Springtime Agritopian Adventures, Part 1

Our first spring visitor, Chelsea, came from Chicago for a weekend stay during the first weekend of May.  We accomplished quite a bit in a short period of time and had a good time doing it!  One of the future plans here at Earthen Heart is to accommodate more urban dwellers for eco/agro weekend retreats.  Bangor is served by Amtrak and is right between Kalamazoo and South Haven and so is well suited for such endeavors.buki

Chelsea bottle feeding “Buki” whose mama Artie had mastitis for a couple weeks so was facing death without human intervention. cinnafeedChelsea feeding “Cinnamon” the second of our two kids we had this year.  The herd is remaining small for now in order to keep things manageable.  It’s these three and Maddy and Plata staying out in another forage area.  Likely Cinnamon will be our Buck and Maddy will become meat for our freezer.

artienkidsMama Artie is fine after 3 weeks of eating garlic, vitamin C, getting peppermint salve rubs on her udder and eating various nutrients.  After being separated at night a few days ago, she is now giving us a little over a pint of milk each morning, then back to the kids for the rest of the day!

Spring2014WWOOFers_99When Chelsea arrived, the fruit tree order had just arrived through Van Kal Permaculture group.  So, we picked up 16 trees and started planting on the perimeter of several newly fenced in garden areas (one of which Chelsea helped install).

chelseadig1Not bad for a city girl!

pickledeggsLastly, but actually it was the FIRST thing we did.  Pickled eggs.  First time ever for me.  Never been a huge fan, but HEY, we have a surplus of eggs right now and this preserves them for 6 months!  They are actually rather tasty.  Good for making egg salads of all kinds!  Thanks for visiting Chelsea, we hope to see you again down the road!

Spring 2014

WELL, it IS time for a Spring post!  I need an excuse to stay in and rest the bones after a day of moving manure and putting up fencing yesterday.  I also want an excuse to stay indoors from the cold that returns us to BELOW FREEZING conditions this April!  Which is certainly not unheard of in Michigan, but this winter lingers…The cold also threatens fruit again (recall that two years ago there were almost no apples, pears, peaches…) which is a BIG DEAL here in the “fruit belt” of Southwest Michigan.  Many small farms depend on each years income to stay afloat.

So, now, some progress at Earthen Heart.  And, when I say progress, I mean that which moves us personally and collectively towards manifesting a new model for living.  It seems that we must connect with the source of our food and energy, get closer to our human kin and remain in a state of reverence towards nature and the divine source.  This is that which I attempt to focus my energy.  I am so glad that there are so many other humans working towards this new direction as well.

Along with the help of WWOOFer Chris Burke this winter, we set up a nice little starter area in the basement.  Stays nice and toasty by the furnace.

startersCurrently there is Stevia growing nicely.  Thanks to seed given by members of VanKal Permaculture group!

stevia Also growing pak choy, arugula, kale, collards, cilantro…

kaleThe first totally renovated interior is coming along nicely.  Thanks to Ricardo, Chris, Brian and Molly!KVP_grainscoop_99_17Chickens are laying between 10-20 eggs a day now.  The ones that have survived the weather and predators seem to be quite healthy out there.  Hopefully soon I will be hatching eggs in the brooder and candling eggs to see if they are fertilized.

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Plans are underway to turn the 1/8th of an acre right off County Road 380 into a demonstration permaculture garden site connected to driveway/parking and roadside stand.  This area will be amended and fenced in from deer and farm animals to use this season as a test bed for the VanKal Permaculture Grains Co-Op.KVP_grainscoop_61Well, there’s plenty more, but I don’t want to just sit here writing all day now DO I!   Thanks for reading and remember we could always use a hand over here.  We love to host people who love the Earth and like to eat good food!  Also, CSA shares are available anytime at $120.  This serves as a credit on your balance and you keep getting things until it runs out.  You know, like having a tab at the general store.  Right now we have za’atar, file powder, dried or preserved blueberries and farm fresh eggs available.

Winter Berry Pruning

Many thanks to WWOOFer Chris Burke for his help on pruning the bushes this winter!  Seems that, after 3 years of fairly hard pruning, the blueberry patch will finally be manageable!

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Come visit this summer to help pick and process during berry harvest (usually from late July into mid-August).  We will have room to camp, make art, options to buy berries and become a farm shareholder.

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CSA members will have priority on these NO SPRAY blueberries, so grab a share now if you can at $120/year.  The berries will go for $3/lb. picked and packaged.  Less if you pick them or bring your own packaging.  Many other products besides fresh berries will be available.  Call (269) 447-1355 for more information on becoming a CSA member of Earthen Heart or email jlauzzana (at) gmail (dot) com.

Glimpses of the Village, Part One

at farmer joe'sWHAT IS A WWOOFer?  A WWOOFer is someone who is part of the WWOOF network of volunteers exchanging their labor on organic and sustainable properties for a place to stay, food to eat, and a learning experience.  When hosting WWOOFers, we often visit other nearby farms that need a hand harvesting or planting crops.  With these tasty no-spray Jonathon apples from Farmer Joe’s we have been making dried apples, applesauce, apple cider vinegar and other tasty “value-added” foods.  No need to remove the peels on these!

Partnering with other farms gives a more expansive view of the regional food system for visitors, while also relating to Earthen Heart’s business model of sourcing bumper crops from other area farms to produce value-added products.  This will be scaled up in the years to come through use of a commercial kitchen, proper labeling and expanded partnerships with area sustainable and organic farmers.

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Lake Michigan is another nearby point of grounding.  Truly immense and captivating.

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Sometimes the hens get pretty demanding!

Maybe a little too free range around here?

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Here you see Nickolay and Irina (from Russian Republic of Sakha, Yakutsk in Siberia) traversing the trails on the back side of the property.

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Shush and Moira (from the U.K.) though your visit was short, your energy and smiles are dearly missed by myself and the girls.  Thanks for putting all that effort and positivity into the heart of this land!

895-1  Nickolay!  Thanks for the help with roto-tilling for the new garden beds, chopping wood, organizing the barn and so many other projects!

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Irina, thanks for helping pick apples and tending the herd of goats several times (with uncanny ability).  Thanks for cooking some scrumptious meals and cleaning in the kitchen!  Help like yours in the kitchen is a true blessing!

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(from top left) Irina and Nickolay, Fabio and Chloe, Guala (my mother) Papa Cardo (stepdad) Damien and Julian

Thanks also to Chloe, Damien and Fabio (from France)!  Thanks for your time and conversation during what turned out to be a brief high quality visit.  Still can’t figure out how Damien and Nic took care of that goat fencing so quickly!

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You all TRULY TRULY helped me and the girls to get a glimpse of the village.  We, at Earthen Heart, are promoting the community homestead model in a rural setting but share a greater vision with the rest of the planetary human beings now shifting towards sustainability and increased reverence for the Earth as a living organism.  Some areas I consider to be related to the earth shift:  sustainable and organic farming, permaculture, urban agriculture, suburban co-housing conversion, food hubs, green building, off-grid living, grid shift to renewables, controversial health food chefs, nutritionists and healers, outside the box teachers and home-schoolers, artists that challenge the norm or allow us to see or feel something in a new way, interfaith dialogue, multiracial and inter-generational communities, alternative currency and outside the GDP nightmare economy thinkers…

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There are many creative solution driven minds and beings out there in all realms of our globe.  Now, let’s all move to make it more harmonious and cohesive and unified.  I appreciate what you WWOOFers continue to do for us at Earthen Heart to help us manifest the village mentality and lifestyle that is often just inside my head, but exists in reality anytime we want it.  The shift to a more earth reverent, socially cohesive way is available to us now.  Most of the time it is hard to find within the current paradigm that prevails.  For this continued manifestation of the village in this setting, I continue to work and dedicate myself.  I wish I could also join many of you doing your part in other locations.  Maybe I will.  Maybe you will join us here.

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There’s our dog Ollie the Black Dog on White Snow.  He’s doing his thang!  You do your thing, in your place, in your way and combine forces with others!  If you are interested in collaborating with us by tasting some of the products we produce you can connect directly with Earthen Heart though the CSA Share offering!  $120 per share for 2014, distribution/delivery not included.  You put in requests for items from a list of likely available products.  If you buy a share, you are investing in the farm and the Earthen Heart collaboration with other farms.  You will be sharing the risks and rewards of the farm and enjoying the value added foods we create from food produced on site and nearby.  Reach out and re-enter the garden.  It is ours to enjoy.

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In Gratitude…

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Before our open house on Sunday, October 27th (2-8pm) I want to give thanks to all who have played a part, in the past 3 years, in getting Project Earthen Heart established.  Firstly, I give deep gratitude to the dual forces of Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine, Father Sky who gives us light, heat, direction. Mother Earth for the ongoing gifts she provides, the humbling degree of creative, sustaining and destructive forces she provides to maintain the cycles of regeneration .  Humbling ourselves to God, Nature, The Commons or some other force greater than our own personal ego trip is fundamental to the advancement of our species and maintaining integrity during the planetary shift that is underway.  Sometimes this means just remaining calm and finding a way to be fully present again.  Sometimes it means shaking off all the reasons why you can’t do something and getting your butt up and just doing it!

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Thanks to Palma and the five McGuires for the years we spent under one roof.   Though we are not all together now, on this property, we will always have that time together and I believe we are stronger for it.  Thanks for planting the garlic with me that first year which remains a crop we cultivate here.  Thanks for trying to make it work here.  I know you are happy in your new location and look forward to spending quality time with you all as the years pass.

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Thanks to my two daughters, Nova and Aria, for the ongoing inspiration they offer me and the ability they have to make me a better human.

Thanks to my mother, Guala; father, Raymond; stepfather, Ricardo; brother Emile and countless other family members both biological and through marriage, friendship, work and synchronicity.  Thanks for your insights, challenges, and support in this life, this endeavor.  Thanks for your guidance and love.  To be connected to fellow humans is fundamental.  Separation is the cause of suffering, love and union is the only solution.

Thanks to my neighbors.  David and family for helping with the goats and plowing.  Rafael, for tolerating the goats and chickens wandering over to his corn and blueberries.  Also for sharing of his bounty!

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Many thanks to Juan and Mary Lou for the time they spent here this past summer, especially for their help with the hens, cooking, collecting berries and making trails!

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Thanks much to the more experience local farmers:  Maynard, Lee and Laurie, Sam and many others!

Thanks to the WWOOFERs (wwoof.org) who have come and continue to come for short but meaningful and productive visits.  Daniel for sharpening knives, catching rabbits, helping in the garden and sharing meals with us!  Steve from Australia for shoveling a substantial amount of horse manure from a nearby source

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also for splitting a major pile of wood for us as the wood burning stove becomes a more substantial part of our winter heating strategy!

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Finally, thanks Australian Steve, for being there when things were a little rough and strange in my life and for helping with cleaning, cooking and other everyday important tasks!

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Thanks to Rich for your help with plumbing matters!

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Thanks to Sam for help with the attic and bathroom and general advice on direction on countless projects!

Thanks to Steve, from Ann Arbor, for your help with the goats this past summer.  Also, for your little nuggets of wisdom, some of which will save me countless hours in the future.

Thanks to those who have donated to the farm operations thus far, sometimes in exchange for goods (eggs, berries, garlic, Za’atar, file powder, preserves, etc.) and to those who will be future CSA members!

Thanks to the Law of Time and to Mankind Project for being a source of wisdom and deeper connection!

Endless gratitude to all whom I have known and loved, those I will come to know and those I will never know.  May your journey be a rich and beautiful one with many connections.  Thanks to all who have helped me with Earthen Heart in one way or another and will help in the future.  Thanks to those ecovillagers, intentional community builders, urban agriculturalists, green builders, and creators of the new way that live all across this Great Earth we share!