less then one of those 4 bangers on the road.
I've teased my kids that the trunk can hold 4 bodies, (I have 4 kids and 2 grandkids) it probably can, but I'm hoping never to find out.
I never let the gas tank go under 1/2 full. Lots of reasons for that. Weight in the winter. Plus when you have little money, filling a tank takes to much of it, so I have pretended for many a year that a 1/2 full tank is an empty tank, it cost me less to fill.
In winter the water condensation in your gas tank causes frozen fuel lines, car refusing to start,so more gas in tank, less room for condensation to build up in tank, less water problems, no freezing. I dump a bottle of additive in every month, if it needs it or not. I think of it as a little drink for my car, it deserves it for all it does, never heard of one alcoholic drink a month hurting.

It's Fall going into Winter fast. What to pack and what to leave.
Important papers, warm clothes, food we all know that. A local map, state, nearby state maps. Paper maps are a neccessity, not everyone has a GPS, I have none and happy to say that. No tracking of my vehicle. I have always stopped and picked up state maps wherever I have travelled to nice freebie. I have a folder of them in car and change them out every year by the state I travel in. I will admit my WV map is 6 years old though.

If you are going somewhere predetermined, which should already have been decided, you need a good map to get there and alternative routes, now where is that 4 wheel drive when you need it. That map should be in car at all times, ready for use.
If you live in Upstate NY you should already have a winter kit in your car, you know those things that move around in your truck while your driving through the potholes. A blanket, a change of warm clothes, mittens (not gloves, they don't keep your hands as warm) hat, scarf to protect your breathing, nothing like sucking in -10 degree air to freeze those lungs. Does get colder here. Shovel, snow brush, most know the routine but think there isn't a reason for it any longer with cell phones, so lets all pretend that little cell phone doesn't work any loner and pack that winter trunk.

I need to consider what I have that is most helpful to where I am going. What is most needed or helpful. FOOD, of course, but what else. Pressure canners, definitely, but have to remember to fill them with essentials, waste of good space otherwise, so fill them with lids for canning, bands or just more food. Toilet paper with inner tubes taken out and crushed for space conservation. Blankets to keep other warm, I have a load of those.

Books, yes there are always a few that have to travel along, medical, foraging, herbal, canning. don't forget to grab that cast iron fry pan. Any kitchen appliance that needs no power put together in a box, can opener, can you see the only one at the bug out location breaking. Pasta maker, you do want to eat, grain mill, well you get the idea, essentials to survival without power. Don't forget the knives. I almost forgot to pack the non-geneticly modified seeds, hard to find now a days.

Now how long do you need to be bugged out, no idea, right. You have your Winter bug out bag all packed and ready but now Spring is coming and you'll still in your heavy clothes, so remember no matter what season, pack a little for the others.

Medical Supplies, I have most of mine packed in 5 gallon buckets, an easy toss into the car. Also at home use they are in plastic drawers, also an easy toss. I've learned even if it isn't cold season and cold meds are on sale, buy them because when the season hits, everyone goes through them like water. One week I was stocked, by that weekend my kids had cleared me out. Bandaging, medical tape, gloves anything for a serious accident is together, don't forget to get a bottle of betadine, iodine. You want to be able to sterilize an area that needs attention. Sewing supplies come in handy here also.

I also want to say, if you plan on knocking on someone else's door, wouldn't it be nice now to ask what you can bring. They may be low on somthing you have or not have something you have that you can bring. You may not think it's an essential to bring but it is to them, and you need to do your part. Be helpful.

Remember before you do leave.
Learn where your main water line shut off it, turn all water lines off.
Turn natural gas line off to house, yes, get that wrench.
Turn main breaker off to house, check electric meter to make certain all is off.

I know I have missed a million and one things to do but i just want to get you started at least on thinking of " WHAT TO DO".

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Growing Roses in your Garden

(My rose bush this season just before blooming, tipped over it was so tall; but covered with bloom buds!
After blooming, I removed the tall canes as I have to dig it up and move it away from the Spruce tree.)

I was working in the garden today and wondering what I could do with those long
canes that needed to be trimmed off my rose bushes. It seemed like such a waste of
nature just to toss them to the compost pile.

A couple of very long ones I tried weaving into the open part of one of my garden
arches to fill a large gap for my morning glories to climb on and it worked out! So
I kept the four longest ones and wove them into the top to give the vines more of
a support to attach itself to.

I know from experience that the best trick I ever came up for making my rose s
happy was to tuck banana skins in the soil near the plant. This worked so well that
my rose bush shot up past the 6ft spruce that is growing near it. I didn't have the
heart to cut off the branch just because I wanted to see what it would do!

So finally it bent over in an arch over the garden and produced several dozen red
roses along its length! It was just so pretty! I fear though that this red climber is
the root stock to my original pink rose which the top had died in a winter freeze,
but the hearty stock, even though its red, I feel I can live with this older style and
somewhat wilder rose.

Roses are a little more work at times but are well worth the beauty and color they produce.

The New York State flower is the wild rose. My mom used to have one in our back yard with dozens of delicate yellow blooms all over it each season. She never had to do any extra care to it, and even though there were a few Japanese beetles, there didn't seem as many as there are now. My family used the method of a jar with water and taking them off the branches with the lid and checking once or even twice a day during their peak time of visiting your plant. They have learned they emit a hormone for mating that attracts other beetles to your plant. If you remove them early, you might get away with not having to use a poison. I only use the systemic when needed as I wont spray my flowers. This helps break the cycle without harming bees passing through and which do not chew on the leaves.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Skills Tour

The Skills for a New Millennium Tour vision
are going to be in the NY area in September.

• to provide empowered learning to individuals, groups, and youth in order to develop a community skill base that supports social change activism, ecological awareness, and economically sustainable patterns of living.

• to shift patterns of consumption while informing individuals and communities about how to engage in political action that strives for a more ecologically sound, economically sustainable, and socially just world.

Through a series of training workshops and discussions, the Skills Tour improves the capacity of individuals and communities to meet basic needs in a more sustainable way.

Changing the world is not a part time project. This work requires revolutionary ways of living that must be learned over time. Therefore, the skills we offer, grounded in decades of activism and spiritual consciousness, emphasize making marginal lifestyle changes that enhance social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

In order for sustainable community development to be successful people must be able to extract themselves from current models while actively resisting political and economic policies that support the destruction of the environment and the oppression of living beings. The Skills Tour cultivates a knowledge base designed to support people controlling their own lives so that they can more effectively shift from awareness of the problems the world faces today to actively creating the change they desire.

The Skills for a New Millennium Tour offers training to community groups, colleges, high schools, church groups; anyone who wants our training. We understand that community needs are diverse, so we offer a menu of program options to encourage local groups to work with us in order to develop the training series most useful to their community.

The Skills Tour is organized by consensus and functions as a collective.

Note: The Permibus travels around to many states and will be in NY State in September; but will travel by appointment or special event to a location by request.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

National Public Lands - Get involved and Care

Perpetuating Our Forest Legacy

From the time of Teddy Roosevelt, America's hunters have been strong advocates for protecting our country's unique natural landscapes and resources. In the spirit of this hunter-conservationist legacy, the NFF is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Remington Outdoor Foundation (ROF).

Over the next three years, the Remington Outdoor Foundation will provide $300,000 for restoration projects in areas of vital wildlife habitat within the NFF's conservation campaign sites. This year, the ROF also served as title sponsor of the NFF's annual Sporting Clays fundraising event in New York, which attracts shooters and outdoors enthusiasts who value our National Forests—a sponsorship they hope to continue over the next couple of years.

The generous contribution of the ROF gives the NFF leverage for raising additional funds for on-the-ground conservation work—enhancing and protecting the wild places and public lands so many of us treasure for sport and solace.

National Public Lands Day

Saturday, Sept. 26, marks the 16th annual National Public Lands Day. Events across the country will encourage citizen stewardship and visitation to our National Forests and Grasslands, as well as other public lands. All day-use fees will be waived that day. Launched in 1994, National Public Lands Day began with three federal agencies and 700 volunteers. Last year, more than 120,000 volunteers worked in 1,800 locations in every state, and eight federal agencies now participate. To find out about events taking place near you, visit the National Public Lands Day site.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting reacquainted with the Earth

Its been an unusual Spring and Summer, and equally unusual growing season for gardeners. So if this has been one of your first efforts at
growing your own, please do not be disappointed. Its been tough on
all of us so far.

Victory gardens are coming back into style since the price of oil has raised the price of everything whether its been directly effected or not; it makes us yet once more in the position to be a bit more independent in our needs to find real wholesome food at a reasonable rate. Not so
much because of shortage but because of the cost. Plus farmers and
gardeners have been sold so many prepackaged items to supposedly
make the experience of gardening "easier" we tend to gravitate towards
that instead of learning the traditional ways, as it might not be so darn

For many to get through the idea of using organic compost (decaying
food and plant matter!) they have to have it go to a recycling center
then go back to shovel it in bins to pick it up. Yet we still toss many
things such as coffee grounds and banana peels into the garbage can.
A very few have taken to putting the coffee grinds back into the original
container which is a great idea! But instead of tossing them away for
another giant land fill, they could go around the base of your flowers or
shrubs. Or even into the composter, or in a hole in the garden and then
cover back up with dirt. As it decomposes it feeds beneficial fungus that
roots need in the soil along with the release of nutrients.

If you had a difficult time to get anything to grow, consider working on your
planting beds. There are various methods which can at times make it seem
more difficult, but the best advice is to make sure the soil can stay loose,
but also have the right amount of "stuff" that makes plants want to grow no
matter what you put in that spot. Also never plant tomato plants in the same
soil as last year. If you have space limitations, this might mean sterilizing the
soil in your oven, or use freshly composted soil from a hot pile, or put your
tomatoes in planters. Just as long as a heavy rain doesn't wash out all the
good nutrients out of the soil and then it immediately dries out when the sun
comes back out. I did this more than once even with my experience. You
are then forced to keep watering the soil with tomato food plant food or any
plant food you might have available. If you feel a need to dump out the water
from the bottom tray, save it and pour it in your garden elsewhere, or save in
a jug and re-water the plant when it gets dry.

Another good tip is to either work on new beds before you go out and start
buying a bunch of plants, or try growing a few from seed each year till you
get that skill down. Even if your first few attempts seem failures, you have
to try again, for the experience.

If you have porch or patio space; try growing herbs like basil in a pot. Then
you can bring it in when the weather gets chillier. Usually soils topped with
peat moss keeps insects at bay. Also if the pots are elevated into a type
of window box or deck, they are less likely to get an aphid infestation. Yet
another method is to take cuttings and get them rooted and put into fresh
potting soil for indoors for the winter. The rooted cuttings can be brought in
and inspected for bugs if its a big problem in your area, though I have had
quite good luck just bringing in certain plants and saving them so I didn't
have to purchase them all again next season. Like geraniums. (that is a
story for another article)

If certain plants grow in your soil and others won't. Try to discern why certain
plants may or may not be doing well. It took a few tries to figure out that a
few different things could be affecting plants. Runoff from driveway, black
walnut trees, continued heavy rains on bare soils, or potted plants, growing
plants of the same type in the same place several years in a row. Large
population of squirrels in the area or deer. Soil infestations of nematodes
or cut worms that like to stump newly planted plants; or maybe even snails.

One problem that has sharply decreased is bug damage since I befriended
the toad population in my garden. If I run the sprinkler they come out to play
and also to gulp down their weight in bugs of all kinds..If it moves they eat it!
No deciding if its chocolate or vanilla - it's gone! Also remember worms in the
garden soil are needed to aerate and make worm castings. When you use a
product such as Roundup to kill weeds to save edging your boarders, you are
also poisoning the worms and the toads. So you are saving yourself a little
work but killing off other beneficial friends of the earth. If you have a weed that
attracts bees, you are also helping to kill off the world population of pollinators
and making it more difficult for food to grow. Anywhere.

So keep it as simple as possible. Try some test beds and keep a small journal
with weekly notes, and keep trying. If you had to grow your own food, or more
likely your grandchildren will have to grow their own food and you will be able
to pass your knowledge and experience on to them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


OK now I have done it in true DX fashion for all you HAM'S out there....

I know others that read this will be real confused now but I would really like to hear from you HAM'S out there. So I figured I would write in a language you would understand.

We need to get HAM'S involved here so we can try to get a net going to help with off the grid communication among the prepper networks. I know there are many Ham's already involved in the prepper network and many more that read so please come forward and help us with getting this going. Now that all the people that read this (that are not HAM'S) are confused let me add one more slang that only the HAM'S will understand.

73 de W4DMH

PS Please email me so we can get to work on this. wvsantaclaus@aol.com
God Bless all from the Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

National Forests News

tree-mail™ — June 2009

Dear Cherrie,

With 155 National Forests and 20 Grasslands in 42 states and Puerto Rico to choose from, an exciting and inexpensive summer vacation is not too distant for most Americans. As the kids wrap up with school and the weather warms up, check out the Forest Service web site for more information about vacationing on a National Forest near you. From tent camping to backcountry cabins, whitewater rafting to pack trips on horses and mules, a National Forest vacation is a great way to keep the costs down while supporting local communities. Happy trails!
Shooters Take Aim to Protect our National Forests

The National Forest Foundation’s 15th Annual Sporting Clays Invitational was a great success! Sponsored by the Remington Outdoor Foundation, this year’s two-day event began with a cocktail party and live auction at the GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, N.Y., on May 8, where guests had the chance to bid on a diverse selection of exciting items. Smokey Bear greeted attendees and wildlife expert Jim Fowler shared some of his fascinating wildlife stories with the crowd—assisted by several owls, two gibbons and a young kangaroo.

On Saturday, May 9, nearly 200 individuals gathered for the annual team sporting clays event at the Pawling Mountain Club in Pawling, N.Y. Awards were given to the top three teams—led this year by the Camp Fire Club team, with second-place going to the Verizon Business team. Individual shooters also tested their accuracy in the Rolex Betteridge Challenge—where the best score earned one lucky shooter a very special Rolex watch.

This annual event helps the NFF meet critical fundraising goals—but it also gives a very enthusiastic and generous crowd an opportunity to learn more about the forests they love and give back while having some fun. Next year’s shoot is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 8.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seed Vault Celebrates Its First Anniversary

Seed Savers Exchange

Svalbard Global Seed Vault Celebrates Its First Anniversary

On February 26, 2009, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway dubbed the "Doomsday Vault" by the press and hailed by Time Magazine as one of 2008's greatest inventions......

Read More

Monday, May 4, 2009

Seed Savers Exhibit - NY

Visit Seed Savers Exchange in New York City

If you are traveling anywhere near the New York City area this summer, try to schedule a visit to Seed Savers Exchange -- in the Bronx.

The "Seed Savers Heirloom Vegetable Garden" is one of six special exhibitions that will be on display at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) from June 27 through September 13.

Our heirloom garden will be planted with the most outstanding heirloom varieties that originated long ago in the Mid-Atlantic area, such as Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, Henderson's bush lima bean and Jimmy Nardello's frying pepper.

The garden is being designed by Rosalind Creasy, a California landscape designer, who introduced the concept of "edible landscaping." She is a long-time Seed Savers supporter and currently serves on SSE's Board of Directors.

Other exhibitions in NYBG's "The Edible Garden" celebration this summer include:

* The Heirloom Tomato
* Tropical Fruits, Roots, and Shoots
* Martha Stewart's Herb Garden
* Vegetables and Kids
* Be A Seed Saver
Keep checking the Seed Savers web site for more details, or go to www.nybg.org

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Seed Trains - Seeds for everyones garden

With gardening seeds going up in price and sometimes not always being able to find that extra special variety that grandma grew; we started to develop "Seed trains".
You might ask "What is that!" Well, here in New York State, we started trading seeds with other fellow gardeners and seed savers. Eventually we had people from other states join in to want to swap favorites and heirloom seeds.

With all this talk about genetically modified seeds; many of which are being developed not to produce viable seed, or you have to sign a contract with the company (such as monsanto) to say you will not save seed and you will purchase new seed each season. I think its terrible when we continue to develop rules on people against what comes natural just so you can make more $$ per person.

I can see being paid for the toils of your labor for growing crops; but to make seeds that grow in your soil illegal to own and control is like saying - "Im going to sell you this pet, but if it has puppies, I can sue you!" This makes me want to grow my own produce more and more. Not to purchase any products knowingly with these seeds crops used, and to become more self suffient so that by buying or trading original heirloom or natural seed, I am making a conscious vote as to what I feel is important to me and my humanity.

This brings me to my original thought. Seed Trains.
People collect seed from their garden plants and flowers. Label and date them and reuse those seeds for future gardening or trade with others.

Collecting seeds is not only fun and money saving, but guarantees that you will have seed from your favorite tasting tomato and not have to settle for a perfectly tasteless tomato that is modified to keep bugs away but also probably you as well. I do not think I wish to eat food full of "natural insecticides" As much as this seems cool and step saving, it also takes from the total value of the vegetable grown. This is also apparent with more variety of blooms in color but not much scent. That is why we tend to like some of the older style garden plants that attract butterflies and birds. Healthy for them and us too.

Anyone who wishes to become involved in a Seed train can do so by stopping in to visit at CNYPlantcycle http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cnyplantcycle You do not have to live in New York to enjoy the benefits. In fact once you take a look at who is involved, you will see they are from all over and enjoying the benefit of seed swapping and seed trains. Some even post their lists which they are willing to send some seeds to you for just a S.A.S.E. (Self addressed stamped envelope)

You learn more about gardning this way as well as learning about a variety of food we used to grow in our gardens and include in our diets before we became more limited to corn, beans and potatoes. Those are great veggies too, but so are some of those we grew up with as kids or were loved by our grandparents.

If your not used to seed saving or trading, you are not alone! You can easily learn just by participating or asking questions. Each year I learn more about gardening just by trying a new variety or saving seeds from the best tasting tomatoes of the crop from my own garden. Seed saving is something we should teach our children as it is as important as some of the other life skills.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bee counting at Sunflower fort Toll Park
Photo by Cher B of CNYPlantcycle

Last season, I was involved with a bee counting project through the University of SanFrancisco, in which you were given sunflower seeds to plant and then count the bees visiting the flowers. The main goal was to see how many or fewer bees there were out in nature buzzing around.

This project helped me not only to be more aware of bees and their importance, but also that there are several kinds of bees. The bad part was what I knew all along which is many of the bees are being destroyed by the over abundance of sprays used to keep our crops, and timber bug free, along with spraying to edge lawn and weeds, or some even spray their garden to kill unwanted bees in their yard.. Sad to think people are so far removed from their food and nature as to go outside and want to kill our food producers..some unknowning and some just dont care as long as they have their QP with cheese.

The topic of Bee colony collapse, seems to be a very intense topic these
days with articles first stating they had no idea what was causing total
hives to just suddenly fail to thrive. From what I learned about
what roundup alone does to insects and worms, its a wonder what it does when
farmers plant acres of GMO corn or soy beans which is Roundup resistant,
can then spray their crops so they don't have to worry about weeding.

This not only affects bees but the migrating monarch as well.
I found a good article that describes what was found from doing an
autopsy of honeybees in Georgia and comparing them with Calif. honey
bees which at the time were healthier. Even the GMO crops themselves
seem to be in question as to being unhealthy food for the bees even if
they are lucky enough to survive the crop dusting.

Not too many weeks ago I found out that spraying is also used in the
protection of tree lumber from insects that would devaluate the wood.
When the trees are sprayed bees are caught in the drift on their way
from the orchards or other plants back to the hive. So a bee doesn't
have to land on the trees to get infected. If the wind is right it
might even reach some of the hives. It doesn't matter if the hives were
there first or that we keep trying to master our natural resources and
make them into patentable commodities. Take time to read this

There is another article sent to me by my moderator, Kathryn, which
sheds more info on the use of Roundup and similar products that seem to
make our lives more convenient, but at what price.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Conscientious Recycler Does Something Smaller

I was pleasantly suprised today to find out one of our local citizens made the news by making a statement about waste. For one year, she saved all the non-recyclable plastic or refuse that could not otherwise be recycled at her home. This included any napkins or plastic she might use at restaurants! The reporter who went to interview her expected to see several bags worth and was amazed to find only about 5pounds of trash total in a single bin.

See the live News Clip and a picture of Liz!


I know hard she works at something really important because, if you ever went walking on most city streets now days your going to see some papers blowing around. This bothers a lot of us but we choose to ignore it. Its someone else responsibility.

I have met Liz several times and she is always there to listen to anyone
who might wish to offer a way to make our city greener and encourages
any amount of positive energy no matter how small and make it so worth
wile. Her energies have wide effects into various regions from
recycling, growing a community garden, or even bringing life back to
some of neighborhoods with reclamation; including Habitat for Humanity
on the near West side.

People can get involved through Syracuse grows, Slow Food, as well as
through the Alchemical Nursery Project which supports permaculture, and
green living. (alchemicalnursery.org)

On top of that, she also loves to crochet non-recyclable materials as
much as I do!
Gotta love that! Cher

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seed Saving in general terms

I like to do "Seed Trains" with persons who would like to learn about seed saving, trading, and growing your own. (It does'nt matter what state you live in) You can send me an email, or just ask.

The basic rules are collect seeds of plants you can comfortably identify and mark the name on a package. If its from a garden, then know the rules of how to probagate or collect heirloom seeds. Make sure the seed is fully mature before picking. (This may take some practice or experience. Some seeds are easier to collect than others)

When growing some types of vegetables from seed, if its planted next to one of its realtives, it might cross pollenate. You will still get a tomato from a tomato seed but it may not taste or look the same. Keep this in mind if you decide to plant 12 different tomato plants next to each other. Even if they are "heirloom".

If your not collecting the seeds it doesn't matter; but it sure is cheaper to save some seed than having to purchase it each year and hope your usual distributer still carries it. You can choose to rotate your favorites, or plant them further apart, or use spun bond to cover during blooming and keep one type covered while the other is getting pollenated. Or hand pollenate. This is reasonable with some types of veggies but not all.

People started collecting seeds in the first place; to ensure that their best loved plants would be there for them again the next season. They would take the best tasting tomato and keep the seeds in a cup to ferment for a few days. When it starts to look like the gelantous mass is breaking down and releasing the seed; its time to rinse and dry off on a paper towel. Allow a few days to dry completely.

I usually take a half of an envelope or make some packets from recycled paper. Or reuse some envelopes to keep seed in. I keep a scrap book of types and growing conditions and notes to fall back on for next season. Seeds do best when they are cool and dry, and kept out of direct sunlight. The viability of some seeds is longer than others. And some seeds do best when replanted right away. (More so wild edibles)

Its best if your going to collect seed to try it with one or two items the first season. If you try and take on too much you will end up not being a happy gardener and give up. If the price of food keeps going up,(should I say when?) it will be a good skill to have.

I know from past experience, even with my own family they would grow a dozen tomato plants and then give away tomatoes to everyone. I'm guilty of the same thing; and sharing is nice but don't forget about sauce or canning.
If you ever tried to make sauce, you would not just toss the "imperfect" ones into the compost, but instead try and make sauce out of them if not a bushel or so. Give it some thought. If your seed grows true to form, taste and color three seasons or more in a row, you can safely say you still have an heirloom seed. If you save seed and all the tomato plants look different, and taste different, and some even have curled leaves or other problems, you probably got a throw back from one of the original parent plants or a new cross breed. If you were in a tight pinch and didn't wish to just toss the seed, you could do a test planting of some of the seeds and see what happens.

If your wanting to ensure some will be heirloom and then mark those with a colored twist tie and numbering system and then the next year try growing the seeds and see what you get. If one tomato plant tastes way better than some of the others, then that is the one you want to keep seed from. Even when you have all the same variety of tomato plant you may end up with some better tasting than others.
This is very true with wild edibles. Since they are not cultivated, they can vary in taste and texture from plant to plant and even in chemical content. That is why it is good to know what you have when foraging and what to expect. Some plants are quite edible and some only certain parts of the plants can be eaten like rhubarb..the stalks are edible but the leaves will make you quite sick. This used to be passed down from grandparent to grandchild. Now most of us are re-learning it.

Some plants when allowed to go to seed, will "winter sow" and you get new starter plants which you just transplant into their new beds while they are still small. I have done this with broccoli, parsley, leeks and garlic. I have also had some leafy greens come up by themselves as well as dill. If I don't eat them before I make it back to the house, I take little bits of edibles and toss them into my salad bowl. When its early in the season, I toss in some garlic scapes, dandilion leaf and even wild violet leaves and flowers can be added to beet top leaves or even wintered over carrots. Once you get a feel for the how and why, it starts to become a little bit easier each time. I feel its important for everyone to grow some food even if its only one tomato plant. A cardboard box full of corn which can be a nice privacy screen, smells great and the stalks are useful for fall decoration as well as crafting. corn stalks make great compost too, if you don't end up feeding them to livestock. I believe everything has a use. If you are dragging alot of refuse to the curb for others to carry off, maybe you need to rethink your plan. I can't help but shake my head when I see pumpkins at the curb instead of composted in the garden.

You can save some of your pumpkin seeds and roast the rest of them to eat like nuts. Some people grind them up to make a flour or add to flour. Raw foodies grind them up and add them to smoothies, as well as sunflower seeds.

Other seeds like broccoli. If you keep extra seed available you can start sprouts for a salad, sandwich or snack. There are so many reasons to collect seeds as there are plants.
If anyone has collected seeds, they can post their experiences, or you can ask questions and we will try and answer a few of them too.

Plus don't forget about joining a seed train or have a seed swap. I can tell you more about that too if your interested. Cher

I wanted to add another great NY source for Heirloom seeds: The Victory Seed

Take a look at their topics which talk about various aspects of seed saving that are important to know. They sell seeds but also are a seed bank for providing heirloom seeds.

Victory Seed Company

Rare, Open-pollinated & Heirloom Garden Seeds

News & Information

We do rely on the sale of seeds to fund our work, but our primary mission is to protect seeds. One of our tools for doing this is through education and dissemination of information.

The following links are to tools and information located on our Web site. In some cases, the links will lead you to other sites.

Visit them at: http://www.victoryseeds.com/catalog/index.html

Seed Savers - Why do they do it?

I wanted people to learn more about the various aspects of Seed Saving. There are individuals and families that have grown the same tomato seeds for generations. To some of us this seems a bit redundant if not amazing with all the choices we have today; but , are they informed choices?
It used to be that we referred to genetic manipulation just by simple methods such as cross pollination or selective seed gathering. Now its a whole different ball game in a world where they can splice genes under a microscope and cause them to create different chemicals. In fact as much as we know, we still don't know what happens exactly each time genes are "spliced" as you get a slightly different result. The idea of an exact method or perfect clone doesn't really exist, but it makes for good movies, or bad depending on what your view point is.

In the meantime, some people of wisdom decided that maybe its a good idea to carry on this method of saving naturally grown seeds. Just in case those others do not quite work out. We learned that with the monoculture that created the potato famine in Ireland. So I feel it is an important skill for many to know and understand seed saving and not leave it to just some organization or company, but rather a people skill. As important as knowing how to bandage a cut; we need to think about heirloom seeds as being just as important as the antique table in the dining room or the old clock.

I start my presentation with a NY Seed saving project on Long Island. They wish to educate more people about the need for saving seed. Just so you can get an idea of what its all about.


Long Island Seed Project's mission is to educate and inform the public about seed production issues and learn about how you can help in decentralizing seed production by creating your own garden and farm adapted varieties.

We are grateful to the Public Seed Initiative funded by USDA for it's leadership and inspiration and to the follow-up Organic Seed Partnership, locally administered by New York NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association). In a world with increasing restrictions to access of germplasm because of what we believe are unfounded regulations both in the United States and abroad, plant patenting laws and "white lists", the OSP is a refreshing program that has breeders working with small farmers to produce better farm adapted varieties. Flanders Bay Farm which is host to the Long Island Seed Project is pleased to be a participant farm in that partnership.

We applaud the public and private sector plant breeders and seed savers all around the world who continue to allow access to their seeds so that sustainable varieties can continue to be grown and developed to benefit and serve the needs of the small farmer and gardener.

Long Island Seed Project was formed primarily as an outgrowth of the participation of our Flanders Bay Farm in the Organic Seed Partnership sponsored by NOFA-NY which promoted farm-based plant breeding to develop varieties bred especially suited to organic culture and ecological agriculture systems. NOFA-NY organized two breeding workshops (2006 and 2007) at Flanders Bay Farm which brought together vegetable breeders Michael Glos and George Moriarty from Cornell University, Jim Myers from Oregon State University and Brian Connelly from the University of Connecticut to help teach breeding techniques and inspire Long Island farmers.

Long Island Seed Project focuses on the issues involving seed breeding and the access to sustainable varieties that growers can maintain by traditional seed saving. The project helps to distribute potentially useful "unfinished" vegetable varieties and "gene pools" from the Project's Seed Bank to farmer breeders and hobby breeders sometimes referred to as "back-yard breeders".

Long Island Seed assists backyard breeders in developing their own regionally adapted varieties by sharing seed saving experiences and providing information through the internet site: www.liseed.org.

Through this web site, the distribution of seeds of potentially valuable genetic material to it's members and the local projects we are involved in, it is our hope that we can help make your "growing" experience more rewarding, enjoyable and sustainable.

liseed logo
Last updated: Dec. 2008


Bryan Connelly, Michael Glos and Ken Ettlinger demonstrate hand pollination techniques at the 2006 Organic Seed Partnership Workshop at Flanders Bay Farm sponsered by NOFA-NY.

2006 Workshop Photos

2007 Workshop Photos

Welcome to the Long Island Seed Project!

Long Island Seed Project is a volunteer organization working to produce farm-bred seed ecologically on Eastern Long Island as part of a network of breeders, farmers and gardeners. Our focus is on seeds of interest to the organic gardener, small farmer, seed saver and "backyard breeder".

Through this web site and the various local projects that we participate in, it is our hope that we can keep you informed and help to make your "growing" experience more rewarding, enjoyable and sustainable. Our web site; we hope, will provide you with seeds as well as useful information on vegetable breeding and seed saving and allow us to share with you some of the on-going projects that we are involved in. Although the focus of our work is developing and propagating suitable varieties for Long Island, we invite others to make inquiries.

Ken Ettlinger
Long Island Seed Project
Flanders' Bay Farm, NY

New York Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. New York Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.