Stewardship

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Stewardship in this context is the responsibility that the world owes to the Earth and to future generations.

environmental stewardshipStewardship means acknowledging that we are not the owners of this world. We do not inherit the Earth from our forefathers, we only borrow them from our children and their children.

If you are religious it may mean acknowledging G-d's ownership of the Earth. As the psalmist says: “The Earth is the Lord's and all that is in it”.

So, according to the psalmist, G-g is watching over our stewardship of the Earth and we will have to give Him account of how we have fared in this task.

Whether one is religious, Christian or otherwise, or not stewardship of the Earth is of increasing importance, not that it was not before and if we had actually cared for Her before things would not have gotten as bad as they are now, as our demands for development run up more and more debts to Nature. Land is one of the essential resources entrusted to us as stewards of Creation.

Land is not made by any man but it exists in a limited quantity and, therefore, also, land should never be owned by any man. How, as the Native Americans and the Romani-Gypsy People have always argued, can any man own part of the Earth?

Anyone who has in any way control of any piece of this land has an obligation to care for it for the benefit of all, people and other creatures that share this Planet with us. Land has just been entrusted to us to care for and not for exploitation. And the same goes for animals and anything else for that matter, including the trees of the forests. They are all entrusted to our care for future generations.

Because of the world's growing population pressure on land is increasing and is raising many questions of stewardship. Questions that cannot just be left to market forces. In fact, they must not be left to market forces at all.

One of the pressure on land is the supposed, and I say deliberately supposed housing need. The fact is that in the UK there are so many empty homes that the term “housing needs” is actually a false one. We could accommodate all of our own homeless and those of Ireland and a few other small countries combined. But those homes are empty and are not being used for homes. In addition there are other properties that could be, by the right people, turned into homes and communities. But the government won't allow this to happen.

In many instances it appears that the developers are winning the argument and we may soon be paying the cost in our failure of stewardship of the Earth because we do not realize what we have to until it is gone.

Pope Francis, in his sermon he preached in his Easter Mass shortly after being elected Pope, said “let us become agents of G-d's mercy, a channel through which G-d can water the Earth, protect all Creation and make justice and peace flourish”.

We can best insure wise stewardship of the environment by the free association of citizens. Rather than depending on governments and NGOs (non-governmental organizations).

Conservation is for future generations. In other word we of the present must hand on a heritage which is intact to those who come after us.

The parable of the talents in the New Testament also give an illustration of how we are to deal not just with our talents given to us – although talents in those days referred, if I am not mistaken, to a unit of currency – but also to the natural world that is entrusted to us for future generations.

Stewardship is often seen as an attitude towards inheritance. Something that you yourself did not create but have responsibility for maintaining. There are many things like that in our lives and sometimes we are not aware of them until the critical moment when they are under threat.

Local people need to be empowered to look after the land. It must be, however, a living landscape; maintained by the people for the people and for future generations.

This also brings us to the change as to how we live and society and how it is run. Localism is the way and empowering communities to maintain and govern themselves.

Legislation is imposed upon the people and this fact is admitted by parliamentarians after, they say, discussion in the House. That does not make it less arbitrary, however. We are told to be grateful for this system of government, we are also told, for are the members of parliament not our elected representatives. Sorry, but I am well capable of speaking and writing and of representing myself. And anyone who believes that the “representatives of the people” represent the people also believes, I am sure, that the Earth is flat. But then again there are still some who do believe that. That the Earth is flat I mean. Far too many believe that the Members of Parliament and such like represent them. Dream on. But I digressed.

Stewardship has to deal also and especially with realities. It can't just be about preserving what we think of “Merry England”, the “green and pleasant land”, with village pubs, cricket greens and all the rest of it. Nor can it be about preserving the past in aspic.

To be good stewards it is essential to reform in order to conserve. When stewards become untrustworthy they can cause widespread damage. Stewardship depends entirely on trustworthiness because a steward is entrusted with something that is owned by someone else.

No one owns the land. It belongs to all. But we also and especially belong to the land, as stewards with a duty to hand it on intact, in every sense, to future generations.

While some keep seeing Nature and land entrusted to us as a heritage, an inheritance the Native American view of us being just borrowers of of it is better still. We have only borrowed it from our children and we must give it (back) to them, or better, in this context, pass it on to them intact and ideally in a better state than when we got it.

Land is the most important resource of which we are stewards because land is under threat from the constant and inevitable demands of what is called “development” and the pressures of population growth.

We are totally dependent on land, so we all have to be trustworthy stewards of it and that surely means we can't just hand over responsibility for land and the general environment to governments and NGOs. But we also can't be effective stewards on our own, so we must act as communities.

Also Leopold warned us against of seeing ourselves as conquerors which is all too often our attitude. Conquering Nature is often the term that is being banded about but if ever we would wind thins conquering game we would ultimately lose and die.

Many Bible believers have misunderstood the text where G-d says for man to have dominion over the Earth. Dominion in that context however never meant domination but being a steward, or as it is called in some translations, a husbandman. The husbandman is a caretaker and it is that that a good steward in this case must be. A proper caretaker of the Earth and everything in it.

So far we have failed in this task because, we falsely believe that we can conquer Nature and bend Her to our will and fashion. It cannot be done and we must work with Nature not against Her.

Modern man, however, believes that he knows it all and that he has the power too modify, genetically even, everything that there is natural to make it work better. He also thinks that he can modify climate change which may be the cause of human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels, by creating artificial cloud cover to “reflect the rays of the sun” and in doing so also upsets the balance of photosynthesis and thus reduces plant growth. The ideal recipe for creating famine, if you ask me. Or is that the aim?

Earth does not need us but we need Her and Earth and Nature here must be seen as one and the same. We cannot do anything without Nature but Nature can do quite well without us. Time everyone understood that and acted accordingly, and that also and especially goes for the scientific community.

Stop fighting Nature and playing G-d! Work with Her and all will be well.

© 2013

The New Horse-Powered Farm – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The New Horse-Powered Farm
Tools and Systems for the Small-Scale Sustainable Market Grower
by Stephen Leslie
Foreword by Lynn Miller
ISBN: 9781603584166
RRP: £28.99
Paperback, 346 pages
Published by Chelsea Green Publishing on 25 July 2013

TheNewHorsePoweredFarm_smlFor many farmers, particularly those working organically, the financial and ecological cost of fuel used in farm machinery is a real concern. Including working horses in the farming mix can bring a satisfying solution, offering a viable model for a sustainable, resilient small farm. The New Horse-Powered Farm presents all the information a small-scale farmer will need to incorporate draft horses into the farm’s working day.

Using horsepower on the farm, says author Stephen Leslie, is better for the land and better for the soul. “From an ecological standpoint, it’s just so clean, versus burning fossil fuel and the compaction you get with a tractor,” he said. “But on that other level, there is just this unending learning curve that keeps you engaged… This book is not about trying to go back to some idyllic past. It is designed to be a manual to help us move a few steps forward to a more sustainable future.”

The popularity of TV shows such as the BBC’s The Victorian, Edwardian and Wartime Farms demonstrates that there is considerable interest in more traditional ways of working the land. For anyone seriously interested in draft horses and how they can contribute to a closed-loop, resilient farm, The New Horse-Powered Farm will be an essential resource.

Included:

  • Getting started with workhorses

  • The merits of different draft breeds

  • Various training systems for the horse and teamster

  • Haying with horses, seeding crops and raising small grains

  • In-depth coverage of tools and systems

  • Managing a woodlot, farm economics, education, agritourism and more

Stephen Leslie and the methods outlined in his book have been featured in The New York Times. For the past 17 years he has earned his living by farming and gardening with draft horses. He currently manages an organic farm in Vermont.

This is a very detailed book on the use of the horse in farming and market gardening operation today and can be regarded right now already as the handbook for the modern horse-powered farm.

Unlike John Seymour in “The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency” when dealing with the use of horses on farms where he was but looking at the “old” breeds and doing it the very old-fashioned way this book looks at new(er) breeds of draft horses predominately and at more modern implements for horse-farming, many of which seem to have first seen their light of day on Amish farms.

Considering the fact that farming with large tractors and combines and such like is slowly but surely, aside from being not environmentally sustainable, heading towards its end as the cost of fuel and the amount of fuel those huge machines use will soon make them too expensive and thus the horse will, in due course, come back into its own. This book will then, as already now for those transitioning, a most valuable resource and reference.

The book contains lots of photos and illustrations and is well written making it pleasure to simply read as well. Together wish the listed resources and the case studies this must be the ultimate modern guide – so far – to working with horses in farming, market gardening and forestry.

As someone who is advocating a return to the working horse on the farm it is a book I am most happy to recommend.

© 2013

Whistle-blowing a duty of all Americans

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A law passed by the Continental Congress on July 30, 1778, declared that it was the “duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by an officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”

Whistleblower_smlWhile this is a law that is part of the US legal code the government, and this includes the Congress, could care less, it would appear, about this in the same way that they could care less about the Constitution of the United States per se and this not only as regards to a foreign-born and thus illegal president.

The majority of Americans, however, in the same way as things stand in Britain, remain totally detached from such shenanigans as long as they have bread and circuses, as it was called in ancient Rome, in this case TV and McDonald’s, while their government rides roughshod and tramples their rights.

Everyone is being considered a terrorist if he or she as much as speaks against the ills caused by government policy and the entire population of the country has been put under illegal surveillance where everyone is considered until they can prove themselves innocent. Instead of being ruled by common law, on which both the legal systems of the US and the UK are based, Roman law has entered via the backdoor that no one was guarding.

Whistle-blowers are persecuted, made stateless, imprisoned for long periods and even murdered while the true criminals sit in high places and get away with everything.

The governments takes it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner in many instances when they are being threatened with exposure as to their doings and we are here talking about so-called democratic governments who believe that they can teach democracy to other nations.

Actions the USA and the UK once condemned – and still condemn – in foreign countries with “despotic” leaders they enact upon their own people and no one is permitted to say a word.

Enacted laws and The Constitution, the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and other such documents mean nothing to them and in the UK what people have perceived as their rights enshrined in the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights the government has now declared to be but privileges which may be recalled if the government deems fit, such as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. And they still claim to be free countries and the people also still believe they can make a difference.

The USA and the UK, and the entire EU, have become fascist entities, with government being totally out of control and checks and balances no longer in place.

American “patriots” often claim that the USA has turned into a USSA – a take on the USSR – thus claiming it is turning into a communist state, but it would be better to refer to it as the Amerikan Reich. Then again, those that make the comparison to the USSR have little or no real knowledge of the USSR and communism bar the one that the government of the USA has indoctrinated them with. The fact that many of them are very right-wing also has a great deal to do with it and also that they are rather uneducated in matters of politics. Not that they would ever realize that with most of them having never been out of their own State let alone the country.

The current British Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2011 that “Free speech is an outdated concept and should be eradicated whenever the government deems necessary for however long the government deems necessary”.

And while Obama has not as openly declared this the fact that every America is considered a criminal and potential terrorist to be watched and email, phone, and even mail intercepted and monitored, says as much without actually saying it.

Our nations are very much in distress but the majority of the people are clueless. Wake up everyone!

© 2013

City of Darkness, City of Light – Book Recommendation

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

City of Darkness, City of Light
by Marge Piercy
Published by Michael Joseph 1997
and by Penguin 1998

City of Darkness City of Life_coverThis is not your ordinary book review as it is a recommendation proper and this book also has been out for quite a number of years by now.

City of Darkness, City of Light is a historical novel about the French Revolution of the 18th century and, although a novel, and thus, theoretically, fiction to some extent, the lessons from this book as to revolutions – also and especially grassroots ones – and how the can and will be usurped by people wanting power and control (over other people).

In this thought-provoking novel in which the author, Marge Piercy, brings vibrantly to life three women who play prominent roles in the tumultuous, bloody French Revolution, as well as their more famous male counterparts.

Defiantly independent Claire Lacombe tests her theory: if men can make things happen, perhaps women can too. . . . Manon Philipon finds she has a talent for politics--albeit as the ghostwriter of her husband's speeches. . . . And Pauline Léon knows one thing for certain: the women must apply the pressure or their male colleagues will let them starve. While illuminating the lives of Robespierre, Danton, and Condorcet, the author also opens to us the minds and hearts of women who change their world, live their ideals--and are prepared to die for them.

Popular movements all too often get hijacked by individuals or groups desiring power and control and Robespierre is the prime example for this from the French Revolution as to how to silence everyone who stands in his way and Stalin is a more modern example of this.

This means that those that initiate popular uprisings must remain in control of the movement and be ever vigilant for anyone trying to lead the movement astray or take totalitarian power and control.

This is also and especially a lesson also for today and is today more important, probably, than ever especially with much of the “operations” being possibly conducted via the World Wide Web and social media thereupon.

A book that I can but highly recommend to anyone and I suggest it is read with pen and notepad or pen and lots of sticky notes to hand for annotations.

© 2013

Wild thing, you make my loaf spring

This year the Real Bread Campaign launches Sourdough September, Britain’s first ever national celebration of the original, and many people would say still the best, form of leavened Real Bread.

image001For thirty days, natural leaven loving loafmongers around the land will be sharing their passion, demystifying desem, bigging up backferment and lavishing love on lievito naturale.

New Campaign ambassador Duncan Glendinning of the Thoughtful Bread Company in Bath said: ‘For me, the best Real Bread combines great crust, depth of flavour and fantastic crumb. Sourdough is the only bread capable of delivering all of these and the only type that actually improves with age.’

Campaign coordinator Chris Young added ‘Happily Britain is rediscovering the delicious delights of Real Bread made with just flour, water, salt, time and care. Plain sourdough has the simplest recipe of any loaf and yet, like alchemists, the most skilled bakers can transform these three basic ingredients into a whole world of gold medal Real Breads.’

Bakers, baking schools, mills and food festivals are adding details of their ‘wild yeast’ wingdings to the Real Bread Campaign’s online events calendar up to and throughout September. So far, highlights of sourdough sharing shenanigans organised by Campaign ambassadors and more of the nation’s finest Real Bread bakers include:

· Aidan Chapman’s Phoenix Bakery in Weymouth is shunning baker’s yeast for a whole month, instead using only using sourdough starter for all of his Real Bread

· Andrew Whitley launches fungalnetwork.com on 2nd September to connect people who use and share Bread Matters’ starter (descended from the one given to him in Kostroma in Russia in the 1990s) and holding a two-day Sourdough Special course in the Scottish Borders on the 21stand 22nd

· Roger and Sally Birt’s Red Dog Bakery in north Devon is running a sourdough baking class on the 6th and tasting on the 7th

· The Hornbeam Bakers Collective introduce sourdough in their alternative breads class in Walthamstow on the 8th

· Tom Herbert will cover sourdough as part of his baking masterclass at Hobbs House School in Chipping Sodbury on 11thand 24th

· Carrie Winger shares sourdough techniques in an Allendale Bakery class in Hexham on the 14th

· Robin van Creveld will be Going Wild for two days of dosas, dhokra and other sourdough breads at Lewes Community Kitchen on the 20thand 21st

· Chris and Joanna Brennan will be running sourdough start-up classes on 28thand 29thas part of Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival’s new Bread Zone

On Twitter, @RealBread is running SourDOH! inviting people to name and shame sourdough shams by posting photos using the #sourdoh hashtag, and joining the #RealBread conversation.

Genuine sourdough bread is leavened only using a live starter culture produced by mixing flour and water to nurture one or more species of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that occur naturally on the surface of cereal grains, and therefore in the flour. As well as developing a greater depth and complexity of flavour, aroma, and texture than commercial baker’s yeast, some studies have found long fermentation using a sourdough starter to have a range of dietary benefits. The Real Bread Campaign calls for more research into these.

People can find details of these and more events, facts and FAQs about sourdough, information on the potential benefits of eating sourdough Real Bread, a list of baking schools, the Real Bread Finder map directory of more than 570 small, local bakeries around the UK, and how to join the Campaign at:www.realbreadcampaign.org

Part of the charity Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming, the Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet.

With membership open to everyone who cares about the state of bread in Britain, the Campaign simply defines Real Bread as made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives.

Together We Rise!

The Campaign is working to secure funding for 2014 onwards, with a main focus on helping people who, for one reason or another, have a tougher time than most of us to benefit from the therapeutic, employment and social opportunities that making Real Bread by hand offers.

More details of our plans can be found at: http://bit.ly/NVGPoi

Some sourdough facts

Sourdough…

· …bread’s origins are unknown. The oldest existing records that appear to show leavened bread making are from Egypt, with estimated dates around 5000 years ago…though nobody’s certain.

· …cultures are easy to start at home in a matter of days using just wholemeal flour (thriving with yeasts and lactic acid bacteria that live all around us, notably on the surface of cereal grains) and water

· …bakers use various terms to refer to their cultures, including starter, chef, levain and mother

· …is not yeast free! Labelling it as such could fall foul of consumer protection laws

· …cultures are all different, some containing Saccharomyces cerevisiae, aka baker’s or brewer’s yeast, the same species (though almost certainly a different strain) as commercial yeast

· …doesn’t have to taste sour. Skilled bakers control the conditions in which their starters are cultured, and doughs are made, to ensure that the levels of sour, vinegary acetic acid produced don’t overwhelm the subtler lactic acid.

· …cultures can evolve over time, so that ‘150 year old’ starter might not contain the same balance or even species of bacteria and yeasts it did even a few years ago.

· …has been shown to reduce the glycaemic index (GI) of bread http://bit.ly/11i1OTc

The Real Bread Campaign’s sourdough page: http://bit.ly/pq5gcn

Some sourdough research: http://bit.ly/xSRZJq

Real Bread Campaign initiatives include…

· Knead to Know: the Real Bread starter The guide to setting up a successful Community Supported Bakery or home-based microbakery has sold more than 2000 copies and is now published by food and drink specialist Grub Street

· The Real Bread Finder The only online directory dedicated to helping people find where to buy Real Bread locally in now used by more than 570 bakeries. Free for bakers to add, and people to seek, local places to buy Real Bread.

· The Real Bread Loaf Mark is helping more than 120 bakers to show, and countless shoppers to see, ‘this is Real Bread!’

· Membership The Campaign’s mutually-supportive national network helps bakers and everyone else who cares about the state of bread in Britain to connect with each other to ask for and share ideas and information to help the rise of Real Bread. Membership fees, at four accessible levels from individuals to large companies, help to fund the Campaign’s work.

SOURDOUGH SEPTEMBER what will YOU be doughing for Britain’s first ever sourdough celebration? http://bit.ly/13CYWCv

KNEAD TO KNOW is back in print! Read about our book and exclusive 33% discount offer at: http://bit.ly/gsZV5z

Source: Sustain

When love died in the world

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

When love died in the world men became evil and wars and all manner of problems ensued and it is thus still today.

adaptingEdenCoverIn her book “Adapting Eden” author Victoria Foyt makes a comparison to this effect several times and, I must say, she hits the nail right firmly and squarely on the head.

Love, as in agape, and compassion have been going out of the window for several centuries, if not much, much longer, already but this move found its peak in the last century, especially from the Thatcher era onwards, but not just in the UK, and is getting worse by the day, in the general population at least.

The god of war, whatever name he is given in whichever mythology, wins over the goddess of love and the world enters and abyss and this happened time and again but also the goddess of love, at times, almost triumphed again and people got on again for a while.

There is, and we all know this and can see this, a battle going on between good and evil, in us and in the world as a whole, and a Native American proverb illustrates this when the grandfather tells his grandson the story of the two wolves doing battle within. Which one wins, asks the boy. The one you feed, replies the old man.

Evil can only win if and when we feed it, when we give in to fear, hate and xenophobia, amongst others, and such lead to hate against individuals and groups of people and even nations and pogroms and wars ensue.

For evil to succeed all that is required is for good men (and women) to do nothing and far too many people, good people even, do nothing because the think that it is none of their business and that they must not interfere. There were thousands like that in Nazi Germany and we all know what it brought us.

When certain groups people are made into scapegoats for ills in society, such as, for instance, unemployment, such as Gypsies, immigrants, rather than the capitalist fat cats exploiters, by the media and the governments, and good people stand by and do nothing then evil wins and the results are a perpetuation of chaos. But the powers-that-be like it when we all fight each other in this way as we then do not have time to fight against the injustices created by them.

The lack of love and empathy to our fellow man and to the environment and Mother Earth has also set man on the path of self-destruction for, in fighting Nature we are fighting ourselves. Working with Her, on the other hand, will bring balance to the world and all the Earth's children, human or other.

We need to change and bring love back into the world but in order to do that we have to first learn to love ourselves. One cannot love one's fellow man unless one loves oneself.

© 2013

Why silver and gold won't protect you from the economic collapse that's coming

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Silver and gold, especially in the form of so-called trade rounds, are often advocated by people in the survivalist community – who also have a vested interest in doing so – as the currency after the event of an economic collapse or such like.

old-us-silver-and-gold-coinsHowever, silver and gold coins, and even less so bullion, will not be accepted as a means of exchange, that is to say as currency, by anyone after such an event and the reason for this is first and foremost that no one has the faintest idea as to how to value such coins nowadays.

There may come a time, long after the initial collapse, that such coins will become the coin of the realm, so to speak, again but even that is questionable. Thus acquiring and hoarding such – and investing money in them – would be more than foolish.

Mean of exchange after an economic collapse or other such or similar event will not be silver and gold coins or bullion, unlike it was the case after the two world wars and during the Great Depression but skills and products and, yes, the original currency of the country, in cash. Anyone who thinks and believes otherwise will be in for a very rude awakening.

The skills that will enable you to barter for things you want and need and cannot produce yourself will also not be academic or high-tech but will be skills of the hand and of working the land. Anyone not possessing such skills will do well to learn them and, in addition to that, it will be advisable to keep money, in the form of the currency of the realm, in cash somewhere safely stashed.

Look at the sites that advocate silver and gold coins and also bullion and think laterally when you see all the adverts for the vendors of such coins and bullion advertising on the site (or in the magazines). It should give you some idea as to why they are advocating such as means of economic exchange. They pander to their advertisers or, alternatively, they are very naïve and believe that people really will accept silver and gold coins and precious metal in other forms as means of payment for goods and services.

This, as said, while that worked after the two world wars will not in the modern world when the economy collapses or the political structure as we know it today, and it will. The reason is a simple one. After World War One and World War Two people still understood the value of silver and gold, having not so long ago had such coins in their currencies, very much in the way that the Pound notes in Britain did state “I promise to pay the bearer one, five, or whatever Pounds Sterling” and the Sterling here referred too Sterling Silver. It was directly valued against the value of such silver. Not any longer and thus the belief that such coins will be accepted are total hogwash.

The means of economic exchange after a collapse will be barter, and that means skills or products, and cash, and, maybe, much later, when the current cash no longer circulates, in the form of tokens, alternative currencies, and, maybe, later still, once again in silver and gold. Though I cannot see going any further than the alternative currency part, to be very honest. “Money” issued by regions, towns, villages, and such like, similar to today's Ithaca Hours, Mountain Hours, LETS (local exchange trading systems) or such like.

So, invest in skills and lay by cash, and don't waste money and time on acquiring silver or gold. Be wise not foolish.

© 2013

1.3 billion tons of food are wasted globally every year

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

food_wasteEvery year around the world at least 1.3 billion tons of food are being wasted. Much of that in our very homes though another great amount of that between field and store and then another great amount of that in the stores. The fact is that we waste more food than we would need to feed the entire Planet several times over.

Stores will look for having always “fresh” food (appearance counts here) food on display till the very end of the day, whether this is fruit and vegetables, bread and meat on the shelves to the very end of the day of business. And, and here comes the hammer, much of that bread and fruit and vegetables is then tipped into dumpsters simply because they would no longer be fresh enough the next day.

The problem, however, starts already at field level during harvest when much of the food, as in fruit and vegetables, has to be rejected by the farmer (or will be rejected by the supermarket buyer) as it does not meet the “standards” that consumers expect.

Thus misshapen fruit and veg, those with blemished, etc., are being thrown out and often are being destroyed. Some more of it perishes in transit as the distance from field to store is often way too long.

Then some, as said, the stores, and in the end come the consumers who, often, have no idea what to do with anything that looks a little less appetizing and especially not with any leftovers. Thus more than a billion plus of food ends up in the bin.

Aside from the fact that some people simply cannot cook from scratch properly and especially have no idea as to what to make from leftover vegetables, for instance, there come the fact that many are loathed to eat leftovers, especially many youngsters who have come to expect plenty and fresh all the time. They have, obviously, never had properly made “bubble and squeak”.

Furthermore, many people, as already mentioned, are almost incapable of cooking from scratch properly and thus too much gets made which then gets thrown away because no one wants leftovers. And because in the developed world we behave like this there is a supposed food shortage in the world.

There is no food shortage (in the same way that there is no housing crisis in the UK and the US, etc.). There is just too much wastage. And also there is the fact that foods are grown for our markets in the developing world that people in the countries where the produce is being grown do not eat (as staple), such as green beans grown in Kenya and then imported to the UK.

The system is cockeyed as is the way we deal with food.

© 2013

The need for going tribal again

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The nation state needs to be abolished, assigned to the dustbin of history, and replaced tribes and clans for real democracy to work.

iriquoisleagueAlready the monks in the Middle Ages realized that a community with more than about 150 individuals did not and does not work and thus, when approaching that number the abbot or prior would send out brothers to found new communities. This was done not (just), as often thought, done with the aim of “spreading the Gospel” but for administrative reasons primarily.

Democracy – real democracy – is not possible in large groups as people in such large groups are not able to properly participate.

Thus everything that is, today, referred to as democracy on national, and international, level is not true (participatory) democracy. Therefore we must do away with the nations state, which has caused so much grief anyway, and return to a much smaller unit, that of the tribe (whether true tribe or otherwise).

In times past everywhere people were “organized” in clans and tribes and even the notion of a nation and nation state would not have entered their minds.

The nation state, as we know it today, is a rather modern invention, as far as human evolution goes, and has brought about more grief than good. It is the cause of nationalism, of xenophobia, of fascism, of racism, and much more. It is also not governable other than by a dictatorship or other form of autocracy. True participatory democracy is possible only in small groups and communities the size of clans and tribes and villages they size they were in Britain and (elsewhere) some centuries past. Not that there was any participatory democracy in those feudal times in those villages or elsewhere for that matter.

The model of the nation state, or even larger, as in the case of the European Union almost superstate, is not sustainable and that on more than just one level, e.g. that of politics and participation for all in a truly democratic process. This can only be guaranteed in small communities.

Also on an economic scale and level localism needs to be invoked so that everyone is a valid participant in this too. This means that everyone, repeat everyone, works and contributes to society in some way and does not shirk from work. Honest work must not just be a prerequisite, it is an honor, and no man may benefit from another man's labors by means of exploitation.

When we talk of a (new) system like this one there will always be people why will say, “But what about taxes? What about public services? What about roads, about policing? How will all that be paid for?”

The answer is that everyone will be involved in doing the jobs required without the need for public works departments and the like.

Is this not anarchism? Yes, it is! Anarchism in the true sense of the term; the absence of government.

Government is just a king or dictator in a different guise, even in so-called democratic countries, as the people, even though they are told that they chose their representatives by means of (democratic) elections and thus participate in running their affairs, do not have any real say in the matters. Democracy in large groups, especially in countries, and groups of countries, such as the European Union, is just an illusion, a conjuring trick.

Participatory democracy, where each individual (and we must include also the children here) can play a full part does not work in nations and the so-called representatives of the people represent the people about as much as me being the Emperor of China.

Unless we want to to continue to live in a dictatorship by people who are supposed to be answerable to us but decide, time and again, that we are but imbeciles to be told by them what to do and how then we have to change the system and this means a very radical change.

The system is not new. It is, in fact, very old and proven and we must bring it back to life.

© 2013

London’s urban food scene explodes across the capital!

Urban Food Fortnight 14-29 September 2013

UFF13_Logo_smallThis September, London will feast on the fabulous local produce being grown, produced and cooked on its doorstep. The second Urban Food Fortnight will begin on Saturday 14th September, at a host of different venues and settings across London with exciting events highlighting the amazing food being grown, produced and eaten in London.

Special ultra-local menus from some of London’s top restaurants, pop -up events, supper clubs in growing spaces and allotments, botanical cocktail nights, foraging walks and urban cookery classes are just a few of the planned activities.

Melissa Hayles of the Ethical Eats restaurant network, which is promoting Urban Food Fortnight, said, “London’s urban food scene has exploded in the last few years with restaurants, pubs and streetfood traders wanting to use produce that’s as local and super fresh as can be. This fortnight of events celebrates all the amazing food growers and producers our city has to offer”

Eloise Dey of the Capital Growth campaign, which promotes food growing in London, said 'Urban Food Fortnight is a great opportunity to celebrate the existing trade of delicious, super-local fruit and veg as well as a chance for new food growers to start selling their produce to local food businesses. This year over 40 of our food-growing spaces are involved doubling the number from last year and generating some much needed additional money for food growing projects in London'.

Over 60 restaurants and growers, plus lots of other urban food businesses and organisations, are already signed up to take part.

The initiative is also being supported by the London Food Board and the Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund. London’s pop-up events directory Grub Club and Slow Food London are official partners.

Some of the urban food events and activities taking place are listed below. Diners can find a full list of who is doing what, plus a map of where they are at www.urbanfoodfortnight.org

One off events during the week include:

· Edible Open Gardens Day on 21 September more than 100 of the UK’s community food-growing gardens, including more than 50 in London, will be throwing open their gates to the public, in the largest open event of food-growing spaces ever seen in the UK.

· An evening of seasonal delights awaits at the Global Generation Skip Garden in Kings Cross on Friday 20 September. It will be offering cocktails in corners, surprises in sheds and a banquet in a polytunnel.

· In Battersea, Crayfish Bob will host a series of pop-up dinners celebrating international crayfish cuisine using the invasive crayfish that inhibit London’s waterways.

· On Tuesday 24 September, Hammersmith based gin producer Sipsmith will host a tour of their distillery. Guests will enjoy botanical cocktails and canapés featuring local herbs and produce from Growing Kultur.

· Forty Hall Farm, an organic farm, vineyard and orchard nestled on the outskirts of London, will host an Urban Food Feast on Sunday 22 September.

· Urban fish farmers GrowUp will host a ‘Big Fish Cook-off’ in their up-cycled shipping container near London Bridge, Saturday 21 September. A workshop for people to make their own take-home hydroponic salad grower is also in the planning.

· The Duke of Cambridge organic pub will host a Harvest Festival to celebrate local urban growers. It will take place on Saturday 21 September and incorporate supplier talks, a cooking demonstration from Head Chef Benoit Berenger and other ‘hands-on’ activities.

· The KERB street food collective will converge on Maida Hill Place on Saturday 21 September for a new streetfood and urban produce market.

· Midnight Apothecary at the Brunel Museum Gardens will be serving cocktails laced with fruit and herbs from their potager garden.

· Head to Cultivate London’s Brentford Lock site on Saturday 21 September for their open day with a plant sale, streetfood, urban bar and listen to some live music

· Regents Park Allotments will be hosting afternoon tea and cocktails on 15 September

· The Table Café is hosting a ‘Pop up pickle!’ for urban growers to process their surplus into chutneys and pesto.

· On Thursday 19 September Platterform and The Bream Team will run a joint event featuring small plates and cocktails incorporating ethically sourced and local ingredients.

· On Friday 27 September, Normanloves will run an ‘Urban Harvest Festival’ supper club in their Walthamstow garden.

· Sutra Kitchen, central London’s all vegetarian and vegan cooking school, will run an Urban Food cookery classes.

· St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots garden project will host ‘Dinner in Our Backyard’..

· On Sunday 22 September Westow Park in Upper Norwood will celebrate the fruits of an urban autumn with a Harvest Festival.

· Sutton Community Farm is teaming up with Michelin-chef Malcolm John to hold a pop-up ‘less than 50’ dinner at Brasserie Vacherin in Sutton.

· Linkway Plantastic Prescription Garden is throwing a Big Dig Harvest Festival in Barking and Dagenham on Saturday 21 September.

· OrganicLea are hosting a two-day sustainable bee-keeping course at their nursery site on 21-22 September.

· inmidtown is teaming-up with Farm Collective to host an evening event serving up salad, herbs and honey from their roof-top sites in Bloomsbury and Holborn.

Some of the restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs and street food vendors taking park in Urban Food Fortnight include:

Café Spice Namaste, The Grainstore, Clerkenwell Kitchen, The Duke of Cambridge, Table Café , Moshi Moshi, The Island Grill at the Lancaster Hotel, Sheebeen bar, L'Eau a la Bouche , Lumen Café, Friend’s House Café, Hornbeam Café, 46b Espresso Hut , Eden Catering, Strawbale café at Freightliners Farm, Lardo Pizzeria, Castle Climbing Centre café, Gallery café at St Margaret’s House, The Russet, The Three Stags, Quinto/Quarto and Moka East Café.

Participating Producers Include:

· MaMa V's Seasoning: This Newham based mother and daughter partnership produce green seasoning and sauces. They will be using urban honey in a specially-created Honey and Hot Pepper dipping sauce for Urban Food Fortnight.

· London Glider Cider: producers of cider from the orchards of suburbia.

· Wildes Cheese: a micro-dairy based in Haringey making delicious, handmade, artisan cheese.

· The Aquaponicist: a social enterprise who have set up a research facility to investigate and test aquaponic systems with invasive fresh water crustaceans and various plant types.

· England Preserves: who make jams with the traditional kitchen in mind, cooking their locally sourced fruit gently, by hand, in Bermondsey.

· Gringa Dairy: an artisan dairy making authentic Mexican cheese in a railway arch in Peckham.

· Florence Brewery: In addition to using local ingredients - including honey from London bees and re-used botanicals from the City of London distillery for his Head in a Hat range, Florence Brewery’s Peter Haydon partners with the Brixton Beer Company to brew ale with community grown hops.

· Hiver Beer: Born out of an admiration for London’s urban beekeepers and a passion for craft beer, urban and rural honey is used to create an all British specialty beer.

· Rubies in the Rubble: Delicious, handmade chutneys and jam, made as much as possible from surplus fruits and vegetables before they’re discarded, to provide employment to those who need it most.

· Dalston Cola Company: Producers of Dalston Cola, Raw Fiyah Ginger Beer, and Real Lemonade - all 100% natural, handmade with fresh ingredients.

· Portobello Brewing: A micro-brewery aiming to be at the heart of the W10 community it calls home. For Urban Food Fortnight they will be producing a special beer using cherries from Coppets Farm in Uxbridge.

Urban Food Fortnight (UFF) is a collaboration between restaurant network Ethical Eats & Capital Growth, London’s Food Growing Network. The initiative is funded by the Mayor of London and the Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund. For more information about Urban Food Fortnight go to www.urbanfoodfortnight.org Twitter: #urbanfoodfortnight

The London Food Board is a group of independent food policy organisations and experts convened to support the implementation of the Mayor of London’s Food Strategy: Healthy and Sustainable Food for London. The Board is chaired by Rosie Boycott and is supported by the Greater London Authority’s Food Team. For further information see: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/business-economy/london-food-board

Ethical Eats is a network for restaurants and caterers across the capital interested in sustainability. It is part of the London Food Link network, part of the charity Sustain, and is funded by the Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund. www.ethicaleats.org. Twitter: @ethicaleats

Capital Growth was launched in 2008 to provide practical and financial help to Londoners wanting to set up or expand food growing spaces. The scheme was funded from 2008 – 2012 by the Mayor of London and by the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme. Capital Growth continues to support its 2,117 members thanks to funding from The Mayor of London, Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund and The City Bridge Trust. The Mayor’s funding will help growing spaces that have potential to be developed as social enterprises selling their produce to local people. Anyone interested in finding out more about how to get involved in food growing should visit the Capital Growth website at www.capitalgrowth.org

These two projects are part of Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming. Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. www.sustainweb.org.

Source: Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Charge users for water efficiency

ciwemTo combat wastefulness and increase efficiency, basic water usage should be charged at low cost with an escalating tariff, says CIWEM in its latest policy statement on water use efficiency, which calls all users to action.

Total abstractions in England and Wales are currently static or declining, but this trend is threatened by changes in climate, lifestyle, population growth and housing development. In a new policy statement on water use efficiency, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) have set out key measures needed to ensure the trend is not reversed.

“Water efficiency gains can be made in both industry and domestic settings. These measures, from charging everyone for water through to an integrated communications strategy, are desperately needed as demand for water is predicted to rise,” says Alastair Chisholm, CIWEM Policy Manager.

“Greater water use efficiency means less water has to be abstracted, treated, pumped and re-treated as wastewater. Thus, water efficiency by itself helps to reduce carbon emissions; and with less water going further, helps to meet climate change adaptation and mitigation goals; as well as placing less pressure on the aquatic environment.”

Charging for water

CIWEM believes that in the long term, all household customers should be metered where practical, particularly in water stressed areas. The number of household on a meter is now 1 in 3 overall, but this varies considerably according to use. Basic usage should be charged at a low cost with the unit cost escalating rapidly thereafter, allowing affordable use whilst ensuring wasteful users pay for the environmental costs derived from their usage.

Finance regime for water companies

The economic regulator, Ofwat, should have a statutory duty to promote water conservation and efficiency through ensuring water undertakers are funded to fulfill their duty to promote the efficient use of water by their customers. Should anticipated savings fail to accrue despite vigorous efforts on the part of water companies and others, those companies who have tried should not be penalised for failing, but recognised for making the effort.

Strategic portfolio of efficiency measures

Change will only be achieved by adopting an integrated approach to water use efficiency, involving a multitude of stakeholders over a long period of time. Action on a complete range of possible efficiency measures, from metering, use of water efficient appliances, re-use and recycling, to improved public education, are required together with research to develop a sound understanding of their relative costs and benefits.

Communications Strategy

Responsible water management calls for changes in attitude and behaviour by all parties to the water cycle. A national communication strategy is needed to forge an integrated approach and consistent messages to consumers, providing ‘one voice’ from Government, regulators, companies, professions, manufacturers and water users.

CIWEM’s policy statement on Water Use Efficiency should be read in conjunction with previous policy statements, Planning Water Resources for England and Wales and Water Reuse for People and the Environment.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, CIWEM, is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world. www.ciwem.org

Water Use Efficiency, CIWEM’s latest policy position statement, can be found online at: http://www.ciwem.org/policy-and-international/policy-position-statements/water-use-efficiency.aspx

CIWEM’s policy position statement, Planning Water Resources in England and Wales, is available online at: http://www.ciwem.org/policy-and-international/policy-position-statements/planning-water-resources-in-england-and-wales.aspx

CIWEM’s policy position statement, Water Reuse for People and the Environment, is available online at: http://www.ciwem.org/policy-and-international/policy-position-statements/water-reuse-for-people-and-the-environment.aspx

Source: CIWEM

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

The "Trash" We Can't Get Enough Of

Retailing Reuse

Environmentally conscious designers and clients are eager to reclaim resources for their embodied energies and histories.

224200547_RetailingReuse_04_tcm131-1982741Not too long ago, structures slated for demolition inevitably found their demise in a landfill. Now, their chance to find second life as a source of design inspiration for architects and their clients is substantial. Exterior wood shingles, for instance, can become flooring with an authentic weathered finish, and a sturdy maple floor can make for a shelf or cutting board with a compelling backstory.

While furniture made from reclaimed materials may retail higher than a piece made from virgin materials, the story can become a key selling point. Combine that with a 25 percent increase in the volume of material flowing through debris-diversion businesses since 2008—thanks, in part, to the recovering economy—and designers incorporating reclaimed materials may be at the start of a golden era.

Read more

Who are the real terrorists?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The specter of terrorism has been played out in front of our eyes for the last G-d only knows how many decades and first, in the UK, it was the IRA and now it is Islamist terrorists, supposedly. But how dangerous are those really?

53728Yes, there have been a fair number of deaths from IRA attacks throughout the decades of the troubles in Ulster and before. Still today some people suffer injuries and death despite the supposed ceasefire on both side of the sectarian divide. However, it is relatively calm compared to what it was like. Too calm, it would appear for our governments so that they had to invent, yes, invent, Islamist terrorists which, after all, the West created by supporting the warlords in Afghanistan against the Soviets during the Cold War and thus the Taliban were born.

Neither of those are the real terrorists that threaten us all and our very existence. The real terrorists are those conducting the slow murder of the land & communities in the name of profit and progress.

The corporations that bleed the Earth of Her resources in the pursuit of profit and ever more of it and exploit people, known nowadays as “human resources”, in the same way.

Entire ecosystems are being destroyed, water in rivers, lakes and the seas polluted, fish stocks of the oceans destroyed, air is being made unbreathable by pollution from factories and power stations, etc., and all so that the corporations can reap more and more profits. You cannot eat money.

In the last couple of hundred years, but worse still, in the last century, we have lost more plants and animals than in the entire history of humans on this Planet. And still we continue to pursue a constant growth economy on a finite Planet with finite non-renewable resources in a way as if those resources would all be renewable.

Some supposedly Christian groups, predominately in the USA, seriously believe that the oil, gas, and other such fossil fuels and minerals, as they we, so their argument, were put in the ground by G-d for us to use, would be replenished by G-d for all eternity and thus, they believe, we can continue to grow our economies as we wish. G-d will simply make more oil and gas and coal and gold and silver, etc. for us. They will not accept that most of those fossil fuels and minerals have all but been used up and there is no renewal of those by miraculous means.

They also never have read, it would appear, that particular passage in their Holy Scripture that says that G-d made man a caretaker of the Earth. A caretaker, folks, not a ravager. Man is to look after the Creation, after the Earth and care for Her, nurture Her, just as a farmer looks after his fields and animals, not destroy everything in the name of profit. Destruction if the work of the other side, the evil one.

The corporations today, and the governments that are lock, stock and barrel in their pockets, are the true terrorists of this world for the destruction that they wreak affects us all and, if it is not stopped, will destroy us all.

Monsanto and others play G-d in altering the gene sequence of plants (and animals) in a way that no one knows how it will affect all of us in the end. They, however, have the governments, including the unelected EU leadership, in their pay so that food control can be organized even in that seeds that Nature has given us will be illegal to be planted and only seeds that are approved by the people in the pockets of those that have bred those seeds can be planted, even in private gardens and on people's allotments.

The real terrorists are not the IRA, ETA, Al Qaida, Boko Haram, or whatever the names may be. The real terrorists of this world are the large multinational corporations and our very governments.

© 2013

The Grow Bag Frame – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

ENGINEERED FOR URBAN GARDENS

The Grow Bag Frame is one of those "now why didn't I think of that" ideas. It lets you make the most of your grow bag by simply turning it on its side.

GrowBagFrameSimple and elegant in design, not only does it take up less space, it provides plants with deeper soil, encouraging stronger roots, and makes for less messy watering.

The pack includes plant supports and can be flat-packed for storage at the end of the season. Materials are two side frame and two cross bars, both manufactured from 6mm diameter, recycled (BS1052) galvanized mild steel and the three looped ties are made from strong 12mm plastic strapping. Made in the U.K. Dimensions: 86cm x 28cm x 120cm H. (33¾" x 11" x 47¼").

The strapping is of the kind that is generally used for large packaging and for securing stuff to pallets also. It is a very strong plastic webbing and will last for ages.

What we call in Britain a grow bag is not something that our American cousins are familiar with. I fact, I do believe one cannot even get that kind of bag filled with compost in the US.

Therefore Crown Garden Products have also created the reusable grow bag which can be used with the Grow Bag Frame.

The Grow Bag Frame is designed with a unique clip fixing - quick and easy to assemble and dismantle – the component parts simply slot together. The lower cross bar draws the grow bag upwards creating voids for watering and feeding. The whole planted assembly is very stable and can be picked up and moved by gently gripping and lifting the two end frames. For taller growing plants put a cane into the grow bag and tie it to the two cross bars to give your plants as much vertical support as you need.

The first time that I saw the Grow Bag Frame was a couple of years ago at one of the RHS' Flower Shows in London and was immediately taken by it, realizing what great concept it was and it was good to hear then that the makers had patented the design. Something that often gets forgotten and then a great idea, such as the Ladder Allotments, get copied by large manufactures who then can outperform the original designers and makers.

The Reusable Grow Bag, designed especially for The Grow Bag Frame, is a reusable grow bag made from tough heavy duty Polyethylene. All you need to do is to fill it with your ideal compost for vegetables, fruit or flowers. It has a capacity of 25 liters and is, like the frame, made in the UK.

The frame is easily assembled and, in all honesty, with a little common sense (very rare though nowadays) one does not even need instructions. It is intuitive, as far as I am concerned. However, anyone requiring instructions they come with it and also can be found online on Crown Garden Products' website.

The great thing about the Grow Bag Frame is that you can easily, with the bag and plants, move it around, say on a patio, and you don't have to be Geoff Capes to do so.

Crown Garden Products Limited are a small British company, specializing in developing products that help the home gardener achieve better results by using simple, stylish and clever ideas. All products are made in UK.

Recommended Retail Price £19.95 excl delivery.

A great idea and product for the urban gardener but which will equally be at home in the cottage garden in the country.

© 2013

A Quirk of Destiny – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A Quirk of Destiny
by Catherine Greenall
published by Austin & Macauley (28 Sep 2012)
344 pages, paperback, 19.6 x 13 x 3.2 cm
ISBN: 978-1849632270
Price: £9.99

16051325A Quirk of Destiny is a chilling look at a world where science is used against rather than for the good of mankind. Calum O'Connell is a scientist at the Department for Food and Environment assessing the safety of new food technologies. Puzzled by a number of incidents involving fellow scientists he soon finds himself caught up in a deadly worldwide epidemic.

Calum suspects genetically-modified food is the cause of the epidemic and sets out in search of the truth. A natural leader, he gathers around him an ever-growing band of people unaffected by the illness in his quest to find answers and refuge from the authorities who seek to silence him.

A Quirk of Destiny is a fast-moving story about what happens when too much power is held by too few people.

Reading this book one cannot but wonder as to whether of this in a “milder” form, if I may put it this way, is not already happening all around us seeing the mindless violence perpetrated by especially some – quite a few in fact – young people today and even young children who have grown up and are growing up with fast food of the McDonald's kind, ping meals, and such and also the road rage incidents which were almost unknown in the 1960s and 1970s.

This book is an important tool in the armory of the battle against acceptance of GM foods and feeds as the scenario outlined and described by the author could happen if we are not very careful indeed. We so not know what GMOs might do to humans and other animals and as to transgenic mutations. Being told by our governments and the likes of Monsanto that it is all save is definitely something to worry about.

We have been hearing a lot in recent times about zombies and even a Zombie Apocalypse and according to some, lets call them source if you will, there appears even to be a US military manual around as to how to deal with zombies. Could we talking genies here? One can but wonder, I guess.

At times this books is rather scary at times as to the scenario it presents and even more so when one considers the author's background. The reader may be left wondering, and possibly rightly so, I should say, as to whether this might not be whistle blowing disguised as fiction. A definite must read book.

Another thing that readers should take away from this book is the importance, though not portrayed in it, of having a so-called bug out bag, often referred to as a BOB, and a location earmarked where to go to in the even of a crisis such as this or other. An old military base is not a good idea though, as we can see from the book.

Following a long career as a government scientist Catherine Greenall is now a full-time writer. Her work includes ghost, horror and science fiction. A long-term vegan, she has published a vegan cookbook, Vegans Can't Eat Anything! and a ghost story, Echoes.

© 2013

Make you own garden tools...

...or at least some of them.

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

There are many small (and not so small) tools that we can make from wood, from wire, from tin cans and even from large glass jars and from plastic bottles of various kinds. Glass jars and some plastic bottle reuse is not so much for tools as for aids for the garden, but we shall include those here nevertheless.

big_dibber&little_dibber_sml

Dibbers hand-carved from Ash (above) and Blackthorn (below)

Admittedly it will not be possible to make all your own garden tools yourself, especially not the likes of digging spades and -forks, shovels and such like, and even some smaller ones such as trowels, unless you have a forge and blacksmith skills. But there are still many tools and aids for the garden that you can fashion from a variety of “raw” materials.

The “raw” materials for making your own garden tools and garden helpers are wood and waste materials. The latter in the form of discarded fence wire or similar, salvaged; tin cans; plastic bottles and such; and large glass jars. The glass jars primarily for one use, that of single plant cloches.

There are many tools and aids for the garden that can be made, with little or no skills, from wood, that is to say virgin wood and waste lumber, and from “waste” wire and other items of waste. One man's waste is another man's resource.

Wood has once been a primary material even for garden and farming tools and implements, and this even included the plow in the beginning of farming. Other tools were still entirely wood until not all that long ago.

In parts of the Third World the digging stick is still the main tool in the vegetable garden and small fields. In principle the digging stick is but a large dibber that is used for, well, digging but not for digging wells.

When it comes to using wood from which to fashion garden tools and -aids the easiest, and very useful, tool to make is a dibber, and also the dibblet. The former for use of planting out plants into the beds and the latter for pricking out and transplanting seedlings.

There are others tools for the garden and the small farm that can and used to be made from wood. The pitch fork, originally two-pronged, was and is one of those, and quite simple to make. The hay rake is a little more elaborate but it is still possible to make this and other tools yourself with some forethought and skills.

Wire weeder handmade from wire coat hanger

Wire weeder handmade from wire coat hanger

Aside from wood, from the woods directly or “waste” lumber, there are other “waste” materials from which to make some tools for our garden that costs us nothing but time and a little effort.

“Waste” material resources stretch from tin cans, (fence) wire, glass jars, plastic bottles and containers all the way to pallets and ton bags. All of those, in one way or the other, can be used to fashion tools and aids for the garden, inclusive of fencing. But let's concentrate on tools and aids for gardening itself for the moment.

A tin can, without much ado, and without any conversion, can become a simple soil scoop for filling plant pots, or a scoop, though this is not necessarily gardening, for feeding your backyard hens, and tin cans have thus been used in gardening for almost as long as the tin can has been in existence. You can put aside several different sizes of them to be able to fill all manner of plant pots effectively.

Add a wooden handle to a tin can and, maybe, cut it to a shape using tin snips and then working it a little and you have got almost the equivalent of a (designer) soil scoop that would cost you in the region of US$25. It is that simple.

Leftover lengths of (thick) fence wire (or wire from those wire coat hangers that are tossed out by the ton by dry cleaners) can easily be fashioned into very effective weeding tools of the “Wonder Weeder” kind.

This simple tool works and, in fact, works fantastic and when it comes to weeding by hand, as is, more often than not, the case in gardening an effective tool of this nature is a great asset.

Many items of “waste” can become our raw materials – at times combined with wood or waste lumber – for making tools (and aids) for the garden and gardening. It is not always necessary to go to the store to buy or order via a catalog.

Glass jars, plastic bottles and containers, pallets, ton bags, general waste lumber, wire waste and much more all can be, in one way or another, converted to tools and aids for use in the garden.

But when it comes to the making of tools from waste materials (and not virgin wood) then it is tin cans; waste wire, be this left over lengths of fence wire or wire coat hangers; plastic containers cut up for a purpose and bits of waste lumber, and, at times, virgin wood for handles, that are our main resources and raw materials.

Depending on the thickness of the material some plastic bottles can be made into scoops and even garden trowels for use in soft and loose soil, and that simply by cutting out the right shape from the bottle with a pair of strong scissors or snips.

Farmers and gardeners have always be inventive with whatever came to hand until not so long ago, that is to say before the time of consumerism gone wild and made many of the things they needed from natural materials and “waste” products. Everything that could be was reused or recycled into something else, etc. to be useful as a tool or aid on the farm and in the garden and we should take a leaf out of this old book, or quite a few pages, and do likewise.

© 2013

More on making your own garden tools and -aids, and the detailed making of some of them, in a book aimed to being ready for the gardener's quiet season.

Synthetic beef created

Scientist creates 300,000 Euro Burger

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

LabBurgerA Dutch scientists has, in the laboratory, created the most expensive burger of the world from bovine stem cells. He now wants to revolutionize food production with this test-tube meat.

On Monday, August 5, 2013 in a world premiere, so to speak, the Dutch professor fried, or better put he had a top chef do the frying, the first burger created in a Petri dish in London and served it live to members of the audience at the event. In fact only two people were permitted to actually taste it and one commented afterward that it had a flavor like animal protein cake and was nothing special. Well, and that at around 300,000 Euro (about the same in US Dollars) this definitely is not impressive.

The meat for this burger has been “raised” by Professor Mark Post and his research team in a laboratory at the University of Maastricht from bovine stem cells. The projects, which lasted for two years and which is rumored to have cost 300,000 Euro, has been financed by a donor who is part of the Internet industry.

The stem cells from this this “meat” was grown in the laboratory were taken from a dead cow and they will still need animals from which to extract the stem cells, dead or alive and to me this entire exercise is a waste of resources, if not money, for the donor can do with his money as he wishes.

According to a journalist who was allowed to visit the laboratory at the University of Maastricht the meat that has grown there in the Petri dish was all white, the muscle tissue as much as the fat tissue, and totally tasteless. It required flavorings, though natural ones, to be added to get anywhere close to meat in taste and also beetroot juice as a dye to make it red in color so it looks somewhat like beef.

The entire burger at the cost of 300,000 Euro was just a 5oz round cake of something resembling beef, more like a cake, as another person said, and somewhat like a McDonald's Hamburger (you mean like pink slime?), and those people really believe that they can solve the world's food problems with this. One can but wonder in which parallel universe those scientists exist (and others who also believe in this).

It would be much better to invest any such research and monies – though, as said, any donor is free to do with his or her money as he or she pleases – into bringing back proper agricultural practices. And, yes, I did say “bringing back” proper agricultural practices.

Meat, and I would not have believed I would ever say this, is not the way forward, especially not the way it is being produced today and definitely not gown in a laboratory from stem cells.

© 2013

North London’s organic pioneer voted pick of the pubs

dukeThumbThe Duke of Cambridge in Islington has been awarded the title of greenest pub in London, in a competition run by the Jellied Eel magazine, The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Ethical Eats catering network.

Almost 40 of the capital’s pubs were in the running for the award, which covers not just the drinks on offer, but the food, their environmental practices and links with the local community. The ten with the most public votes went before a panel of judges from CAMRA and Sustain, who examined the pubs’ ethical credentials to decide the winner.

Pick of the pubs, the Duke of Cambridge, has championed sustainable food and drink for 15 years, and was the country’s first organic pub. The pub has also worked with local schools and nurseries to teach children how to cook healthy meals using locally-grown, organic ingredients. It also supports local charities and encourages staff to volunteer in the community.

Judge Claire Cain, from CAMRA said: “There were some really good contenders, but the Duke of Cambridge really stood out. These days pubs are really struggling businesses and have to do so much more to up their game and reflect the change in our culture. At CAMRA we really want to see pubs engaging with their communities more, and the Duke is absolutely committed to doing that.”

Geetie Singh, the pub’s owner, said: “It’s hugely flattering to win this award. We are entirely organic, everything we buy is sustainable and seasonal, and although it’s a constant challenge to get enough quantities of anything, it’s incredibly exciting for our chefs. When we first opened I tried to keep it quiet that we were an ethical business because I thought people would be put off by it. But now customers come because they share our values and that’s really heartening. People can eat and drink delicious food here entirely guilt-free.”

South London’s hostelries didn’t miss out though. Kennington’s The Three Stags was awarded Highly Commended, for developing strong links with local growers. Ingredients like fruit, vegetables and herbs come from within a two-mile radius of the pub and are delivered by bike. Even closer to home, the pub has a beehive and herb-growing area on its roof. Non-alcoholic drinks include seasonal cordials (currently elderflower and red elderflower) made by in-house urban forager Tess. On the waste front, taking leftovers home in doggy bags is very much encouraged and everything from oil to food is recycled.

And a little further South in Streatham, The Railway made it into the winning three as ‘One to Watch’. The pub hosts a fortnightly food market to support local growers and businesses, like urban chilli farmers Peeps Treats who use the pub’s roof space. It also shares its kitchen with local cake maker Wren Cakes, who keep the pub’s new tearoom supplied with freshly baked cakes and pastries, and offers pensioners a discount.

Jellied Eel editor Ben Reynolds said: “We were really chuffed to see not only how London’s pubs are going that extra mile to bring good food and drink to the capital, but also the variety of community links they have built, with schools, local growers, charities and small food producers. And with pubs in the capital closing at an alarming rate, there’s no excuse not to get out there and support the neighbourhood boozer.”

One of the lucky voters has won a meal for two at the Duke, plus a free year-long CAMRA membership, a Good Beer Guide 2013 and a bottle opener.

CAMRA is a not-for-profit campaigning organisation for real ale and community pubs with 150,000 members and 160 beer festivals. www.camra.org.uk @camra_offical

The Jellied Eel is a quarterly London magazine about ethical eating. It is produced by London Food Link, part of the charity Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming. 20,000 copies of the free magazine are distributed via 170 outlets across London. www.jelliedeel.org/stockists and Twitter @jelliedeelmag.

The Duke of Cambridge is at 30 St Peter’s Street, Islington, N1. http://sloeberry.co.uk @dukeorganic.

The Three Stags is at 67-69 Kennington Rd, SE1 7PZ. www.thethreestags.com @threestags.

The Railway is at 2 Greyhound Lane, SW16 5SD. www.therailwaysw16.co.uk @therailwaysw16.

Source: Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service, company or organization mentioned.

Electric cars – do zero emissions add up?

sust-it_zero_emissions_smlC02 emissions of electric cars compared

Buying an electric car may seem to be the green option when the energy label states Zero CO2 emissions. But that’s not the whole story when you factor in the electricity required to charge the batteries, and associated CO2 emissions created in electricity generation; the green benefits then become less clear.

According to Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), the latest Renault Clio 4, dCi 90 ECO, emits 83 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled. In comparison the Electric Nissan Leaf, requires 173 Watts of electricity to travel the same distance. Calculate the CO2 emissions produced to generate that amount of mains electricity, using the National Energy Foundations formula, and that equates to 94 grams of CO2. Thus making the diesel Clio more CO2 efficient by 206 kilograms per year, based on an annual mileage of 12,000 miles.

In financial terms, however, an electric car wins hands down on running costs. Based on the average mileage of 12,000, the electric Leaf will cost GBP 483 a year to run. The Clio 4 comes in at GBP 895, nearly double! These savings are mainly driven by the tax differentials between the energy sources, rather than CO2 efficiencies in use. The big benefit, in environmental terms, of electric cars is zero tail pipe emissions whilst moving – reducing pollution in towns and cities.

Ross from Sust-it said, "We were completely surprised when we started to analyse the Vehicle Certification Agency electric vehicle testing data. The perception is electric vehicles are the greenest way to travel; this only appears to be true if you’re using renewable electricity to charge the vehicle. The concept of zero emissions for electric cars needs to be corrected. A first step would be to clearly show the CO2 emissions produced in electricity generation, and then display this on the showroom energy labels and marketing material."

Sust-it’s website shows electricity costs associated with charging electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, plus associated CO2 emissions produced in electricity generation. Their unique running cost calculations show the real cost of running an electric car, and their emissions. The energy consumption figures are based on Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) testing data and average energy costs.

Sust-it’s energy efficiency website ranks products by their energy usage and CO2 emissions. It does this through its unique calculations of average usage, combined with carefully researched energy usage data published by manufacturers and government agencies. The site is constantly updated and contains a wide range of products from Cars to Chest Freezers.

You can compare electricity tariffs and calculate your CO2 emissions at the same time. The electricity unit rates used to calculate the costs per hour/cycle/year are based on the BIS (Department for Business Innovation & skills) Quarterly Energy Prices. CO2 Calculations taken from National Energy Foundation. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) publishes fuel prices and consumption figures used by Sust-it.

The Sust-it website has been conceived and developed by TurnRound, after it’s proprietor Ross Lammas, became increasingly frustrated by the difficulty in finding the data on the energy consumption of products, whilst he was building an environmentally sustainable office and home. The site is independent from any manufacturers, retailers or energy companies. And does not receive any funding from any Government agencies, trusts or independent charities.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service, company or organization mentioned.