Five Steps to Farming With Your Fork

We are living in times of created scarcity.

Each reveal spots our vulnerability.

Food is essential – and we all know why.

Food can be used as a weapon – and we understand how.

Food is a tool to awaken us.

Food activates power.

Food is a gift that is shareable.

– Dovanna Dean

Are you looking to start a garden from scratch, re-thinking your current garden, or realizing you need a long term plan to keep food on the table and in your pantry?

Farming with your fork is creating a demand with each bite for the crops and livestock we want on our table but most important HOW they are raised.  It’s a powerful and simple action that bonds families and communities and solidifies self-reliance.  Farming with your fork also becomes part of your self-care regiment.  I’m applying these actions into my daily “to-do chores” and it has become a lifestyle. By sharing these steps my goal is to inspire you and yours to become activated at your own rhythm.

Let’s begin this beautiful journey.

Photo Credit: Kim Mendoza

EXPLORING THE 5 STEPS OF FARMING WITH YOUR FORK

1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR SPACE.

Create your site plan to get clarity about what you need from your space.  Ask questions like do you want to compost? Should you invest in an irrigation system?  How can you extend your growing season? Is it best for you to start a garden in containers or in beds? Do you have space to store the bounty of your harvest?

Asking questions provides direction and focuses your energies towards reaching your gardening goals.

2. COLLABORATE.

Look around… You may be surprised at the under used spaces you have access to use. Talk to family, neighbors, and community groups who may have unused spaces along with resources and develop partnerships. Work out mutually beneficial relationships. Look into tool sharing collectives, seed saving groups, and start reading to expand your knowledge and build your confidence… I enjoy reading seed catalogs because seed companies want you to thrive so they offer an abundance of tips and resources.

With more space there is no limit to what you can nurture and learn to grow.

Photo Credit: Kim Mendoza
3. CHOOSE YOUR CROPS & LEAVE NO SPACE EMPTY YEAR ROUND.

Resist the urge to start a massive amount of seeds at one time. Instead get on a schedule to start seeds every two weeks for a staggered harvest. Most important is to always plant in season – do not start tomatoes at the end of summer and expect successful growth as the weather gets cold. If plants are started out of season much of their energy is used up working to combat unseasonable weather like cold, heat, rain, or drought. The plants are left with less energy for balanced growth and can become prone to diseases and insect attacks. There are many products and tips to extend your growing season. Grow a vast variety of veggies and herbs. Plant fruit trees and berry bushes. Grow all kinds of potatoes. Try growing grain crops like amaranth and beans you can dry and eat past the harvest.

This strategy ensures you are eating garden fresh year round.

Photo credit: Krista Sherer
4. REACH OUT TO LOCAL FARMERS, RANCHERS, AND FOOD PRODUCERS.

While you are setting up your garden and realizing your “green thumb” support the work of small scale farmers, ranchers, and food producers.

Next time you get to a farmers market start collecting names and numbers and keep connected. Also ask if they need help harvesting or planting in exchange for yummy farm grown goods.  Another priceless bonus from this action is that you get to take a day trip with the family and experience farm life. 

Keep in contact with small scale/local food producers like bakers, cheese makers, bee keepers, prepared foods, etc. In the event farmers markets are stopped you maintain a line of communications and you keep their passion of producing local foods alive.

Supporting the works and efforts of these small businesses creates a strong demand for their goods.

5. START A BUYERS CLUB WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. 

In a buyers club, you work as a group to share the expenses of bulk items and yield buying power for good prices. Being part of a buyers club takes organization and a commitment of your time. In one buyers club I was a part of, we rotated responsibilities to give everyone the opportunity to know all the jobs associated with running the club. To avoid being charged delivery fees we worked out meeting the delivery truck at one of its super market stops.  To make it extra fun we had pot lucks on delivery days so we could try new items. This was a great opportunity to experiment with new ingredients before buying.

Forming a buyers club puts you in direct contact with suppliers and enables you to be an active participant in the supply chain. You become a link in the system.

Photo Credit: Kim Mendoza

5 steps to farming with your fork becomes a starting point towards food security and solidifying access to healthy foods. It does take work and collaboration.

Be creative and do not give up. You are on the path to farming with your fork!

Dovanna Dean is a practitioner of Permaculture. She is also a lover of animals, plants, house music.

Farming With Your Fork

At the beginning of the 2020 global pandemic, I reached out to neighbors, friends, and family to make sure folks where OK – physically and emotionally. The common thread of our conversations was a calling to get serious about gardening but beyond that – it was about living as a self reliant community . Garden related “wishes” we chatted about centered on gaining practical skills and further exploration into actions like putting up a greenhouse for year round growing, starting micro-greens, getting serious about composting, or preserving the harvest. I fueled the conversation by asking about their companion planting plan? How many harvest where they planning on trying for the season? Are they starting seeds in succession to have a continual harvest? What integrated pest management techniques they think they will try? Gulp – I think I got WAY too excited. However, at the core of each conversation was the desire to cultivate self – reliance by growing foods, medicine, and beauty. These chats have motivated me to outline my 5 steps towards turning your garden into a “farm” that becomes your “grocer” – in essence your garden becomes your farm with your fork as your grocer.

Growing up during the 80’s Brooklyn, gardening was the thing older folks from the South did and no one else paid attention to.  One day on the bus I sat next to a sweet elder lady who looked over at my biology textbook about the part of a plant and commented “I never had a book to tell me about plants – we always knew what each part did, how to use it, and which ones to stay away from.  I guess these days you have to learn somehow ‘cause you are no longer connected.  I looked up politely and she continued – “we had huge gardens.  We saved our seeds for the next season, we preserved and canned, we used the throw-away stuff to fertilize the soil, and we cooked and cooked and cooked – mostly everything we needed was in the garden our in our neighbors plot…” She looked off into the distance and smiled.  I asked “you didn’t have a supermarket?” “Baby”, she said,” our garden farm was our grocer! “- “and we hardly got sick, we never went hungry, and Sunday dinners was a fest that lasted for days.”  I smiled not understanding the power of her words.  As she got off the bus she sealed our connection by saying “So much power in putting your hands in healthy dirt.  It’s up to you kids to continue doing these things!”  And these words would have a profound guidance on me and choices I would make years down the road.

During the 90’s Los Angeles I was a college student in the middle of the reaction by the community to the Rodney King verdict.  The town was on fire, people frustrated, and I watched stores burn.   I went back to my dorm and decided to stop my formal college education and seek a more practical and hands on path to reliance and peace on earth one garden plot at a time.  Yes, that conversation on the bus years earlier jumped into my very existence and steered my life path.  I started studying and practicing Permaculture shortly afterwards. Permaculture is a coined phrase for a set of principals and techniques for the harmonious integration of our landscape to benefit YOU and the Earth. “Farming with your fork” is a powerful and simple action. We create a demand or market with each bite for the crops and livestock we want on our tables AND how they are raised.

“Control oil and you control nations. Control food and you control people.”

Henry Kissinger, US political figure

2020 has shown is that we cannot continue to depend on outside forces as the sole provider of food. If its not the changing weather due to cyclic earth changes / grand solar minimum creating crop loss, disruptions in the supply chains, or corporate greed feeding us products based on destructive mono-culture farming techniques – we are at the mercy of factors that are not sustainable. What a sobering reality…

We can take charge by creating a demand by supporting your local farmers and ranchers, creating food buying groups, working together to turn empty spaces into abundance with gardening, and preserving and sharing the harvest. Each step becomes your template for abundance, community and self- care from your loving labor. Gardening is humbling to me because these are no mistakes – only actions you don’t repeat or you need to modify for better outcomes. We create “food security” with passion, imagination, courage, and community. Continue the conversation with friends and neighbors. Work together towards your community food security.

Photo Credits: Kim Mendoza

Dovanna Dean is a lover of dirt, pets, plants, and house music.

We’ll Travel For Food

Vacations are looking more like staycations nowadays. Couples are huddled up in their living rooms with blankets, moscato, and the latest Netflix movie release, and honestly, I can’t think of a better way to do a date night in! I had however, hoped in 2020 to have a summer full of travel and delight, but was met with shelter in place mandates and disappointment. With the country on lockdown and states operating individually, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel where travel was concerned. With states opening up, however, I have seen the light, and it came in the form of a road trip for food up the East coast to Philadelphia (Philly).

We began our food journey by doing our due diligence regarding the travel, Airbnb research, and general Covid safety measures. Sitting in the living room of our Philadelphia Sonder Airbnb that looks over the vast city landscape, I am in awe of the beauty of the city lights. It reminds me a bit of my hometown, Newark, New Jersey with the hustle and bustle and great eateries like Get Stuffed Jersey in Union, NJ. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big foodie, so finding the best food is a major part of the trip. We started our food journey with Jay’s Steak and Hoagie Joint in Langhorne, PA. We heard about this spot through JL Jupiter’s YouTube channel. You can call ahead to order and due to Covid measures they have outdoor seating, but we ate in the car. Jupiter raved about the beer dipped pretzel bread philly. That’s right, I said pretzel bread! Let me tell you, it was well worth the trip! It was utter perfection. So much so, that there was nothing left to post in the blog.

On our second day in the city of brotherly love, we continued this hunt for great food by stopping through the Reading Terminal Market. There was stall upon stall of deliciousness, but we ultimately settled for a breakfast sandwich from Smucker’s Quality Meat and Grill and a fresh squeezed cold press juice from Lancaster County Dairy, which was truly refreshing! The only downfall of this eating experience was the eating outdoor experience because it was early in the morning.

Reading Terminal Market

I was a bit full after that meal, so we decided to continue our stroll through the city down 12th street to take in the sights. What a beautiful city it truly is.

We closed this food trip with Luke’s Lobster Rittenhouse. They have pick-up and no-contact delivery options for your safety and convenience. We called ahead and ordered the chilled 4oz lobster roll, which was also recommended by JL Jupiter. I had my roll with chips and a Blueberry Lemonade, while my boyfriend ordered a lobster mac and cheese as a side, and my oh my! My beautiful readers, if you ever have the opportunity to venture down to 17th street, you should stop in this quaint establishment because it will truly bless your taste buds and your soul!

I know the world is a bit weird right now and the state of our capital is much to be desired, but I find comfort in knowing there is still some normalcy in the little things. I was able to travel safely across state lines and maybe you aren’t able to, but that shouldn’t stop you from venturing around your own city for some good eats even from the safety of your laptop. Go online, do your research, and order ahead for pick-up or delivery! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy yourself and eat well when the opportunity presents itself. May the discounts from Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats be ever in your favor! Go forth, eat well!

Soup from the Pantry: Yummy at Home

Start by dicing two medium-sized potatoes. Boil them in enough water to cover them for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Add a carrot toward the end with a cup or vegetable or chicken broth. Add any veggies you may have around. (We added some roasted sweet potato.) Finally, add a can or two of Chicken with Wild Rice soup and heat. Serve hot for a quick and easy meal any day of the week.

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Stay safe, Friends.

Hal’s Sourdough Lemon Pancakes Are Yummy at Home! Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Seriously good, and crazy inventive, you make your own starter on top of your fridge with flour and water. You let the yeast find you. After a week of feeding the beast, you’re ready to make pancakes.

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Hal added two eggs, lemon zest, baking soda and baking powder and almond milk to the sourdough. we grabbed all the fresh fruit we could find. Nothing makes me happy like Hal’s pancakes for dinner.

 

Pair your pancakes with syrup, lemon curd, yogurt or whipped cream. Whatever you decide, it will be yummy at your home. Stay safe. There’s still no cure for Covid19.

Yummy at Home: Farfalle with Chicken Apple Sausages and Veggies

 

We still need to stay home as much as possible. We do not yet have a cure for COVID-19. Cooking gets my mind off all the many things that make me sad and mad as we witness our own pandemic. You’re invited to try this staple recipe from our table.

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This dish takes 30-40 minutes total time to prepare. Boil and salt water and follow cooking instructions for Farfalle or whatever pasta you have in the pantry. Slice precooked chicken apple sausages or other flavor. (For fresh, raw sausage, add about 20 more minutes cooking time.) For vegan pasta, skip the sausage. Heat the sausage in olive with onions, garlic, basil and herbs on high. Add sliced fresh veggies or add frozen/canned veggies, including but limited to green beans, peas, asparagus, broccoli and or carrots. Just make it pretty! Once the veggies are tender, add balsamic vinegar, red-pepper flakes, sun-dried or fresh tomatoes. Drain pasta and put in a large serving bowl. Add a little salt and pepper along with sausage, vegetables and pot liquor on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with cheese, and serve hot!