Category: General

Rooted Cosmpolitanism: Bringing Together the Best of Urban and Rural Life

One of the biggest critiques of rural areas is that they are close-minded, parochial, unsophisticated, and insular. The wealthy, educated, progressives from the big cities are quick to remind us that it was mostly people in rural areas who elected Trump, who convene marches to “save” statues of racist leaders from our past, and who proudly hang the Confederate Flag where everyone can see. Cities, as the argument goes, are […]

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Go Green Beans!

Green, string, snap, pole, or bush, whatever you call these beans, these edible little pods are great to grow in the garden. Green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), as we think of them, typically grow in two forms. These two main growing forms are what we call bush and pole bean growing styles. Bush beans usually grow more compactly and won’t necessitate support. Pole beans are more viney and will need stakes […]

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Cooperation versus Competition: An Evolutionary Perspective

Charles Darwin is credited for forming the idea of evolution. During his explorations around the world and his intimate observation of how animal and plant life evolved over time, he came to believe that everything followed one basic maxim: “the survival of the fittest.” This theory states that organisms will inherently struggle against one another in competition for limited resources that make life possible. Following from this logic, only the […]

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Salak Palm: A Guide for Tropical Permaculture

Salak palm or snake fruit (Salacca edulis or Salacca zalacca) is a high-value understory species for tropical agroforestry plantings. Salak palm is native to southeast Asia, where it is commercially cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Java, in their wet tropical lowland climates. At higher elevations, the “Bali” variety can be grown. It produces a delicious fruit, eaten out of hand, with a taste similar to strawberry with an apple-like texture. […]

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Very Mulberry!

Let me begin by saying mulberries aren’t for everyone. I say this because all my life I have grown up with mulberries. I love them, my family and friends love them, and my mom even sent us kids out to pick them so she could make the most amazing pies. However, as I got older I had several people tell me that I could have my mulberry trees cut down […]

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Hydraulic Ram Pumps

The recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan, showed how vulnerable and unstable our industrial water system really is. Once it was determined that the public water in Flint, Michigan was indeed contaminated with lead and other dangerous substances, thousands of people were literally relegated to standing in lines to wait for bottled water from the government or other aid agencies. People had no idea how to get clean, potable water […]

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How Permaculture is the Perfect Match for Homesteading

What is Permaculture? “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labor; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.” Bill Mollison The term permaculture is a portmanteau of “Permanent” and “Agriculture”, and “culture”. It began with a focus on the production of a sustainable food […]

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8 Tips for Starting your Tropical Homestead

You’ve just purchased your dream property in tropical Costa Rica. You want to grow your own food. You are anxious to get to work now, have bought some plants from a nursery you randomly drove by, and have a shovel in hand, but where to start? Most of our clients fall on either side of a spectrum of project implementation. Either they experience paralysis by analysis, overthinking every step, their […]

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Organic Pesticides, Biological Controls, and Finding what Can Be Grown

Bugs are inevitably a part of growing things. While most of the bugs out there are good for the soil and good for your plants, there are plenty of pests that will drive you crazy while you try to salvage a tomato crop ravaged by white flies or a peach harvest destroyed by aphids. Conventional agriculture since the times of the Green Revolution has taken advantage of the distress that […]

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A Simple Solar Light to Light Up Your Life

In the developed world it can be pretty easy to take light bulbs for granted. For 1.6 billion people around the world that don’t have access to electricity, light is a precious commodity.  Out of the nearly 25% of the world’s population that has to go without electricity, many of them also live in makeshift, ramshackle housing in shanty towns thrown together with whatever sheet metal and spare wood they […]

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The Crises that Have Come with Urbanization

One of the defining aspects of our current civilization and one of the most worrying trends of modernity is our urbanization as a species. When we take the long view of human history, it becomes obvious that for 99% of our history, we have been a rural people, the majority of us making our living off the land and in small, agrarian communities. Though history (especially the last 2,000 years […]

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Healthy Horseradish

The Brassicaceae family (mustard family) has so many amazing vegetables in it that grow splendidly in our gardens. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia Armoracia) is no exception. This rugged member of the family, like its relatives arugula, wasabi, and radishes, has a definite bite to its flavor. In fact, horseradish can be downright hot and gets hotter after you grate it and let it sit. Placing it in white wine […]

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