Green Acres in the City ~ Join us a begin the journey in search for a simpler life...

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Whats in a name?

What's in a name? When I decided to take this challenge on from Mr. Miller I thought what do I call it? Well it came to me pretty quickly. "Green Acres in the City", was fitting for us on many levels, in fact you could say is has a "double entendre" in its meaning. There you go Mrs. Luetje I did learn something from you! (Mrs. Luetje refers to my ya ya sister in Topeka, she was my room mate up until I got married and is one of the best High School teachers around!)

First off the literal sense, we were planting a garden so "Green Acres" easy enough, secondly "Green" referring to the "recycling king" that Mr. Miller has become and that he is grooming Cameron to take over his reign some day. Cameron has no trouble explaining the whole recycling method to anyone who will listen.

I felt in writing this blog that maybe I could help other families discover ways to simplify there lives and help take care of this great planet that is a gift from God. I am in no way an expert, but would like to share both the success and lessons (that is what I prefer to call failures) that we learn. I will have information on green living, cooking, baking and of course our little inaugural garden here at the Green Acres Farm right here in the city. There will be of course humor and stories inspired by both family and friends, sorry guys you will be the ideas behind some of these posts. I hope that maybe it will help all of you too. If you have ideas or comments please feel free to share in the comment section. I love to hear every ones thoughts.

Remember that every little step we take leads to the next mile.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"When I grow up..."

Last evening we celebrated a milestone at Green Acres, Cameron graduated from St. Peter's Day School. He is ready for kindergarten in the fall.

First off let me start by telling you a little about our son, Cameron, he is 5 and wakes up by 6am and hits the ground running and does not drop until bedtime. He is so full of energy and people always say if I could just bottle half of it. Oh, I know, he keeps us on our toes. He has to be one of the most kind hearted, gentle souled human beings I know. He has great enthusiasm for all he does. He always asks me this series of questions:

  • Cameron - "Mama, are you a lady?"

  • Me - "Yes, Cameron I am a lady."

  • Cameron - " No! You are just a Mama and Mama's are special!"

OK, I know it melts my heart too. I am sure Patrick is wondering when will it be my turn to be the "hero" in my son's eyes, well I think last night he got the answer. The classmates all lined up on stage and took their seats (all 6 of them) and Miss Cathi, the preschool director began the program. She told us that it was time for these young minds to embark on the path to kindergarten but they first had some simple questions to ask. One of the questions was "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Well, we had all kinds of answers from veterinarian, artist, super hero and you can imagine where the list went from there. Cameron's answer was perfect, "I want to work with my Dad at John Deere Landscapes!" Yes, I think Mr. Miller had to hold back a tear or two, the grin on his face was priceless.

Every morning after Patrick leaves for work all Cameron talks about is working with his dad. How he gets to go to recycle with him and how they mow the yard together. I hope that Patrick now knows he is a "super hero" in a way to his son. Yes, Mama's are special, we kiss boo boos, dry tears, make the best "peanut" sandwiches, but, Daddy's are just as special.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Our Little Inagural Garden"

I should start by first stating that if you are a "real gardener" please read this with a grain of salt.

Top bed has corn, green beans, okra and carrots

Lettuce, both red leaf and bib

Well we did it, we finished planting our first family garden this weekend. We or I should say Patrick decided that we would do a raised bed garden. He wanted 3 raised beds, I said 1 and we compromised on 2. Those of you that have spent time with the 2 of us can understand the amount of discussion that came with this decision. The beds measure 5X12 and were made by using pavers. Patrick did not want to use wood because most of it comes pressure treated and the chemicals can leach into the soil around your plants. Yes, Mr. Miller has become Mr. Green and not just because he works for that big green tractor company. He has shown me the light over the past few years so I had to agree to use the pavers, which are supposed to be in that patio that he has been working on. (That story however will be saved for another day) Alright where was I, well he had to make sure all was perfectly straight and even before he would even consider planting in them. We made part of our own compost by using all of the fallen leaves from the fall mixed with coffee grounds, egg shells and anything else deemed compostable by Patrick and Cameron. Yes, even Cameron is in on the recycle bit in this family. Once he turned what we had made, he top dressed it with Naturelife 100% Natural Composted Soil Condition, composted Cottonburrs.

Cameron's Strawberries

Cilantro for my Salsa

Saturday morning we headed down the the Brookside Organic Farmers Market. Fabulous, if you are in the area and get a chance to go. I strongly suggest it. Live music, great vendors and wonderful people watching. We got some of our plants from the market, as we are wanting to keep this as organic as we can. Our starts came from a local organic farm in KCK. The gal that helped us was very informative and helped us novice urban farmers out. She also invited us to bring the boys by the farm to visit and check it out. Yes, it is on the to do list this summer. We then headed to Home Depot to get my tomato plants and organic seeds. Here is a list of the items we have planted: Carrots, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Corn, Green Beans, Okra, Jalapeno and Banana Peppers, Green, Red and Yellow bell peppers, Cilantro, Watermelon and Strawberries. Did we bite of more that we can chew? Well we will see...

Cucumbers and my recycled cages. The marigolds prevent Deer and bugs. Yes, we have deer in the neighborhood.

We tried to be very cost effective as well as "green" with this garden. Most items used were either made by us, recycled or free. My tomato cages came from a neighbor of my sister. Erika was mortified when I "dumpster dived" by asking her neighbor if I could take them from her trash pile. The neighbor had no problem and my brother in law, Randy, was right there to help me load them in the Explorer. (My urban farm truck.) These were on their way to the dump to sit in a landfill for years to come, items like these can be taken to your local recycle center. More on that issue to come. We figure all in all we spent about $70 dollars to plant this garden that we hope will generate a large saving in our grocery bill to come. I will be canning, sharing with neighbors and friends, and freezing for the year to come. Patrick says he wants to add chickens to the menagerie here. He has even looked into city ordinances on this. I will keep you posted on that discussion...

I came across a verse this weekend that seems to sum up our feelings on the lifestyles changes that we have made in 2009 so far and I hope you find some truth in it also.

"...if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed...nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matthew 17:20

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"In the beginning..."

In November of 2008 I was 7 months pregnant with our son, Henry and enjoying my job at Harolds. We had just promoted a new GM and I was his eager Assistant Manager. Jack and I were very excited about a "new Leawood Harolds", all of that changed on November 7 when we received that dreaded conference call that several in the american workforce has received. Harolds filed bankruptcy, wow talk about a punch in the gut. After my first initial breakdown, we took it in stride and all on the Leawood team stayed till the last day and on January 18th we locked the doors for the last time. One week later on January 26th we delivered our 2nd son, Henry.

I decided with my husband, Patrick that I would stay home for a while. I was so looking forward to the time with Cameron, our 5 year old and Henry. My how your mind wanders, I started thinking "how can I save money during these hard economic times?". I started searching online, reading magazines and talking to others. One of the first thoughts we shared was to plant a garden.

Cameron was the inspiration for that, he loves "GiGi's farm" in Newton, Kansas. (The windmill phote is from the family farm in Newton). Cameron decided that he was going to raise pumpkins to give to the neighbors. Oh the eager mind of a 5 year old and so after Halloween our adventure began, he took his pumpkin to the side yard and he and daddy broken them up so he could start his first pumpkin crop. A couple of weeks ago, Cameron and I were cutting Lilacs of the bush and discovered the "fruits of his labor" had come to fruition. Low and behold his pumpkins were growing....he was delighted and had to run in and call Daddy right away at work. At that point I truly realized that is was the simple things in life that really matter. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all look at life through the eyes of a child?