Monday, June 14, 2010

Who Knew Baltimore is a Farm City?

Last Wednesday I made my first Veggie Trade of the year. I had sprouted  too many tomato plants and since I had no space in my garden for all of them I posted a listing on Veggie Trader, offering them up to anybody who wanted them. Within a couple of days of I had some responses, and on Wednesday Beth (the first responder) came to my home to swap. We had emailed already, Beth was picking up her CSA box and asked if I wanted to share some greens in exchange for my tomato plants. YES! I said, and Wednesday 6pm the tomato plants found a new home and I got dinner delivered to my door.

As soon as the trade was made I took off to the Baltimore City Public Library to see Author Novella Carpenter present her book "Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer". I haven't read the book yet but had caught Novella speaking on NPR earlier in the day and was intrigued. I'm not really a farmer but a girl can dream, right? Novella Carpenter gave a wonderful presentation on her urban farming exploits to a packed house in the main library auditorium. Her book is about her tiny farm on a vacant lot in a bad part of Oakland, a rough town not unlike this one. During the question/answer session Novella reveals that her farm has been bought! "Fortunately the new owner is letting the farm stay…" she explains, "but I'm going to need to move eventually…"  to this I call out, "Move to Baltimore!" and Novella sort of pauses and jokes "Maybe I will?" - and the audience breaks out into cheer and applause! Who knew that Baltimore, an old rust belt city with blight and abandonment is a hotbed for urban farming?

Later I came home and made a salad from my trade. I enjoyed the salad with some local cheese and bread from our local baker which we had on hand.  Beth graciously included a pint of the most delicious local strawberries which I had for desert and I realized that I managed to do something very rare that day. Last Wednesday I did not spend one penny whatsoever. It was a $0 day, and I felt very content.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Do Not Buy the Gulf Oil Spill

Hi my name is Stephanie, and I'm a designer. I don't know anything about oil, or oil wells, and I don't know anything about politics really... but I do know how to solve problems.

This Gulf Oil Leak - the Great Leak - is depressing me. I keep saying to myself, "This should never have happened in the first place." In my world, the design world, you simply don't create anything that does not work. In my world, everything gets tested, and vetted, and discussed until everybody is sick of talking about it but they know for certain that it works. In my world, if some business type comes up with a scheme to get rich, but it's a bad or ill-conceived idea then then we (ethical) designers shut them down. Somehow when our love affair with oil started  back in the 50s nobody really thought this through. Nobody said, "How is this total commitment to oil going to play out 50 years from now?" Well, I'm certain there were business people thinking it through but was there anybody who was thinking this through for us? For the millions of real people who have to deal with the consequences of these decisions? Nobody asked me if I wanted to grow up in a world encased in asphalt. Nobody consulted me to ask if I'd wanted traffic, commuting, noise pollution, air pollution, and congestion. Nearly all of my food comes from the west coast, which takes gallons of gas to get here, and I literally have zero choice over this. Thanks world!

There are things I'm doing to combat my sadness over the Great Leak. It can be summarized as my own personal oil boycott. I'm not driving at all, I'm walking or biking. All travel is cut. I'm gardening more. I'm buying local as much as possible but better yet I'm trying not to buy anything at all. Most important I'm TALKING about how I'm not spending money or wasting time with oil. The more I go down this road, the green, thrifty, do-it-yourself road, the better I feel.