Curiouser and Curiouser…Updates from my Crazy Life

Sharon April 15th, 2008

I was interviewed the other night, and I found myself explaining to the woman interviewing me that I couldn’t wait to get my life back after the books were done - and then listing off all the new projects I have already agreed to/am considering taking on.  There was a definite note of skepticism in the interviewer’s voice when she asked me about how, exactly, all this stuff will work toward a lower-key life.  And I admit, I have no freakin’ idea.  Ah well - as usual, my plan is something along the lines of “it’ll work out.”

 Meanwhile, since people keep asking me about the books, I thought I’d let y’all know where things stand.  _Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front_ is rapidly becoming a reality - you can go to Amazon and see a pre-order form for it (no picture of the really spiffy cover yet, though).  But do me a favor, and wait if you are planning to order it - you’ll be able to pre-order through me shortly - or you can ask your local independent bookstore to carry it. 

The official date that the books come off press is August 2, but I gather it will be sometime in September before the books are in most stores.  Independent booksellers get their first, which is great -  I admit, I prefer to think of small booksellers profiting from my book whenever that’s possible.  Did I mention the cover is really spiffy, yet ;-)?  I admit, my head is a little turned by seeing my name on a really, truly book I wrote! 

Also, if you want to hear me go on a bit, the interview I gave to Jason Bradford on Global Public Media is now available online.  In fact, since it is no skin off my nose, if you really want to listen to me ranting, I’ve linked to my first interview with Jason, on the 100 million farmers idea.

http://globalpublicmedia.com/low_energy_methods_for_home_food_preservation_and_storage 

 http://globalpublicmedia.com/sharon_astyk_on_the_reality_report 

Also Tom Philpott, farmer/writer extraordinaire (and author of several of the best essays on the food price issue I’ve ever read) also did me the incredible kindness of inviting me to blog over at Grist as well as here.  This is a new audience for me, and I’m going to be reprinting some posts from here, as well as producing some new material as I go along.  The first post you may recognize, but I think it is increasingly timely.  Check it out - and I’m told I should mention that you should click on one of those funny buttons that say “digg” or “stumble” - I have no idea whatsoever what they do, but I’m supposed to say so.  I hope they don’t launch rockets ;-).

http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/4/13/1412/53386 

Also, you may have noticed the button for Crunchy Chicken’s glorious charity ”Goods for Girls” - if you haven’t seen her latest update, including video of girls opening up their packages and an essay about the problems the pads help solve, you really should.  It turns out that some girls, in order to continue their educations were trading sex for disposable menstrual pads.  Can I just say in a world of sad things, that strikes me as one of the saddest - and I’m so grateful that Crunchy has created this wonderful project for young women in Lwala!  I’m feeling guilty because I swore I was going to sew some pads - and I haven’t gotten it.  I’m assuaging my guilt, however, by sending some Gladrags, and will save the sewing for all the free time I’m sure to have once A Nation of Farmers goes to press. 

Meanwhile, the success of the Food Storage class continues to linger - a friend is turning my food storage material into a searchable CD-rom that will be available, and there’s talk of making a book out of it in my copious free time.  I’m still getting requests to run it again - so I’m going to.  I’ll run it during the month of August, with an emphasis on preserving the harvest, since that’s booming harvest time anyway.  Don’t email me to sign up yet - I’ll let you know when I have more details and a schedule.  That of course means I’ll be running lots of posts about food preservation and storage again in August here on the blog - hopefully right when you are trying to get yours done. 

Meanwhile, I’ve got the amazing talents of Deanna, Shasha, Aaron, Matt, Edson, Steve and Chris working with me on a terrific new project - but I can’t tell you what it is.  All I can say is that it involves Poultry, English Pub signs, Victory Gardens, Boobs and Beer - and that’s just what we’ve come up with so far.  My feeling is that with a combo like that, how can we fail to save the world?

 Ok, I lied, I can tell you.  You may not remember this, but back during the 197os there were some kick-ass magazines out there that focused on serious home food production, small scale farming, appropriate technology and cooking - Organic Gardening and Farming and John Shuttlesworth’s old The Mother Earth News were the bibles of people who were serious about feeding themselves.  But both magazines have, over time, changed their focus, and become more oriented towards casual homesteading and product reviews for middle class folks.  They aren’t bad, but for the city dweller trying to bring food security to their neighborhood, to the person looking for ammunition to change their town’s poultry laws or the small home farmer who wants to produce staple crops, they don’t have as much to offer.  And while reading the back issues is great, times have changed a little.

So we’ve decided we should fill that niche - we’re creating a new online magazine about growing, living and eating really local.  More details to come, but I think this is going to be a really cool thing.  We’re on the cusp of a real sea-change in the way people relate to food - and I think this could be powerful.

Oh, and one of the very neatest things we’re doing is we’re going to do in-depth reports, first from our own gardens, which range across the nation, but we also want reports from around the world.  We’re looking for garden correspondents who want to send in regular reports (probably starting in mid-summer - we’re still getting things together).  We’re particularly interested in reports from non-US residents around the world (I know it is lame, we’re all Americans - forgive us ;-)), and from regions of the US we don’t cover (we’ve got 1 person in the SE, two in the PNW, three in various parts of the midwest and 2 in the NE) such as the Southwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Southern Florida. 

We’re also looking for participants dealing with major difficulties - contaminated urban soil, hostile homeowners associations, low rainfall, no experience; and those practicing exciting forms of agriculture - rooftop city dwellers, community gardeners, permaculturists, orchardists, people raising small livestock.  We want to know what it is like where you are, what it is like to garden there, what other people wanting to grow food around you need to know, how you deal with very cold or very hot or very wet or very dry conditions.  So if you are interested in becoming one our correspondants and sending in reports from your field, let me know - email at [email protected], and let me know where you do your writing now, if you have a blog (not required, but we’re curious if you do).  We’re going to collect names and build up a list of people!

Other than the kids, the homeschool, the farm and the garden, the coming goats, poultry sheep and the possible visiting cow, that’s about it.  I just can’t even begin to think what I’m going to do with all that free time…

 Cheers,

 Sharon

27 Responses to “Curiouser and Curiouser…Updates from my Crazy Life”

  1. Stephanieon 15 Apr 2008 at 12:04 pm

    One person who immediately came to mind as someone who’d be excellent to read articles from in your magazine is Gayla Trail, of You Grow Girl (http://www.yougrowgirl.com/). If you’re looking for input from non-Americans, she’s one Canadian I’d like to see included!

    I look forward to hearing more.

  2. MEAon 15 Apr 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Thank God! I’d just given up on OG.

    MEA

  3. Billon 15 Apr 2008 at 12:18 pm

    What is the best way to go about having my local bookstore sell your book??

  4. Grandma Mision 15 Apr 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Oh boy, I’m so excited about this new magazine!! Aside from the Permaculture Activist and Countryside there is nothing out there I appreciate, learn from, and want to spend any time with.

    I’m especially excited and hopeful about reading how to re-localize, fire apathetic folks up into at least doing their own Victory Garden, and inspire some local currency and skills sharing banks.

    I’m tickled pink to hear that a bunch of my favorite blogger folks are getting together and putting this crucial info together.

    You go gang!!!!
    Grandma Misi

  5. Lisa Zon 15 Apr 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Your projects sound wonderful! I am so excited about the magazine, in particular. I am/was a magazine fanatic. Now I just read online mainly, so this will be perfect. (Of course, I’m always looking to cut down my time online, oh well…)

    I would love to write about my garden and mini-orchard in Central Minnesota, but I would never call myself an expert on this in any way. Still, I’ll be thinking about it. I love to write and garden.

    And hey, time flies when you’re saving the world, Sharon!

    Lisa Z

  6. Ameliaon 15 Apr 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Bill, the best thing to do is to grab the publication data from the Amazon pre-order page, particularly the ISBN, and ask your local store to special order it. If you have friends who would be interested, have them order separately: if enough people go in and request it, the shop might request two or three copies for the shelves.

    Sharon, I think there are at least three of us out here in the Great Basin: we’re dealing with alkaline soil, extended hot summers, low humidity and low annual rainfall (under 20 inches); while I can’t speak for the others, I’m also coping with high altitude and the increased UV radiation that goes with it.

  7. Kation 15 Apr 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Hey Sharon…. I’m not up to writing a garden-correspondent clip periodically, but I’m a gardening-hopeful in the Fairbanks, Alaska area. My blog is linked to this comment. Most of my gardening hopes & dreams have come just from reading your blog the past few months. (Though, I’ve done SOME gardening, rather unsuccessfully, previously. Mainly over at my father-in-law’s house. This is the first year I’m planning on doing any REAL gardening here at my own home.)

    Blessings. –Kati

  8. Rebeccaon 15 Apr 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Good luck with all of the projects Sharon! I might be willing to give you an Alabama update occasionally, if you need someone else from the SE.

    Oh yeah, and kudos to you for squeezing most of my favorite things into one sentence: Poultry, English Pub signs, Victory Gardens, Boobs and Beer!

  9. Tinon 15 Apr 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Balancing parenting, homeschooling, living lightly on the earth, and informing others is no small feat. I really appreciate and look forward to your light hearted approach to the coincident crises we are facing Sharon. I too tend to over extend myself as a full time college instructor, mother, homeschooler, cook, laundry hanger… As much as I (and others) need your writing, I hope that you have more days like the day in the garden you wrote about last week. We all need that Zen like time (especially when it can be shared with our kiddos).

    Tina

  10. Robyn M.on 15 Apr 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    I would be game for doing a garden correspondent report from mid-Indiana. Lemme know if that’s something you’re interested in. I’ve got a fairly traditional 25′ x 25′ garden, a small herb bed, some strawberries, asparagus, potatoes, etc. I’ve been at it for 3 years now. Also, there’s a brand-spankin new Community Garden starting Apr 26th in our city–I could report on that, and/or pass this along to them and see if they want to be a correspondent as well. Lemme know, public or private! =)

  11. Rosaon 15 Apr 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Yay! I love Grist, i’m glad you’ll be there.

    I’m tempted to volunteer to write but I look at my livejournal from last year and it’s just lists of seeds and seedlings and then a long silence and then OMIGOD I’M NEVER GOING TO GET ALL THESE TOMATOS CANNED. Not that helpful ;)

  12. Old_Grey_Mareon 15 Apr 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Speaking of victory gardens and boobs–I have been hoping to find a t-shirt with one of those beautiful old victory garden posters on it. Do you or anyone else know where such a thing could be found?

    Mary

  13. emeeathomeon 15 Apr 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I would be happy to do the odd report from Melbourne, Australia. Suburban 1/4 acre, where the veggies are taking over from the perennials, and the whole lot is becoming permaculturist

  14. Lisaon 15 Apr 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I’m living on a 1/2 acre suburb lot in a small town in NC. I’m new to the whole concept not only of gardening but of enviromental issues. A friend has been helping inform me about Peak Oil and food security through recommending blogs such as this one. I have a 3 yr old helper and stay at home. We are planting amaranth in our new garden, raising an angora for our spinning, felting, and weaving, and trying to minimize our energy expndenture. It’s a definite learning curve. We’re also making our first true pantry and food storage and trying to learn to cook from scratch:>. Really starting at the beginning here.

  15. Delpasoredon 15 Apr 2008 at 6:57 pm

    You have made my day! A new book to read soon, and a magazine full of such timely interests. There must be some seismic activity registering from all our collective happy dances!

  16. Kiashuon 15 Apr 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Okay, so a webzine - but where do the boobs come in? Will there be a page 3 girl?

  17. Sharonon 16 Apr 2008 at 7:56 am

    Kiashu, you can’t expect me to reveal all our secrets at once, can you?

    Sharon

  18. MEAon 16 Apr 2008 at 7:59 am

    Knowing Sharon, there might be a page 3 PO boy, but I rather expect articles on how to tadem nurse while hoeing spuds with a foot hoe and knitting a solar optic fiber out of chicken feathers.

    MEA

  19. Tameson O'Brienon 16 Apr 2008 at 10:44 am

    Sharon, I am starting a market garden from scratch and will become a vendor at the farmer’s market for the first time this year. I can write some articles on my start up experiences if you’re interested.
    Additionally, I have been caring for sheep for several years (I refrain from using the term “raising” because I don’t breed and therefore I don’t have lambs), but I shear with hand shears by myself and process all my wool myself and even knit garments (usually self designed)from the yarn made by the sheep I sheared. So if you are looking to other self sufficiency articles in the clothing/textile arenas I can certainly help you out there.

  20. Sharonon 16 Apr 2008 at 12:12 pm

    MEA, I don’t even know what solar optic fiber is!

    Sharon

  21. MEAon 16 Apr 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Either do I, but it sounds good.

  22. MEAon 16 Apr 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Note that solar optic fiber is the only bit Sharon denied.

  23. shrimppopon 16 Apr 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    You are amazing and busy!

    I would love to contribute to the magazine. I live just outside Rochester, NY. I’ve been reading and studying Permaculture for many years (even met Bill Mollison out in California at a workshop), and I’m finally taking the Design Course, so I’ll be hanging out a Permaculture Consultant shingle shortly. I’m in process of redesigning my 1/4 acre village lot into a food garden and going for the chickens next year.

    Additionally I’m doing some work with some community gardens in some poorer neighborhoods in Rochester. My next project is looking at a test site for using sunflowers for phytoremediation of lead-based paint contamination, which is epidemic in older cities.

    I blog at http://www.greenerminds.com/ and am considering writing a series of essays on energy accounting, ecology, scale, art and economics, but you’ve scared me off a bit ;-).

    -Shrimppop

  24. shrimppopon 16 Apr 2008 at 1:13 pm

    BTW, saw you have Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Gardens listed in your resource section. Toby’s teaching a Permaculture Design Course in August at Green Phoenix (http://green-phoenix.org/08-08-pdc.html) and we’re hoping to get him down to Hancock Permaculture around Labor Day. I can post more details when I get them.

    -Shrimppop

  25. Teartayeon 17 Apr 2008 at 12:32 pm

    See, I’m moving at the end of the month. Into a rented house. With a garden in the backyard that looks like it hasn’t been tended to in YEARS.

    I have no experience gardening. And I haven’t started anything yet because I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep it up until I got this place.

    I’m also in Canada. A poor, busy student. No access to compost.

    I’d offer to write articles, but they’d probably have to be from a “what not to do” perspective. LOL

  26. Ameliaon 17 Apr 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Teartaye, if you’re in an urban area, the city might offer compost at the landfill (all the leaves and trimmings from public parks have to go somewhere).

  27. Ameliaon 17 Apr 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Mary wrote:

    Speaking of victory gardens and boobs–I have been hoping to find a t-shirt with one of those beautiful old victory garden posters on it. Do you or anyone else know where such a thing could be found?

    You ask, Cafepress delivers. I like the one from the First World War, myself — all those sweet potatoes marching along!

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