July 16, 2012

grow and learn

i've left pa for various reasons but i've recently gotten involved with arcadia center for sustainable food and agriculture and they're a great bunch of people. they have an educational farm with chickens and bees on the property of woodlawn plantation, a summer farm camp and a mobile food bus which travels around dc and alexandria providing wonderful organic produce and meats that are available for purchase with food stamps (as well as cash and credit). some of the food comes from partner farms in west virginia but i can personally attest to the juiciest of tomatoes and squash straight from the arcadia field.

they welcome people to come volunteer mondays and saturdays from 9-12ish if anyone in the dc area is interested. i highly recommend it, although if you're not used to the work you may want to wait for the temperature to fall below 90.

i also sat in on a canning lesson and took home some lovely looking pickles which are fermenting on the countertop as i write. i guess technically they're fermented and not canned but i can't wait to try them. that's all for now, enjoy the pics!

arcadia flowers with coop in the background
sunflowers and raised beds
lovely laying hens
future prize watermelon
woodlawn plantation, built for george washington's nephew
herbs, squash, berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers...
garlic, peaches, potatoes, yum.
mobile market, sponsored by whole foods, chipotle, inova and others. you can just glimpse the fridges inside for meat and dairy.

June 9, 2012

first harvest

i was hoping to have posted by now but things have been busy on the farm and we go to bed early around here. either that or we're making post-dusk strawberry harvest runs. the fireflies here in pa are amazing, i've never seen so many, i love 'em. let's see, this week involved the start of the csa and our summer schedule so we'll harvest 3 times a week (tues, thurs for csa and fri for the sat farmer's market). this week involved a lot of weeding but also some flower and basil planting. we harvested quite a bit, from baby lettuce mix, arugula, romaine lettuce to kale, chard and collards to bok choy, scallions and garlic scapes (the curly tops of the garlic plant - very good for sautéing).

i've also started taking note of all the mutually beneficial relationships between plants and insects. 2 beneficial beetles i've observed so far are of course ladybugs, but also soldier beetles. both of which eat aphids, mites and other plant pests. we've had cool, rainy weather which is great for field work and weeding with only a couple of hot days. i can already feel my muscles adjusting and the work should get easier from here so without further ado, some photos:

the farmhouse
barn, somehow i feel there should be a couple cows
our resident barn swallow family, there are 2 babies in the nest now

the view from my bedroom into the flower garden
my room
early morning chard harvest

June 2, 2012

operation farmgirl

i've been feeling very cosmopolitan lately with all my travels. last saturday i managed to have breakfast in san francisco, lunch somewhere over kansas, dinner in virginia before finally landing in burlington late at night. even though traveling comes with its various challenges i'm glad i returned to vermont for a few days. i found i remembered many things (the walk to edmunds elementary, old gold thrift shop, main street) despite the fact that i last visited about 13 years ago. it was nice to be part of the progressive community that is burlington, where people seem to do the right thing just because it's the right thing to do. there is life outside of the bay area.

i was able to spend a couple of days relaxing, walking down to lake champlain, browsing church street, lounging in the hammock, and enjoying a quiet day up at camp. it was wonderful really, complete with a major all-out, drag-down thunderstorm. i also managed to get down and wander around the the intervale, which i remember as being a small community farm but it has since grown to support many different food and plant ventures. viva vermont, i'll be back soon!

metcalf pond on a beautiful memorial day

homegrown flowers
poppies down at the intervale

lake champlain boathouse
and then newark, beware of buying amtrak tickets through united airlines, both sides seem ignorant of the others' policies.

and finally, turning roots farm! stay tuned for weekly updates on what's in season. friday we harvested baby salad greens and radishes. the lansdowne farmer's market and csa pick-up program have just started so there's plenty to do down on the farm. also adjusting to living in a somewhat ancient farmhouse, come visit y'all! 

May 24, 2012

come float away with me

well... looks like i'm resuscitating this blog to document my move away from digital design for the moment and towards one of the oldest professions in the world (no, not that one) - farming. i expect i'll be taking many, many photos of what's in season and lusciousness of rural pennsylvania. although, an hour northwest of philly hardly seems that rural. but i'll be living and working on land that's been used for agricultural purposes for a couple hundred years i suspect, in it's latest incarnation as turning roots farm. it'll be an adventure for sure. so in the spirit of over-sharing, which seems to be a dominant theme these days, welcome to my new(ish) blog.

to memorialize all that i'm leaving behind, here are a few parting shots.

if you're interested in farming in and around the sf area check out alemany farm and pie ranch.

July 12, 2010

biomimicry education summit

last week i was privileged to attend the 2010 biomimicry education summit at autodesk's san francisco offices. it was inspiring, motivating, educational and a lot of fun. i met some great people who are teaching and learning about (and sort of discovering) biomimicry. i even had some offers to purchase my thesis manual, more on that later! interestingly, universities in canada (ontario college of art and design and the university of calgary) seem to be embracing biomimicry more readily than in the u.s. although arizona state university has created innovation space which teams up graphic and industrial designers with engineers and business students to solve design challenges and bring their designs to the marketplace. they also stress sustainability and biomimicry in their pursuit of elegant design solutions.

students from these programs talked about their experience working on the biomimicry institute's student design challenge. for the past 2 years students have been working with pacific outdoor gear based in bozeman, mt and pika designs to create innovative new outdoor gear. i participated in a brainstorming team to envision expansion ideas for upcoming design challenges including funding options and strategic planning for a proposed year-long challenge. it's an exciting time for biomimicry education and makes me even more sure that i went to the wrong grad school. learning is supposed to be challenging, yes, not soul-destroying. but i've found motivation from my involvement with the community of biomimics and my friends at project m so i've managed to find my way. i'll end by mentioning some of the great presenters that inspired me this past week. thank you to: janine benyus, cindy gilbert, sam stier, valerie casey, marjan eggermont, bruce hinds and carl hastrich, thomas knittel, steven vogel, christopher viney, dawn danby, jeremy faludi and tom mckeag for re-affirming my belief that i'm in the right place with the right people trying to create a better future together.

July 1, 2010

2010 solar decathlon

i've always been a big fan of the solar decathlon and am glad to see that europe has gotten in on the game too. the decathlon was started by the u.s. department of energy in 2002 and challenges university-level architecture programs to create livable, solar-powered homes. this year the decathlon went to madrid and featured 17 universities, including 2 from china. here's a link to inhabitat's article about virginia tech's lumenhaus, the winner this year and the competition in general. congrats to tech! there's also a great bamboo house so check out the slideshow. here are some images:

IKAROS, the university of applied sciences rosenheim, germany

living equia, the university of applied sciences of berlin, germany

re:focus, university of florida

urcomante house, universidad de valladolid, spain

home+, stuttgart university of applied sciences, germany (my favorite)

June 7, 2010

building innovation

a couple of buildings caught my eye today as i was browsing my favorite sites. these two come from the online version of the architectural review, a british architecture magazine. the structures are very different but innovative in their own way. the first is the bamboo house designed by benjamin garcia saxe in playa avellanas, guanacasete, costa rica. the house is designed as two main modules, one for the bedroom, one for kitchen and living space, which are shaded by large umbrellas. the modules are joined by an open patio in the middle and most of the walls are made up of permeable screens which maximize breezes. it looks like a casual tropical paradise, i'd love to spend some time there.

the second structure is the kaze paulista building which houses a salon and office space in sao paulo. i initially thought this building was in japan with its clean, ultra-modern aesthetic. it was designed by forte, gimenes & marcondes ferraz arquiteto. the slanted planes of glass remind me a little of the seattle public library. the form of the building helps with passive ventilation, as the article states: "the glass facade is part of a controlled ventilation and passive temperature control system. window panes can be opened, allowing the passage of air through all the internal environment, cooling it on its way to exhausters on the top floor." there are some very nice air flow diagrams on the page as well. here are some images.