Sunday, June 29, 2008

what are the odds?

I have to share this crazy story with you guys. So I'm in Oregon (more on that later, as Eugene is pretty awesome), and I'm at the library which is gigantic. I was looking for the popular fiction section and I couldn't find it, so I typed the titles of some fiction books into the search engine to find their call numbers. I scrolled down the list of nearby books and the first one I clicked on was called The Foreign Student by Susan Choi. I just clicked on it because the title sounded interesting, and when I looked at the summary it turns out that it's a story about a Korean student at Sewanee. Have any of you heard of this book before? I'm checking it out to read and I'll let you know if it's any good-- but isn't it crazy that the first book I looked at was about Sewanee? (By the way-- right now I'm reading Ely: An Autobiography which is also about Sewanee. I recommend it if you haven't read it already)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Readings on Community

I've been reading Wendell Berry's Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community and just finished reading a booklet called "A Place Called Community" written in the 70s by a man who lived and worked at a Quaker run intentional community. The Berry is excellent. Everyone interested in the function of community should read deals not just with community, but with food, conservation, the problems with the industrialized, televised, and commercialized American culture, and explains how they link together. Both books attempt to define what community is and is not and what its limits are, just so you don't jump in with too idealistic a fervor.

recycling plastic bottles

Hey, I just drew a blank on whether we can recycle plastic bottles with the caps on them or not... SO, I looked it up on the internet and found on that we can't. Most of you probably know this. This may be more for me. This means that all the bottles that are put into recycle bins with the caps still on are being thrown away, which is, of course, bad.

With all that said, I think that we should make a point to let the students at Sewanee know that because I doubt that everyone does... maybe they do? I'm not sure. I would hate for the bottles that could be recycled to be thrown away. Could we put signs on in front of the recycling bins?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From Sid Brown:

I just got the attached photo. It's of a food garden beautifully
incorporated into a central campus location (U of Central Arkansas, I
think--it's an acquaintance of mine who organizes it). It's really really
beautiful. Very inspiring.

Trash in the trashcan...

So right now I´m working in a school in one of the poorer areas of Santiago, Chile and I´ve noticed that many of the students throw their trash on the ground instead of putting in the trashcans...I´m thinking I might try to do some sort of program to encourage them to put the trash in the trashcan. Does anyone have any ideas or experience with something that works on enacting such a change in behavior? Posters? Stickers? Skits? The kids are from pretty messed up backgrounds and I think they simply have never had anyone tell them to put their trash in a trashcan.

Hope everyone is having a fantastical summer!

I would have posted this on the blog, but I can´t seem to add a post for some reason.


(I am posting this on Paul's behalf. -Bentley)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Free fencing...

Just wanted to let you guys know that Lisa Howick just gave us a ton of nice fencing. I went two days ago to her house to pick it up. I would say it is around 200 feet worth. Maybe less, maybe more? Along with it came a bunch of metal stakes. It is super strong and realllllly nice stuff.
Just thought I should share...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


hey guys so I'm moving farms- I'm going a little stir crazy in one place and I want to experience different types of farms, how they are set up, run, etc. I have been researching for the garden and I have a brand spanking new plan for the garden that is going to be amazing!!! Trellises with pumpkins hanging down, an herb spiral, a tire pond, tires for potatoes- it is going to look great next year.
Here is a picture of the piglets I promised:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summer reading

I've finally made a summer reading list.

For Fun:

Traversa: A solo walk across Africa,
from the Skeleton Coast to the Indian Ocean
by Fran Sandham

One Hundred Years of Solitude.
I read this one while backpacking in the Gila Wilderness.

This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
Daniel J. Levitin

Cotton Patch Parables of Liberation
Clarence Jordan and Bill Lane Doulos

Community related reading and rereading:

From Brokenness to Community
essays by Jean Vanier of the L'Arche community

Walden Two
by B.F. Skinner
A novel describing an almost utopic intentional community.
This was required reading for a psychology class I took in high school.

Simple Living
by Jose Hobday
Sister Jose Hobday is a Franciscan sister who I knew growing up.
This is a wonderful book.

For research for a writing project:

The Book of Tea
by Kakuzo Okakura

Tea: The Drink That Changed the World
by Laura C. Martin

Tea: Addiction, Exploitation, and Empire
by Roy Moxham

by Lydia Gautier

And a couple books by my namesake, Elspeth Huxley.

Friday, June 13, 2008

wwoof to farmers market

yo greenhousers

i just got back a few days ago from wwoofing in colorado and it was an awesome experience! i was out there for about a month planting, weeding, watering, shoveling compost, and scavenging for food. Don (the delightful host who didn't find it necessary to feed me) lives entirely off the grid so that was cool to experience. now that i'm at home i'm working as the market manager at the Battlefield Farmers Market (a really small farmers market in the really small town i live in). this is the fourth year it's been up and running and we currently average about 12 vendors on saturdays and about 6 vendors on mondays and wednesdays. my main job is to promote the market and i was just wondering if any of ya'll had any cool ideas about doing that. i feel like this is an amazing opportunity to educate the people of the demographic of where i live (rock spring, ga- very rural and old fashioned) on the importance of local food as it pertains to the environment without stepping on too many toes of people who are very set in their ways. speaking of the demographic i have to go on the local television channel once a week to do a section to promote the market (i can't even begin to explain this to you- it is the most ridiculous redneck thing that you can't fully appreciate unless you see it) anyway so if ya'll have any cool ideas for that that would be awesome, too. 



Yesterday, eight piglets were born on the farm here and they are adorable!!! Ah! Unfortunately one died, which was extremely humbling and sad, but the others are alive and kicking. I'll put up some pics soon.

Also, I have learned how to make soy milk, tofu, and amazing whole grain bread. Soon I am going to make goat cheese and yogurt from the fresh goat's milk from Lumsey, our goat, who I'm going to learn how to milk soon.

There is this book you should check out too, called the Secret Life of Plants by Christopher Bird and Peter Tomkins- it is pretty amazing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Update from the mountain...

So a good bit has been going on that needs some sharing...
Firstly, the garden is alive and kicking. It has rained a ton here so watering has been almost unnecessary for the past 3 weeks. Unfortunately, the rain also waters the weeds and grass. So there has/was a lot of growth on a lot of the cover plants that required a ton of swing-blading. Luckily the individual rows have stayed pretty weed free. A lot of things are growing AMAZINGLY. A few rows have seen better days... But overall I think it is going well. Once we all get back together, I think we will have a lot of planning/reworking to do for next year's garden to make it easier to maintain and take care of.

I have also been trying to keep an eye on both of the houses that are to be renovated. The Richardson house is still the same. I peaked in yesterday and nothing has happened there. There was an elderly lady living in the house across from the Richardson house and she is beginning to move out. So although, no big progress, perhaps a glint of hope for us.

The biggest thing that has happened took place Friday. Dr. Evans invited me to talk at an Alumni Volunteer Weekend Domain Usage meeting. I, and a few others, just shared what we were doing on the Domain this summer. Of course I had to plug the Green House and the garden. Afterwards almost every question asked from the crowd was about the Green House and garden. Afterwards I spoke with some alums from Co'03 who LOVED what we had done. One of them had actually sat in on one of the important meetings when the EcoHouse was first proposed. They thought what we were doing was astounding. It really helped legitimate what we are trying to accomplish. So keep up the good work.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

wwoof woot!

In the spirit of being "infectiously joyful", and to respond to some earlier posts, I thought I'd venture a word or two. Firstly, I am uber excited to be a part of the GreenHouse. woot woot! Although I must say that every time I log onto this blog, I get the heebie jeebies because I think of how unworthy I am to post among such dedicated and knowledgable fellow GreenHousers. Oh well, here goes.

Here's a brief account of what I'm up to and what I want to share: I am WWOOFing on a small island called Sherkin off the southwest coast of Ireland. I've been here 2 weeks and I'll be here a few more before moving north. I think. My tasks consist of gardening and general household stuff, and the gardening has me very very excited about continuing at Sewanee in the fall. (Thanks for the Sewanee garden update, Carson!) There are 3 raised beds of veggies and a small greenhouse with tomotes and strawberries and cucumbers--because it ain't so hot here. The couple I am staying with is planning the installation of solar panels so that they can be off the grid one day.

Apart from that, I've had a little time to explore the island, which is really beautiful. There are about 90 residents and--I'm not sure if they're more intriguing but they're certainly fun to watch--lots of interesting wildlife. So far I've seen a minke whale, grey seals, gannets, and lots of other great birds. I also caught a mackerel for dinner one night and sometimes get to eat a seaweed dish called carrageen.

If you ever get the urge to write, I'll be here until the end of June:

Laura Candler, Horeshoe Cottage, Sherkin Island, Co. Cork, Ireland.

I don't get too much internet time, so I'll have to keep this short, but I hope to post again soon and I have immensely enjoyed reading the other posts.

Some photos of Sherkin:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

help me out!

hello everyone,
my name is jonathan, and i am excited about living in the green house next year. however, i joined the greenhouse later than everyone else, and i only attended one meeting! so i realized that there were probably things that i could be doing to contribute in the collective and separate preparation for next year. hey guys, what can i do?! drop me a line hit me up holler at me gimme a ring leave me a note tell me what to do.

Friday, June 6, 2008

pollution free SWITCHFOOT concert

hey, so, I really like Switchfoot, and now I like them more because of their pollution free concert that is coming up in CA.. just letting you guys know. This probably won't get that many of you excited, but I just wanted to share my excitement with all of you.. SO, thanks : )

100% pollution free concert

We are very pleased to announce that this year, the Switchfoot Bro-Am has teamed up with San Diego-based Sustainable Waves to offer cutting-edge solar-powered sound and staging. Sustainable Waves utilizes the renewable energy sources of the sun to deliver 100% pollution free concerts. By using solar power rather than a diesel generator or grid power, the Bro-Am will avoid emitting approximately 1,000 lbs (half a metric ton) of CO2 into the atmosphere (the equivalent of not driving your car approximately 1,100 miles or the annual sequestration of 66 trees).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sewanee Organic Garden Pics

Hey everybody, here are some shots of the garden I took yesterday. Everything is looking beautiful and happy. I have been doing Lilly stuff all week and have not had much time to spend out there. Here is a link with the pics ( I didn't want to clutter this page) :

Garden Pics, 6/4/08



PS. Anyone who goes to the garden, WATCH OUT - there is a sneaky black widow in the greenhouse to the left of the table.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Organic Agriculture & Academics?

Mis amigos de la CasaVerde,
As I think most of you know, I'll be away from Sewanee (& often the internet) until January. However, I wanted to get the ball rolling on the sustainable farming class, which will hopefully be offered next spring. While I can't be a part of the actual planning of the course (which needs to happen ASAP (this summer and early next fall), I thought I'd post a few examples of what other schools are doing. Let's make it happen.

Before we jump headlong into this class adventure, I think we (everyone involved) needs to do some serious thinking about why we are doing this as an academic endeavor (as opposed to extra-curricular, as it is now) and how this fits into our vision for the university. This could be awesome - not only do we have a exciting professors & community folks who could teach it, we also have the community set up with the GreenHouse. We could have class Friday afternoon (no conflicts this way...) and then maybe have (make?) dinner with the prof or whoever is teaching the class. Since so many people in the house have extensive experience with farming (both Kate & Laura are working on organic farms in Europe this summer, just to name a few), we should have students give guest lectures or something about what they learned or different ways of doing things. Just thinking out loud here....

Farming Classes

Organic Crop Production at Sterling's Sustainable Agriculture Semester
This is a summer program up at Sterling which looks absolutely amazing. Perhaps someone can get sewanee to pay for this next year...
In this course students study organic pest, disease, and weed management; the characteristics of soils and the practices necessary to maintain soil health; the selection and use of tools; and the application of that knowledge to the production of vegetables, grains, dry legumes, herbs, fruits, and fiber. Students come away with the practical skills necessary to plan and manage a small scale homestead or market garden. The course combines lecture, reading, and discussion with guided practice in Sterling College’s two acres of organic gardens and greenhouses, as well as many field trips to farms of varied production scales.
Richard Alsina Fulton Center for Sustainable Living
This program at Wilson College is, judging from what they have online, looks great. This could be a model for what Sewanee could do... They have a farm - managed by the "college farmer!" - ran by a center for sustainable living (anyone else reminded of the GreenHouse 5 Year Plan?), which which we could totally do as well (I mean we do have 13,000 acres, giver or take). Anyways, their classes:
Classes at the Fulton Farm
• Gardening for Fitness: Students cultivate the soil and raise their own produce and flower gardens from start to finish.  This course also qualifies for Physical Education credits!
• Low Input Sustainable Agriculture: This techniques class offers a survey of sustainable farming practices, including a hands-on component with composting, soil analysis, and cropping methods.
• Agroecology:  Exploring the science of ecology through the lens of agriculture, agroecology students study the organisms interacting within the farm ecosystem with the goal of understanding sustainable food production.
• Permaculture Design:  Permaculture teaches the principles of creating sustainable human settlements. This summer course has a strong hands-on component, wherein students construct a project to promote biodiversity and food production, as well as design their own permaculture homestead.
Local Sustainable Agriculture at Stanford
(this was originally the "lab" portion to a lecture class on sustainability... perhaps we could do this with ENST 200 or a similar class

Field-based training in ecologically sound agriculture practices at the Stanford Community Farm; guest lectures from Bay Area farmers, agricultural educators, and food policy advocates; and a field trip to an educational farm. Weekly fieldwork led by an instructor with extensive organic farming experience. Topics include bed preparation, starting seedlings, composting, irrigation techniques, and harvesting methods. May be repeated for credit.
Central Carolina Community College
Sustainable agriculture focuses on production that renews resources. The program is about more than environmental awareness. It is also about the farming community. Urban sprawl has inflated land prices and small farmers, unable to deal with rising taxes, diminished markets for traditional crops, and supply and equipment costs, are losing their farms.

The unique curriculum offered through the Sustainable Agriculture program has attracted students from throughout North Carolina, as well as many other states. The program provides both the small business and technical skills needed to develop and manage a profitable, environmentally sound and community-based small farm or agricultural business.
Students work with fellow classmates to plant, cultivate, and harvest a variety of produce. They learn to utilize a variety of tools and equipment, including tractors and tillers. Field trips, farm tours, and internships enhance the learning experience.
Let's explore this more. I think we could easily have one of the top programs in the country for sustainable living - Sewanee is perfect for it ... we're already on our way. Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Orientation 2008

If we want to be a presence at freshmen orientation, we'll have to plan and stage everything before freshmen even arrive on campus. Paul's right that we need to be especially visible at the Activity Fair. If we do it properly, it should be easy for students to grasp immediately how they can become involved with the Greenhouse.

But how do we want to approach the rest of orientation?

Should we try to get a spot in the line up of orientation speeches in Guerry Auditorium? The E.R.s have inquired into getting 5 minutes in the past, but haven't been able to secure a spot. If we try for this, we'll have to have a very direct, succinct presentation that does not require props or a power point presentation. If we managed to get a spot in the line up, I think it would be nice to invite one of the E.R. cochairs to give an equally short presentation with us. (For example, one of us would talk for 3 minutes and the E.R. would talk for 3 minutes.)

Pro: The entire freshman class will be there.
Con: The entire freshman class will be bored of orientation talks.
We won't have much time to talk about the Greenhouse.

We could also schedule our own informational meeting on environmental groups. We could invite a representative from each group to give a five minute presentation on the group and how people may get involved. We could also have this sort of meeting specifically for Greenhouse activities.

Pro: We have more time to talk. It will be more personal than in Guerry.
Con: We'll only speak to students who go out of their way to attend.

We could also try to do both options. Alternatively, we could try to get a larger chunk of time on the orientation schedule to share with the E.R.s. (15 minutes?)

Urban Homesteading

A couple days ago I watched a video about a family living in Pasadena, CA and run a small farm. They call themselves urban homesteaders and their website is titled Path to Freedom. They produce their own food and sell to local stores. They depend on a municipal water source and electricity to power their fridge and television, but they use some hand powered tools such as a hand crank blender. The website has a lot of information on composting with worms and raising chickens.

Monday, June 2, 2008

An EcoHouse alum reflects on people & dependence

Although Eric Keen '08 (who was one of the driving forces behind the push for the GreenHouse) wasn't directly referring to the GreenHouse, I think his thoughts on people & relationships are fairly relevant towards the dependent community we are trying to create with the GreenHouse.
Allow me to wax cheesy for a moment:
Looking back on my four years in college, I find that I can pretty easily draw some generalizations about how I've grown each year. Each semester seems to have its own taste, its own themes, its own lingering repercussions, built upon the previous semesters and upon pre-college life, growing in immensity and meanings. For example, I think my junior year was one in which I got acquainted with adventure and independence. Significantly, my senior year was in many ways the opposite; it has been defined and shaped by the power of relationships, encountering the value and power of friendship and love, devoting myself to people instead of places. I have come to reconsider what adventure is really worth if it is seen as exclusive of meaningful relationships. Perhaps dependence (at least partial dependence) is not shameful; instead, maybe it provides as much opportunity for a grand life as does a plane ticket. I've come to the conclusion throughout this year (especially this last semester, especially during graduation week) that people are not replaceable. One great relationship cannot replace another; something is always lost in losing contact with someone, inasmuch as something is always gained from entering into contact with new people. There's a power there. As I now face the opportunities of life after college, no longer with a formula of how or where or with whom to spend my time and devote my energy, that final conclusion will play a lasting part in how I participate in places, revere memory, engage with people and devote myself to them.

Obesity, Economic Inequality & the Food Supply

Growing up on the farm in rural America - sounds healthy, right?

Not always.

There's a correlation in America between body weight and income, but it is the exact opposite of that of the developing world: as income levels decrease, obesity increases - both in urban and rural settings. So despite having enormous amounts of food, low-income Americans are not as healthy as one would expect. 

What's going on?

Industrial food & trading quantity for quality. Tom Philpott explains over at his excellent environmental news blog:
Strains within the system are starting to show. Simply put, industrial food is making the people who rely on it sick and fat, to the point that U.S. life expectancy looks set to decline for the first time in two centuries.
It's a great article with a ton of interesting links. just read it. and then go figure out how to fix it.

Activity Fair brainstormage

We need to make a huge impression on the freshmen so they get excited about sustainability & community right off the bat. It should seem like having dinner with Jack from Sherwood is just as normal at Sewanee as  a frat party. 

Thus, I propose a massive GreenHouse Activity Fair table this August. Get email addresses & follow up with events right off the bat... we don't want to lose people to other groups or to (even worse) nothingness i.e. people sitting around doing nothing all freshmen year.

  • We could have produce from garden to eat. Did we plant any of those little cherry bite-sized tomatoes?
  • Oh. Even better - home made ice cream from Dr. Haskell's goats & ducks!!!
  • For that matter, a goat or chicken or two (this is the only time during the whole year when we will have access to the entire freshmen class)
  • Person jammin' on guitar or other suitable instrument
  • bicycle hooked up to something... (this may have to wait until later in the year; we could hook it up to a couple lightbulbs in front of the 'Clurg)
  • Make connections to everything that we do so that we draw in different types of people (parties-organic wine/beer, inequality issues & how we address them through service, books we read, whatever...)
  • And make it FANTASTICAL... i.e. the best Sewanee Activity fair booth EVER.
  • It should probably be interactive in some way if possible.

Gardening during the school year?

If we are really going to give this whole gardening thing a go, I think we should figure out how to make the garden (at least a little bit) productive during the parts of the year when we are actually there. I stumbled upon this book on Amazon:

Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman
If you love the joys of eating home-garden vegetables but always thought those joys had to stop at the end of summer, this book is for you. Eliot Coleman introduces the surprising fact that most of the United States has more winter sunshine than the south of France. He shows how North American gardeners can successfully use that sun to raise a wide variety of traditional winter vegetables in backyard cold frames and plastic covered tunnel greenhouses without supplementary heat. Coleman expands upon his own experiences with new ideas learned on a winter-vegetable pilgrimage across the ocean to the acknowledged kingdom of vegetable cuisine, the southern part of France, which lies on the 44th parallel, the same latitude as his farm in Maine. This story of sunshine, weather patterns, old limitations and expectations, and new realities is delightfully innovative in the best gardening tradition. Four-Season Harvest will have you feasting on fresh produce from your garden all through the winter.
Any thoughts?
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