sustainable culture

24 years old. Already an architect. Dai Haifei is one smart guy. He’s built a mobile egg shaped house that is solar powered and cost less then $1000. It stands 6′ tall and easily fits on the sidewalk, I expect to see them popping up around Portland any day now. I love seeing what us humans can come up with as a living structure, which reminds me I should post about Home Work the fantastic book by Lloyd Kahn. So inspired.

Images by Zuma Press

I came across a beautiful project  called Tree Project by Hiroshi Sunairi. He is sending out second and third generation seeds of trees that survived the bombing of Hiroshima to people who interested in growing and preserving them. These seeds are called hibaku, meaning they survived the atomic bombing. He is chronicling where the seeds go, how they’re progressing and who is tending to them on both a blog and a film project. I looked through his site for quite a while and love all of the pictures of the seedlings looking out over city scapes waiting to go into the ground safely and to be big enough to not be under foot.  Check out Hiroshi’s blog here to find out more about the project and to look at some of the footage from the film. Beautiful.

There has been a call that has filtered through the near impenetrable wall of my studies for the board. There are some good folks out there dedicated to cleaning up the plastic out of our oceans and they are pushing an awareness day on June 8th. The challenge is to go the whole day without plastic. Their website is here, and they have good simple suggestions like foregoing water bottles, skipping plastic bags, but I’m sure that if you are visiting this blog regularly you can take it further. And you probably already do all of the basics, right? The images of the oil spill in the gulf are so devastating, so constant, so unfathomable, and the oil is still leaking. Week after week. So a day without plastic seems like a tangible action and I’m grateful for the hand up this group has offered.

My friend Karen K who wrote this blog entry and took these amazing photos, recently told me about how vending machines were being used by farmers in Europe to sell their eggs, sausage and milk. So I went on an internet expedition and found some really interesting things happening. Now, all I can think of is these vending machines being a great mechanism to bring healthier food into dense city neighborhoods where fresh food is hard to find. On this website I found images of vending machines selling raw milk. The idea started with Italian farmers, and has now spread to Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, and The Netherlands.

And then I found these images from Western Tokyo of vending machines selling eggs and fresh produce. And of course, they are from Japan so they are totally aesthetically pleasing!

And then there’s a German company, Peter-und-Paul Hof, that has a fleet of vending machines where they sell fresh milk, cheese, eggs, butter, potatoes and sausage. They’ve even installed a few of these at the head of hiking trails in Switzerland so after a long day of hiking (and singing) in the mountains you can get fresh fixings for a huge meal!

And, finally because I really should leave the house today instead of obsessing over vending machines in foreign lands, here’s a photo from flckr of giant rice vending machines in Japan.

It’s hard for me to believe that there are blizzards happening back east. It feels like spring where I am and I’m starting to get inspired to get out in the garden. For you east coasters, these books might be a much needed boost to get you through, and for those of you out here in the west, I think you’ll find these books will add a whole new set of skills to your list- even if you’ve been gardening for a long time!

Canning & Preserving: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More by Ashley English is available here through pre-sale, and will hit the stores in April along with Keeping Chickens: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy Flock. These books are a part of her ‘Homemade Living’ series and look really adaptable for both country and city living, I can’t wait to make them my late night reading. You can check out more of her work on her great blog Small Measure.

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces by Gayla Trail is now out and you can buy it at your local independent book store, of course, or from here. Gayla started the amazing online gardening site You Growl Girl where there is information about any and everything you can think of related to gardening. There are a lot of forums on there so you can actively engage with other gardeners– really while it’s snowing it’s a perfect way to spend the day!

Alys Fowler’s book Gardening Anywhere: How to Grow Gorgeous Container Gardens, Herb Gardens, Kitchen Gardens and More- Without Spending a Fortune is a really resourceful and good looking book. Alys trained at the NY Botanical Gardens and has the uncanny knack of making even daunting tasks seem easy. All while apparently wearing adorable dresses. Her book is available here, from Chronicle Books.

Hopefully that will get you started and inspired! xo

I’m really excited about going to the sf underground farmer’s market next thursday. They still haven’t announced the location but the date, 1/28, and the time 5-11pm is set.

Click here to go to their website and obsessively check for an update!  I haven’t been yet but my understanding is that this farmer’s market is about accessibility for the home gardener, crafter, survivalist, and maker. Commercial kitchens are exclusionary due to their cost for many talented cooks, crafters and fermenters so this underground market is perfect. It is the organizer’s intent to invite others to learn what’s being made in the home kitchens of SF. I’ve lived here for about 15 years now, and the communal thinking and the collective doing of the people living here never stops amazing me. They are currently looking for vendors whom are backyard gardeners, home food producers and skill sharers. All sales are by “suggested donation” and you have to sign up for a free underground farmer’s market membership to get in. I love it. Secret, sneaky, inspired. They’re also looking for musicians. If you’re in SF be sure not to miss it, I’ll see you there!

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