homegrown herbal teas

Calming Homegrown Herbal Teas

April 8, 2021

Unless you have nerves of steel, this year has probably left you feeling a little more shaken than usual, a little too familiar with a clutch of anxiety around your chest. Navigating a rollercoaster of a global crisis, uncertainty, radical changes to those familiar routines that used to make us… Read more

nettle soup

Stinging Nettle Soup

April 3, 2021

Tiny green shoots pushing out of the ground, braving the bare cold of early spring days, are our first clues that the land is awakening. Their emergence coincides with our own: our coming out after cozy months spent mostly indoors putting energy into our roots. Now it’s time to show… Read more

wild violet ice cream

Sweet Spring Foraging: Wild Violet Ice Cream

April 1, 2021

Wild violet blossoms are spring foraging at its sweetest — literally and metaphorically. When we first arrived on our urban homestead three years ago, the common blue violet (Viola sororia) was among the first flowers that came up, creating a purple-hued carpet on the slope above our cottage. I remember… Read more

urban permaculture homestead

Our Homestead Story & Design

March 19, 2021

Just after New Year’s in 2018, we returned to the Carolinas after almost two years away. We’d spent six months in California for my ecological landscaper training, over a year in India for Dan’s research, and some family time in between in Finland and Boston. We’d always been quite nomadic,… Read more

Mending: A Simple yet Radical Slow Fashion Skillset

March 9, 2021

In Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ma Ingalls has a weekly rhythm of work: “Wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, churn on Thursday, clean on Friday, bake on Saturday, rest on Sunday.” How many of us still have a mending day? How… Read more

cardigan from sheep wool

Sheep to Sweater, Part II

February 2, 2021

This is the second part in a two-part series about the process of making a knitted garment out of raw sheep’s fleece. Read Part I here. In this part, we focus on spinning and knitting raw wool.   My sheep-to-sweater project is complete! Actually, it became a cardigan, but “sheep… Read more

winter foraging

What to Forage in Winter

January 25, 2021

Winter may not seem a promising time to go foraging. The quiet bareness feels magical, to be sure, but not exactly abundant. Many of the wild animals are hibernating. Plants have either died back or their growth has slowed down radically in response to the diminishing light. What could you… Read more

garden planning

4 Steps to Planning Your Vegetable Garden

January 14, 2021

It’s January — so logically the best time to start planning this year’s garden! This is the time of year when seed catalogs start hitting the mailbox… and gardeners actually have some time to sit, dream, and plan. I remember being really overwhelmed with this task when I was a… Read more

sheep at a farm

Sheep to Sweater, Part I

December 18, 2020

This is the first in a series of posts about the entire process making a knitted garment out of a raw sheep’s fleece. In this first part, we’ll focus on processing raw wool: skirting, scouring, sorting, and carding to get the fiber ready for spinning. If it sounds like a… Read more

brown paper wrapped gifts

Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas

November 23, 2020

Each year, I think I’m going to be too busy to craft handmade gifts for the holidays. And each year, I end up doing it anyway. For those of us who take the DIY route, the question always creeps up in September, October, or at the latest in November: “What… Read more

handmade beeswax candles

Handmade Natural Beeswax Candles

November 5, 2020

These are pretty dark days. Let’s make some light! If you’ve never made natural beeswax candles before, now is a great time to give it a try. DIY beeswax candles add magic and comfort to your fall and winter nights. You can also save money by making your own. But… Read more

butternut squash lasagna

Local Seasonal Recipe: Butternut Squash Lasagna

October 14, 2020

Let me get straight to business. This is the meal you need to make this fall. No excuses. When our closest neighbors had a baby a year and a half ago, I made them this dish. They’ve repeatedly made coy requests about whether I might make it again. As in,… Read more

buckwheat pancakes

Garden-to-table Buckwheat

October 11, 2020

This weekend, we had homegrown buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. We ate them about 20 feet from the garden bed where said buckwheat grew. The buckwheat checks all the boxes for me: gluten-free, locally sourced and hands down delicious, with a distinctive nutty flavor. To most urban gardeners, growing grains might… Read more

rotational grazing for chickens

Rotational Grazing with Backyard Chickens

October 6, 2020

Rotational grazing — rotating animals across pastures — is a common practice in large-scale sustainable farming. Put simply, it means subdividing a pasture area into smaller paddocks with fencing, and moving the grazing animals from one paddock to another on a specific timeline. The idea is to create a strategic… Read more

naturally dyed yarn

Colors from the Garden: Growing Natural Dyes

September 17, 2020

How would you like to be able to grow not just food and herbs, but also dye plants? To have non-toxic, natural dye pigments for dyeing textiles, wool yarns, or even children’s art supplies and soaps? Here are some resources for planning — and planting — a beautiful natural dye… Read more

DIY herbal medicine, tinctures

Simple Herbal Remedies from the Garden

August 28, 2020

Making your own herbal medicine may seem daunting at first if you’re new to it. Medicine tends to seen as the domain of specialists. But there’s a lot that you can do with a basic DIY herbal medicine skillset. Most garden plants with medicinal properties — familiar plants like chamomile,… Read more

watermelon slushie, homemade summer drinks

Homemade Summer Drinks

July 29, 2020

Sometime in April, we ran out of the refillable carbon cartridges for making bubbly water at home. “That’s it,” I declared to my slightly dismayed partner and daughter. “From now on, we’ll drink plain filtered water — or we’ll make our own bubbles.” (Make our own bubbles. Doesn’t that just… Read more

urban permaculture homestead

Urban Homestead Garden Tour

July 6, 2020

Welcome to the inaugural video garden tour of our urban homestead! Friends and family both far and near have asked me for a while to post a video tour of the garden. Here it is at last! On the video, I share how we transformed a 1/3-acre urban lot with… Read more

Ways to Support Racial Justice in Food and Farming

June 14, 2020

How do we rise up for racial justice as food lovers, farm lovers, gardeners, farmers, urban homesteaders? As the outrage over police brutality towards Black Americans, and the discrimination and inequities facing the U.S. Black populations, grew louder and louder in Spring 2020, it’s become clear: Each of us needs… Read more

making cheese

How to Get Started with Making Cheese

April 29, 2020

This week, I made my first-ever Parmesan cheese. Even as I try to eat an increasingly local diet, Parmesan will probably stay on the list of the almost-sacred imported foods we’ll keep eating at my house, along with chocolate and olive oil. But now that we’re all playing this game… Read more

DIY natural cleaning products

DIY Natural Household Cleaners

April 21, 2020

I’ve been making my own all-purpose cleaning spray for almost a decade, and occasionally make a batch of laundry soap. But this week, out of necessity, I added a new project to my repertoire of DIY natural cleaners: homemade dishwasher tablets. My daughter and I made them together, and I… Read more

harvesting salad greens

Advice for New Gardeners

April 18, 2020

  To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. — Audrey Hepburn Starting out gardening can feel overwhelming. “Where do I start? There’s so much information out there and so much I don’t know. I can’t tell a cucumber seedling from a pepper seedling. I don’t know the Latin… Read more

homemade ginger beer

Homemade Ginger Beer

January 27, 2020

DIY bubbly drinks! Who doesn’t like the refreshing, popping sensation of fizzy drinks? We don’t drink a lot of soda in our house, but we do have a fondness… and a sometimes-addiction… to ginger ale. Homemade ginger beer is a really easy DIY version — and you can adjust that… Read more

child reading nature book

Raising Nature-literate Kids

January 14, 2020

A is for acorn, B is for bluebell, C is for clover. My daughter is holding in her hands a “spellbook of lost words.” The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris captures this moment in time when we’re rapidly losing not only knowledge about the natural world, but… Read more

simple Christmas tree, slow simple winter holidays

Winter Holidays: The Slow and Simple Edition

December 11, 2019

Welcome the winter holidays: a season of togetherness, festivity, and warmth — right in the middle of the gloomiest, darkest, coldest time of the year, when we most need a pause and a good dose of cheer. We need all of that. But with every passing year, I hear more… Read more

Fibershed book and climate-beneficial wool scarf

Climate-beneficial Wardrobe

November 27, 2019

Everyone is talking about the carbon footprint of food, and the search for the most “climate-friendly” diet sparks lively debates. But clothes, too, are something we choose and need daily. Clothing is an intimate matter. It touches our skin all day long. It keeps us warm and protects us from… Read more

citrus and citrus essential oil

Energize Your Winter Days with Citrus

November 21, 2019

Food is medicine. Whether it’s winter blues or the common cold, you can find potent remedies among edible plants that really, really help. You don’t need an advanced degree in herbal medicine; some of the most powerful healing foods are available at the grocery stores and markets. And as the… Read more

Fall Garden Checklist

October 17, 2019

When the harvest season winds down and the abundance of the late summer and early fall has been brought in, it’s the time to put the garden to bed. Here’s a fall gardening checklist to help you prepare your garden for the winter and for optimal vigor in the spring.… Read more

local mushroom tart

Local Meal Ideas

September 23, 2019

“Eat Local” is a slogan many of us are ready to stand behind. Local food is cool on a hot planet: we know that freshly harvested food is more nutritious, eating local supports local farmers and growers, and there’s no fossil fuels wasted on insanely long shipping distances. Yet,  many… Read more

homemade mozzarella cheese

Quick & Easy Ricotta Cheese

September 12, 2019

Blessed are the Cheesemakers! I don’t know which motivates me more to make cheese: the promise of the satisfying flavors at the end, or the process itself. The sweet smell of milk being heated and the way the cheese curds get transformed before my eyes makes me squeal inwardly with… Read more

local food at farmers market

How to Prepare for a Local Food Month

September 4, 2019

Does the idea of “local food” and “slow food” resonate with you? Are you curious to see what it would be like to eat only from your own region’s farmers and producers for a period of time? This month, I’m committing to one month of eating only from my bioregion… Read more

gardener's hands

Play in the Dirt: The Potent Antidepressant Called Gardening

August 27, 2019

  Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.            – John Muir   Could gardening act as a a kind of anti-depressant? I’m thinking of a dear friend who’s going through a divorce and a lot of exhausting relationship drama. She… Read more

The regenerative urban garden II: Sheet mulching

July 3, 2019

This is the second in a series of posts about regenerative gardening techniques. Read Part I on No-till Gardening here! If you’ve heard of permaculture, you’ve probably heard of sheet mulching. Sometimes it feels like the two are treated almost as synonyms: every Permaculture Design Course must include the initiation… Read more

The regenerative urban garden I: No-till gardening

May 16, 2019

I am an advocate of regenerative farming. But I am not a farmer myself. The piece of land I steward is 1/3 acre — still sizable for an urban lot, but laughably minuscule compared to what Real Farmers are working with. Yet, when I landed here last year and set… Read more

wild spring greens

Wild greens in the spring kitchen

May 6, 2019

Long before those first, tentative leaves of lettuce in the garden are ready for harvesting, nature’s spring greens have already gotten a head start. No need to wait to start eating from the land! Foraging for nutritious greens from the wild is one of the most potent ways to connect… Read more

How to deepen your sense of place

April 29, 2019

We all live somewhere. We’re all from someplace. What does it mean, then, for some of us to have a more awakened sense of place than others? Is a sense of place something that can be deepened, or nurtured, with practice? Sense of place is hard to describe; it’s often… Read more

Why the material life matters

March 29, 2019

Why am I writing about material life, the pleasures of rediscovering a connection to land through the things we eat and use and consume? After all, I was trained as a historian of the spiritual life, and specialized in the study of the kinds of people who specifically shunned all… Read more

Foraging for Stinging Nettles

March 26, 2019

Have you ever gone foraging for stinging nettles? Nettles are a free superfood, yours for the pickin’ at the forest. It’s one of the most nutritious plants around: rich in vitamins A and C, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. Once blanched to remove the sting, they can be used… Read more