So you’ve looked at that sunny patch of lawn or abandoned raised bed for a few years and have wondered, what if I finally started that vegetable garden I’ve been dreaming of? I’m here to give you a big old nudge to get going! There are so many joys to starting a vegetable garden, from learning more about how things grow to that first delicious bite of a tomato fresh off the vine. In this blog post, I want to go deeper than the obvious pleasures of gardening and teach you about what I think the top five reasons are you should start your own organic vegetable garden.
Four years ago when I started my Sustainable Pledge, I had the darndest time finding sustainable shoe companies I could trust. So many footwear brands didn’t openly talk about where their materials were from, how their shoes were made, and how they treated their workers. The opaque quality of the fashion industry is starting to be chipped away thanks to nonprofits such as Fashion Revolution and trending hashtags like #WhoMadeMyClothes.
Transparency is what I look for first and foremost when assessing if companies are eligible for these sustainable posts. If companies aren’t openly sharing how they treat their workers and what they are doing regarding buffering their effect on the environment, it’s a hard pass.
Next, materials used to make the shoes is assessed. If there is no open statement on their website about where they source their materials then it's a pass. I look for eco-friendly, regenerative or sustainable, and organic materials being used.
Lastly, how comfortable and versatile the shoes are comes into play. I won't lie, I think Toms are hella uncomfortable! Maybe my feet are extra sensitive. Rest assured, I won't be sharing any companies that may work hard to be transparent and eco-friendly, but fail to consider the customer's comfort level.
So let’s dive into the top three sustainable shoe companies I’ve found and why they rock!
You've dreamt about it. You've been pinning all the pins. You have got serious chicken fever. I hear you! Four years ago I was in the same place, my friend. The more I learned about these fluffy cuties, the more I fell in love. These amazing creature recycle our food scraps into delicious eggs, fertilize our yard better than any store-bought chemical, keep tick populations at bay, and provide us endless entertainment. So I put together a post that truly cuts to the chase of what you need to know to raise backyard chickens. We cover the basics, but I include tips that you may not have found thus far in your search. So read on my fellow chicken lover!
One of the worst feelings as a chicken owner is when you have a sick bird and you are at a loss on how to help them. An impacted crop in a chicken can be a death sentence if you don’t have the right knowledge or tools to fix the issue. Here on Green Willow Homestead, we’ve had two hens who have suffered from an impacted crop. Thanks to the encouraging words from an avian vet, some YouTube research, and my own grit - we were able to save one of the two through operating on them ourselves. In this post, I want to teach you about what an impacted crop is, the options you have to fix it, and how to successfully perform surgery on your hen in order to save her life.
We female farmers are a unique bunch. From raising heritage hens on pasture to milking dairy goats for artisan cheese, there are so many awesome products that are being brought into the market thanks to all my soil sisters out there. While there may be diversity in our farming styles, products, and ideas, there is one thing we all have in common - and that is the need for self-care. For me, this time of year can feel like an all out race. Planting, mulching, composting, caring for sick hens, managing a farm stand, etc - it’s so easy to let self-care take a back seat as you race the weather to get your crops in the ground. I am writing the post today as a lighthouse in the storm of your budding growing season. Don’t forget to take care of the most important part of your farm - you.
In this next post, we are going to cover planting your organic vegetable garden and all the wonderful green thumb activities that fall under that umbrella. I’ll go over how to start seeds indoors, proper acclimation periods for your baby seedlings, and when to transplant or direct sow in your organic garden.
To jump to the beginning of my organic vegetable gardening blog series, click here.
Okay! First, let’s quick chat about where is best to purchase your seeds.
Our little farm stand is finally open for business and I could not be prouder. I’ve dreamt of creating a space for my Franklin neighbors to have access to local organic food and goods since we moved here in 2015. Franklin, WI has a population over 36,000, yet we don’t have a local farmers market to call our own. Putting together this farm stand has been my way of filling that void. Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was our stand! So today I wanted to show you all the work we put into it to make it a reality. Get ready for some serious before and after shots!
A vital step in cultivating a successful organic garden is preparing. Preparing to me means figuring out where the garden will go, if the soil is in good shape for veggie growing, and what you need to build the basic structure of the garden. Preparing here we come!
Now that you are armed with all the planning knowledge to get started with organic gardening, it’s time to start plotting your garden beds. How you plot out your garden has a large effect on your overall success for the growing season. In this blog post, we are going to cover companion planting, square foot gardening, row gardening, and how to mimic nature to give your organic garden some serious edge. All you’ll need is some graph paper, a pencil, and time to dream of all the delicious things you can grow organically!
Here at Green Willow Homestead, we have 40 chicken mouths to feed (and counting!). Our chickens are definitely spoiled. We allow them access to pasture, they freely browse a MOSA certified Organic Chicken Feed, and we give them all our chicken-approved kitchen scraps. When I started to keep track of our expenses though, reality smacked me right in the face. We were spending nearly $175 a month on organic chicken feed! With 40 laying hens producing 3 dozen eggs a day, we technically can rake in $450 a month in egg sales, unfortunately, in the winter this just isn’t the case. Egg laying slows way down as we lose daylight, but the amount these cluckers eat stays the same. I had to put my thinking cap on. How can I cut my feed costs when egg laying can’t foot the bill? Enter a food waste recovery program!
To put it simply, a food waste recovery program is when you partner with a local business that produces food waste, i.e. a restaurant or food shelf, to collect what would otherwise go to a landfill and, instead, compost it or feed it livestock. This partnership can be set up however you want it to: you can volunteer for food waste, you can barter for it, or you can just take it off their hands no questions asked. There are two types of food waste in the restaurant business: pre-plate food waste, which is all the prep scraps that come before food hits the plate; and post-plate food waste, which is what the customer leaves behind instead of bringing it home as leftovers. Both of these options can be recovered in a food waste recovery program.
In this blog post, I’m going to take you through why food waste recovery is necessary, how we got started doing it at Green Willow Homestead, and what equipment you need for successful implementation.
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to orchard planting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we strive to live sustainably and turn these five acres from just property to a fully functioning small-scale homestead.
1. Joe Salatin
2. Rachel Carson
3. Wendell Berry
4. Temple Grandin
5. Sustainable Dish
6. Zero Waste Home
7. Allan Savory
Favorite Books of 2018
2. Bringing it to the Table
3. Holistic Management
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. In The Company of Women