Thursday, August 19, 2010

Local Food Challenge

JOIN US for the month of September as we move forward into a local food challenge! Visit our shiny new blog at
Hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Turtle Proposes a New Challenge

Hi Everyone! A few of us have been munching on the idea of a new month long challenge. I am proposing a challenge during the month of September. I'd like some feedback, suggestions and a "show of hands" for participation in this event. Here are some of the thoughts I've gathered thus far:

Challenge for September, 2010:

All foods to be grown, foraged or purchased from local farmers/growers
Exceptions would be olive oil and salt
Four "vacation days" to be used for special events, restaurant visits or out-of -town visits.
(Side note: there are restaurants that would be challenge acceptable and have "slow" and local dining)

Since my name isn't Mark and Dethereseracy (our last challenge was termed a "DeMarkracy")doesn't really sound quite right, I am open to suggestions and guidelines from participants.

Thanks for playin'.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Post-Challenge Thoughts

First I would like to say that I did enjoy the challenge. It was extra difficult to adhere to it as strictly as I did. I felt this was a genuine life experience and I am glad I proposed it.

Would I do this challenge again? No way. I still enjoy all the food collecting activities this included. My garden continues to produce food, and I am excited for the early hunting season starting September 1st.

There are 2 reasons I wouldn't do this again. The first is time dedication. I really felt that all I did the whole week was cook food, photograph food, eat food, and then post to the blog. If I got 2 hours of productive work done, that was a good day. For the self-employed, a 10 hour work week is beyond inadequate.

The second reason - acute loss of muscle power. Though I felt the food I ate was very healthful, I did not consume enough calories to maintain my energy levels. It was a good 4 or 5 days after the challenge before I could put in a good days work.

This challenge has inspired me to follow through with some of the other ideas I have though - and you'll find the next one here at the tool challenge. I invite you all to join, wherever you are in the world!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lessons learned

I was really amazed at how much food was available to us so early in the season! The appearance of apricots was completely unexpected, and some of the veggies that popped up during the week were a surprise as well.
What I did well: I planted some early varieties of veggies like tomatoes and carrots; this was a big plus because they were ready in time for the challenge, whereas no one else had any ready. I also think that having gardens both at home and at mom's house was a plus; this helped to provide for both houses (the lettuce and tomatoes). I think getting the chickens was a great idea; in addition to them providing eggs for three households for challenge week, they are a joy to me, and make me smile every day with their personalities and quirkiness. I was a constant forager, going out almost every-other-day for blackberries; Todd and I collected 19lbs of blueberries, and I collected massive amounts of wild garlic, apples (with mom and grandma) and apricots (with everyone), and plums (with mom, grandma, and Todd). I also think my overall design plan was excellent, and whimsical looking as they may have been, the output on my gardens has been phenomenal.
What I need to work on for next time: I need to get rid of all non-challenge food in the house. I was really depending on the quinoa to grow as a major source of my protein and grains, but not a speck of it came up in either location. I would like to find things to grow that are a source of higher fat and calorie content, as I think that both would help all of us to feel less hungry. I would also like to find new ways to cook the food; most of my meals were incredibly simple because I just did not know what to do with only the food at hand besides stir frys and salads.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. I would like the rules to be a little different; for instance allowing for trade outside of the group (as long as the items traded for and with are challenge legal items); I would also like to see items such as cooking oil and salt allowed; I drink a LOT of water (about 80 oz a day), and proper water/salt balance is necessary; I also think that the bear had a little advantage because he doesn't have to cook.... so since we do, cooking oil should be okay! :o)

What now?
Well, this morning, I went blackberry and wild garlic collecting with mom. Seriously. We're still foraging. :o)
I'm working on preserving some of the mass quantities of foods that I have left over/ am foraging for. I will write a post with pictures... I've already given away bunches, and you still won't believe what I have left! I'm looking forward to my roma tomatoes being done so I can make and preserve some pasta sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, and other tomato creations for the winter. I'm also hosting a couple of canning workshops to teach others... so if you're in town (Cleveland )and want to learn, let me know!
I'm drying my first sunflower ever, and am planning on putting the next rotation of late crops in the ground within the next week. I'm also looking at putting a greenhouse with hoop tunnels over a part of the back yard garden to provide at least some of our food through the winter.

I'm really glad we did this... I have a sense of accomplishment and direction... thanks, brother!!! Oh, and a BIG hug and thanks to Sarah too!!!!!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Post Challenge Update

Just an update - My post challenge comments mentioned what I had gained. I also want to let everyone know what I lost during challenge week -

8 1/2 pounds!!!!!!

I'm very excited and so glad I participated.

Bring on the month long challenge - I'm ready!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Here is a useful link for harvesting sunflower seeds:

There was one ready in Kathy's section of the garden that I cut off and hung in cheesecloth to dry. It should take a couple of weeks. We'll see how it works :)!