Tag Archives: Sustainability

GMO And Cardboard Food


May 24, 2015

Folks in Jackson County, Oregon are having a fit. The people of Jackson County voted last fall to ban GMO (genetically modified organism) crops. Alfalfa growers are ticked off. Lawsuits are filed. Having planted “Roundup Ready” alfalfa, a perennial plant that is productive for years, GMO farmers claim a potential devastating income loss.

Roundup Ready crops like alfalfa allow farmers to spray their entire field with Roundup (imagine a crop-duster plane), killing the weeds while leaving the resistant crop alone. Some folk argue there are problems with the GMO plant itself and they don’t want it fed to the livestock of they eat or provide their milk. Others question what widespread, non-specific spraying (of any type really) is doing to the soil, water, and air. Interesting enough though, is in time the arguments may mean little because weeds are developing an immunity to Roundup. Which might mean that about the time GMO alfalfa is normalized, Roundup will not be effective, and chemical companies will have developed a new herbicide.

There are alternatives though and I hope folk begin to recognize them. I’m not wholly against herbicides, however I am against wholesale use with little regard for tomorrows folk who must use this same land. Farmers could decide to quit large-scale herbicide use and accept a few more weeds and a little more work, and the consumer could pay a little more for their food. However, this would call farmers and consumers alike to change their practices. Alfalfa wise, farmers would have to learn old practices of allowing weeds to go as far as developing a seed head and then cutting their crop before the seed ripens. Done well, the plant (often) thinks it has reproduced and does not therefore put another seed head on. Continue reading

Kneading—A Contemplative Practice—Bread


April 12, 2015

The other day I read an article talking about 10 foods everyone should make at home. Bread was one of the ten. I gotta say I like it when someone says, “everyone should be doing this…” and I am doing it.

Growing up, mother made bread. It was the sixties and early seventies and there was an onslaught of commercials enticing folk to buy easy no work food. Our family, like most, bought and ate plenty enough of this no work food, including bread. So, homemade bread was not a stable during the week, but instead was relegated to weekend food. More like pie.

When we were young adults Belinda and I began making bread. It was a once-in-a-while effort. Encouraged by Belinda’s father and mother, bead made in the home slowly became a norm. If nothing else, Belinda’s father was an opinionated man. A gadget like a bread machines was okay if it were the only way you would make bread. But if you are really going to make bread, you had better get your hands in the middle of the work. He opinionated that if you had time to eat well, you had time to make bread, and everyone has the time to eat well. Any surprise our bread machine has sat on the top shelf in the pantry for a long time?

If there was one thing that kept my bread making practice a once-in-a-while affair it was kneading, particularly the first. Then one day the folks gave us a Kitchen Aid. Now, the Kitchen Aid is just this side of a bread machine, but we choose to think not and in favor of weekly bread, Belinda’s daddy affirmed our thinking. And, after all, it doesn’t do all the kneading. But it does handle the first one and that was enough to get my hands into dough most every week. Continue reading

Wild Horses of the Yakama Nation

By Tamalyn Kralman

April 27, 2012

Last Saturday the JustLiving Farm and Yakama Mission hosted Spring Horse.  Spring Horse brings amateur and professional photographers together to experience the wild horses of the Yakama Reservation and to enhance their gift by developing ongoing relationships.  These photographers give us their unique perspective of the landscape.

Spring Horse 2013: April 20

By Roger Lynn

By Roger Lynn

By Doris Steeg

By Roger Lynn

By Tamalyn Kralman

By Roger Lynn

By Roger Lynn

© David B. Bell 2012

When Our Desire for Energy Leads to Genocide

April 30, 2011

A friend turned me on to Bill Leonard’s, Opinion: Vanishing mountains.  The article speaks about mountaintop removal in the Appalachia’s and if or how the destroying of mountainous landscape might be destroying the spirituality of the landscape.

In reading the article, many thoughts came up.  I wonder if the owners of strip mines lived adjacent to the mountains being leveled; would they level the mountains?  I’d also bet mine owners and most of the workers who do the mining, call themselves Christian.  I wonder if Mt. Horeb were full of coal and they had access and they could make a profit and a living wage, would they level it as well?  I wonder how many workers whose job is to mine, who love to mine, and who live next to a mountain being leveled, would participate in the removal if they could make a living mining in a manner that does not flatten the landscape?  I wonder if it were economically profitable for everyone, would folk in my community endorse the removal of Mt. Pahto from the Yakama valley skyline?

The loss of ancient landscape to profit has been going on for quite a while now.  Extraction of ore, minerals, and petroleum has been going on long enough that most of us believe it to be normal.  Then, it isn’t just about ore, minerals, and petroleum, is it?  The changing of ancient landscapes, above and below ground, to meet our insatiable demand for energy seems to matter little as long as we get to keep living as we want.  Mountaintops are hacked off and valleys are filled so we can have clean coal.  Rivers are dammed and streams diverted so we might have hydroelectric power.  Miles upon square miles of open land are filled with solar panels to give us photoelectric energy.  Wind machines, spinning, rotating, and blinking their nightly red lights so we are provided with clean wind energy, transform ridge after western ridge.  Every day ancient landscapes across American are changed in the name of profit and energy.

There is a need for Christians to talk about the eradication of America’s ancient, indigenous, landscapes.  The need arises because the elimination of the Creators artful landscapes is the genocide of creation.  As this same friend said, “[Mountain Top Removal] certainly destroys the soul of the land—if that ain’t genocide, it’s not far from it.”  For those of us who identify as Christian, certainly for us who identify as Disciple of Christ Christians, the conversation of landscape annihilation is critical because when we (through our foreparents) participated in the genocide of ancient, indigenous, American Tribal people we did not question the how and why of our actions.  With our knowledge of past carnage, not only would we be thoughtless in not questioning the genocidal changing of ancient landscapes on our behalf, but also our children’s children would be correct in wondering, “What in the world were they thinking?” when observing a landscape unrecognizable to their forbearers.

© David B. Bell 2011

Developing a Sustainable Chicken Feed Recipe

February 3, 2011

The time has come to try mixing a new ration for chickens (and eggs).  After talking with other folks about their ration recipe for layers, we are trying mixing our own.  There is nothing wrong with ration we have been using, but if this works well, our hope is to use as much as possible of our neighbors crops for the birds.  We do not expect the final mix to cost less, but that it is more sustainable.

Autumnal Memories of Northern Sun

October 20, 2010

moving being through ancient cosmos holding life, giving life,
nudging, stretching, pushing darkness, beginnings and endings not known
not knowing this walk
not knowing this journey
first light, imagined,
imagination speaks the never known
and known is unimaginable
light, light, light, light
ground of being held warmth,
light warmth fully engulfs being
rising up, growing up, running ahead, there is no time
moving, jostling, shouldering neighbor, reaching after light,
light, light light, light
pushing, reaching, grabbing, stretching
full life grasps for light
opening to full light, engulfing warmth, presence, energy
birthing seeds
seeds of self birth
one, two, three, four
again and again
leaning towards cool southern light
resting head, then neck,
shoulders hunch towards beginning
warm afternoons are memories
yesterdays run toward light
cool evenings speak change
cool mornings reach deeply
holy unstructured thought
imagined unimaginable
© David B. Bell 2010

Warm Tomorrows by Way of Today’s Freezing

October 15, 2010

A light frost welcomed most of this week’s mornings.  Then with this morning came word we could expect a hard freeze the next two mornings.  Such word has a tendency to change the day; this one certainly changed the afternoon.  We got an early morning start on a grant due today and a workshop for presentation next Saturday.  The grant made it to the mailbox before today’s delivery, and an art-based workshop on community and hospitality was in place by noon.  We then got to the important stuff.

We picked the remaining tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers.  Next, we grabbed onions and garlic out of the cupboard, and lifted a few spices from the rack.  Then we got to chopping, grinding, shaking and mixing.  Once everything was in the pot and stirred up, off to the stove to heat to a boil, bottled, and hot water bath.

It might have been a push, but the rest of the day was perfect for canning.  Sun and clear sky, and temperatures such that you could spend the afternoon in the sun and never break sweat standing next to the stove.  The next couple of hours were spent filling jars, fixing lids, and dunking them into the bath.  While waiting for the fifteen-minute bath to finish, we got in a little reading, a little talking, and a little landscape.

Fall may be cooling down, and winter might be coming, but salsa…along with a little goose down…will make those cold days ahead a little warmer!

© David B. Bell 2010

Everyone is Needed

We have reached the day before the last day of roofing and gutting the parsonage.  The day began at thirty-eight degrees with the sun shining and the wind still.

I think we often hear of great work volunteers.  They come and work hard to better the lives of others.  They build, design, remove, paint, console, and a multitude of other tasks that change landscapes.  However, they could do their work without the money the rest of us are willing to contribute.  Folk like to say the church isn’t about money, and in a way, they are right, but in our context today, we all know money is at the crux of alleviating hurt.  The church cannot be all it might be if money is not given to feed, house, and care for the poor and oppressed—the reality is, volunteers would be standing outside the parsonage at this very minute, twiddling their thumbs, if it were not for those who have given money to better world, mission, and community.

It would be wrong to confuse those who give money and those who volunteer physical time though.  One isn’t better than another, but they are different, and mission needs both.  When done in combination, monetary giving and volunteer time, huge change occurs.  On building projects, a rule of thumb is the cost of materials equals the cast of labor.  Which means on remodels like the parsonage (and the labor on remodels is higher than on new construction), the money given by those of us who do not have the chance or cannot volunteer, is double by our sisters and brothers who can and do volunteer!

As today moves towards the noon hour, money and labor is hard at work.  The roof is quickly moving towards completion, the installation of soffits have begun, the grounds are being mowed and cleared, gutting the inside of the building continues, and painting of the Friendship house is finishing up!  The week has been an experience and the Mission campus is changing by the minute!

Community by way of Wind and Roof

September 5, 2010

The Disciples Volunteering tool trailer pulled in yesterday around 7am.  Folks unloaded and then gathered for breakfast.  When folk gather and begin the day together around a meal, it matters.  It matters in many ways, but for Disciples, when paid close attention, meals bring people together in deep community.  More than, “what are we doing today?” or “when will materials arrive?,” the meal leads folks to remembering the day is much more than tearing off a roof.  There is something generational about it, something about tying this community to that past community who first built the parsonage—future retreat house, something about tying this community to tomorrows community who will reroof again in twenty years, and something about tying this community that community of our children’s children when we are known as that “cloud of witnesses.”  Somewhere in that moment of breakfast, there is an indwelling of Creator which enriches and emboldens and leads folks up the basement steps to the sun, the roof, and the wind.

And the Wind had a bit to say yesterday.  By noon, a steady 15mph wind had gathered itself and blew down off the east slopes of the Cascade Range, through the trees, and over the roof.  About the time anyone got comfortable with dust in their eyes and the taste of 30 year-old shingles in their mouth, the wind would nudge the shoulder with a thirty-mile-per-hour gust and say, “remember, now, your ten or twelve feet off the ground and those little pebbles from yesterdays roofing makes it easy slide down a slope…I should know, I just slide off mountain slopes before I met you…”

So, folk listened to the wind and worked.  With roofing shovels, scaffolding, and gloves, roofing which had felt the winds nudge for over twenty-five years slide down one by eight sheathing cut from old growth trees some fifty-five years ago.  Some went directly into the dumpster and far too many to the outside—which meant roofing was handled a second time before it made it to the dumpster.  While folk worked on the roof, others were in the kitchen creating lunch and then supper.  Others who were not roof people worked and cleaned the Friendship house.  Together fourteen people transformed the landscape of the Mission.  And their muscles, as the sun settled down over the Cascades from which the wind came, reminded them of their dance with wind and roof.

Hay Bales for the Homeless

August 1, 2010

Tomorrow evening we are baling hay.  Of course, once the hay is baled someone must pick it up out of the field and stack it.  Normally we have someone come to the farm with a bale wagon and mechanically pick up and stack each bale.  Great on our backs, but it does cost us money.

Now, here is our incredible offer to you!  If we can get a group of folks to the farm Tuesday evening to help load bales out of the field and stack them, then we will donate 75 cents to Noah’s Ark for every bale stacked!  (Noah’s Ark is the only homeless shelter in the entire lower valley.  Donations are hard to come by these days and it is important to make sure they are around come winter when the temperatures are in the single digits!)  That means other than the cost of tractor time, all the money we normally pay someone to ease the strain on our backs will go to the homeless of the lower valley!

So, here’s the deal.  We will begin at 6pm Tuesday evening loading bales.  Eat well before you come and bring some fruit, drink, desert, etc.  We’ll then load bales.  After we’re all done we’ll sit in the cool evening breeze, admire our work, congratulate one another on making a donation possible, have some desert and watch the sun set!

We need to make sure we have enough people to make this a go.  Email me at dave@justlivingfarm.org and let me know you are coming.  If enough folks email by 7pm Monday evening we’re on for Tuesday evening.  If not, we will give it another try with the next cutting.  In either case, I will let everyone who responds know what is going on with a Tuesday morning email.

I hope you can make it!