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Food & agriculture - Apr 8

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A bird in the yard is worth two in the shop

Stock Journal (Australia)
Matthew Bretherton did not expect his modest vegetable patch to cut his weekly food bill so dramatically.

While his East Brunswick, Melbourne, garden is no longer in peak production following the heatwave, there is still an abundance of onions, tomatoes, cabbages and lemons.

The bok choy is coming on, and the garlic and basil are ready for harvest.

The 57-year-old computer programmer has five chickens (he had 12 but seven died recently from a suspected ice-cream overdose) and beehives that produced 160 kilograms of honey during the past nine months.

He's even considering brewing some home-grown grappa using compost.

If he wasn't such a fan of chocolate and coffee, his weekly grocery bill of $30 would be even lower.

Mr Bretherton is part of a grassroots economy that is gathering momentum as people look for ways to survive these belt-tightening times.

Growing vegetables at home, recycling discarded furniture, haggling retailers for a better deal and swapping life skills will become more common as the recession grinds on.
(4 April 2009)

Urban Foraging - a Rising, Sustainable Fad

Adrienne So, Willamette Week, via Culture Change
You can take the man out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the man. Or, better said: you shouldn’t. The sun is coming out, the rains are receding, and nature calls. Who cares if you don’t have the gas money to motor out to Eagle Creek to go hiking? People die there, anyway. Here are some no- or low-cost ways to re-integrate the wilderness into your life, without ever leaving the pavement.

THINK LIKE AN OTTER. City life can erode your hunter-gatherer skills. Which is a shame, because your natural instincts don’t just stop working. The next time you want to sneak away for an early lunch, take a tip from Tony Deis of TrackersNW, an organization based in PDX that pimps team-building, survival skills and an overall awareness of the natural world. By evaluating an office environment as a river otter might evaluate a strange creek bend, you can take advantage of field-of-vision “dead zones,” or areas where you can escape your predator’s notice. Air conditioners are a good example of a dead zone and escape point, suggests Deis, because most office workers are accustomed to ignoring noise and movement in that area.

Think about it: Adding wilderness skills to your repertoire would make a weekend game of hide-and-go-seek much more entertaining.
(1 April 2009)

Fighting the recession, armed with seeds

Alex Johnson, MSNBC
Home gardening experiences a boom as families seek to cut food costs
... Kinne is part of a growing movement of Americans who are turning to their own resources to fight the economic recession, now in its 16th month. As paychecks and job opportunities shrink in tandem with rising prices at the store, more and more households are growing their own food in their backyards, in shared community-run gardens and even on their windowsills.

Kinne estimates that her garden saves her at least a $150 a month in grocery bills. And that doesn’t include the money she saves on services from professionals whom she pays with the fresh food she grows and the labor she provides helping them plant their own gardens.
(3 April 2009)

New England's sugar country confronts a bitter future as the climate warms

David Biello, Daily Climate
SABBATH DAY POINT, N.Y. – All farming depends on the weather, but few foods are more dependent on a specific climate than maple syrup. After all, for the sugar maple's sap to run at all requires cooperative weather — freezing nights followed by warmer days.

But with the build-up of invisible greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, those temperature swings don't happen as reliably. At risk is an American tradition that stretches back even before Europeans discovered the "New World."

"Weather controls it all," says Marty Fitzgerald, a fifth-generation sugarmaker in upstate New York.

And, in recent years, the weather has been weird.
(6 April 2009)

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