5 little things and one big thing
Lori my wife is the youngest of five children. Her siblings disagree on whether she was merely spoiled or terribly spoiled by her father Howard. What we all agree on is that Lori had a very special relationship with her dad.
Lori would tag along with Howard on his trips to the local market to pick up a pack of Old Golds and a can of Blitz. On each trip he would send her to the candy aisle to get five little things and a big thing. She would leave the store with five penny candies and a candy bar.
Nearly six decades latter we have continued the tradition of providing five little things and one big thing for every major holiday… her birthday, Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, St. Patricks Day, Ground Hogs Day… well you get the idea.
Recently we were invited to share a meal with some neighbors and to use the fellowship to discuss what each of can do to reduce our impact on the environment. While I looked forward to the meal and the comradery, I found myself stumped as to what could I do that was big enough to really make an impact. What was the big thing that I could do, that Almosta Farm could do to protect the planet. Then at our own dinner table one evening Lori was telling our two children (I use that term versus kid to differentiate between the goats and our offspring) about going to the store with her dad and it struck me. It isn’t the big thing it is all the small things that will make a difference. There is no reason to wait until I figure out the big thing when there are small things, I can do every day. So for now here are the five things that we are doing at Almosta Farm to try to reduce the footprint that we leave on the landscape.
1. Reduce the amount of “convenience” food we buy – We have both been retired from jobs outside the home for almost a year now, yet our purchasing habits had remained the same as when we had much fewer hours to do food preparation. These are small things but will make a difference in the packaging we consume. As vegetarians we rely heavily on beans, legumes and cheese for protein. We have started to buy dry beans in bulk and cook them as we consume them and have also canned a stable of them to have when we are short on time. Another example is cheese sticks individually wrapped in plastic. The kids love them, they are easy to grab on the go and to through in a lunch box. We have discontinued buying them and instead are buying larger quantities of cheese which we cut up and put in reusable containers. One last example which reduces packaging but also improves the quality of our food, we are no longer buying pancake mix and instead Lori is making it from scratch weekly and using it for pancakes and waffles before school during the week.
2. Be more intentional about driving – we live rurally. Our small community is just under 15 miles from most shopping and restaurants. When I worked in town, I could drop by the grocery store, hardware store or feed store during my lunch break or on my way home. When I retired and stopped having to be in town every day I found that I would often end up with an errand that required me to drive in. Now we are being more thoughtful and planning our week. Monday is a yoga class – what are the errands that need to get done to avoid another trip to town during the week. We are also fortunate that like-minded citizens of our remote community have started a Facebook carpool page so when we need a ride or can offer a ride we can coordinate it through social media.
3. Utilize native grasses and trees to increase carbon sequestration (and reduce the cost of feed for our Nigerian Dwarf Goats) – we are in the infancy of this work. This fall we over seeded our pasture with draught tolerate native grass seeds and will do the same on the grass area around our garden that we bale for our goat’s winter grass hay. We are planting additional willows, hazel nut trees and choke cherries that will help to sequester carbon but will also be used to “tree hay”.
4. Minimize the use of utilities – we are starting to look at some solar options for things like out buildings and will be working on designing a more efficient watering system for our largest garden but in the mean time we have increased our vigilance on turning off lights when we leave a room (and reinforcing this expectation with our kids), keeping the thermostat lower than in the past and wearing slippers and sweaters, focusing on the time we have water running whether to shower or water a crop.
5. Educate the next generation on the importance of conservation and sustainability – we have started this with our own children of course and not too subtly “if you don’t want to kill the planet in your life time you better turn off those lights”. We are also instructing them in sustainable ways to grow, harvest and preserve food. Lastly at Almosta Farm were provide in class presentations on pollination and the forest as a resource for elementary schools and are available for field trips to our farm where school age children will learn of the importance of pollinators, learn how we can grow more of our own food and the importance of being intentional with our actions in regards to the future of the planet. If you are interested in a tour of the farm or in scheduling an educational field trip please visit our events page.
Someday I may come up with the big thing but for now I will keep working on these and other small things that I can do every day.