2015 Santa Fe Harvest Swap

Busy little squirrels over here gathering up the acorns for winter and preparing all our goodies to the share

on Oct 25th

at the Fourth Annual Santa Fe Harvest Swap!!


Over the years this has become a place where we gather with our community to

Swap, Savor and Celebrate the Abundance of our year together on this beautiful earth.

It is a place to share gratitude for all that we are given and have the opportunity to be nourished from each others kitchens, hard work and hearts.

Hope to see you all back again, or if you haven’t ever joined us, this might just be your year!! Sign up here.

Sorting Seeds and Drying Leaves

IMG_6308Nothing quite like a frigid morning to inspire some garden action!!  Don’t get me wrong, I lingered long over a hot cup of tea this morning, but I have to admit the freezing breeze just nagged at me all the things I had left undone out in my autumn garden.  For one, I haven’t planted garlic yet! Yikes I MUST do it before the ground freezes, I will today, I must!!  I peeked under my row cover at all my little fall greens, and wow, I am happy to report all was well! Spinach, Chard, Lettuce, Cilantro, even a little dill perky as can be!IMG_6293 I harvested like crazy and tucked them back in.  If the snow does bless my yard this weekend I plan on laying a thin sheet of 4mil plastic over the whole 4 rows, it is not greenhouse plastic, but a painters drop cloth type plastic sheet I got last year, and it seemed to do the trick to just keep th snow off and it helps melt it fast when the sun does shine again, which we all know can be quite quick around here. I also scrambled around the yard gathering the last medicines I could find.  Mint, yarrow, Comfrey, Mallow were all doing just fine in the crispy air so I gathered those up eagerly and set them to dry in the extremely dry (heating with wood really sucks the humidity out of the air) cozy house. IMG_6334 All of these delicious leaves will be used in an upcoming workshop my Radical Homemaking conmadres are putting on called the Winter Apothecary- Stocking up for Seasonal Wellbeing.   We will be making teas, cough syrup, medicinal stock and all kinds of magical potions for the cold season ahead.  This is always the best part, when all my seasons efforts get mixed and brewed and put the finishing touches on and magically they transform from weeds to medicine ready to dose out to the sick and the weary. Ahh, so a brisk morning it was, but now I can at least enjoy another cup of tea, sort the garlicIMG_6524 And hope for another day before the ground deeply freezes (though usually it takes until about Christmas for that so I am not that worried!!)IMG_6329 And while I am sorting, the mail comes and delivers my first article in print!  Actually it was a nice season of press for this little gardener….I had a story about ‘Psyche and Her Seeds’ published in the Seed Broadcast, a very cool little free paper all ode to Seeds.  An article in this Seasons Edible Santa Fe (p.64) about the work we do to grow local food at Santa Fe Community College.  And lastly an article I wrote all about the planning and planting seasons of High Desert Homesteading in this seasons edition of the Permaculture Activist. IMG_6330 Oh and do you recognizes those cute little tomato holding hands!  Yep my photo made the cover, cool to have the love I put into my garden spread out and inspire beyond my yard, those are the seeds I wish to sow in the world.  So with the literature spread before me, and the leaves and the seeds, my table is full, my harvests are in and I am feeling like this year was indeed an abundant yield indeed.  Ok winter, now you may come on in and I will rest the best I can!!

For the Love of the Land

Have you heard of Ampersand?  Well you would love them, I guarantee.  They are truly loving a little piece of land here in the high desert the best they know how.  These folks built their home out of mud from their backyard, drink rain water off the roof on top of it and cook their food from the sun.  Not to mention they love their community because they invite everyone in on the fun through workshops, classes, internship and some seriously. fun dance parties.  Amanda and Andy are lovers and I love them……Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 10.07.22 PM

So on this day of love I want to introduce them to you and their latest land loving projecting and fund-raising efforts.  Spread the love and support their water shed project through indigogo today, they are half way through and could use a midpoint push to help them go above and beyond their goal.

And much love to you!

Stoking the Home Fires

I lit a fire the night before Halloween.  The cold air blew into these high desert foothills, just in time to chill all those tricky treating children out there…(we were cozy inside, as Jaengus at 2.5 years old is not quite hip to Halloween yet and as far as I am concerned that is just fine:)  Image

That very fire, it is still going, rising and falling, as the sun warms us through our big southerns windows it wanes and right before bedtime it rages.  Now that the clocks have been set back, tonights winds and rains blowing the last leaves off the trees, it feels official, winter is here and it is time to keep that fire going all winter long.

Now we have been heating with wood for years, growing food for even more, buying as little and caring as much as we can, for, well ever I guess…but creating a family and staying at home to tend them has deepened my understanding what stoking these home fires really means to me.Image

Tending these very symbolic embers has been my main focus and main teacher for the past two years.  My friend Kyce often calls this stage of life, the Mommystery, and rightly so.  In the mist of millions of things to do, I have lots of time and space in my mind to Chop wood, Carry water, churn the problems of the the world inside and out and ruminate over what I am going to do ablaut them as I hang my laundry out to dry. Slowing, steadying myself  and my wild mind is the only way to be a solid parent, partner and friend and let me tell you, it is taking a lot of conscious inner work and I still have a lot more laundry to dry.

One of the first big blows of this journey was how isolating life could be.  Luckily, I had learned to grow my food, gather my herbs, chop my wood, and carry water earlier on, deeply dedicated to self sufficieny as a life path….but all the sudden I was all alone, well me and my boys, chopping all the wood and carrying all the water.  Which I love, truly, yet as a community oriented gal, I had no idea this romantic idea of tending my own hearth would leave me feeling so isolated.  I wasn’t working, which normally takes place in schools and community gathering spaces, so without that contact, I had a hard time imagining how the fires I was tending at home would warm the whole world and how I, though warm from within, won’t die of isolation much less self judgement, oh that wild mind!


Well, luckily that storm has passed.  My son and I go out on the town; to work, to volunteer and to connect lots these days, but one of the sweetest gifts I received in those early days in the Mommystery was the gift of Motherkin.  Like minded mamas who were willing to drive out of town and wander the lane with our babies on our backs.  Mamas who were willing guinea pigs for my tea cake recipes while we deconstructed homemaking in a post feminist time.  Mamas who were educated, conciencious, active citizens who were choosing to make change by opting out of consumer culture and attempting to create new culture from their own homes.


Sarah, Kyce & Arina, I am feeling the love and want to say your names for the world to hear, you are my Radical beacons and without our almost weekly conspiring, I would not be as solid, centered and committed to where I am and the work I am doing inside and outside and always feeling at home.  So graciously, I thank you for being such Radicals, reclaiming homemaking as a conscious prayer for a new world.


So the story goes on to say, I am not alone in these choices or in my daily practice anymore.  In fact I am feeling VERY connected these days.  We are building up the fires with a few folks so that our community can grow and hopefully spread out like seeds into a world that desperately needs us right now.  So this weekend, come stoke the home fires with us at our first humble Home Fire Retreat.  I am so looking forward to us meeting each other where we are at, building our community, sharing ourselves and supporting each other whereever we are on this journey of renouncing, reclaiming and rebuilding a new world together.

PS Today is the last day for Early Bird Registration Fee!!

Bountiful Weekend Events for the Garden Loving Family

This weekend has three very sweet community, family friendly events that will inspire both you and your garden.IMG_0290

The first is a Garage/ Moving/ Plant Sale were I will be selling some of my home-grown Heirloom Tomato & Cucumber babies.  They were loving nutured in my greenhouse all these months and will be perfect for planting out in just a couple of weeks when this cold spell passes and the sunny days are here to stay.  Come check it out just 2 blocks south the Farmers Market across from the old Alvord Elementary school. 

Garage/ Moving/ Plant Sale —Saturday April 20th-9am at 546 Alarid Street.
See below for a full list of all the varieties available



The next event is over on Acequia Madre St. at Garcia Street books where there will be a book signing of George Ancona’s new Book- “It’s Our Garden”.  The book  features the Acequia Madre Elementary School Garden which has bloomed and grown by the loving hands of a wonderful mother, volunteer, friend and fabulous garden teacher, Sue McDonald.


Saturday April 20th there will be a Book Signing from 2-3pm at Garcia Street books and at 3pm a walk up to Acequia Madre School garden for a tour.

After and good night’s rest, dreaming garden dreams, join us

Sunday at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum between 1 and 4 pm,

for a homestead inspired Earth Day Celebration for all.  It will be an opportunity to bring your questions to local homesteaders &  engage in hands-on activities that are meant to inspire, motivate and support the implementation of sustainable practices of all kind at your own home!!

I will be doing ‘ Grow your own Greens’ demo and tastings among many other wonderful friends who cook with the sun, milk their own goats and use zero waste while raising children!!
Picture 2

Can’t wait to see everybody here, there and everywhere!!

2013 Plant Sale Varieties


Sugar Sweetie- Botanical Interests- Cherry

65 days from transplanting. Indeterminate.
This delicious organic tomato is well-known for its strong tomato flavor. Large numbers of 3/4″ – 1″ cherry tomatoes are produced in grape-like clusters. Provide support for vigorous vines that easily reach 6 feet long.

Black Krim- Botanical Interests-Tomato Pole

70 days from transplanting. Indeterminate.
This Russian heirloom originated in Krim, a Crimean town on the Black Sea. Baseball-sized fruits weigh 10 – 12 oz. and have reddish-brown flesh filled with an earthy, almost smoky flavor. Fruit sets well in heat and is the most reliable of the black tomatoes, producing even under adverse conditions from summer to fall. Provide support for vines that reach 6 feet or more.

 Cherokee Purple- Plants of the Southwest

80 days from transplanting. Indeterminate.
Cherokee’s rose/purple skin with green shoulders encases red brick colored flesh with just the right level of sweetness. You’ll be harvesting large numbers of 10 to 12 oz. tomatoes from this well-regarded heirloom variety from summer to fall. The flavor has been described as yummy, tasty, wonderful, delicious, heavenly, and unbelievable! Provide support for vigorous vines that reach 6 feet or more.

John Baer- Seed Savers Exchange

aka Boony Best- From the Bonny group of tomatoes that includes Chalk’s Early Jewel. Introduced in 1914 by J. Bolgiano and Son of Baltimore.  Bright red, meaty, smooth fruits with very good flavor.  Once a leading canning variety, also great for fresh eating. Heavy Producer. Indeterminate, 60-80 days from transplant.

Japanese Trifele- Seed Savers Exchange

One of the best Russian black tomatoes. High yields of blemish- free fruits that rarely crack. Rich full flavor, great for canning. The size of a Bartlett pear, weighing 4-5 ounces. Potato leaf foliage. Indeterminate, 70-80 days from transplant.

Pink Brandywine- Bounty Beyond Belief

This is a heirloom beefsteak variety with large pinkish- red tomatoes with a wonderful rich taste and a bit Sweeter and larger than the Red Brandywine.  Indeterminate. Potato- leafed plants produce huge tomatoes often weighing between 1-2 pounds.  These remain one of the best tasting tomatoes available.

Giant Syrian-Seed Savers Exchange 

Received form a SSE Member Charlotte Mullens of West Virginia.  Nice Yields of deep pinkish- red fruits exceeding one pound.  Very Meaty, few seeds, excellent flavor. Indeterminate. 80 days from transplant.

Risentraube-Seed Savers Exchange

Originally from germany. name Translates as “gaint bunches of grapes.” Tntroduced commercially in the U.S. in 1994 by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. High- Yielding plants. Tasty 1′ fruits are born on large sprays and shaped like beaked plums. Indeterminate, 80 days from transplant.

Chadwick Cherry- Seeds of Change

Introduced by the late horticultural genius Alan Chadwick, this large, mouthwatering cherry tomato has a tangy, sweet flavor. It produces huge yields and is disease resistant making it a popular choice among gardeners. Days to Harvest: 85


Aremenian- Botanical Interest

65 days. Want to try something new in your garden? This is it! Armenian cucumber with handsome, light green, thin skin is nearly seedless, and more tolerant of heat than most cucumbers. Sometimes called serpent cucumber or yard long, it is actually a variety of melon! A long production period means harvesting right into fall.

Straight Eight- Botanical Interests

63 days. There is nothing more refreshing than a cool cucumber. This older, open pollinated variety is still around because it is simply one of the best! Vigorous vines produce cylindrical, very straight crisp cucumbers about 8″ long. Who can resist a salad of home-grown sliced cucumber, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper? Yum!

Homemade Pickles- Botanical Interests

55 days. Making pickles at home is easy with Homemade Pickles. This plant has excellent disease resistance, very high yields, and is ready to harvest early. The 4 foot compact vines produce cucumbers for quite a long period; harvest anywhere from 1½” to 5″ long. Perfect interior texture for pickles, but can also be eaten fresh. Excellent container variety.

Space Master- Botanical Interests

62 days. Has your garden ever been overrun by cucumber plants that spread everywhere? Spacemaster is the solution! Its 2′ to 3′ vines make it the ideal choice for small growing areas. It produces large numbers of flavorful, full-sized slicing cucumbers, perfect for snacking, salads, and sandwiches, and even for pickling when harvested small.

The Abundace of Autumn

The earth and many friends have been generous this year, look up, fruit is falling from the sky!!

Glorious sunny days spent singing, laughing and deepening our friendships in the dappled light of the laden trees

babies below us, foraging their own fruits of this bountiful time

Our baskets brimming with the perfection of sunlight, water, love and time

perfumes and colors fill the air inside and out of our homes and hearths

Rosy piles of sweetness staring us down, reminding that this abundance too will turn with the season, the time is now to eat, put up and process….

And so we do:

wash and chop and stir and stem and pack and seal and sweat and smile

And now deep signs, from full and happy hearts eagerly awaiting the long rest of winter ahead

Grateful for a full season, lived well and now gone by,

Turning ourselves sightly with the earths own shift,

to welcome autumn, with all her abundance,

to summer we say thank you, we love you and goodbye…

Honey & The Bees

Our mid-summer honey harvest went smashingly well!!  Joel is really the bee whisper in this household, but I can’t be too far away.  I like to watch him work, so calmly, so carefully in that buzz of life.  This time I sat inside the house with babe and watched through the glass door, which was perfect cause I felt totally out of harms way, but could see the whole exciting event.  I technically know very little about the bees, but they speak to me in other ways.  These past couple of years I have had more than one serendipitous run in with my bees…( for better or worse)The first was the summer right before I got pregnant, I got stung right between the eyes and my whole face swelled up and I could barely see for days.  I was in the midst of a big shift in my life but someone asked, if I had read The Fifth Sacred Thing by Start Hawk. I hadn’t but did have a copy on the shelf, so when I could read again, I pulled it down and of course turned right to the page where a character gets the very same sting and is taken into the world of the bees for 9 days and given some pretty profound gifts.  “I am changed, Madrone thought.  The bees have marked me, as surely as their scar sits on my forehead.  She moved through a world that came to her now as much through instinct and smell as through sight.”  As chance (or magic) would have it within a week of the sting, I meet StartHawk because my husband was teaching a class with her.  Yes,  I did tell her the story and she just smiled. 

The next encounter was probably an exact year later when I was lounging in my garden waiting for my overdue baby to arrive and a Queen Bee landed on me.  I was enthralled, was she lost, looking to start a new hive, kicked out by the others? Queens rarely string humans, so I had no fear there, letting her bumble all around me.   They say that bees are the messengers of the soul, signifying rebirth and immorality…so I told her to bring me my baby!! A few days later she did.

This year seemed fine with the bees, but come February they just seemed to completely die from one day to the next.  Caught up with a busying spring we didn’t even get a chance to get into the hives to investigate, until…May 8th, our son’s birthday, when we witnessed the return… A swarm found our empty hive and recolonized it.  The set up shop and went at it.  Now Mid July is the first time we have been in to see their handy work, and let me just tell you, Pure Ambrosia!  What a blessing are the bees.!!

If you are interested in keeping your own bees- our friends and teachers Just put out a new Book about Top Bar Bee Keeping.

Family Gathering

Oh summer is here, and the gathering has begun!  I feel so lucky to be a part of a family that loves gathering as much as I do (at least my husband does, baby is happy to be carried along wherever we are, especially if we are outside, such a great little guy!!)

Along for the ride

As the garden comes into it’s own and we wait patiently for it’s gifts, we look out into the wild for summer fare.

This little excursion was in search of Cota, a wild herb used traditionally in these parts forever for stomach ails and kidney support….a couple of years ago we found an amazing spot and harvested on the summer solstice.

Cota Harvest 2008

This year everything appears to be a little early, so we went in search…unfortunately the meadow got bulldozed and a horse was happily reigning over the spot…with not one Cota plant under foot….Luckily we still have some from that year!!

Summer gathering (pre station wagon)

This time we did come across an amazing Alfalfa stand

Alfalfa patch

And got to take a dunk in the old Rio Grande.

Sitting by the river

Just down the road we found Mulberries falling from the trees!!Mmmm.

Joel always prepared to pick!

Oh how beautiful

Mulberries in various stages of ripeness

And right across the street these ancient gifts..

Secret map to more mulberries?

And on the way home, we found the wild cherry stands, once I pick all ours, I will be back!! Grandpa is now our neighbor and makes a mean pie!!  Looking forward to that family gathering as well!!

Elm seeds and mallow leaves

I know you all have been muchin’ salad lately.  The fresh greens of spring are something we look forward to all year. Baby lettuce, spinach, arugula….and what of the wild greens?  My lettuce is there but often hidden under handfuls of french sorrel, dandelion greens, chervil, arugula (leaves and flowers), rocket, mint leaves…all of which I wrote about last spring here.

Arugula Flowers are Edible, a spicy delight

Arugula is in the Cruciferae family ( as in cross, see the flowers, they are all like that) though now the family is called Brassicaceae after it’s most popular member, broccoli. Arugula flowers, as well all the other Cruciferae cousins flowers are edible, just look here.  This season I have added Siberian Elm seeds and Mallow Leaves to the mix.

Young Siberian Elm Seeds

I know the Siberian Elm can seem a great nuance, and that it is when those seeds go flying and take root just about everywhere…but if you pick the seeds before they fly, when bright green and brand new, they are sweet and delicious.  I have heard they can be eaten later too, cooked with the papery seed hulls rubbed off according to eattheweeds.com

Mallow Leaves -Malva

My newest friend, ground cover, medicine, and munchy is Malva.  It has been used for everything from headaches, to poultices to post- partum cleanses.  The leaves can be eaten young and are medicinal.  This sweet little blog tells you even more.

So as your greens come up, don’t forget to eat those weeds!!

My Handmade Garden Fence

Well, I made myself a garden fence today…why do I post about it?….  Well because it was fun, creative and free, which are all inspiring to me, I thought they might be to you too.  I know it would have been easier to drive down to Home Depot a buy some easy insert lattice action, but who knows where that wood comes from and who puts it together, and heck why buy when you can DIY.  As I have said before I am also time rich and cash poor…and happen to live 100 yards from river with a generous willow patch…so I really saw no other way than to make it myself.  That and I had a vision of what I wanted and I knew I couldn’t buy it.  I  started with my inspiration.An amazingly beautiful fence on a meticulous farm in Patagonia, Chile we visited a few years back.  It was so tidy, keeping in these perfectly white sheep who were keeping the green, green grass perfectedly trimmed…. we might as well have been in the England…or as we called it Douglandia…but I will save that story for another time.  I also got a little inspiration wasting too much time on Pinterest.  Anyway, with the babe trying to pull himself up by hanging onto the rose bushes, a fence was in order around here. So we went down to the river & gathered a ton of really tall straight willow branches, trimmed off the side & top little branches….until we had nice clean long weaving sticks.  I actually did buy a few stripped cedar latillas which I cut down to 3ft each to use as the posts.  I would have used willow but Joel reminded me cedar was a lot stronger and would resist rot in the wet garden a lot longer than willow would.  I sunk them into the garden about 2 ft apart and about 1 ft deep with a sledge-hammer and then I was ready to weave.This was taken right as I sunk the first cedar posts…….And this was taken when I was down the weave.  It does the trick of keeping Jangy out of the garden and he sure seems to like it pulling himself up on it.His pure delight was more than I could have hoped for.Which made my delight all the more.

If you are inspired to do the same, just a little note– I used way more willow than I imagined I would have, I think there is something like 50 ten footers for a 1.5foot high fence.  Lucky willow is an abundant renewable resource here. Use what you have, the is earth is generous with her offerings if you know how to see them.  Here is a cool link called the Willow Bank for further inspiration