Friday, May 21, 2010

Agriculture Day in Willits

One of the best parts of my job is getting to teach little kids about sustainable living, and (more often than not) learning from them about what it means to live sustainably. Over the past two months, I've met dozens of 8-10 year olds who've taught me all about what it means to live off the grid, to build natural structures, to raise animals and grow vegetables organically... and the list goes on. Needless to say, it is a constant source of inspiration in my life these days.

Yesterday, we had the privilege of participating in Agriculture Day in the town of Willits, where we taught 400 Grade 2-4 students how to make adobe bricks using natural materials from the earth and how to bake cookies using a solar oven. Between hands-on sessions, I met two 9-year old beekeepers named John and Clay, who were demonstrating how to make honey from their backyard hive. Watching little kids teaching other kids about the benefits of homesteading was pretty amazing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Urban Homesteading: How to Raise Backyard Goats

Urban homesteading is super trendy right now in the Bay Area, where just about everyone seems to have a few backyard chickens or goats these days. Since we had the chicken part down pat since Day One, we decided to adopt two baby goats last week to go through the process of raising our own meat in a sustainable manner. Not surprisingly, it has generated a bit of controversy among the organization's vegetarian donor base, but we strongly believe that if we eat it, we should know what's involved in raising and processing it. So we built a large pen under one of our solar arrays, picked up some goat feed, and adopted two little bucklings of about six weeks old.

In addition to being a great source of meat, raising a small goat herd can also be a powerful method for landscape management, as goat grazing controls a lot of unwanted weed species like poison oak, which is pervasive in Northern California at this time of year. Another benefit of raising goats is all of the fantastic by-products that you can make with their milk and whey, such as cheese, yogourt, ice cream, and soap!

For more information on the benefits of raising backyard goats, please visit